eLearning Terms Glossary

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In e-learning, used to describe the hours of operation of a virtual classroom or how often technical support should be available for online students and instructors.

Section 508: The section of the 1998 Rehabilitation Act that states that all electronic and information technology procured, used, or developed by the federal government after June 25, 2001, must be accessible to people with disabilities. Affected technology includes hardware such as copiers, fax machines, telephones, and other electronic devices as well as application software and Websites. See http://www.section508.gov/.

A characteristic of technology that enables people with disabilities to use it. For example, accessible Websites can be navigated by people with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments. Accessible design also benefits people with older or slower software and hardware

See also: 508

Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee: An international association of technology-based training professionals that develops training guidelines for the aviation industry. AICC has and is developing standards for interoperability of computer-based and computer-managed training products across multiple industries. See the AICC Website.

See also: SCORM

An educational approach characterized by learner-centredness (i.e., the student’s needs and wants are central to the process of teaching), self-directed learning (i.e., students are responsible for and involved in their learning to a much greater degree than traditional education), and a humanist philosophy (i.e., personal development is the key focus of education). Related concepts include: facilitated learning, self-directed learning, humanism, critical thinking, experiential learning, and transformational learning.

Application Programming Interface: An interface for letting a program communicate with another program. In web terms: An interface for letting web browsers or web servers communicate with other programs.

The process used to systematically evaluate a learner’s skill or knowledge level.

Assessment Item
A question or exercise on a test, quiz, or other evaluation.

Asynchronous learning
Learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay. Examples are self-paced courses taken via the Internet or CD-ROM, Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups, and email.

Authoring Tool
A software application or program used by trainers and instructional designers to create e-learning courseware. Types of authoring tools include instructionally focused authoring tools, Web authoring and programming tools, template-focused authoring tools, knowledge capture systems, and text and file creation tools.

A graphical image of a user, such as used in graphical real-time Chat applications, or, a graphical personification of a computer or a computer process, intended to make the computing or network environment a more friendly place. In e-learning avatars usually represent the learners.

A measure of the amount of information or data that can be sent over a network connection in a given period of time. Bandwidth is usually measure in bits per second

Blended Learning
A training curriculum that combines multiple types of media. Typically, blended learning refers to a combination of classroom-based training with self-paced e-learning.

Short for “Web log,” a specialized site that allows an individual or group of individuals to share a running log of events and personal insights with online audiences. Blogging has caught on as a cheap form of knowledge sharing and expert communication.

The awarding of a credential acknowledging that an individual has demonstrated proof of a minimum level of knowledge or competence, as defined by a professional standards organization.

Chief Learning Officer: The executive with primary responsibility for strategic human capital development. The CLO ensures that all learning investments focus on accomplishing the organization’s mission, strategy, and goals; provides a single point of accountability for those investments; develops the corporate learning strategy; creates a culture of continuous learning; fosters communities of practice; integrates training functions; drives cultural transformation; and measures the impact on organizational performance.

Content Management System: A system for the creation, modification, archiving and removal of information resources from an organised repository.

Collaboration Technology
Software, platforms, or services that enable people at different locations to communicate and work with each other in a secure, self-contained environment. May include capabilities for document management, application sharing, presentation development and delivery, whiteboarding, chat, and more.

Term used to describe the collection of elements that make up training on a given subject. Usually a course is broken up into lessons, sections, or modules but course is sometimes used interchangeably with these terms.

Software designed specifically for use in a classroom or other educational setting, containing instructional material, educational software, or audiovisual materials. “Courseware” is a term used to describe software resources which are used for Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL). to mediate or support a course or module.

Domains of Learning
Three divisions used to classify types of learning: psychomotor (physical), cognitive (mental), and affective (emotional).

Electronic performance support system: 1) A computer application that’s linked directly to another application to train or guide workers through completing a task in the target application. 2) More generally, a computer or other device that gives workers information or resources to help them accomplish a task or achieve performance requirements.

Any systematic method for gathering information about the impact and effectiveness of a learning offering. Results of the measurements can be used to improve the offering, determine whether the learning objectives have been achieved, and assess the value of the offering to the organization.

Events of Instruction
The nine steps outlined by Robert Gagne that correlate to and address the conditions for effective adult learning. In brief, each lesson should (1) capture attention, (2) inform the learner of the objective, (3) stimulate recall of prior learning, (4) present material, (5) provide guidance, (6) elicit performance, (7) provide feedback, (8) assess performance, (9) enhance retention and transfer.

The online course instructor who aids learning in the online, student-centered environment.

1) The tailoring of an offering to include clear, grammatically correct text that eliminates slang, gender references, and cultural or generational idioms. 2) The process of deploying a single system worldwide that meets a variety of needs. 3) Integrating several working systems into one.

Human Resource Development: 1) A term coined by Leonard Nadler to describe the organized learning experiences, such as training, education, and development, offered by employers within a specific timeframe to improve employee performance or personal growth. 2) Another name for the field and profession sometimes called training or training and development.

Instructor Lead Training: Training mediated by a live instructor, such as classroom training or live classes delivered over an web-based conference system.

Instructional Designer
The person who applies instructional learning theory to the organization and design of learning programs

Instructional System Design
Term describing the systematic use of principles of instruction to ensure that learners acquire the skills and knowledge essential for successful completion of overtly specified performance goals.

Just in Time Training. A method of providing training when it is needed. Its advantages are: Eliminates the need for refresher training due to subject knowledge loss experienced if training precedes, over an extended period of time (prevents decay if the learner cannot use the material upon returning to the job). Prevents training being wasted on people who leave the job before the training they received is used on the job. Allows the learners to receive training when they need it, not weeks or months later.

Job Aid
A tool which can exist in paper form or on the computer which provides on-the-job instruction for a specific task.

Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model refers to the four step training evaluation methodology developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1975. Level 1 refers to the students to reaction to the training (derisively called “smile sheets”). Level 2 refers to the measurement of actual learning (ie, knowledge transfer). Level 3 measures behavior change. Level four measures business results.

Learning Content Management System: A web-based administration program that facilitates the creation, storage and delivery of unique learning objects, as well the management of students, rosters, and assessments.

Learning Objective
The clear and measurable statement of the behavior that must be observed after training is concluded in order to consider the training a success. According to Robert Mager’s work, a learning objective contains a condition statement, a performance statement, and a criterion statement.

Learning Style
Refers to an individual’s preferred manner of processing material, or characteristic style of acquiring and using information when learning. Learning styles can be loosely grouped into physical and cognitive styles.

Learning Management System: A program that manages the administration of training. Typically includes functionality for course catalogs, launching courses, registering students, tracking student progress and assessments.

The process in which a program is converted for delivery in a different country. Unlike “translation” which connotes a simple re-writing of words, localization includes re-writing for cultural and social differences as well.

Mobile Learning: Learning that takes place via such wireless devices as cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or laptop computers.

Information about content that enables it to be stored in and retrieved from a database.

Multiple Intelligences
This theory proposes that humans possess more than one type of intelligence. Popularized by Howard Gardner who suggested seven different types of intelligence (i.e., visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal), spanning three domains (i.e. the physical, cognitive and affective domains).

Open Source Software
1) A program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, ie, open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. 2) Software that meets each of nine requirements listed by the non-profit Open Source Initiative in its Open Source Definition.

an educational approach characterized by teacher-centredness. The teacher is viewed as an authority figure and students are not generally involved in decisions/actions in regard to learning.

Personal Learning Environment. Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to

  • set their own learning goals
  • manage their learning; managing both content and process
  • communicate with others in the process of learning

and thereby achieve learning goals.

A PLE may be composed of one or more sub-systems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.

Practice Item
1) A question or learning activity that serves as an informal validation and reinforcement of instruction. 2) A sample question that precedes a test, designed to ensure that the learner understands the mechanics of the testing system.

A basic requirement or step in a process that must be fulfilled before moving on to an advanced step.

Prescriptive Learning
A process in which only coursework that matches a learner’s identified skill and knowledge gaps is offered to him or her, with the goal of making the learning experience more meaningful, efficient, and cost-effective.

To revise pre-existing training material for a different delivery format. For example, instructor guides and student manuals are often repurposed into web-based training.

Return on Investment: A ratio of the benefit received from a given investment to the cost of the investment itself usually expressed as a percentage. In learning, ROI is most often calculated by comparing the tangible results of training (for example, an increase in number of calls handed or a decrease in error rate) to the cost of providing the training.

Really Simple Synication: RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts in a standardized format.[2] An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated manner that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays

The degree to which a computer application or component can be expanded in size, volume, or number of users served and continue to function properly.

Sharable Content Object Reference Model: A set of specifications that, when applied to course content, produces small, reusable learning objects. A result of the Department of Defense’s Advance Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative, SCORM-compliant courseware elements can be easily merged with other compliant elements to produce a highly modular repository of training materials.

See also: AICC

Screen Reader
Software that lets blind users access computer screens and web pages. Screen readers read out the text, or text equivalent, on computer screens and web pages. Popular screen readers are JAWS and Window Eyes.

Self Directed Learning
A learning environment in which students are given a great deal of responsibility for and input into their own learning. The role of the teacher becomes to facilitate or guide learning rather than direct it

Highly interactive applications that allow the learner to model or role-play in a scenario. Simulations enable the learner to practice skills or behaviors in a risk-free environment.

Skill Gap Analysis
Compares a person’s skills to the skills required for the job to which they have been, or will be, assigned. A simple skill gap analysis consists of a list of skills required along with a rating of the employee’s level for each skill. Ratings below a predetermined level identify a skill gap.

Skills Inventory
A list of skills or competencies that an individual posssess, usually created by self-evaluation.

Subject matter expert: An individual who is recognized as having proficient knowledge about and skills in a particular topic or subject area.

Soft Skills
Business skills such as communication and presentation, leadership and management, human resources, sales and marketing, professional development, project and time management, customer service, team building, administration, accounting and finance, purchasing, and personal development.

A person with a vested interest in the successful completion of a project. Stakeholders in e-learning often include the developer, the facilitator, the learners, the learners’ managers, customers, and so forth.

A collection of frames created by a developer that detail the sequence of scenes that will be represented to the user; a visual script.

Streaming Media
Streaming media is the audio-visual content that is played as it is being downloaded. Thus, an Internet user does not have to wait for a video clip to download fully as it allows watching the clip as the footage downloads.

Synchronous Learning
A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to “call on” participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio- or videoconferencing, Internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.

A predefined set of tools or forms that establishes the structure and settings necessary to quickly create content.

Virtual Learning Environment. A Virtual learning environment (VLE) is a software system designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially by helping teachers and learners with course administration.

Web Based Training: Delivery of educational content via a Web browser over the public Internet, a private intranet, or an extranet. Web-based training often provides links to other learning resources such as references, email, bulletin boards, and discussion groups. WBT also may include a facilitator who can provide course guidelines, manage discussion boards, deliver lectures, and so forth.

Web 2.0
A term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. It refers to a supposed second-generation of Internet-based services—such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies—that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users.

A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. The goal is to create a way for many people to contribute and edit information so that knowledge is built and shared widely in a very short amount of time.