ICT Glossary

Kids on the Net includes many types of children's writing from stories to recipes.

One of the most exciting types of writing featured on the site is hypertext. Hypertext is writing which uses the power of computers and the Internet to allow the reader to click links on the page which can go to all sorts of places: different versions of the next chapter, alternative endings, descriptions, information, pictures, sounds or anything else that can feature on a web page!

If you want to know more about the possibilities of using hypertext in the classroom, read Helen Whitehead's article.

If you are quite new to web writing or just want to know what PDF means then the glossary below may help.



  • Add-in: A mini program which runs in conjunction with a web browser or other application that adds to the functions of that program. The add-in will not necessarily run independently of the main application. Also known as Plug-In
  • Address: The location of an Internet resource. An email address typically appears something like nospam@helenwhitehead.com. A web address will look like http://www.eteachersportal.com
  • ADSL ("Asymmetric" Digital Subscriber Line"): A faster way to connect to the Internet. Theoretically ADSL allows download speeds of up to 9 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second.
  • Anonymous FTP: An anonymous FTP site allows Internet users to log in and download files from a computer without having a userid and password for that system. To login it is usual to type anonymous as the userid and your email address as the password. See also FTP.


  • Bandwidth: The amount of information you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits, which takes about a second on a fast modem. The faster your modem the more bandwidth you have (think of it as a wider water pipe). Everything you send or receive or see on the Web is transferred through your connection, so when an advert downloads from, e.g., a webpage, you can see it as "theft of your bandwidth".

  • Bitmap File: A common image format (.bmp) defined by a rectangular pattern of pixels. The .bmp file is often large and detailed compared to the .jpg or .gif file formats which are used on the Web.

  • Bookmark (or Favourite): A record on your computer pointing to a particular Web site. Within your browser, you can bookmark interesting pages (or add them to Favorites) so that you can return to them easily.

  • Broadband: Fast connection to the Internet.
  • Browser: A program or piece of software that is used to look at World Wide Web pages. Examples include Netscape, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mosaic.
  • Byte: A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made. See also: Bit


  • Cache: A section on your computer disc which stores files and information.

  • Cascading menu: A way of navigating a Web site in which each entry on the menu brings up a submenu. The eteachers' Portyal has a cascading menu. Move your cursor up to the heading About in the navigtaion bar on this page to see an example. There may be several levels before the entries become clickable hyperlinks (most of ours are clickable).
  • CD-ROM (CD - Read Only Memory): A CD for storing data files. It is only possible to read from (open files on) a CD-ROM and not write to (Save files on) it.
  • CD-R: A Recordable CD which does allow you save a collection of files onto it in one "burn" process. Good for backup or copies of web projects. Not reusable.
  • CD-RW (ReWritable CD): Can save files on more than one occasion: even better for backup archiving and storage.
  • Chat: A system that allows for live real-time online communication between Internet users. One of the commonest types is called Internet Relay Chat. Safe use of chat reuqires you to select your chatroom carefully to ensuire it is properly moderated. Kids on the Net does not operate chatrooms,
  • Check box: A small square in an online form which you click on to activate a tick or check mark.
  • Cookie: Files stored on your hard drive by your Web browser that hold information about your browsing habits, like what sites you have visited, which newsgroups you have read, etc. Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc. When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular user's requests. Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time. Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them. See also: Browser, Server
  • Cyberspace: Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer. The word Cyberspace is currently used to describe a variety of computer-based activities. I like to think of it as the place you go when you're online.


  • Dial-up Connection: A connection to the Internet via phone and modem.
  • Direct Connection: A connection made directly to the Internet - much faster than a dial-up connection.
  • Discussion Group: A group of people connected via a mailing list or web-based discussion system, usually dedicated to a particular subject of interest.
  • Domain Name: The unique name that identifies an Internet site so that you don't need to know the true numerical IP address.. Domain Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may have more than one Domain Name (eg kidsonthenet.org.uk and kidsonthenet.com both point here) but a given Domain Name (eg helenwhitehead.com) points to only one machine.
  • Domain: The Internet is divided into smaller sets known as domains, including .com (business), .gov (government), .edu (educational) and others.
  • Download: The process of getting data file(s) from a remote computer or server on the Web and copying them onto your own computer. This happens every time you click on a web link, view an image or listen to an audio file. The opposite action is upload where a local file is copied to a server, typically when you are adding or replacing files on your website.
  • DVD or digital video disc, also digital versatile disc: a storage format particularly suitable for multimedia and films. It is replacing the CD as storage in PCs.


  • email (Electronic Mail): Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. Email can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses (Mailing List).
  • Emoticon: A combination of characters that form a facial expression. For example, if you turn your head sideways, the characters : ) make a smiley face, and the characters 8 ) make a four-eyed smiley. Frequently used in email messages to convey a particular tone.


  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): FAQs are a collection of common questions and answers on a particular subject. There are hundreds of FAQs on subjects as diverse as Pet Grooming and Cryptography. FAQs are usually written by people who have tired of answering the same question over and over.
  • Firewall: A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes. To the user a firewall is usually only visible when it stops something such as a virus or access to chat.
  • FreeWare: Software that is available for download and unlimited use without charge. Compare to shareware.
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A set of rules for exchanging files between computers via the Internet. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. You would probably use FTP to upload files to your website.


  • GIF (Graphic Interchange Format): A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same colour, drawings. Most images seen on web pages are GIF files. See also: JPEG
  • Gigabyte: 1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring. See also: Byte, Megabyte


  • Hit: As used in reference to the Web, "hit" means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4 "hits" would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics. "Hits" are often used as a very rough measure of load on a server, e.g. "Our server has been getting 300,000 hits per month." Because each "hit" can represent anything from a request for a tiny document (or even a request for a missing document) all the way to a request that requires some significant extra processing (such as a complex search request), the actual load on a machine from 1 hit is almost impossible to define. The number of actual visits is more helpful as a measure.
  • Home Page (or Homepage): 1. The web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. 2. The main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main or first page out of a collection of web pages 3. A personal website e.g. "Check out so-and-so's new Home Page." See also: Web
  • Host: Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services.
  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes <tags> that indicate how it should appear,. Additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is hyperlinked to another file which may be on the same server or anywhere on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web Client Program, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer.
  • HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol - a set of instructions for communication between a server and a World Wide Web client.
  • Hyperlink: Technically, a connection between two anchors. Clicking on one anchor will take you to the linked anchor. Can be within the same document/page or two totally different documents on the same server or anywhere on the Internet. The msot commonly encountered hyperlinks are on web pages or in Word documents.
  • Hypertext: Generally, any text that contains links to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed. A document that contains links to other documents, commonly seen in Web pages and help files.


  • Internet: The vast worldwide network of inter-connected computers communicating via an agreed upon set of Internet protocol. These TCP/IP protocols evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60's and early 70's. The Internet now connects hundreds of thousands of independent networks into a vast global internet.
  • Intranet: A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use. As the Internet has become more popular many of the tools used on the Internet are being used in private networks, for example, many companies have web servers that are available only to employees. Note that an Intranet may not actually be an internet — it may simply be a network.
  • IP Address or Number (Internet Protocol Address or Number): Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g. Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember. See also: Domain Name
  • ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network): A way to move more data over existing regular phone lines allowing for the simultaneous delivery of audio, video and data. It claims to provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines.
  • ISP (Internet Service Provider): The company which provides you with a connection to the Internet via either a Dial-up Connection or a Direct Connection.


  • Java: Java is a network-oriented programming language, similar to C++, invented by Sun Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that are capable of running on any computer regardless of the operating system and can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy trick
  • JavaScript: JavaScript is a programming language that is mostly used in web pages, usually to add features that make the web page more interactive. When JavaScript is included in an HTML file it relies upon the browser to interpret the JavaScript. When JavaScript is combined with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and later versions of HTML (4.0 and later) the result is often called DHTML (Dynamic HTML). JavaScript and Java are two different programming languages. See also: HTML, Java
  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): JPEG (or JPG) is a common image for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art. See also: GIF


  • Kilobyte (KB): A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes. See also: Bit

  • LAN (Local Area Network): A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
  • Link: Another name for a hyperlink.
  • Linux: An operating system that is not built by Microsoft. It is operated under Open Source, many developers working together to share their programming.
  • Login/Logon: (Noun) The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret: contrast with Password. (Verb) The act of entering into a computer system. See also: Password, Username

  • Mailing List: A list of email addresses to which messages are sent. The list is often automated. It allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the maillist.
  • Megabyte or MB: A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes. See also: Kilobyte
  • Menu bar: An area of the screen where links are gathered. Also called navigation bar.
  • Modem (MOdulator, DEModulator): A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.
  • Mozilla: a company producing web software including the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email software.
  • MP3: A music file format often used on the Internet. It can be played with most currently available music players including RealPlayer, iTunes and Windows Media Player.
  • MPEG: Motion Picture Experts Group - a video file format offering excellent quality in a relatively small file. Video files found on the Internet are frequently stored in the MPEG format.
  • Multimedia: A combination of media types on a single document, including: text, graphics, animation, audio and video.

  • Netiquette: The etiquette on the Internet. e.g., In email, always use a subject line and sign your name. In a discussion forum, don't type all in capitals as it's considered SHOUTING.
  • Netscape: A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The Netscape (tm) browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Netscape has grown in features rapidly and is widely recognized as the best and most popular web browser. Netscape corporation also produces web server software. Netscape provided major improvements in speed and interface over other browsers, and has also engendered debate by creating new elements for the HTML language used by Web pages -- but the Netscape extensions to HTML are not universally supported. The main author of Netscape, Mark Andreessen, was hired away from the NCSA by Jim Clark, and they founded a company called Mosaic Communications and soon changed the name to Netscape Communications Corporation. See also: Browser, Server, WWW
  • Network: A system of 2 or more computers connected together exchanging information and sharing resources with each other. A LAN is a small form of network in comparison with the Internet which is a worldwide network of computers.
  • Newbie: A new Internet user, or a new user of any service such as a forum.
  • Node: Any single computer connected to a network.


  • Online: When you connect to the Internet, you are online.

  • Page: On the Web, an HTML document.
  • Password: A code used to gain access to a protected system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7. A good password might be: Heap$16 See also: Login
  • PDF: Portable Document Format. A popular file format used extensively for downloaded worksheets. It works in conjunction with Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download) and displays documents exactly as they would appear on paper.
  • Pixel: Short for picture element - the smallest unit of resolution on a monitor. Commonly used as a unit of measurement.
  • Plug-in: A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Examples include Macromedia's Shockwave and Flash, providing animation, and RealAudio, offering streamed sound files over the Internet. The idea behind plug-ins is that a small piece of software is loaded into memory by the larger program, adding a new feature, and that users need only install the few plug-ins that they need, out of a much larger pool of possibilities. Plug-ins are usually created by people other than the publishers of the software the plug-in works with. Compared to helpers, the multimedia files do not need to be downloaded before shown or played.
  • POP: Post Office Protocol - a method of storing and returning email.
  • Portal: Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. It may offer a variety of resources and services so that people canuse that site as their main "point of entry" (hence "portal") to the Web. A portal may be subject specific, e.g., the eTeachers' Portal is a portal for all interested in digital literacy.
  • Post: To send a message to a mailing list or message board.
  • Posting: A single message entered into a network communications system. E.g. A single message posted to a message board.
  • Protocol: An agreed upon set of rules by which computers exchange information.
  • Provider: An Internet Service Provider, or ISP.
  • Pull-down menu: In a form you sometimes get a choice of entries such as Country. Use the arrow to display the full list and scroll to the entry that is appropriate.

  • QuickTime: A common video file format created by Apple Computer. Video files found on the Internet are often stored in the QuickTime format - they require a special viewer program for playback. They can be played on Apple or PC computers.


  • Recycle Bin: A holding area for deleted files before they are erased for good.
  • Register: With shareware or commercial software, when you contact the vendor and pay for the product, you are registering. In return, you will receive either a password to turn the program into the full version, or a copy of the full commercial version.


  • Scroll arrows: At the top and bottom of scroll bars, click to scroll the page in the direction of the arrow.
  • Scroll bars: On the right or bottom of a page if all of it will not fit on a screen. You can click and hold then move the scroll box or use the arrows to navigate.
  • Search Engine: A tool for searching information on the Internet by topic. Popular engines include Google, Altavista and Yahoo.
  • Server: One half of the client-server protocol, runs on a networked computer and responds to requests submitted by the client. Your World Wide Web browser is a client of a World Wide Web server.
  • Shareware: Software that is available on a free limited trial basis. Sometimes this is a fully featured product, other times it lacks some of the features of the commercial version. If you find the product useful, you are expected to pay for and register the software, for which in return you will receive the full featured commercial version. (Freeware is software which is completely free.)
  • Signature: A personal tag automatically appended to an email message. May be short, such as the author's name, or quite long, such as a favorite quote.
  • Site (also Web site): A single or collection of related Web pages.
  • SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol): The main protocol used to send electronic mail on the Internet.
  • Snail Mail: Plain old paper mail.
  • SPAM: Sending multiple, sometimes thousands, of unwelcome messages to a newsgroup or mailing list or individuals' email boxes to promote a commercial product or Web site.
  • Subscribe: To become of a member of. One can subscribe to a mailing list, a newsgroup, an online service or an Internet Service.


  • Terminal: A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer - the software pretends to be (emulates) a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.
  • Text box: A field element in an online form into which you type some kind of text e.g. your name, or your message on a bulletin board.
  • Thread: An ongoing message based conversation on a single subject.
  • TIFF: Tag Image File Format - a popular graphic image file format.
  • Title bar: The line of text right across the top of the window. On the Internet it will show the title of the web page.
  • Toolbar: A series of icons in any software program usually along the top or side of the window. Provides the tools for using the program. For example, in Internet Explorer you would find icons for Back, Refresh, Home and so on.
  • Trackball: An alternative to a mouse in which only a small ball is set into the top and manipulated with a finger, rather than the whole mouse device moving across the desk.


  • UNIX: A powerful operating system used on the backbone machines of the Internet. World Wide Web servers frequently run on UNIX.
  • Upload: To copy a file from a local computer connected to the Internet to a remote computer. The opposite is download.
  • URL: Uniform Resource Locator - the "address" of a webpage. An example would be http://www.kidsonthenet.com. Note that not all begin with "www". You can type this directly into the Address box of a browser. A web page URL always starts with http:// but modern browsers generally don't require you to enter this.


  • Vertical scroll bar: Can be used to navigate up and down a webpage that fills more than one screen.
  • Virus: A program designed to be malicious and to do harm to computers and/or networks. Often spread via email. You need Anti-Virus software to protect from this, and everyone should have such software. If you have a cable modem or other "always-on" connection, even at home, you should also have firewall software (see Firewall).
  • Visit: Synonymous with viewing a World Wide Web site.


  • WAV: Waveform Audio (.wav) - a traditional audio file format for DOS/Windows computers. Files are larger than MP3 files.
  • Web Page: A single HTML page. It may comprise more than one screen and if so is navigated via scroll bars. It may contain pictures, audio, animation or video and may contain links within itself or to other pages or pieces of information.
  • Website: A collection of related webpages, e.g., on a single topic or a single artwork.
  • Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, ME, XP: Different versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.
  • Word processor: A program that allows the user to manipulate text, edit, cut and paste, print etc.
  • World Wide Web or WWW or the Web: Frequently used (incorrectly) when referring to "The Internet", WWW has two major meanings - First, loosely used: the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be mixed together.
  • Worm: A type of virus or malicious code that spreads over the Internet.
  • WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get: A program where as you are editing you can see approximately what the final version will look like.


  • ZIP: A compressed file format (.zip). Many files available on the Internet are compressed or zipped in order to reduce storage space and transfer times. To uncompress the file, you need a utility like PKZip (DOS) or WinZip (Windows).





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