Printer-Friendly Version

CTools Logo


Click a letter: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z



See Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Acrobat Reader is a free software product from Adobe for viewing .pdf (portable document format) documents.

adaptive technology

Adaptive technology describes the use of hardware and software to assist individuals who have difficulty accessing information systems using conventional methods. For example, mini keyboards can be used by people with a small range of hand movement, and screen readers can be used by people who are blind.

Adobe Photoshop

High-end software from Adobe which is used to edit digital images. After using a scanner to digitize a picture, you can use Photoshop to edit and save pictures in a form that can be used in Web pages, PowerPoint presentations, and word processing documents.


AFS -- derived from the Carnegie Mellon Andrew File System -- is a network file system that allows machines transparent access to files located on other machines, or servers. The servers hold what are known as volumes -- or space that is allocated to a user or group -- and these volumes are mounted in the appropriate place under the /afs file tree. At UM, ITCS supports Open AFS for accessing IFS space. Open AFS is a program that provides a graphical interface on a computer desktop. Open AFS is currently used in most Michigan Computing Sites and is now available for home use through the ITCS website.


announcement tool

The announcement tool is used to inform site participants of current items of interest. Announcements can have multiple attachments like documents or URLs. Notifications of new announcements can be sent by email to a sites participants.

assignments tool

For courses, the CTools Assignments tool allows instructors to create, distribute, collect and grade online assignments. Assignments are private and student submissions are not visible to other users of the site.


An attachment is a supplemental file that you can create or upload. Attachments are usually associated with part of your site, for example, you might create an attachment to go with a discussion response or a schedule item.


The process of identifying and verifying that someone using a computer or network system is the person they claim to be. Usernames and/or passwords are commonly used for authentication. At UM we use uniqnames and Kerberos passwords.



back button

On your browser, this is a navigation button that returns you to the previous page. Back buttons can also be found on the webpages in many sites. In CTools, it is best to use the back buttons that are directly on the site’s pages and not the browser’s back button.

blog (also called a weblog or web log)

A website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blogging" means authoring, maintaining, or adding an article to a blog. Blogs tend to have a conversational style of writing and they often focus on a particular area of interest. Some personal blogs are about the author's own experiences.


Breadcrumbs is the term used for a row or path of navigation links that are written out in a line. When a webpage has a row of breadcrumbs, it is typically in the top-left quadrant of the main content window.

Each breadcrumb is a link to an item or folder that is in another folder. The example below contains five links: the last is to folderE, which is in folderD, which is in folderC, which is in folderB, which is in a main folder called Sitename Resources.

Location: Sitename Resources / folderB / folderC / folderD / folderE Little folder

In CTools, you can navigate between resources and folders by clicking on the folder links after the word "Location:" You can also click the small folder-shaped icon with an arrow in it to go to the folder that is up one level.



An application program that is used to access the web and websites.




See Common Gateway Interface.

chat tool

The CTools chat is a tool for real-time, unstructured conversations with users who are signed on to the site at the same time. By default, Chat messages are saved and visible to all users so that all site participants can benefit from clarifying conversations and questions and answers. The Chat tool allows for more than one "Chat Room" which an instructor or site owner can create for specific kinds of Chats. These additional chat rooms can be created using the Options feature.

close date

This is a date, specified when an assignment in a course site is created, when students can no longer turn in assignments.



See Course Management Software.

common gateway interface (CGI)

A protocol for programs running on a web server that perform actions beyond the scope of regular HTML.

community source

Community source is a model for software development. It is an extension of the already successful, economically feasible, open source movement. Based on the goal of addressing the common and unique needs of multiple institutions. community source relies more on defined roles, responsibilities, and funded commitments by community members, than some open source development models.

The Sakai Project, which designs, develops and deploys CTools (UM’s version of Sakai), is a community source project. See Sakai Project, below.

context sensitive help

Context sensitive help is online help (e.g., online how-to documentation) in which relevant parts of the help can be accessed directly from the different parts of the software. It provides immediate assistance to users without their having to leave the context in which they are working.
In CTools, clicking the little question mark in the upper-right corner of the main window of any tool will open the online help for that particular tool.


A file that stores information on a user’s computer that can be accessed by a web server when creating dynamic content (content personalized for the user). Cookies are commonly used to track sessions, identities, and/or sales.

course management system (CMS)

Software applications that supplement or replace traditional course activities, including content/instruction, communication, administration, scheduling, and more.

course site

A website for a specific course that is created by an instructor using CTools. A course site is used to supplement course instruction, and may include discussions, schedules, online assignments, electronic resources, and more.


CTools is an advanced web-based course and collaboration environment. It is a set of tools designed to help instructors, researchers and students create sites on the web.

Using a web browser, users choose from the many tools in CTools and combine them to create a site that meets their needs. Here are a few examples of websites made with CTools:

-- a website where an instructor or project director can make announcements and share resources, such as electronic documents or links to other websites

-- a website where researchers can collaborate on a project

-- a website that serves as an online discussion board

-- a website where students can work on and submit assignments electronically

CTools is UM's version of Sakai. (See Sakai in this glossary.) CTools originally evolved from University of Michigan's CourseTools and WorkTools applications.

CTools gateway

The CTools gateway is the “public face” of CTools. It is the first page you see when you open the URL, The CTools gateway can be viewed by anyone, whether or not they are a member of UM, and does not require a login.

The login button to open the actual CTools application is located in the upper-right hand corner of the CTools gateway.




digital audio

Audio that has been encoded in a digital form for processing, storage, or transmission. Audio can usually be digitized through standard sound cards, which come with most computers.

discussions tool

The CTools discussion feature allows structured conversations that are organized in categories. Site participants can post replies to a topic (a "flat" discussion) or to other replies (a "threaded" discussion). The site owner can also choose whether or not to allow site participants to post their own discussion topics. Users can view discussion in a row or column layout. This is a personal preference and changes only your view of Discussion.

drop box tool

The Drop Box tool provides a resource-type folder that allows you to establish a one-on-one correspondence with students in your class or participants on your project site. When a participant is added to a site in the role of Student, Member, or Observer, a drop box will be created for that site participant.



educational software

See Instructional Software.


electronic reserves

A service which allows instructors to place reserve readings online. Not all materials can be placed online, but this method provides convenient remote access to some readings that would normally be kept at the reserve desk in the library.

email alias

In CTools, this is the email address that you are prompted to create for your site when you set it up.

email archive

Each CTools site has an automatically generated site email address, which you can view in the Email Archive feature. Email sent to the site email address is copied to all site participants and owners. All messages sent to your CTools site's email address are stored in the Email Archive. The emails sent to site participants will indicate if there was an attachment and provide a link to get it from the worksite itself. Members of the group can choose how often they want to receive email sent to the site's email address in the Preferences feature in My Workspace. Site owners can create an easy-to-remember alias for the site's email address.

email notification

Email notification are emails sent to users to alert them to certain changes in one of the CTools sites in which they are a member. They may be sent out for new announcements or new resources. Those creating the announcement or resource can choose whether or not to send notifications. Site participants can choose whether they want to receive all or only high priority email notifications.

Enriching Scholarship

Two weeks of pedagogical and hands-on skill-building sessions for faculty and University instructors offered during May each year by the UM Teaching and Technology Collaborative. The first week includes a series of faculty roundtables focused on effective pedagogy, hosted by various departments. The second week includes over 100 sessions on the effective integration of information and technology with teaching, learning and research.






Mozilla Firefox (originally known as Phoenix and briefly as Mozilla Firebird) is a free, cross-platform, graphical web browser.

flat discussions

When posting a topic in the Discussion area, instructors have the ability to specify whether they wish to allow students to respond only to that topic or to any topic posted. If you allow postings only to the topics you specify, then you create a flat discussion. If, on the other hand, you allow replies to any posting, then you create a threaded discussion. Threaded discussions are by nature more interactive because users are able to reply to a reply. Flat discussions, in contrast, tend to be more structured and for this reason are more easily controlled.

foreign language input

CTools provides full support for non-roman characters, which allows users to hold Chats or Discussions in the appropriate language for your course.

friend account

A Friend Account is a special kind of account that is used to give non-UM members access to the general UM web environment. The UM web environment includes many tools and services, one of which is CTools. To get a Friend Account, open this URL and follow the on-screen instructions: http://

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

A method of transferring files to and from remote computers. Note that as of January, 2004, UM no longer uses FTP. Instead, UM is using newer the protocols SSH (Secure SHell) and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol).





A gateway is network point that acts as an entrance to another network. See CTools gateway and UM gateway in this glossary.


gradebook tool

The gradebook tool allows instructors to enter course assignments and corresponding student scores. Courses can be graded on letter grade, simple letter grade, or pass/fail scales.

Grad Tools

Grad Tools is software based on CTools which provides several features, including a Dissertation Checklist, that aid PhD candidates and their committees in planning and documenting the dissertation process.





home page

The top level document or page of a website.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

A language for specifying the structure of documents for retrieval across the Internet using web browser programs. Documents written in HTML have .html or .htm file extensions. For example, homepage.html or homepage.htm

HTTP streaming

A technology in which media data is fed to the user as it is viewed, as opposed to a data connection in which data is fed regardless of the rate at which the user is viewing it. Streaming media is a more continuous connection. With streaming media the goal is to bypass some limitations of the web.


A link in a given document to information elsewhere in the same document or in another document. These links are often represented by highlighted words or images or underlined words.






The Institutional File System (IFS) is a central file storage, sharing, and retrieval system that you can access from Windows, Macintosh, and Unix computers. Just as the ITCS e-mail service lets you access your e-mail from different computers at different locations, IFS lets you access your documents and files from different computers at different locations.


This is one of the roles that you can assign to participants of your course or project site. The instructor role is for those other than the site owner who might help conduct the class or project. The Instructor role can create, delete, and read anything in the site.

instructional software

Applications used for facilitating classroom administrative functions, class assignments, student progress assessments, and interclass communication. The instructor often has the ability to tailor the use of these products to fit specific course needs. Also called educational software.
instructional technology (Learning technology, LT)

Technology that benefits faculty and students by providing a pedagogically sound framework for developing courses and learning experiences. It can facilitate student access, automate administrative processes and provide rich, multi-modal educational experiences.


IP (Internet Protocol)

The basic language of the Internet, developed by the government for use in connecting multiple computer networks.

4-HELP -- This is the ITCS Computing Assistance Hotline. For CTools-related questions, it is best to contact the CTools consultants at Note: For questions about course material, please contact your instructor.

iTunes U

iTunes U is a service that allows instructors and project managers to easily post content — e.g., audio, video or pdf files of lectures, interviews, etc. — on the web. Students and project members can then use iTunes U to easily access this content at any time. They can browse and download the files to their Macs or PCs, regardless of their location, and they can listen to and view the content on their computers or transfer it to their iPods so they can listen to or view it wherever they go.

iTunes U is based on the same web application that runs the iTunes Music Store, which is an online music service run by Apple Computer. However, instead of storing and accessing music files, iTunes U is used to store and access files with educational and research content.

CTools has been set up to allow users to access iTunes U from within their course or project sites. In CTools sites in which the site creator has included the iTunes U tool, a button for iTunes U appears in the left-hand menubar of a course or project site along with the other tool buttons.




An object-oriented programming language that is platform independent (i.e., works on Windows, Mac OS, Linux). Java is used to write "java applets," which are small applications that can be embedded into web pages, giving the pages sophisticated functionality.


A relatively simple programming language developed by Netscape that allows web authors to give functionality to web pages. Common functions created with JavaScript are image rollovers (an image that changes when you scroll your mouse over it), browser detection, and pop-up windows.


JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A method of storing an image in digital format, JPEG is popular for use on the web because of its relatively high quality and low file size. Before uploading JPEGs to the web, users can determine the amount of compression assigned to the file — usually on a scale from 1 to 10. It is recommended for full-color or gray-scale digital images of "natural," real-world photographic images. It does not work as well as the GIF format for simple images such as cartoons and line drawings.



Making a CTools site joinable gives users the option of joining your site. You can make a site joinable after the site has been created, or during the site creation process.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR INSTRUCTORS: When you create a site for an official course, the students registered for that course will automatically become members of the site. You do not need to make the site joinable. If you do, anyone on the web can choose to be a member of your site. (At times, you may need to "manually" add a student, but you do not need to make the site joinable for this.)




An authentication protocol developed at MIT and used at UM that is based on a system of “tickets” which grant authenticated users access to applications and servers. (See also tickets.)

Kerberos password

This is a password that allows users at UM to authenticate, or prove, their identity when they access online services.



learning technology

See instructional technology.


local file

A file that resides on your computer.




See electronic media.


This is a role on project sites. Members can read, revise, delete and add their own content to a site.


One name for the vertical column of buttons along the left-hand side of the CTools window that take you to the tools in CTools.

Message of the Day

The Message of the Day, which appears on the homepage of your My Workspace and on the CTools gateway page, provides updates on new features, service issues, outage messages, etc.


MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension)

A specification for the formatting of non-text e-mail attachments that allows the attachment to be sent over the Internet. MIME allows a mail client or web browser to send and receive files like spreadsheets and audio, video and graphics via Internet mail.


Mozilla (a.k.a. the Mozilla Suite or the Mozilla Application Suite) is a free, cross-platform Internet software suite, whose components include a web browser, an email client, an HTML editor, and more.

MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group)

An evolving set of standards for video and audio compression and for multimedia delivery developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group. They identify and eliminate redundant data via an algorithm, while sacrificing a small amount of audio quality. MPEG 1 was designed for video-cd and cd-i media, and MPEG 2 is for full-resolution, full-motion video, digital TV broadcast and DVD.


Any combination of electronic media: audio, video, animation, graphics, etc.

My Workspace

My Workspace is an individual worksite that is automatically created for each CTools user. In My Workspace, you can: post files in your own private Resources tool; see an integrated Schedule for all sites you belong to; see Announcements from all sites you belong to; create your own private Schedule items; see a list of all sites you belong to in Worksite Setup; create project sites of your own for group work in Worksite Setup; revise worksites you own by adding users or changing tools; choose how you would like to be notified of new or changed items on sites you belong to in the Preferences tool; add yourself to publicly joinable sites in the Membership tool, and more.



news feeds

The News tool allows users to add something called an RSS feed. RSS feeds provide continuous updates of news items. As an example, think of ESPN, which is constantly updated with the latest scores. If you include the News tool and do not specify a source for the RSS feed, the system defaults to using the UM News Service. To add a site with an RSS feed,

news tool

The CTools News tool allows site owners to display automatically-updated news feeds from a variety of sources within their CTools site. University of Michigan news is automatically included. Site owners can customize their News feature by putting in a web address for any RSS news feed. Many feeds can be found by searching Google for RSS feeds in your area of interest.

non-UM member

A person who is neither staff, student, nor faculty at the University of Michigan.



An email that is sent out when certain functions occur, such as adding a resource.




This is a role for a site participant who should not be adding content or participating actively in the site, but who needs access to materials in the site. An observer can only see the site, but cannot make any changes, additions, or posts. An observer cannot see an unpublished site.

online help

A help guide that resides on a computer or on the web, or links to help documents, that provide users with information on how to use the application.


open source

Computer programs or operating systems for which the source code is publicly available. Inherent in the open source philosophy is the freedom of a distributed community of programmers to modify and improve the code.


This is a role is CTools sites for the person who created and controls the site. The owner can do nearly anything in the site, including deleting the site.





In CTools, a participant is user of a course site or project site.

participant list

A list of participants in a site.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

A proprietary document format from Adobe that preserves formatting such as specific fonts and graphics by embedding them into the file. PDF files are created with Adobe Acrobat. A PDF file will have this extension on the filename: .pdf


When you create a course or project website, you choose which tools or functions (e.g., discussion, schedule, resources, etc.) you want the site to have. For each of these functions, you can set permissions that allow or prevent users from seeing or performing certain tasks depending on a user's "role." See Role in this glossary.


A program launched by a browser, which allows certain types of files to be functional. These programs commonly let the user see and hear video and audio files (such as Flash or Shockwave), as well as view specialized text files or virtual reality models. They are called plug-ins because they are added to browsers to supplement their capabilities, and only run when needed to display files.


The distribution of audio files (such as radio programs) or video files over the internet using RSS (see definition in this glossary) so that the files can be viewed or listened to on personal computers and mobile devices (e.g., iPods). (Some prefer to use the term podcasting only for distribution of audio, and not video, files.)

Podcasting vs. real-time streaming: Podcasts differ from real-time video and audio streaming (see streaming media in this glossary) and from simply downloading audio and video files, in that with podcasts, new content is continuously delivered automatically.

Podcasting vs. traditional broadcasting: With podcasting, users collect program files from various internet sources and then listen to or view them offline when they want. In contrast, traditional broadcasting provides only one source that is broadcast at a specific time that is determined by the broadcaster.


preferences tool

The preferences tool, available in My Workspace, allows you to specify your choices for email notification and for customizing tabs.

progressive download

A method of delivering digital audio or video over a network. Unlike true streaming media, which sends only a small portion of content at a time, progressive downloading downloads the whole file and begins playback as soon as enough of the file has been transferred to play uninterrupted.

project site

In CTools, a project site is a website for research collaboration or projects.


In CTools, public refers to people who are not participants of a site.

public list

In CTools, this is a site list that is viewable by the public. It can be viewed by the CTools gateway or, in some cases, from My Workspace.





See QuickTime.



See QuickTime VR.

QuickTime VR (QTVR)

A part of the QuickTime architecture that allows 360-degree interactive panoramas to be developed and viewed.

QuickTime (QT)

A method of storing movie and audio files in a digital format. QuickTime was developed by Apple Computer.






A CODEC (compressor/decompressor) for delivering streaming video over the Internet (See CODEC in this glossary). Like other CODECs, (such as QuickTime and Windows Media Player), RealMedia (which is comprised of RealVideo, RealAudio, and other file formats created by Real) uses compression algorithms to remove data so that file sizes can be minimized. The amount of quality that is sacrificed for faster transmission depends on the amount of compression.


Technology that allows viewing, listening and editing while an event is happening. For example, in realtime video editing, video is playing, changes are being made in the video, and the video with the changes is being recorded, all at the same time.



A file that you have uploaded or created using the resource tools. Resources are available to other participants in a project our course site.

resources tool

The resource tool is the most widely used feature in classes and collaborations. With it, you can make many kinds of material available online. There are three types of resources: documents (word processing documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, plain text, etc.); links to other websites; and simple text documents that will display right on the CTools page.

Rich Text Format (RTF)

A document format which allows documents to retain their formatting when transferred between platforms and over the Internet.


Project and course site creators can assign roles to participants of these sites. Each role has a set of permissions associated with it.


A list of participants.

RSS feeds

The CTools News tool allows users to add something called an RSS feed. RSS feeds provide continuous updates of news items. As an example, think of ESPN, which is constantly updated with the latest scores. If you include the News tool and do not specify a source for the RSS feed, the system defaults to using the UM News Service. To add a site with an RSS feed,



See Rich Text Format.




A web browser developed by Apple Computer Co.


Sakai is an online open source web-based Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE). Many users of Sakai deploy it to support teaching and learning, ad hoc group collaboration, support for portfolios and research collaboration.

Sakai is a free and open-source product that is built and maintained by the Sakai community. Sakai's development model is called "community source" because many of the developers creating Sakai are drawn from the "community" of organizations that have adopted and are using Sakai. A set of generic collaboration tools forms the core of Sakai. The core tools can be augmented with tools designed for a particular application of Sakai.

At UM, Sakai is called CTools, while at other institutions it may be called Sakai or it may have a different name. Some examples: University of Cape Town's Vula; Indiana University's Oncourse; iLearn at Lake Erie College; Texas State University's TRACS; Yale's "classes" v2.

The origin of CTools (Sakai) can be traced back to the late 1990s when the application called CourseTools was developed by Tom Knox, with help from Gonzalo Silverio, at what was then the University of Michigan Office of Instructional Technology. CourseTools was designed to be used in the classroom setting, and soon after, UM.WorkTools, which was for project and research collaboration, was developed Marco Rocco. The two were merged into what was called CTNG (CouseTools Next Generation) and soon after, CTNG evolved into Sakai.

CourseTools was locally designed and used at UM. In contrast, the Sakai community, with over 100 members as of 8/06, works together to further develop Sakai. The Sakai Project has its origins at the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Like UM, Indiana University was interested in enhancing the functionality of their course software. Soon after, MIT and Stanford joined in and, along with the Open Knowledge Initiaitive (OKI) and the uPortal consoritum, and a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, they formed the Sakai Project. During the Fall of 2005, the Sakai Project became the Sakai Foundation.

For more information about Sakai, go to:

Sakai Commercial Affiliates

The Sakai Commercial Affiliates (SCA) are commercial firms that offer support and expertise for the Sakai Project's community source software. Commercial Affiliates often offer some combination hosting, consulting, installation, integration, and support services

Sakai Educational Partners Program

The Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP) was launched in March 2004 to focus on the needs of educational institutions that wish to adopt Sakai tools or to develop tools for inter-institutional portability. SEPP provided partners with early information on the direction of the Sakai Project, strategic briefings to help plan for Sakai implementation at partner institutions, and discussions of the project roadmap, and more. When the Sakai Project became the Sakai Foundation, SEPP was replaced with the Sakai Partners Program. (See definition, below.)

Sakai Foundation

The Sakai Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to coordinating activities around Sakai and the Sakai community to insure Sakai's long-term viability.

The Sakai Foundation has a number of staff focused on coordinating activities, including a full-time Executive Director who manages the daily operation of the foundation. Sakai staff provides coordination across a number of activities including: project management, quality assurance, release management and conference planning.

The Sakai Foundation is supported by voluntary partner contributions. The Sakai Partners elect the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, which provide the strategic leadership for the Sakai Foundation.

The original Sakai Project, started in 2004, became the Sakai Foundation during fall of 2005.


Sakai Partners Program

The Sakai Partners Program (SPP) focuses on the needs of educational institutions that wish to adopt Sakai tools or to develop tools for inter-institutional portability. SPP provides partners with early information on the direction of the Sakai Project, strategic briefings to help plan for Sakai implementation at partner institutions, and discussions of the project roadmap. Partners get early access to Sakai documents and some pre-release software as well as technical support staff. Sakai conferences include developer training, strategy sessions, community planning, and other opportunities to connect with partner institutions. The Sakai Partners Program is the long-term sustainability organization for the Sakai Foundation software that will continue after the initial two year development grant.

Sakai Project

The Sakai Project is a community source software development effort to design, build and deploy a new Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) for higher education. The Project evolved from the CHEF project and began in January, 2004.

The Project's primary goal was to deliver the Sakai application framework and associated CMS tools and components that are designed to work together. These components are for course management, and, as an augmentation of the original CMS model, they also support research collaboration. The software has been designed to be competitive with the best CMSs available.

The tools have been and continue to be built by designers, software architects and developers at different institutions, using an experimental variation of an open source development model called the community source model (see below). To provide a support system for institutions that want to be involved in the Sakai Project, either by adopting Sakai tools or by developing tools for inter-institutional portability, the Sakai Project has also formed the Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP) and the Sakai Commercial Affiliates Program..

schedule tool

The schedule tool allows instructors or site organizers to post items in a calendar format. The calendar has day, week, month, year, and a flat list view.


A computer that resides on a network that offers a service to clients, be it a website, a printer, a file share, or even access to other servers.


A method (protocol) for transferring files to and from remote computers. Note that as of January, 2004, UM no longer uses FTP for transferring files. Instead, UM is using the newer and more secure protocols SSH and SFTP (Secure FTP).


simple text document

A text document that is typed directly into a window in CTools.

site homepage

A site's homepage is the central way of accessing your site and can be used for posting information about your course in an area known as Worksite Information. Information displayed here may be in the form of text or an HTML web page. You can also have recent announcements, chat items and discussion items displayed on a site’s homepage.

site info tool

The Site Info tool provides information about a site and allows the site owner to make changes to the information about the site, the tools, and access to the site. Using the Site Info tool, the site owner can also publish the site, duplicate the site, and specify material from other sites by the same owner to use in the site.


See UM.SiteMaker.


A method (protocol) for transferring files to and from remote computers. Note that as of January, 2004, UM no longer uses FTP for transferring files. Instead, UM is using the newer and more secure protocols SSH and SFTP (Secure FTP).

streaming media

Video or audio transmitted over a network that users can begin to play immediately instead of waiting for the entire file to download. Typically a few seconds of data is sent ahead and buffered in case of network transmission delays. The streaming media is usually broadcast live.


This is one of the roles that you can assign to participants in your course or project site. Students are already granted student permissions in course sites when they register for a course. The student role allows posting of discussion replies and chat messages, and files can be put in a student's drop box. Elsewhere in the site, a student can read content but they cannot create Resources, Discussion Categories, Announcements, or Schedule items.



Various types of help for users of certain types of technologies. Support may include phone and email consulting, in-person consulting, training, help documentation, and help with special projects.

syllabus tool

The syllabus is the official outline for a course. An instructor can direct the syllabus tool to link to a syllabus that has already been made, or create a syllabus from within the syllabus tool.



tab management

Using the preference tool in My Workspace, users can choose which course site or project site tabs they want visible and which they want to hide. They can also decide the order of the visible tabs.


In CTools, tabs are rectangular buttons with the names of course and project sites. Clicking the tabs takes you to the sites.

Tachyglossus aculeatus

Click here to see a Tachyglossus aculeatus.


TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)

A set of rules (a protocol) that establish the method with which data is transmitted over the Internet between two computers. TCP ensures that packets of data are shipped and received in the intended order, and received intact. TCP enables two computers to connect and exchange information.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol with Internet Protocol)

One of the core protocols underlying the Internet. TCP, which guarantees delivery of data and also guarantees that information packets will be delivered in the same order in which they were sent, works with IP, which was developed for use in connecting multiple computer networks.

Teaching and Technology Collaborative (TTC)

A UM collaborative that connects faculty with services and resources that support their teaching. The TTC is a group comprised of staff from many units across campus. Together they provide information, referrals, and programs for instructors at UM.



Any kind of multi-way communication carried out in realtime using telecommunications or computer networks and equipment. This includes, videoconferencing, audioconferencing, and dataconferencing.

tests and quizzes tool

This tool allows users to create online assessments (i.e., tests, quizzes, and surveys) for delivery via a web interface to students or other groups. It is used mainly to administer tests, but can also be used to create assessments to gather survey information or informal course feedback.

threaded discussions

When posting a topic in the Discussion area, instructors have the ability to specify whether they wish to allow students to respond only to that topic or to any topic posted. If you allow postings only to the topics you specify, then you create a flat discussion. If, on the other hand, you allow replies to any posting, then you create a threaded discussion. Threaded discussions are by nature more interactive because users are able to reply to a reply. Flat discussions, in contrast, tend to be more structured and for this reason are more easily controlled.


A unique code “key” which is assigned by a Kerberos authorization server to each person who tries to authenticate to a network. The ticket verifies the identity of the user to the network.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

A file format often used for archiving high quality versions of images, such as those intended to be reproduced in print, or studied digitally in minute detail. The compression applied to an image does not create artifacts that can degrade the appearance of the image.


In CTools, “tool” refers to the various functions that are available to users, including resources, schedule, assignments, announcements and more. Site creators choose which tools to have in their sites. Buttons for each of the tools in a particular site will appear in the left-hand menubar.





UM gateway

The University of Michigan Gateway serves as an entry point to networked information created or maintained by units of the University. The gateway is a directory of the websites and other online resources available at the U-M. UM member

A person who is staff, student or faculty at the University of Michigan.

UM web services

Web services that are provided by UM. These can be accessed at

UM gateway

The University of Michigan Gateway serves as an entry point to networked information created or maintained by units of the University. The gateway is a directory of the websites and other online resources available at the U-M.


Software designed to help instructors create web-based quizzes, tutorials and surveys. Questions can be multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, or survey. Student responses and class statistics are available at any time.



A University-wide application system that makes it easier to turn ideas and information into websites. It also allows local support staff to facilitate website creation and maintenance. UM.SiteMaker is designed to be flexible and easy to use.

uniqname (pronounced "unique name")

A personal identifier that is required for using computing services across the UM campus.

University of Michigan gateway

See UM gateway.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

The address to a source of information on the web. The URL contains four distinct parts, the protocol type, the machine name, the directory path and the file name.

Usability Lab

The Usability Support and Evaluation Lab has a dedicated Usability Lab for University of Michigan faculty, staff, students and others interested in evaluating websites, web-based tools, and software. Usability specialists can provide project consulting or training in evaluation methods, in addition to a wide range of usability services. Usability testing can be performed either in the Usability Lab or off-site. Outside companies can also rent the lab and its equipment.



The evaluation of a product or service to determine how easy is it to learn, how easy is it to use, and how well it meets user needs. Formal usability testing is observational research done in usability labs in which a usability specialist records users trying to accomplish specific tasks with the software being tested. Other types of formal evaluations include heuristic analyses, card sorting, cognitive walk-throughs, and keystroke analyses. Often additional information is collected through target audience interviews, focus groups, user surveys, and competitive analyses. This information is incorporated into product design improvements by usability specialists, user-interface designers and other product team members.

Usability Support and Evaluation Lab

See USE Lab.


The Usability Support and Evaluation Lab is a multi-purpose facility where faculty can come together to share ideas and work with staff who are experts in instructional technology and digital media. Instructional technologists help faculty to effectively integrate electronic tools into their teaching by providing assistance for a long-term project or short-term technical support. The goal is to assist faculty to apply technology for innovative teaching and learning. Additionally, the Usability Support and Evaluation Lab supports the development and implementation of new instructional products and projects. Usability specialists in the Usability Lab employ a variety of methods to evaluate websites, web-based tools, and software.

users present window

This window lists the participants that are online in a particular course or project site. A separate users present window, which is visible while the chat tools is being used, shows which users are participating in the chat.



video conferencing

Realtime communication over a distance by allowing people at two or more sites to communicate with each other. Each site has one or more cameras, microphones, loudspeakers and monitors, as well as a CODEC (Compressor/Decompressor), which processes the audio and video. It aims to create virtual presence, a sense of a person at a distant site appearing to be in the same room.



web content tool

The web content feature allows site owners to choose a website to display within the CTools frame. The "Web Content" link in the left-hand menu is customizable so you can create a label that matches the website you've chosen to display.


The University of Michigan’s web-based mail program,, provides secure access to your UM email from any computer with an Internet connection. It is also called webmail and

web page

A document, usually written in HTML, that can be accessed on the Internet. Web pages can contain information, graphics, hyperlinks to other web pages and files, and more.

web server

A combination of computer hardware and special software used to store web pages.


A tool that allows users to upload multiple documents to websites.

weblog or web log

See blog.


weblogin provides links to UM’s web-based services. With weblogin, users only need to log in once per session to access a number of different UM service sites.


A collection of web pages which provide information such as text, graphics, and audio files to users as well as connections (hypertext links, hyperlinks, or just links) to other websites on the Internet.


A kind of website that lets multiple users add and change the content of the site. Wikis often include tools that allow users to monitor the constantly changing content. Sometimes wiki refers to the actual software on which the website is based, the wiki engine.

worksite information tool

On the home page of each course website, there are boxes that can contain general information, recent announcements, recent discussion items, and recent chat messages.


In CTools, worksite refers to either a course site for a class of students, or a project site where participants collaborate on a project or research. It may have been designed with just a few or with many of the possible CTools features. One person, the administrator, creates and maintains the website, and permits other people to be members.

worksite setup tool

The worksite setup tool allows users to create sites, and revise and delete their own sites.


A workspace is a personal website feature in CTools. The functions that are available in a workspace vary depending on the software, from creating course websites to carrying on discussions with other users, storing electronic resources, and more. Also called “My Workspace.”




XML (eXtensible Markup Language)

An emerging standard for describing, or marking up, documents and data distributed on the web. XML allows authors to create customized tags that can help them efficiently achieve their goals.















Tachyglossus aculeatus