Student Help Desk Glossary

Browser – You can select from a number of browsers which are application programs used to "Surf the Web" (WWW - World Wide Web). Examples include: Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer, however Firefox and Chrome are most effective with Canvas.

Cookie - A file that is written to your Hard Disk when you access certain Web Pages. The file contains certain information, often information that you entered when you clicked on the page such as your preferences, your name, or e-mail address. Only the web site that created the cookie can read it. The next time you click on this page a check is done to see if the cookie exists and it uses your preferences to display the web site.

Ctrl - A term that represents the control key on your keyboard.

Cursor - A flashing rectangle or line on the screen that shows where you are working. For example, when using a Word Processor the cursor indicates the point at which the characters being typed will be inserted. 

Cut and Paste - Allows you to remove (cut) sections from one document and place (paste) them in another document. It is a bit like using your PC instead of scissors and glue.

Domain Name – Represents an Interned Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a web site, or the web site itself or any other service communicated via the Internet.  For example, "" is an example of a Domain Name. The "com" indicates that Yahoo is a commercial organization. Other examples of codes include: “edu” - educational institution, “gov” - non-military government organizations, “net” – networks, and “org” - non-profit organization.

Download - To copy files from another computer to your own PC via a network or by using a modem.

Drag and Drop – A function to “drag” a file by clicking its icon with the left-hand mouse button depressed and moving the mouse pointer - the file is dragged along. When you let go of the file pointer the icon is released or dropped. You can use this technique to move a file between directories.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) - This is a term used to provide users with answers to common questions.

Firewall - A combination of specialized hardware and software designed to keep unauthorized users from accessing information from your computer.

Frame - A term with many different uses but by far the most frequently used is in relation to Web pages where the Web page being viewed has a number of independent boxes or frames. This is common with search engines where in the left hand frame you enter the information to be searched and the results of this search are presented back in the right hand “frame”.

Graphic - A picture or non-text item within a document. Most Web pages will contain a number of graphics.

Hacker - Usually a person who is committed to breaking computer security.  This is usually considered a criminal act.

Homepage - Page by which a user normally enters a web site. If you click on the button with a picture of a house on it usually you will display the “Home Page” of the site you are visiting.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) - Text based language used to construct web pages and interpreted by Web Browsers. Web pages are a collection of HTML instructions, which you can see by using the View HTML Source Option from your Web Browser’s menu.

HTTP (Hyper Text Transmission Protocol) - Protocol that computers on the Internet use to communicate with each other.

Hyperlink - Highlighted, underlined phrase or word on a web page that can be clicked on to go to another part of the page or even to another web site.

Internet - World-wide computer network through which you can send a letter, chat to people electronically or search for information.  Quite simply it is a "network of computer networks".

IP (Internet Protocol) Address – Unique number that is used to represent every single computer in a Network. All the computers on the Internet have a unique IP address. The format of the IP Address is 4 numbers separated by dots e.g.

ISP (Internet Service Provider) - Company that offers its customer’s access to the Internet. An ISP might provide dial-up service, cable, DSL, or other types of Internet access.

Link - Component of a hypertext document (usually appears in a different color) which when clicked with a mouse takes the user to another document or a different section of the current document.

Login/Logon - Terms for the process of actually gaining access to the resources on a particular computer.  Normally this is done by entering a user ID and a password.

Logout/Logoff - Process of actually ending access to a particular computer.

Mailbox - File or directory for incoming e-mail messages are stored on the computer of your Internet Service Provider.

Mailing/Distribution List - Single E-mail address comprised of several different E-mail addresses.  For instance your local college may have a mailing list called "Staff" which contains all of the E-mail addresses of the staff on campus.

Multimedia - Presentation of video, sound, graphics, text and animation by appropriate software.

Network - Basically a series of wires and cables that connect a number of computers. Data is exchanged between computers via these cables.

Page - Single HTML document on the World Wide Web. When you are looking at a website, a page is generally what you see in a single browser's frame. If you click on a link it takes you to another page.

PC (Personal Computer) - Any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals.

Password - Code known only by a user to ensure that the individual who is trying to Login to the computer is the actual person that the User ID being used belongs to.

POP (Post Office Protocol) - Standard for exchanging E-mail between a user’s PC and their Internet Service Provider.

IP (Internet Protocol) Address - Number that uniquely identifies each computer on the Internet. A computer's IP address may be permanently assigned or supplied each time that it connects to the Internet by an Internet service provider.  

RTF (Rich Text Format) - File format developed by Microsoft and most word processors can process RTF files.  The format was developed to enable documents to be transferred between application programs.  Rich Text Format Files have the file extension RTF.

Search Engine(s) – An essential tool on the Internet  because they help you find web sites relating to a particular subject or the E-mail address of someone you know or articles posted to a Newsgroup or even companies which have a presence on the Internet. Most of the information provided by search engines is categorized so the search can be considerably refined before you even begin. Search engines are basically huge databases containing millions of records, which include the URL of a particular web page along with information relating to the content of the web page. The search engine obtains this information via a submission from the author or by the search engine performing a "crawl" using "robot crawlers" over the Internet for information.  Some search engines use “Spiders” to obtain information.  There are a number of facilities available on the web that allows authors to submit their web pages to hundreds of web sites at once. The majority of the people on the Internet use Google and Yahoo to search for information. The most popular search engines are: Yahoo, Google, Alta Vista, Excite, Hotbot, Galaxy, Infoseek, Lycos, or WebCrawler.

Signature - Three or four lines at the end of an E-mail message that provides additional information about the sender. Application programs such as Internet Mail allow an E-mail user to create a default signature that will appear on all E-mails sent. Most people include their E-mail address and a link to their web page (if they have one).

Site - Group of Web Pages that collectively represent a company, or individual on the web. A group of Web pages that have been developed together to present information on a specific subject is also a Site. 

Thread - Term with many different meanings but the most common is with respect to E-mail and newsgroups where a thread is basically a series of messages or postings all related to the same topic.

Timed Out - Term used widely in the world of Information Technology and indicates that some predefined amount of time has been exceeded. If you connect to the Internet or a network and do not use the system for a few minutes then you may get timed out i.e. logged off. This generally happens to free up a connection for someone else to use.

Toolbar - This sits across the top or down the side of a particular Window. The toolbar allows you to perform certain tasks such as opening a file or submitting a print. The toolbar can usually be customized so that you can add those tasks that are most regularly performed.

Upload - To copy files from your own PC to another computer via a network or using a modem (opposite of download).

URL (Uniform Resource Locater) - How documents on the WWW are referenced. The URL contains the protocol to be used e.g. HTTP.

User ID - Each person that is permitted to use a computer can be allocated an identification code that uniquely identifies them to the computer. Normally the user will first be asked to enter this code - their user ID followed by their password when they logon to the computer.

Video Conference - A conference held between a number of people in different geographic locations. Each has a PC with a video camera attached. Each person is recorded on the camera and the image is played back on the other participants PC's by a special application program.

Virus - A program, often created by hackers with the intent of damaging the files on your PC.

Virus Scan - A program you can run (usually automatically)   to check that your PC contains no known viruses.

Web Browser - Application program, which interprets HTML and presents the final web page.  It is used to "Surf the World Wide Web".  Examples include: Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome.

Web Page - HTML document, which contains information that can be seen on the Internet.

Website - Group of Web Pages that collectively represent a company, or individual on the WWW (World Wide Web). A group of web pages that have been developed together to present information on specific subjects is also a Web Site.

WWW (World Wide Web) - Internet facility that allows you to browse linked web pages.

Zip - Files that contain vast amounts of information that have undergone compression to reduce the amount of space that they take up. This file type is very popular on the Internet.  An application that, for example, requires five megabytes of disk space can be compressed into a two megabyte zip file that is obviously quicker to download. Two popular Zip programs are PKZIP and WinZip.