Important Terms and Concepts

Learning some important terms and concepts will help you build your own mental “map” of the course.
Browse the glossary using this index

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active learning

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:25 PM MDT)
Learning that engages the learner in deep rather than surface learning. This occurs when the learner is consciously attending to and interacting with the content, building mental schema and connections between concepts.


(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:06 PM MDT)
This is the general term for any activity the learner is required to perform in order to receive credit for the course. The real focus is on determining what the learner can do and how well she or he has met the course learning objectives.

Course content development is often emphasized while assessment is given a hasty second place. For AU online courses, designing assessment is as important as creating content. For tutor-marked assignments, the assessment design should include suitable learner supports such as links to the AU Write Site, math and science help, and information on plagiarism.

Examination design is another important assessment component. It's a good idea to work with your editor and IMA, who have a wide range of experience with writing effective exam questions and are aware of the various pitfalls.

Self study and self-test questions are also important course components because of their role in supporting learner success on the assessment activities.


(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:24 PM MDT)
Meaning 'not in/at the same time', this word refers mainly to communication activities where the response is not immediate. For example, in discussion forums, a learner may reply to a posted message hours or days later. There is not the immediacy of a conversation, and asynchronous communication lends itself to more reasoned and complex responses than synchronous chats do.



(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:06 PM MDT)

An online journal used to record personal reflections,ideas, activities. It can be used to host conversations with instructors, classmates, friends. Files can be embedded in the blog and discussed.


community of inquiry

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:37 PM MDT)
Learner Independence and Interdependence in Online Communities of Inquiry: The Case for Teaching Presence by Martha Cleveland-Innes and Randy Garrison states:

The three core elements of a community of inquiry are social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence. Each element supports the others and contributes to collaborative inquiry. The transactional and community approach uses sustained interaction and critical discourse as the primary means of learning. Teaching presence acts as the integrating function for cognitive and social presence. In other words, teaching presence brings together the social and cognitive presence elements and adjusts the design and activities as needed. Creating online communities of inquiry requires sustained support and guidance. Teaching presence is integral to sustain a community of inquiry. This is in contrast to traditional distance education where teaching presence and social presence are at best an option to students. (pp. 2-3)

Thus online course design ideally gives students the opportunity to create a social presence and also optimizes the allotted tutor time for each learner as well as providing opportunity for cognitive development.

concept mapping

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:23 PM MDT)
This refers to making a visual representation of concepts and the connections between concepts. Many formats and schemas are available online. Learners report finding these helpful. They are also helpful in developing diagrams to illustrate concepts to learners.

copyright officer

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:32 PM MDT)
The copyright officer ensures that Athabasca University has exercised due diligence in complying with Canadian copyright laws. She or he will also help you find alternatives to overly expensive or time-consuming copyright arrangements.

course announcement

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:26 PM MDT)
Formerly used in the AU context only as a euphemism for errata, in the Moodle context course announcements are delivered through the course News forum. Thus course announcements can now include other kinds of information from the tutor or other AU staff or faculty.

course coordinator

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:32 PM MDT)
The course coordinator is the senior academic staff member in charge of particular courses. The course coordinator works directly with course authors on both academic and administrative matters.

course life cycle

(Last edited: Sunday, 29 March 2009, 4:35 PM MDT)
The life cycle of an AU course begins with program planning , which may require a new course. The new course is planned, developed, delivered, evaluated, and revised as needed. Further program planning may result in the course being dropped, at which point its life cycle is over.

You as a course author and SME enter the process at the new course planning (a.k.a. Phase 3) or course revision (Phase 7) stages, working through development (Phase 4) with the EMD course team.

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