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Online Learning Success:
Glossary
Written by Gayle L. Fornataro, Virtual Valley Student Success Coordinator

home > student resources > Online Learning Success: Glossary

Table of Contents:  

1. Welcome
2. Lesson One: What to Expect
3. Lesson Two: Am I Ready for an Online Class
4. Lesson Three: Time Management
5. Lesson Four: Participating in Online Discussions
6. Lesson Five: What is Plagiarism
7. Lesson Six: Ergonomics
8. Glossary

Glossary of Computer Terms

Alternate File Format
By default, every computer program saves files in its “home” format.  What this means is that if you are working in Microsoft Word, when you click “save as,” the program will save your document as a Microsoft Word file.  It will have the extension “.doc."

Often, this is fine.  However, if you are sending attachments for others to open and read, you may need to save your file in an alternate format.  This is because not all programs and computers can read Microsoft Word files.  If the person who is trying to open your file does not use Microsoft Word, then he or she will most likely not be able to open your attached file. 

“Rich Text” and “ASCII” are two such universal formats that most computers can open.  When you click, “save as,” one of the boxes will say “Save as type.”  The window will say “ Word Document.”  However, if you click on the arrow to the right of the window, it will list all the file types you can save your document as.  “Rich Text Format” will be one of them.  For detailed instructions on saving documents in Microsoft Word, see the following Microsoft Word 2000 Tutorial.

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Cable Connection
This is a high-speed Internet connection provided by cable companies.  Also known as “broadband,” these cable lines can transmit more data than regular phone lines can. Therefore, they provide faster Internet connections.

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Cache
Basically, this is a memory file that your computer can access quickly.  When you visit a Web site, the cache remembers certain information, such as passwords and usernames.  If set improperly, your computer won’t remember essential data to let you access the ETUDES Web page.  Read below for more information about cache from Dictionary.com.

memory management: /kash/ A small fast memory holding
recently accessed data, designed to speed up subsequent access
to the same data. Most often applied to processor-memory
access but also used for a local copy of data accessible over
a network etc.

When data is read from, or written to, main memory, a copy is
also saved in the cache, along with the associated main memory
address. The cache monitors addresses of subsequent reads to
see if the required data is already in the cache. If it is (a
cache hit) then it is returned immediately and the main
memory read is aborted (or not started). If the data is not
cached (a cache miss) then it is fetched from main memory
and also saved in the cache.

The cache is built from faster memory chips than main memory
so a cache hit takes much less time to complete than a normal
memory access. The cache may be located on the same
integrated circuit as the CPU, in order to further reduce
the access time. In this case it is often known as primary
cache since there may be a larger, slower secondary cache
outside the CPU chip.

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Cookie
This is a temporary memory file that your computer needs to correctly access web pages.  For more detailed information, read the dictionary.com definition below:

A system invented by Netscape to allow a web server to send a web browser a packet of information that will be sent back by the browser each time it accesses the same server. Cookies can contain any arbitrary information the server chooses to put in them and are used to maintain state between HTTP transactions, which are
otherwise stateless. Typically this is used to authenticate or identify a registered user of a Web site without requiring them to sign in again every time they access it. Other uses are maintaining a "shopping basket" of goods you have selected to purchase during a session at a site, site personalization (presenting different pages to different users) or tracking which pages a user has visited on a site, for marketing purposes.

The browser limits the size of each cookie and the number each server can store. This prevents a malicious site consuming lots of disk space. The only information that cookies can return to the server is what that same server previously sent out. The main privacy concern is that, by default, you do not know when a site has sent or received a cookie so you are not necessarily aware that it has identified you as a returning user, though most reputable sites make this obvious by displaying your user name on the page.
After using a shared login, e.g. in an Internet cafe, you should remove all cookies to prevent the browser identifying> the next user as you if they happen to visit the same sites.

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Electronic Database
This is a database, or collection, of documents that can be found on the Web. The LAVC library, for example, has several databases that students can access from any computer on campus as well as on your home computer (with the proper password). 

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DSL
This is a high speed internet connection provided by phone companies. Also called "broadband," these lines can carry more data than regular phone lines and, therefore, provide faster Internet connections.

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Flash Drive
This is a type of storage device that plugs into your computer's USB port. This small device, also termed a thumb drive, is an external storage device which can contain an enormous amount of information while being highly safe and portable.

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Hard Drive
This is where all the information is stored on your computer.  When you are working on a document, for example, the program you use is stored on your computer’s hard drive.  When you save that document, the document is also saved on your hard drive, unless you use an external device such as a flash drive and tell your computer to save the document there. 

On a PC, your hard drive is usually referred to as your “C” drive. 

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JavaScript
A small program that runs from the Web site you are logged onto make it work properly.  You really don’t need to know any more than that about JavaScript, expect that it must be “enabled” on your computer for the Etudes Web site to work.  For directions on how to do this, see the Etudes Technical Requirements Web page. 

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Search Engine
This is the program or Web site you use to search from information on the Internet. The most popular in use today is Google. Most use keywords or phrases. Behind the scenes, each engine has its own method of searching for information.  

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Web Browser
This is the program used to view Internet sites.  Examples are Microsoft Internet Explore (IE), Mozilla Firefox, Netscape Navigator, and AOL. 

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Wireless Internet
This is an Internet connection that, instead of plugging into a phone jack on your computer, uses a wireless receiver to send Internet signals to your computer without the need for a wired connection.  This means that you can work virtually anywhere in your house, but the further away from the receiver you are, the weaker your signal will be.

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Word Processing
This is simply using a computer program to write a letter, paper, or other text.

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