The key definitions of blended model terms below have been adapted from iNACOL and Keeping the Pace 2010.

Adaptive content - digital instructional materials that adjust difficulty based on user responses.

Advanced Placement: An Advanced Placement course is a college-level course taught in the high school context following a syllabus aligned with the College Board Advanced Placement test for that course.

Asynchronous - communication that is separated by time such as email or online discussion forums; it may be accessed from multiple settings (in school and/or out of school buildings)

At-risk student: A term used in the literature to refer to students who have learning and behavioral disabilities and are unable to cope in the traditional classroom and to students who are lower performing academically.

Blended learning: is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brickand-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.

Brick and mortar schools: Refers to traditional school or traditional school building, as contrasted with an online school.

Charter school: A tax-supported school established by a legal charter between a granting body (such as a state or a local school board) and an outside group (such as parents, teachers, or other educators) which operates the school without many local and state educational regulations.

Content repository: A venue for saving and sharing content. A digital content repository is an online venue for saving and sharing digital content.

Course enrollment: The number of students formally in a course. For state schools, this figure is used to calculate a school’s share of state FTE funds. Enrollment figures need to specify when during the course the figure is calculated.

Credit recovery: Refers to a student passing, and receiving credit for, a course that he/she previously attempted but did not succeed in earning academic credit towards graduation.

Digital learning – any type of learning that is facilitated by technology.

Distributed learning: Distributed learning is any learning that allows instructor, students, and content to be located in different locations so that instruction and learning occur independent of time and place.

Drop out rate: The number of students who do not complete a course as a percentage of the number who enrolled.

Face-to-face: When two or more people meet in person.

Filter (Browsers): Software that restricts access to designated websites.

Full-time equivalent (FTE): The number of students at a given institution if every student were full time, based on the local definition of full time.

Full-time online schools - also called cyber or virtual schools, work with students who are enrolled primarily (often only) in the online school. Online schools typically are responsible for their students’ scores on state assessments. In some states most fulltime
online schools are charter schools.

Highly qualified teacher: The current Federal definition of a highly qualified teacher is one who is fully certified and/or licensed by the state; holds at least a Bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution; and demonstrates competence in each core academic
subject area in which he or she teaches.

Hybrid Learning - often used synonymously with blended learning; typically refers to blending multiple modes of learning – combining online and on-site pedagogies and materials within the same classroom.

Independent study - In California, Independent Study is considered “non-classroom based instruction.” Generally, a student does not attend a traditional school site on a daily basis and is given the freedom to complete their assignments in an alternative environment. A Master Study Agreement is necessary for enrollment and funding. This form of study is advantageous to those students who desire a virtual environment or for students who cannot attend the traditional school day due to illness, athletics, arts, rural geographic location or other special needs. For more information, see the California Department of Education website at (

Instructional designer: Someone who is trained in the principles of instructional design, as well as curriculum, and designs courses.

Learning Management System (LMS): The technology platform through which online courses are offered. A LMS generally includes software for creating and editing course content, communication tools, assessment tools, and other features for managing the course.

Licensed content: Content whose use is restricted and only available with permission, generally for a fee.

Local Education Agency (LEA): In general this refers to a public school or school district. The term is formally defined in federal law and refers to the public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to
perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools.

Non-profit organization: A legal entity incorporated in the state in which it expects to do business, organization formally organized as a not-for-profit in that any profits used in the operation of the organization.

Online course: Any course offered over the Internet.

Online course provider: An organization that provides online courses.

Online learning - instruction via a web-based educational delivery system that includes software to provide a structured learning environment. It can be a teacher-led education that takes place over the Internet, with the teacher and student separated geographically (also cyber learning, e-learning, distance learning).

Online learning resources: Any digital material available for use in courses, both online and site-based.

Online professional development: Professional development delivered over the Internet, both to those teaching in site-based schools or those teaching online.

Online tutor: Someone who helps individuals or groups, to better understand specific content. Tutors do not teach courses but support students.

Open education resources (OER) – freely available instructional materials that can be redistributed.

Open source: Software products where the author(s) of the software agree to provide the source code for the software so others parties can contribute to the development of the software and/or modify it for their own use. The Open Source Initiative defines ten attributes that define open source software.

Pace/pacing: The speed with which a teacher or a student moves through a course.

Part-time instructors: Instructors who do not teach a full course load.

Part-time program: A program that allows students to take less than a full load of courses, as defined locally.

Part-time student: A student who does not take a full load of courses.

Quality standards: A set of benchmarks or indicators for courses, teaching, professional development, programs, etc., developed by a respected organization or association.

Retention rate: The number of students who complete a course as a percentage of the number who enrolled and/or the number of students who complete an online program at the end of a semester or year as a percentage of the number who enrolled.

Seat time: A measure of attendance in a brick-and-mortar school setting.

Section 508: The section of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that provides requirements regarding electronic and information technology being accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Social learning – like Facebook for schools, social learning platforms provide a messaging and content sharing among groups. Leading platforms manage privacy issues.

State-led online initiatives - are different from state virtual schools in that these initiatives typically offer online tools and resources for schools across the state but do not have a centralized student enrollment or registration system for students in online courses.

Student Information System (SIS): A software application used by schools to manage student data such as basic demographic data, course schedules, grade information, etc.

Student-teacher ratio: The number of students each teacher is assigned to teach.

Supplemental online programs - provide a small number of courses to students who are enrolled in a school separate from the online program.

Synchronous - communication in which participants interact in real time such as videoconferencing, phone calls, chat and face-to-face communication.

Teacher of record: The person who is formally responsible for grading students in a

Virtual class: A subunit of students working together.

Virtual classroom: place for instructors and students to interact and collaborate in real time (synchronously). Using webcams, chat boxes and class discussion features, it resembles the traditional classroom, except all participants are accessing it remotely over the Internet.

Web-based education: Any education offered over the Internet.

Web Conferencing System: A software system that allows for the creation of a virtual classroom or conference. Features in a web conferencing system include voice-over-IP, text chat, and a shared white board. Various commercial and open source web
conferencing systems have additional features.

Webinar: A seminar conducted synchronously over the Internet.