Baby Boomer Translation Guide: 5 Online College Terms You Should Know

When writer Teresa Ambord’s sister returned to college at 50, the experience was nothing like the first time around. As Ambord details in her article for go60.us, her sister was constantly mistaken for a teacher and found it frustrating to be the one fellow students looked to for all the answers — especially since she felt as lost as her younger classmates. When you’re returning to college in your golden years with new-found knowledge on current technology, some back-to-school challenges can be diminished if not eliminated altogether.

If you don’t know where to begin to find an online college offering the courses you’re interested in, try an online resource such as http://www.collegeonline.org. Just enter the degree you want in the field of your choice along with a subject to further narrow the scope, and these sites will match you up with the online colleges that fit best with your needs. Continuing your education online can be easier and more convenient than heading to campus, but there will still be challenges. The jargon might be new to you. Before you enroll and start filling up your class schedule with online courses, familiarize yourself with online college terms to make the transition smooth.

A.N.G.E.L.

The ANGEL—not an ethereal, heavenly creature—colleges are talking about can be considered a blessing to nontraditional and conventional students alike. The acronym signifies “A New Global Environment for Learning.” Essentially, it’s the system your college has in place through which you’ll access your online courses. Different colleges use different systems, so the ANGEL system, or portal, you must learn to navigate could go by any name. Education Dive says Blackboard is the most common Learning Management System, but your college may use another system such as Moodle, GoingOn or Sakai.

Forums and Discussion Boards

Online courses rely on virtual means to connect students with the instructor and each other. When you take online classes, your instructor will direct you to the forum or discussion board on your college’s website to participate in dialogue that would normally take place in a classroom. There, you can read other students’ questions and comments, post some of your own and see what the instructor’s responses. Learning the college lingo will certainly help your understanding. They’re typically not real-time, like chat rooms are, so you will have to check back periodically to catch up on the discussion and find answers to questions you’ve asked.

Hybrid Course

Many of the classes you need for your degree might be online classes, but if some are hybrid courses, be prepared to show your face in class from time to time. Hybrid courses combine the face-to-face interactions of normal classes with the flexibility online courses offer. That means you’ll have to attend a class on-campus from time to time, as well as access your course content online.

Web-Assisted Course

Not to be confused with online and hybrid courses, web-assisted courses rely least on the online aspect. Web-assisted courses are characterized by regular classroom activity and lectures, using the university’s web-based system for occasional information such as accessing notes, the syllabus or evaluations.

Developmental Classes

Developmental classes help you brush up on certain skills. These preparatory courses increase your chances of success in college by developing basic skills you’d like to improve such as grammar, writing or reading.