Picture of two students looking at a computer screen. Picture of a professor with a computer teaching a small group of students. Picture of a student working at a laptop.

Glossary of Terms

Throughout this web site, there are technical terms and phrases that relate to the overall intent of the UDI Online Project: to support “faculty as designer” in implementing innovative instructional practices in online and blended courses to meet the needs of diverse learners. The glossary is intended to provide a uniform definition of terms and to promote a common understanding of these terms.



The degree to which an e-tool makes course content attainable to diverse learners.



An adjustment, change, or consideration made to course assignment(s) or evaluation(s) to assist a student in being able to complete the assignment(s) or evaluation(s).


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

A neurobiological disability with characteristics of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity that appears in early childhood, is relatively chronic in nature, and is not due to other physical, mental, or emotional causes (Center for Students with Disabilities, www.csd.uconn.edu). According the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV, 1994), "the essential feature of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development" (p. 78). The subtypes of this disorder vary according to the predominant symptom pattern (i.e., inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or a combination of these characteristics).



Methods used to measure student understanding/knowledge of course content.


Asynchronous Instruction and Learning

Instruction and learning that are not simultaneous. In the context of this project, this term refers to instruction and learning that are taking place at varying times and schedules rather than during a set meeting time.


Blended Course

One that is primarily taught face-to-face and that uses an electronic course authoring system to deliver components of instruction, assessment, and/or communication. The class uses both online and face-to-face interaction in varying degrees as guided by institutional and programmatic needs. The online components may be presented asynchronously.


Cognitive Access

Approaches and elements that assist diverse learners to acquire, comprehend, recall, apply, evaluate, integrate, and express information within a digital learning environment.


Communication Access

Approaches and elements that provide multiple opportunities for interaction and dialogue to engage diverse learners within a digital learning environment.



Methods used to present course content to students and to encourage student engagement with the content as well as with fellow students in the course and the instructor.



The degree to which the features of an e-tool can produce a selected outcome. The outcome is determined by the faculty member given a particular need.



Digitally presented materials, instructional techniques, and/or strategies that can be used or manipulated by a course instructor to proactively create a learning environment that benefits a broad range of learners.


Faculty as Designer

A concept that describes the role of a faculty member who is not reliant or is less reliant on working with an instructional or web designer in planning/designing, delivering, and assessing an online and/or blended course and in implementing innovative instructional practices in such courses.



A part or characteristic of an e-tool.


Learning Disability

A specific type of disability that has multiple definitions. The most relevant definition for postsecondary level students and adults comes from the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD, 1998) which defines learning disability (LD) as “a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skills. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to a central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other disabilities (e.g., sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those conditions or influences.”



Items such as software, templates, rubrics, and online engines that can be incorporated into instruction or assessment. Material may be used as is, or it may be adapted for a particular need.



Planned activities that are selected for presenting content material, for having students apply what they have learned, and for evaluating students’ learning.



An educational or instructional unit that covers a single subject or topic.


Online Class

One that is taught completely electronically in an asynchronous manner. The class may have one or two face-to-face meetings over the course of the term. However, instruction, learning, communication, and assessment are done primarily in an electronic medium using a course authoring system.


Physical Access

Approaches and elements that support the ease of navigation of course web sites, clarity in the display of course content, and availability of course information in multiple formats to provide opportunities for diverse learners to acquire and manipulate course content within a digital learning environment.



Methods used to design a course, including but not limited to: identifying course goals, objectives, and topics; determining the sequence and organization of topics; selecting relevant readings and other course activities relating to course content; delineating course expectations for students; and presenting guidelines for student engagement and interaction with faculty and other students.



Purposeful plans or methods for delivering or assessing instruction or enhancing student learning.


Synchronous Instruction and Learning

Instruction and learning that are occurring simultaneously. In the context of this project, this term refers to instruction and learning that are taking place during a set meeting time.



Methods; practices; procedures; strategies.



Tools used to enhance instruction that may range along a continuum from low tech to high tech.


Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)

An approach to teaching that consists of the proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners including students with disabilities.



The degree to which an e-tool can be easily implemented within a course.


Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2009). Universal Design for Instruction at UConn: Glossary of Terms. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/glossary-terms