The ultimate glossary of elearning terms

 

Here at Logicearth, we know that learning terminology can be confusing, whether you’re just getting started or a learning veteran. So, we wanted to help you along in your journey with our glossary that covers the core components of digital learning, L&D strategy, learning design, learning technologies, and more.

We hope you find this glossary useful! It is by no means an exhaustive list so if you have any learning terms to add, why not reach out to us here, or drop us a line on LinkedIn.

And if you would like to talk to us about how Logicearth can solve your elearning challenges, please contact us and we’ll get right back to you!

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ACTIVE LEARNING

Learning that relies on learner engagement with the content. Active learning requires that the learner is actively involved in any number of ways — responding to questions, writing, completing interactions, solving problems. It is much more effective than passive learning.

Active listening

A behaviour where you pay full attention to a speaker, asking questions to check your understanding, and reflecting on what is being said, before responding.

ADDIE model

This is a generic process often used by content developers and instructional designers to create course materials. ADDIE has five phases: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. In the ADDIE model, each step has an outcome that feeds into the next step.

Adult learning theories

Theories that focus on how adults learn. Understanding how adults learn is vital for creating successful learning solutions. There is an ongoing debate as to whether "adult" learning theory is its own field, or whether we should instead focus on human learning.

Adult learning theory

This term is often used to refer to “Andragogy”, which is one theory of adult learning. See Andragogy.

Adaptive learning

Personalised learning experiences, where participants are guided to particular resources and learning activities based on their role, existing level of knowledge and skills or preferences. Typically, some pre-learning assessment or behavioural data is used to determine an individual’s path. This is often done algorithmically, or using some form of artificial intelligence

AGILE DEVELOPMENT

A way of managing a project. Some large projects can take too long, or be too risky to complete in one big bang. Agile is an iterative approach that delivers value faster. In learning projects, it often involves use of prototypes or pilots as a ‘minimum viable product’ (see also MVP), with extensive feedback. Check out this blog for a more in-depth explanation.

AI (Artificial intelligence)

The capability of a computer system to mimic the decision-making and problem-solving functions of the human mind. AI is used in technology-enabled learning for tasks such as generating course content, powering adaptive learning, supporting learners, and automating administrative tasks. Unlike algorithms, which are a series of rules or steps, AI should have some ability to learn.

AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee)

One of the original standards for tracking the completion of digital learning modules, this standard (as the name implies) was initially developed for the aviation industry, before spreading to a broad range of other areas. It is now losing support, with SCORM having largely replaced it. It is still used in some solutions for legacy reasons.

ANALYSIS, DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, IMPLEMENTATION, EVALUATION (ADDIE)

A traditional way of managing a project often used by instructional designers and training developers. This method of managing a project is often referred to as “ADDIE”. It involves five stages which are carried out one after the other.

ANALYTICS

Looking at and analysing learner statistics and data to steer improvements and identify trends. Learning analytics can help predict learner behaviour, increase completion and retention rates, and personalise the learning experience. If aligned correctly, they can also contribute to measures related to business performance and KPIs. Examples of analytics include data on test scores, numbers of learners taking and completing courses, amount of time spent, and devices used (mobile, tablet, etc.). Our Logicearth Verify platform provides this sort of in-depth information. 

Andragogy

One specific theory of adult learning, developed by Malcolm Knowles. It includes six assumptions about adult learners, mainly focusing on their motivation and orientation towards learning.

APPLICATION PROGRAMMING INTERFACE (API) 

In elearning terms, this is the interface across which learning content and learning systems communicate. It is also used to extend the functionality of your LMS, enabling you to plug in and connect third party tools and content. For example, you could plug in TED Talks or content from off-the-shelf content providers. APIs are really useful for extending what your LMS can do. If you are buying an LMS, ask what APIs it supports: some of the most useful ones to look out for as Single Signon (SSO), SCORM, and xAPI.

ASSESSMENT — SUMMATIVE

A formal and scored knowledge test, usually at the end of the course. Also known as a summative assessment. Assessments help to check a learner's understanding of a subject. Used especially in compliance courses, e.g. health and safety, or anti-money-laundering like Comply by Logicearth. Summative assessments typically have a preset pass mark and the learner cannot complete the course until they achieve the required score.

ASSESSMENT — FORMATIVE

In-process evaluations of comprehension, learning needs, and progress. Not usually scored, they help a learner to assess how well they are doing, and can be used to provide additional feedback where needed by some learners.

ASSET

An asset (or “learning asset”) can be any stand-alone element of a learning programme – e.g. a video, a graphic or an infographic. See also RESOURCES, NOT COURSES

ATS (Applicant tracking system)

Software used by recruiters and employers to track candidates throughout the recruiting and hiring process. This can make it easier for the employer to identify skills requirements and development for specific roles.

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)

A live view of the real world that's supplemented (augmented) by computer input, e.g. voice-over or GPS data. This has huge potential for learning. Imagine a pair of AR glasses that talk you through the set-up, use and repair of a new machine, or provide you with a guided tour of Mars! Similar to VR, but with a superimposed layer of explanatory information. In this blog post, we talk about chatbots and their future... Could they be a part of AR in the years to come?

AUTHORING TOOL

Software tools or programs to build (or author) elearning courses. Common tools include Captivate, Evolve, Rise, GoMo, or Storyline. Authoring tools allow content developers to create and deliver elearning courses on the web or in an LMS. Here we shared our top 5 tips to get the best out of the Evolve Authoring Tool.

AVATAR

An online representation of a person. Avatars can be developed as part of elearning to represent personas within scenarios and examples. These can be designed to accurately represent a persona, or be a caricature.

AVIATION INDUSTRY COMPUTER-BASED TRAINING COMMITTEE (AICC)

A content standard or protocol for tracking elearning courses. It allows learner data to be shared between a course and a learning management system (LMS), regardless of the type of LMS. Without this communication, learner data such as dates, times and assessment scores could not be recorded. We think this blog explains it really well. See also SCORM.

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Backwards design

Involves starting with the end in mind: defining outcomes, agreeing performance metrics, and setting out measures of success. Keeping these in mind will ensure that any learning solution is focused on delivering on the things that matter to the customer.

Big 5

A research-based personality model with five traits (openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion agreeableness, , , neuroticism/emotional stability) often referred to using the acronym OCEAN, or CANOE. A scientific alternative to some of the more popular personality models such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®.

BESPOKE LEARNING

Learning experiences created specifically for a client or course. Also called custom learning. Bespoke learning companies aim to provide experiences that are specific and relevant to their learners. Very important in areas such as onboarding or company values, where rules and expectations differ from place to place. Here, we share some free tools and advice on how to create responsive elearning.

BIG DATA

A generic term for larger, more complex data sets, often combined from multiple data sources. In learning, it refers to collecting masses of data on learners and how they're interacting with a course, e.g. time spent, scores, devices used etc. Content providers use big data to gain insights into learner preferences and behaviours. See also analytics.

BITE-SIZED LEARNING

See microlearning

BLENDED LEARNING

A combination of different forms of learning, often including online and face-to-face learning. Learners could, for example, do a short introduction to the subject online before attending a face-to-face session and partaking in group discussions after. They could also do post-event quizzes, assessments and surveys online. Blended learning often contains elements of social learning as well. See blended learning in Percipio here.

Bloom’s taxonomy

A well-known classification with an emphasis on active verbs, used in the creation of learning outcomes,. It covers cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains, but we mostly focus on the cognitive level. Using Bloom should ensure that we use active rather than passive verbs, which can increase the measurability and specificity of the outcomes.

BRANCHING SCENARIO

A scenario that presents choices to the learner, through which they can direct the course of the situation. Branching scenarios are a great way of immersing the learner in a real-life situation and giving them an opportunity to explore options when faced with decisions. The best branching scenarios have some level of complexity, with choices that are challenging and that reflect real learner situations. They also demonstrate well the consequences of certain courses of action.

BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE (BYOD)

In the past, courses were designed to work on PCs and laptops. Now the trend is towards enabling learners to control their learning, choosing when, where, and how: whether it’s on PC or their own laptop or mobile device. This is the foundation for a 'bring your own device' training culture. See also device-responsive learning.

Build or buy

A business decision regarding whether to create your own solution, or buy an off-the-shelf product. In learning terms, it’s usually about making a decision about learning platforms or content. Custom build strategies with internal hosting cost more upfront but incur little or no license fees. Buy strategies are faster to implement, cost more on an annual basis and are tied to vendor roadmaps. These days, most organisations licence a platform, and use a mix of strategies for their content needs.

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Capability

The combination of people, processes, and technology to perform core functions at the level of the individual, team, and organisation.

Capability academy

Usually a platform with curated learning experiences, where people can develop competencies linked to specific capabilities. These experiences generally include assessments and learning pathways, with social learning features and support for communities of practice.

Career pathing

A talent development process to help employees grow in their career in line with the organisation’s needs. It starts with an employee’s skills, interests and career objectives, and generally involves conversations with a mentor to map these and build a career plan based on the type of organisation and its strategic direction.

Chatbot

An automated chat tool often used by online platforms to help solve customer service issues. They are usually trained using large datasets, and are capable of answering basic, limited queries. Often used as the first point of support for learners, there is huge scope for their use in learning experiences as well — for example, allowing learners to interrogate a dataset, explore or investigate a problem, by asking questions.

Coaching

A method of supporting an individual (or group) to improve their performance. Usually, an individual will select their own development goal, and will seek a coach who can help them to articulate it, overcome barriers, and maintain momentum.

Co-creation

A process where service providers work closely with clients, to the extent that it is a partnership rather than a client-supplier relationship. It requires trust and transparency, and can be a great way to work on learning solutions, where the client understands their business, has the technical knowledge and subject matter experts, and the supplier (such as Logicearth) has the deep expertise on creation of digital and blended learning solutions.

CO-DEVELOPMENT

Shared development of an elearning course between more than one party. This model of development gives responsibility for development of certain stages of an elearning course to different parties. It can work well, and be a cost effective approach, when expertise exists with one party and a different expertise lies with another.

COGNITIVE LOAD

Cognitive load theory refers to the limitations of working memory. It was put forward by psychologist John Sweller in the 1980s. Sweller suggests there are three types of cognitive load: intrinsic (topic-specific), extraneous (how information is presented to the learner), and germane (how easily information can be stored/memorised). Good learning experience design should help reduce the amount of mental effort for a learner to understand and remember content.

Cognitive psychology

The branch of psychology that focuses on the science of how we think. It looks at areas such as attention, memory, problem solving, and so on, so you can see that this relates quite closely to learning design.

Cohort-based learning

A social learning solution where a group (or cohort) of learners work through a programme at more or less the same pace, with defined milestones and completion date. As a cohort, they generally meet (virtually or in person), and learn from each other during the programme. This group interaction enables them to tap into the power of social learning.

Collaborative learning

A learning solution where participants need to work in groups. Typically constructed around a project or business problem, where participants focus their learning on what they need in order to solve the problem and present a solution.

Community of practice

Abbreviated as CoP and proposed by Lave and Wenger in 1991, it is a group of people who share a common interest, and come together to deepen their knowledge, develop their practice, and participate in the group. At their best, there is a real sense of community, with mutual support, recognition, and sharing, leading to individual and group learning.

Competency

The capability to apply or use the set of related knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully perform ‘critical work functions’ or tasks in a defined work setting. Job roles are often broken down into a series of competencies, and the level of proficiency expected from the role holder.

Competency framework

A framework for defining the knowledge, skills, and behaviours for different roles in an organisation. A competency model groups competencies according to role and defines a level of proficiency. This is useful in assessing individuals’ proficiency in a role and in planning their career path.

COMPLETION CRITERIA

The criteria by which a learner is considered to have completed a course. Completion criteria are important particularly when it comes to compliance training, and training that is tracked via an LMS. The criteria could be any one, or a combination, of things like visiting every page, visiting every interaction, attaining a percentage pass rate in an assessment, etc. If completion criteria are set, they should relate to the learning outcomes of the course.

Compliance training

Courses that employees must complete to comply with government or other regulations. In some cases, it will apply to everyone in an organisation; in other cases, it will apply only to certain roles or functions. Examples include training on health and safety, data protection and privacy, or financial regulations.

Content tag

A phrase or term associated with an asset or other content. It relates it to other types of content that are similarly tagged. Tagging can be done by administrators of a system, but it should also be possible for users to assign their own tags.

Content Intelligence

In L&D, a content intelligence solution analyses content libraries. It assesses content based on its relevance, engagement, and applicability to skills, enabling organisations to determine any gaps in their learning, and any potential sources of excellent content to fill those gaps.

Content library

See ‘Learning content libraries’.

CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)

A content management system creates the framework in which content can be stored and displayed on a website, e.g. Wordpress. A learning CMS is specialised for the creation and management of learning content.

Cross skilling

Enabling employees to develop skills relevant to multiple roles. This can help the organisation to be more adaptable to external changes, and it can help the employee to grow, develop, and explore different career options.

CURATION

Traditionally associated with the art world, curation in this case refers to curating content and information. Content curation involves having the skill and/or technology to cut through the vast swathes of information (online, social, existing courses etc.) to provide learners with organised, relevant and up-to-date information from a range of sources, usually through a portal or platform.

CUSTOM ELEARNING

See bespoke learning.

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Data literacy

The ability to find, evaluate, and analyse data, to understand proposals and to arrive at evidence-based outcomes in the form of insights, decisions, or recommendations.

Deliberate practice

Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson has demonstrated that a skill does not improve based purely on the amount of time spent practising it: deliberate practice is the key. This is purposeful and systematic: the individual learner needs to break down a task or skill, and focus on specific areas of weakness over time, setting challenging goals and seeking feedback on their progress. This approach highlights the importance of reflection, analysis, and coaching for peak performance.

Design thinking

A human-centred process for creative problem-solving. It involves focusing on your customers — the people for whom you are creating a product or service — and their needs. It’s usually an iterative process, where ideas are tested, and feedback is obtained before a product is finalised. It’s often characterised as having 5 stages: empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test.

DEVICE RESPONSIVE CONTENT

Learning content that scales to be viewable and usable on any device, such as mobiles and tablets. Responsive and device friendly content allows learners to access training at any time, from anywhere. Learners don't need to use specific desktop machines in a set location, leading to the increase in bring your own device (BYOD) learning.

DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENT

Unlike the standard summative assessment, a diagnostic assessment is used at the start of a course or curriculum to determine their pre-existing knowledge or skills in the subject BEFORE they begin. This helps streamlining and personalisation of learning. The learner can get only the learning they need, based on their diagnostic assessment responses, and is not forced to work through irrelevant or already-mastered subjects.

DIGITAL LEARNING

Similar to elearning, but refers to any learning that happens with the aid of digital content or platforms. We're in an age of digital advances, with a proliferation of digital content e.g. ebooks, videos, blogs etc. Learning must tap into and keep pace with this to stay relevant.

DIGITAL LEARNING DESIGNER

Similar to a graphic designer, a digital learning designer's expertise lies in designing for the digital world. Digital designers develop great looking elearning, and also add value to your elearning by ensuring that interaction design and imagery enhance the memorability of the learning and make it ‘sticky’. (Also see stickiness.) One of our learning experience designers Kate Middleton shares some of her best advice here in her blogs.

Discovery-based learning

This approach encourages learners to find answers for themselves, often based around specific problems, rather than relying on someone to tell them. It encourages learners to explore, be curious, and experiment. It fits very well with the tenets of andragogy, though when used in a formal classroom setting learners’ exam results have often been poorer than if they had been exposed to more didactic methods.

Double-loop learning

In double-loop learning, people analyse the results of their actions to see how they could improve outcomes, but also as a way of checking their underlying assumptions: it may be that improving the outcome involves modifying the system, rather than trying to modify specific actions. It helps answer the question “are we doing the right things?” Contrast with single-loop learning.

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ECOSYSTEM

A learning and performance ecosystem goes beyond the traditional learning management system (LMS) that provides learners with formal and informal learning opportunities. The traditional LMS does not support all learning activities and so needs to interoperate with other platforms to provide a learning ecosystem that enables access to things like learner records, performance support tools, discussion forums, gamification features, blogs and user-generated content.

eLearning / e-Learning / ELearning

A generic term for interactive digital learning, although some people still use it to refer specifically to a type of SCORM-based course. Elearning became popular in the 1990s as a way of reducing training costs and downtime. It also allowed for a dynamic, multimedia approach to learning. Now, it includes other digital technologies to support L&D processes and deliver on key strategies. This blog post talks about how elearning can help your onboarding techniques.

EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Emotional learning is about recognising that learning is about more than knowledge and skills: our emotions play a huge part in how we learn, and how we apply that learning. This includes building relationships, showing empathy, adopting a positive attitude and good decision-making. So, if a learner’s emotions are considered within their learning environment, it can greatly influence the effectiveness of the learning and the learner’s attitude to investing in personal growth and development. Social learning is often a good way to do this. Here are 10 ways you can bring social learning to your workplace.

Employee experience (EX)

All aspects of a team member’s journey in a particular organisation. Focusing on the employee experience enables the organisation to address all aspects of the employee lifecycle. It can lead to higher employee satisfaction, better retention rates, clearer development paths, and other outcomes beneficial to the employee and the organisation.

Employee engagement

The involvement, commitment, and enthusiasm that employees feel towards their employer. Feeling engaged is good for employees who tend to be healthier, happier, and more fulfilled. It’s also good for employers: among other things, it makes it easier to attract and retain staff.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

Large-scale systems designed to help monitor and manage business processes across an organisation. In some cases, they can include a learning management system, though these LMSes can be behind the curve in terms of features and usability.

Experiential learning

Learning by doing — through experience and reflection. It’s a 4-stage process applied multiple times, where the learner goes through the stages of: Concrete experience — reflect — Think (or plan) — Act. It requires a very different design approach than more standard online learning, and because of the emphasis on the four stages, it can lead to more lasting change.

EXPLAINER ANIMATION

These are short animated (or live) videos with a message, e.g. an overview or in-a-nutshell explanation, or else a process, concept or product offering etc. Often used as a prelude to more in-depth information due to their attention-grabbing nature. These videos typically include live or camera footage; animation; audio; sound effects; and graphics, and are often a light-hearted view of the subject. See three great HTML5 tips for your elearning here.

Extended enterprise

An organisation does not operate in isolation. Its success depends on a whole network of partners and suppliers — its external corporate ecosystem. It is often useful for an organisation to allow its partners to access parts of their systems, or the training they offer, which in turn has an impact on their LMS implementation and setup.

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Fixed mindset

A belief that one’s intelligence, talents, or personality are fixed traits that cannot grow or change. This can lead to unwillingness to learn or accept change. Contrast with growth mindset.

Flipped classrooms

One type of blended learning. In a traditional classroom, learners are exposed to concepts and knowledge, and then are often given “homework” to practise. A flipped classroom is where they are introduced to the concepts before coming to the class, and the classroom setting is where they focus on practice and application with the support of their teacher.

FORGETTING CURVE

The forgetting curve shows how information is lost over time if no attempt is made to retain it. 

Formal learning

Learning events that take place in a planned and structure setting, such as a classroom, or a scheduled online workshop. It generally takes learners away from their day-to-day work. While important for learning, it works best as part of a blended approach where learners are encouraged to practise in the workplace and learner from each other.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT

In-course questions, designed to check knowledge, explore preconceptions, or provoke thought and reflection. Primarily designed to provide the learner with useful feedback and correction where necessary. They give the learners an opportunity to practise or recall their learning, and help to broaden the learner's understanding rather than grade them (summative assessments are used for grading).

Four stages of competence

These are: unconscious incompetence (where someone doesn’t realise that they have a knowledge or skills gap), conscious incompetence (they are aware of the gap), conscious competence (they concentrate, use checklists and other tools to ensure they use their new skill), and unconscious competence (the new skill becomes second nature). It’s a useful learning model, though experts do need to consciously surface their practice to check that it continues to be valid in an ever-changing environment.

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GAMIFICATION

Applying gaming elements (timed challenges, leader boards, badges etc.), to learning content. Introduces fun and competition into traditional learning. The instant feedback and repetition aids knowledge transfer and retention. Try out our Security Awareness gamified quiz here.

Generations

A way of categorising people according to when they were born. The main generations in the workforce today are: Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Y (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997-2010). These have some implications for learning design, though the differences are often over-emphasised with little empirical evidence to support them.

Goal orientation

A focus on achieving goals and outcomes, rather than merely behaving or acting in an expected way. One example here is where an individual aims to get a task complete, rather than just putting in the required hours at their desk. Modern learning is often most effective where there is a clear goal involved — and the learner buys into that goal.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

In the world of elearning, a modern graphic designer is a digital designer. Our graphic designers are ‘image wizards’ — they produce those images that speak a thousand words, and present visuals that just work in every way. Here are some blogs from our lead digital designer Darren Rooney, sharing some top tips and free tools!

GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE (GUI) 

See also user interface (UI). This refers to how users or learners interact with the interface (the course). elearning UI includes your screen layout and navigation. The aim should always be to make the interface easy to use, intuitive, clean (not cluttered) and adjustable. Here are 10 tips to improve your digital design skills for non-designers.

Growth mindset

A belief that one’s intelligence, talents, or personality can grow and change, through dedication and hard work. Individuals with a growth mindset are often more open to new ideas, willing to take risks and experiment in pursuit of their goals. Contrast with fixed mindset.

 

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HTML (HYPERTEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE)

A language used for structuring and presenting online content. HTML5 is the current version, elearning interactions built using this language are modern, responsive interactions that work across mobile devices. Learn how to improve your elearning content with these video tools for HTML5.

Human Capital Management (HCM)

Recognising that “our people are our greatest asset”, HCM seeks to manage the entire employee lifecycle including talent acquisition, talent development, talent management and succession planning. There’s often a requirement for LMSes or other learning platforms to integrate with HCM platforms so that employee development can be recorded and its effectiveness tracked.

Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

Similar on some ways to HCM, the HRIS is designed more around connected data management of HR processes, while the HCM is a complete HR suite designed to improve the employee experience. As with HCM, there is often a need for L&D data to be recorded in a HRIS.

Human-centred

A term for an approach that starts by understanding people. Human-centred design focuses on users, while human-centred leadership starts with considering the needs of employees.

Human resources (HR)

Responsible for managing the employee lifecycle and employee benefits. Often HR is involved in the training and development of its workers, although this can also be managed by a Learning and Development (L&D) team — which may or may not be a part of the HR function. Many organisations are moving away from the term “HR”, and instead forming “The People Team” or “People Experience Team”.

Hybrid working

A flexible way of working where employees can split their time between office and remote working.

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INFORMAL LEARNING

Natural learning that happens outside of a structured learning environment. Learners set their own objectives and seek and acquire new knowledge in their own different ways. One of the criticisms of overusing elearning platforms is that they don’t promote the most natural learning method. In this blog article, our instructional designers talk about the importance of self-led learning.

Interactive PDFs

PDF documents where users can enter content, answer questions, watch embedded videos and so on. They can be a cost-effective way of providing learning materials, depending on the depth and complexity of the subject matter.

Internet of things (IoT)

A network of devices communicating via the internet. These might include sensors, equipment, home appliance and so on. It opens up new opportunities for process automation — and the skills development that goes with that.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNER (ID)

See Learning Experience Designer (LXD). 

INSTRUCTOR LED TRAINING (ILT)

Instructor led training is the traditional style of learning taking place in a classroom setting with the teacher presenting the material. Due to its time and cost constraints, elearning offers solutions to many of the challenges of ILT.

Inquiry-based learning

Also Enquiry-based learning, this is a form of active learning where learners carry out their own investigations and research around a topic, issue, or problem. It includes problem-based learning but is broader. These approaches involve learners in generating information and sense-making, rather than memorisation or being presented with factual information.

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Job aids

Quick instructions, checklists, scripts, series of steps or other method to help people complete tasks at work. Sometimes referred to as performance support, or just-in-time resources, they can be very useful where team members need to be accurate, or perform a task infrequently.

Job architecture

The hierarchy of jobs within an organisation, and how competencies are structured into defined role profiles. A human-centred architecture will facilitate skill development, progression and talent management.

Job analysis

Close investigation of roles to define them in terms of the competencies, knowledge, skills, and behaviours needed. This is useful to identify skills gaps, and to feed into and influence the job architecture.

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Kirkpatrick’s Learning Evaluation Model

A well-known model for evaluating the results of development initiatives. The model uses four levels - reaction, learning, behaviour and results — and is often poorly implemented because of the perceived difficulty of assessing results (i.e., impact on the organisation’s performance).

Knowledge

Often viewed as the conceptual understanding of a subject, knowledge is one component of what a learner needs. Much training has focused solely on knowledge, without driving any significant change in individual performance. There is greater awareness that learners also need skills, behaviours, attitudes, or mindset to be fully competent and effective in their work.

KNOWLEDGE CHECK

An informal assessment. A knowledge check takes the form of any assessment element contained in a course and commonly does not contribute towards a formal assessment score. It simply checks the learner’s knowledge and often returns immediate feedback.

Knowledge management

The process of gathering, organising, sharing, and analysing knowledge in an organisation so that it is accessible to employees. It goes beyond technical issues, to consider the strategic use of platforms such as SharePoint, or learning management systems, or repositories of information, to ensure that employees have ready access to the knowledge they need in the moment.

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Leadership development

Learning and development activities aimed at developing leadership skills. The focus is often on training managers, but leadership skills such as strategising, problem solving, relationship building and so on are just as crucial for individual contributors. This is one situation where active learning is critical to build skills and confidence.

Learner-centred

Recognising that learners bring their own knowledge and experiences, a learner-centred approach aims to develop learner autonomy and independence. It emphasises the learner's critical role in constructing meaning, and points to learning techniques such as social learning, exploration and opportunities for practice rather than just providing information to learners.

Learning analytics

See analytics.

LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT (L&D)

A function within most (big) companies, whose role is to ensure employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their jobs and/or upskill for continued improvement or future advancement.

LEARNING APPROACH

The strategy adopted by elearning designers. This could relate to an individual, or a learning plan, or to an individual elearning course. For an elearning course, care should be taken to adopt the most appropriate approach — i.e. style, media choice, interaction level, theme, teaching methodology, etc. If you're getting ready to work with an elearning provider, make sure you ask them these five questions. 

LEARNING CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LCMS)

A learning platform primarily used to develop, manage, store and organise elearning content. With this system, the creation and delivery of a digital course is integrated. However, LMSes have evolved to include a lot of the features of an LCMS, so unless you need to customise content for a large number of different audiences, or have a huge amount of content to manage, there’s a good chance that an LMS will meet your needs.

Learning content libraries

Catalogues of digital content provided by vendors, grouped by subject area, skill, or level. The aim is to help organisations avoid reinventing the wheel when it comes to standard knowledge, skills, and behaviours, by having a set of generic resources that can apply to everyone. A lot of this content is now high-quality, though L&D will still need to decide how to use this generic content, and when to create something more relevant to their organisation. See also Off-the-shelf learning.

Learning culture

An organisational culture where learning is embedded at every level. The external commercial environment changes rapidly and organisations, teams, and individuals need to keep learning and innovating, to thrive.

Learning design

The process that covers planning and creating a learner’s journey. It involves decisions about the intended outcomes, and overall approach, as well as more detailed decisions around structure, content, specific activities, use of different media, and choice of technology to support learning.

Learning ecosystem

See ECOSYSTEM.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE DESIGNER (LXD)

Formally known as Instructional Designers (ID), an LXD creates instructional experiences that make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing. This instructional design is the process of getting raw content from a client (documents, presentations, interviews etc.), and translating that into a structured, interactive and effective piece of online learning. Read more about 'from ID to LXD, what's in a name'?

LEARNING EXPERIENCE PLATFORM (LXP)

An LXP is a learning platform designed to provide a personalised, intuitive, social, in-workflow learning experience that goes way beyond the capabilities of the traditional LMS. It should have a core set of capabilities and integrated technologies that gives the learner an exceptional user experience, with adaptive learning paths, easy access to content, and AI driven search and recommendations. Read more about the LXP here.

LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LMS)

A learning platform that allows organisations to provide, manage and track learning activities. Without an LMS, learners would not be able to return to where they last paused in a course, or have their scores and completion recorded. Management would not be able to see how many people have completed or passed the course — essential data for compliance training in particular. An LMS allows for one central location for all learning resources and allows companies to reduce or eliminate costly face-to-face training. See also ecosystem.

LEARNING OBJECTIVE

One of the reasons why a piece of learning is developed. Clear elearning objectives help steer the direction of elearning development and ensure they fulfil its business need. It also helps orientate a learner — why are they doing this learning? Note that we differentiate between a learning objective and learning outcome.

LEARNING OUTCOME

Something that will happen as a result of the learning. Well defined learning outcomes can be the difference between an effective piece of elearning, and a waste of development time! We always ask — what is it that you want your learners to be able to do as a result of their learning? The answer should be a learning outcome. Keeping this response at the forefront of development efforts is the key to achieving behaviour change in learners.

Learning pathway

A defined route through a range of learning activities. The pathway has its own specific aims and objectives. This is one way in which L&D can use learning content libraries: construct a pathway that mixes generic content with learning specific to the organisation, or opportunities to reflect or apply learning to their workplace for maximum impact. Learning pathways can be defined in LMSes or other learning platforms.

LEARNING RECORD STORE (LRS)

A repository for xAPI statements so that learning events can be stored. An LRS can be a stand-alone entity or reside within an LMS. Here is a more in-depth read on what an LRS is.

LEARNING STYLES

There are many myths about individual learning styles and using them to influence learning. In reality, good learning needs presentation, practice and feedback. We have to watch out for 'fads' in learning and keep up with learning science. Read more about the learning styles myth here.

Learning technologies

A term used to describe software like authoring tools, learning management systems, learning experience platforms and virtual classrooms which are built explicitly to support organisational learning. In fact, almost any digital or physical publishing or communications platform can be seen as a learning technology. This is recognised in Jane Hart’s annually published list of ‘Top Tools for Learning’ which regularly features technology like YouTube and Google at the top of the list.

LEARNING TOOLS INTEROPERABILITY (LTI)

A standard that is implemented in an app or tool to enable it to integrate with a learning platform. This means that different applications and tools from different vendors can be adopted for use with an LMS.

LOCALISATION

The process of not only translating a course into other languages, but also of adjusting it as necessary for various cultures or regions. For companies with a global workforce, providing courses in different languages is an important consideration. Localisation involves not just translating the text, but also adjusting the references, colours, fonts, layouts, acronyms and/or abbreviations as necessary.

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Managed learning services (MLS)

A framework agreement with an external supplier to provide L&D services to an organisation. It might include L&D administration, vendor management, procurement of training and so on.

MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE (MOOC)

A course hosted on the web and available for anyone to view. They are often used in distance education.

Mentoring

Mentoring is a relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development. Similar in some ways to coaching, and different experts define them in different ways but generally the expectation is that coaches listen and guide, where mentors will often be more directive. For this reason, the mentor is usually more experienced.

Metacognition

Thinking about your thinking. The ability to reflect on how you think and learn, plan, monitor, and assess your understanding and performance. It’s an important component of continuous learning and improvement.

Micro-credentials

Sometimes used to refer to awarding “badges” for completion of short learning experiences. These can often be shared on your profile (for example, on LinkedIn). Micro-credentials can also refer to short courses accredited by universities or other awarding bodies, enabling learners to specialise in a specific area.

MICROLEARNING

Also known as bite-sized learning.  Refers to very short nuggets of learning, typically no longer than 10 minutes. Microlearning is a hot topic in learning circles. It aims to create learning events that suit our attention spans and working memory capacity. It also mirrors modern behaviour patterns, where the vastness of information means we're inclined to skim rather than immerse ourselves in information. Read more about microlearning here.

MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT (MVP)

An MVP is the smallest possible viable version of a product or service. The idea is that you create an MVP, then use that to see if it meets a genuine need. So it’s something you can use to run experiments, and try things out, rather than needing to develop a fully featured product. In sports parlance, it also stands for “Most Valuable Player”, which has led to some confusion over Monday morning coffee!. 

MLEARNING

Mobile learning — learning supported via a mobile phone, particularly smartphones. With over 6.5 billion people in the world owning a smartphone it's no wonder that there is an increase in mobile usage and an increasing number of courses being taken via mobiles. Ignore mobile learners at your peril! Here are 7 mobile learning statistics that might surprise you! 

Modern learning platform

A platform that combines elements of the LMS (managing content, tracking completion, etc) and LXPs (curation, social features). They aim to be a one-stop shop for learning management, rather than one part of an ecosystem. 

MULTIMEDIA

Refers to using a combination of different media types (print, photo, audio, animation, video, simulation etc.), within a learning course. Using different types of media appropriately in an online course allows for a more engaging and interactive experience and also for a more practical and effective one (e.g. 3-D simulations versus a diagram). Mistimed or irrelevant media, however, can distract from the learning. 

Multimodal learning

Using a variety of media and methods in learning. There is proven research around the benefits if done properly, but it is often linked to the discredited idea of “learning styles”.

 

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NAVIGATION

Referring to options for moving through an elearning course. It’s imperative to agree on course navigation before course development. There are lots of options — some organisations like to tie it down and force a linear journey; others are more relaxed, allowing learners a free choice in how they move through the different sections.

Neuroscience (in learning design)

Advances in the study of the brain and nervous system have important implications for learning. As neuroscience develops, the possibilities for “brain-friendly” learning increase. It’s often over-emphasised or exaggerated, but the potential benefits to learners can’t be ignored.

New skilling

A relatively recent term describing a mindset of continuous learning intended to help an organisation be agile and adapt to challenges.

Nudges

People often struggle to maintain habits or behaviours. This is true in organisational learning and is one reason why it can be hard to measure the impact of learning solutions. A nudge is anything that helps them, without restricting their choices. Nudge theory is often used by government departments and businesses to encourage people to take specific desired actions. In learning terms, it might be a clear action plan, reminders after a course to practise, progress updates with other learners, or some other intervention designed to help them stay on track.

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OBJECTIVES

The goals or intentions of the learning. Learning objectives help focus the course (and assessments) on the most important points. Not to be confused with outcomes.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

A collaborative goal-setting framework with two elements: the clearly-defined objective, and the measures of success (key results). The framework has been around since at least the 1980s and was popularised after Google adopted it in the late 1990s / early 2000s

OFF-THE-SHELF LEARNING

Generic training courses that are ready to buy. Off-the-shelf content provides companies with instant access to affordable learning. Off-the-shelf content can be useful in subject areas such as communication skills, project management or IT training. The downside of off-the-shelf is that it doesn't provide any company-specific information, such as in-house policies, systems or standards. This is what drives many companies to commission bespoke learning. In this blog post, we talk about how off-the-shelf content can support personalised learning. See also Learning content libraries.

Onboarding

The process of helping new employees become effective members of the organisation. It can start before they join, with welcome messages, and other information about the organisation, and often focuses on helping the newcomer build their internal network and get up to speed with key processes and “the way we do things around here”.

On-demand learning

A strategy that allows employees access to learning at a time, place and pace of their choosing.

ONLINE LEARNING (OLL)

Another name for elearning, but some organisations prefer this abbreviation.

Open educational resources (OERs)

Educational materials in the public domain or under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution.

Open-source software

Software with a license which grants users the right to freely use, study, redistribute and modify the original source code.

Organisational culture

Briefly, it’s “the way we do things around here”: the values, norms, ways of interacting and behaving that create and maintain the environment within an organisation.

Organisation effectiveness

A means for organisations to measure how well they are doing in terms of meeting their goals and purpose. It may be measured in terms of profit, or other means, depending on the nature of the organisation.

Organisational psychology

The scientific study and application of psychology to organisations and the workplace. It includes areas such as how employees interact, think and behave at work.

OUTCOMES

The end results of the learning, e.g. evidence that the objectives or goals were achieved. Measurable outcomes ensure the course delivers on its purpose, for example changing attitudes, behaviours or skills. L&D departments are under more pressure than ever to provide proof of their output at a strategic level and their output's impact on business objectives.   

‘Outcomes over output’

Our aim in learning solutions is to focus on outcomes rather than outputs. So for example, an output might be a course for learners to take, but the outcome will be what they are able to do as a result. This distinction is based on the ‘Theory of change' framework developed in the mid 1990s as a way to analyse programs and initiatives working for social and political change

 

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PASSIVE LEARNING

Learning with no interactivity or feedback. Passive learning is where learners receive the information, via any one of a number of presentation media, which the learner is then expected to internalise. Passive learning is the opposite to active learning.

Pedagogy

The method and practice of teaching. It covers both the academic, theoretical, level (eg “”), as well as choice of learning methods in specific situations — such as social learning, self-paced learning, and so on: each is its own pedagogy. In a business context, it’s often simpler and clearer to talk about “learning design choices”.

People analytics

Analysing data about people to solve business problems. Also called HR analytics or workforce analytics, it enables data-driven decision making on improving workforce and organisational performance.

Performance management

A group of practices to monitor, maintain and improve employee performance in line with an organisation's objectives. The phrase “performance management” is sometimes also used as a shorthand to refer to the specific processes involved when an employee has been identified as under-performing.

PERFORMANCE SUPPORT

Supporting employees at their point of need. . This blog talks in depth about performance support tools and why you should be using them. See also Job aids.

PERSONA

A fabricated character. Personas are an effective way to mirror learner behaviours by telling stories around a set of characters. Key points and lessons can be taught through the use of personas in typical, or untypical, situations. They can be given an avatar for recognisability and can be as complex as required. Here's a great blog that discusses how effective personas can be in your online training.

Personal learning network (PLN)

An informal network of people and information sources: people that you can learn from, and with, through discussion and collaboration; and information sources that build your knowledge, skills, and understanding.

Personalisation

Tailoring a product or a service to someone’s individual requirements. In learning terms, this often means providing them with alternative pathways or experiences based on their pre-existing understanding and motivation for the learning.

Power skills

Often called “soft skills” or “human skills”, these are skills that all employees should develop. They include communication, time management, teamwork and other skills that are relevant to the workplace regardless of the role.

Preboarding

Activities that occur with a new hire prior to their first day on the job. They can save time and money for an organisation, and they can also build enthusiasm and commitment in the employee if done right. If not done correctly, they can have an opposite, alienating, effect.

PRESCRIPTIVE LEARNING

Targeting topics to specific learning needs. Involves identifying a learner’s skill gaps are and targeting learning to those needs. This approach can result in relevance, meaning and cost effectiveness.

Pretest

Also called diagnostic tests, these are taken by learners at the beginning of a course. Research shows that pretests can often strengthen the learning, and if a learner scores highly, they could be enabled to opt out of the learning altogether.

Problem-based learning (PBL)

A student-centred pedagogy, based around asking learners to find solutions to a given problem. Learners are expected to examine the problem, conduct their own research, identify what they need to learn, and then present a solution. In corporate learning, this can be very effective where an organisation can identify some key problems and then structure a PBL event around that problem.

Psychological safety

The belief that you won’t be punished for speaking up, contributing ideas, or making mistakes. It is a critical factor in enabling employees to contribute to innovation, learn from failure, and bring their authentic selves to the workplace.

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Qualitative / quantitative response

Qualitative or “open ended” questions are where learners are free to answer any way they want — often via a free text field. For quantitative questions, the expected answer is typically numerical. With digital learning, we often tend towards quantitative, because it’s easier to interpret and provide feedback.

Question bank

A collection of questions on defined topics. You can use it to create a quiz or learning activity so that a different subset of the questions is used each time, with questions in a different order, to keep learners on their toes

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RAPID AUTHORING TOOLS

elearning tools that offer a quick and easy method to develop an online learning resource. Rapid authoring tools are available online and are used to create web based training courses without the need for coding or multimedia skills. Subject matter experts could use these to create simple and effective elearning, while for a higher quality output, learning designers and digital designers use these tools to create engaging interactive online courses in a cost-effective manner.

RAPID LEARNING

The process of rapidly turning content into elearning courses. Popular as a means of very quickly creating bespoke learning. Typically, rapid learning involves converting presentation slides into an online course by adding some (limited) interactivity and questions, and exporting the course as a SCORM object to run on an LMS. The end result is a much quicker time to market — often just a matter of days — but with a less engaging and interactive product than a standard bespoke course.

REPURPOSE

Transform existing learning material into a different delivery format. Involves repurposing training material, such as classroom content and other learning items, for web based elearning delivery.

Reskilling

Developing new skills to adapt to a new role. Individuals may want to extend their skillset to “adjacent” roles — i.e., ones that have some similarity to their own. Or organisations may want to encourage this so that they can develop a more flexible workforce who can adapt more quickly if needed.

Resources not courses

Courses can be great at helping people to develop their understanding, but often they don’t use that knowledge to improve their practice at work. Shorter resources – such as job aids – are often a better way of helping people to get things done in the workplace.

ROI

Return on investment. This refers to how companies can assess the impact and success of learning, specifically compared to the money spent on that training. elearning is, typically, cheaper than traditional face-to-face learning and therefore provides a better ROI. A cloud based LMS or ecosystem makes it easier again to train more people quickly, though it may take some time to recover the initial subscription costs. ROI will have other considerations also, such as the effectiveness of the training. For example, if a course results in a 10% reduction in customer complaints or faults, the financial implications of this could be very significant.

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SCENARIO 

A fictional story that puts the learner into a situation and presents them with decisions and the consequences of those decisions. Well-written scenarios are powerful learning tools. They allow learners to practise their skills within a safe environment. The observed consequences and immediate feedback allow learners to learn from their mistakes. The storytelling aspect adds an element of drama and can help learners to see the relevance, in a realistic context, of what's being taught.

SCORM

Shareable Content Object Reference Model. SCORM is a content standard or protocol for elearning. It allows learner data to be shared between a course and an LMS. Without this communication, learner data such as dates or times, and assessment scores, could not be recorded. This would lead to learner frustration and companies being unable to monitor or report on learner progress and success. See also AICC

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING

An environment where learners choose the direction of their own learning. Relies on the learner taking responsibility for, and having an input into, their own learning. Assistance, support and facilitation may be required but decisions around the direction of the learning are made by the learner themselves. See why our learning experience designers think self directed learning is important.

Sentiment analysis

A technique — often AI-based — to determine whether the emotional tone of a piece of writing is neutral, positive or negative.

SERIOUS GAMES

Games developed with the primary purpose of teaching something, rather than just entertaining. Similar to gamification, but not to be confused with it. Serious games look and feel like games, but have a learning element (as compared to ‘gamified’ courses that look and feel more like traditional learning, but have gaming elements, like badges).

SIMULATIONS

Clark Aldrich says 'A learning simulation is an experience designed to rigorously help users develop competence and conviction.  A learning simulation is a combination of modeling elements, entertainment (or game) elements, and instructional (or pedagogical) elements.  These can range from pure media (which do not involve any other humans), to experiences that use coaches, teammates, competitors, and communities.' Simulations (sims) provide the learner with a multimedia, multisensory approximation of reality, without the element of danger. Sims are often used for army training (e.g. flight simulators) or for medical training (e.g. surgery simulation), where the cost and consequences of letting novices practise in a real-world environment are just too high. It's the learning layer (insight and analysis) that distinguishes a learning simulation from an entertainment-only one. See also AR and VR.

Single loop learning

In single-loop learning, people analyse the results of their actions to see how they could improve outcomes, but without ever questioning the validity of those outcomes. It helps answer the question “are we doing things right?” Contrast with Double loop learning.

Skills

The ability to do something well. There is no agreed definition, but for us, a skill is part of a competency, alongside knowledge and behaviour. The skill part lies in being able to apply knowledge through behaviour.

The term is often applied to domain-specific activities (handling a forklift truck, manipulating data, writing an app) as well as to “power skills” (communication, time management).

Skills framework

Very similar to a competency framework, this defines the skills requirements for different roles, and the level of skill expected. This is useful in assessing individuals’ proficiency in a role and in planning their career path.

Skills gap

The mismatch — real or perceived — between the skills required by an employer and the skills employees actually possess.

Skills taxonomy

A list of skills, in categories, within an organisation that identifies the capabilities of the organisation.

SOCIAL LEARNING

Social learning is a hot topic, hence all of our blogs on it! It stems from the idea that we learn by observation and from copying others, more than we do from reading about something. Learning providers and companies are trying to replicate the success of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn by providing learners with discussion forums, blogs, video content etc that allow employees to share knowledge and best practice among themselves (as opposed to the more traditional top-down approach). It may be informal peer-to-peer learning, or it can be explicitly included in the learning design, via debates, interactions, or collaborative projects.

SPACED PRACTICE

A series of learning sessions spaced out over a period of time. Research shows that retention is increased when learning is broken up into short sessions delivered over a longer period, rather than bringing a learner through a topic from start to finish in one session.

Leaving space between opportunities for practice allows our brains to (almost) forget the information that has been learned. When this is revisited, our brains are required to retrieve this information, strengthening our memory of it. This approach is based on the forgetting curve, in that it acknowledges the natural decline of memory retention over time. Read our blog about spaced repetition here.

Soft skills

See Power skills.

Steering committee

A group of key stakeholders in an organisation tasked with providing strategic guidance and project oversight without being directly involved in the day-to-day execution.

STICKINESS 

Refers to learning that ‘sticks’ in your memory and is applied in real life (i.e. isn't quickly forgotten) — a big talking point here at Logicearth; we like our learning to be sticky! As described in an article in Elearning! Magazine, Candy Osborne found that ‘50% of what we learn is forgotten in one hour; 80% after two days; and 90% after 31 days’. Good interactions and examples, coupled with real-world application, are key to making learning ‘stick’. Learn here about increasing employee engagement and how to end procrastination and improve productivity with digital learning

STORYBOARD

The blueprint plans for an elearning course. The storyboard demonstrates the structure of the course, and typically contains the text, the interaction descriptions and an indication of the imagery to be used in the course. It provides an opportunity to review and feed back on the course content.

STORYTELLING

Once upon a time... Everyone loves a good story! It’s a great way to engage your audience, whether it’s for a learning course, business presentation, or report. With your learners engaged, the creative stage is set to get across the key message and to show by example. You can choose the style, the length and the morale of the story. In this blog, read about how to create high quality digital content that will challenge and stretch your staff.

Structured learning

We all learn, all the time. Most of it is informal or in the moment. Structured learning involves conscious design and use of instructional methodologies, to encourage learning in a define topic. Other terms in this space include formal learning, or curricula.

SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT (SME)

This person is the learning experience designer's fount of all knowledge when devising and writing a course. As well as providing raw content (documents, interviews etc.) and target audience insights, a key role of the SME is to provide realistic examples that will resonate with the target audience. That insider knowledge is vital to the success of any project.

Succession planning

Identifying crucial positions within your organisation and developing action plans for employees to fill any vacancies that might arise. This ensures a pipeline of effective leaders throughout the organisation, and also demonstrates to your employees that there are clear career paths within the organisation.

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT.

See assessment

SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING

Learners participating in a learning event at the same time, but from different locations. Technological advances have made it possible for learners to be online and taking part in the same sessions — this facilitates feedback, discussion, collaboration and brainstorming. Our IDs talk about synchronous learning in this blog post.

Systems thinking

An approach to analysis that focuses on the overall system and how its parts interact. It acknowledges that we often have to look more broadly to find the true solution to a problem that arises in one specific area.

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Tacit knowledge

Knowledge that is often considered to be intuitive, and the result of experience. It can be hard to express or share: one of the key sills of a great LXD lies in helping our subject matter experts (SMEs) to articulate and express their tacit knowledge so that we can build that into our learning solutions.

TAKEAWAYS

Refers to summaries, checklists and process flow documents or learner reflection and action plans — the key learning they take from the course.  Takeaways can be part of the course materials and saved locally or even printed as desk posters or job aides. They help to transfer learning to the workplace and can increase the stickiness of the learning. Try downloading some of our free infographics and resources to use in your organisation.

Talent management system

A system that enables HR departments to track and manage the recruitment, development and performance of employees and candidates.

Task analysis

The examination and description of the steps involved in the completion of a job or a task. It can include elements such as duration, speed, mental activity and more.

Team alignment

Ensuring that team members and cross-functional teams share the same purpose, vision, values, and goals. This gives a clear foundation for collaboration and communication, and is easier to achieve in organisations that clearly state and adhere to their own vision and values.

Training program

An activity or series of activities to improve employees’ knowledge, skills, or performance in specific areas.

Training needs analysis

An organisational process to determine any gaps between employees’ current and required knowledge, skills, and abilities. Training is not always the answer, though, so a better approach is Performance Needs Analysis.

TIN CAN/EXPERIENCE API (xAPI)

An elearning protocol that enables learning tasks to be recorded without having to be completed through a web browser. This article talks about the two most popular content standards, SCORM and Tin Can API — take a look to get more info!

Twenty first century skills

Curiosity, creativity, critical thinking are examples of what are seen a key ‘21st-century skill’ to navigate a volatile and rapidly changing (or VUCA) world. In practice, they can be difficult to pin down as a generic skill, but it is possible to develop them through practice and organisational support.

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Upskilling

The method of learning new skills or teaching employees new skills. A culture of upskilling is a culture that focuses on closing talent gaps by teaching workers new skills.

USABILITY

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines usability as the extent to which a product is used by a specific audience, for its intended purpose, with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. In elearning, usability is related to both UI and UX. It reflects how easily learners can make their way through the course and achieve the desired outcomes. Confusing or overly complicated content, layout or wording frustrates learners and can lead to them abandoning the course. Clear instructions, navigation and layout are vital to good usability. Here's a list of blogs to help you get the best out of your elearning design.

USER GENERATED CONTENT (UGC) OR USER CREATED CONTENT (UCC)

Content created by one person and shared with others. Common examples of this in elearning are learners writing and sharing blogs, comments, videos or other training materials, and making them available to colleagues or a wider audience. UGC promotes the idea of peer-to-peer and social learning and also the idea of bottom-up rather than top-down content. 

USER EXPERIENCE (UX)

A learner's behaviours and feelings about using a course. Interesting, engaging, relevant and easy-to-use courses result in positive user experiences. All of these contribute towards the user experience or feel-good factor of an online course. Here's how skilled managers can create engaged employees.

USER INTERFACE (UI)

How users or learners interact with the interface or course. elearning UI includes your screen layout and navigation. The aim should always be to make the interface easy to use, intuitive, clean and adjustable. 

UNCONSCIOUS BIAS (OR IMPLICIT BIAS)

This is when our brain makes quick judgements on situations or people without us realising; in doing this, the brain influences our behaviour. Unconscious bias is a natural process by the brain to filter what is often too much information to process at once. The levels of filter vary from person to person and depend on past experiences and perceptions. Often, this is not taken into consideration when designing learning. Care should be taken to understand target audience bias and perceptions, so any biases can be broken down and habits that might block learning are challenged.

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Video content management system (Video CMS)

An online platform that allows organisations to centralise, manage and deliver video content.

VIRTUAL CLASSROOM

An online classroom. An environment or platform where learners can get together via an internet session. The software allows interaction between tutor and learner.

Virtual internship

A work experience programme that allows interns to gain work experience whilst working remotely rather than being physically present at the organisation’s office.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)

Not to be confused with AR, VR is about creating a virtually real experience for the learner to make them feel present in the situation. This high impact training can be very useful for topics like health and safety, or for training trades such as plumbers or mechanics.

VOICE-OVER (VO) 

The audio narrative that accompanies elements of an elearning course, usually provided by a trainer, SME or professional voice-over actor. Some elearning can contain a large amount of VO, up to full narrative. 

VUCA

VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is one way to describe the constantly changing environment in which organisations operate. Putting VUCA front and centre means your focus will be on agility, adaptability, being able to move fast and respond quickly, and all of the skills and mindset that go with that outlook.

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Web 2.0

The norm on the web, this refers to websites that go beyond static HTML web pages. The emphasis is on cloud computing, UGC, and peer-to-peer communication. For learning, it’s associated with dynamic content and users being able to collaborate and share information.

Web 3.0

Originally called the Semantic Web, Web 3.0 is still evolving and being defined. It will have a strong emphasis on decentralized applications and make extensive use of blockchain-based technologies. These will have implications for learning and certification in the future

WEB BASED TRAINING (WBT)

Any training that’s delivered via the web, and often delivered to groups of learners online at the same time.

WEARABLES

A device that you wear, e.g. glasses or a watch, that collects and shares data about you. One common example is a Fitbit (wristband), that tracks your heart rate, number of steps walked, quality of sleep, etc. and then sends that to your online profile. Your data is then analysed and useful information returned to the user. In elearning circles, the potential lies in collecting real-time data from learners, allowing us to gauge and analyse the learner experience, and provide learners with data about their own performance to allow them to modify and improve their knowledge and actions.

WEBINAR

An online workshop, seminar or interactive presentation. Used frequently in the elearning industry for sharing knowledge and gathering input from learners across locations — almost like an online collaborative classroom. Commonly used for presenting information in a fairly passive context, it’s worth noting that webinars can be interactive, engaging, and can promote active learning, with the appropriate learning design input.

WEB RESPONSIVE

Web responsive elearning. This type of elearning is developed in an authoring tool that optimises the viewing experience automatically, depending on the device being used. It resizes and reorders elements on the screen for ease of reading.

Wiki

An online platform developed collaboratively by a community of users. Users are allowed to add, edit and remove content and can be allowed to edit each other’s pages. In large wikis, moderators are necessary to monitor and improve content for clarity and accuracy.

Workplace learning

The process of acquiring knowledge and skills in the workplace. This can happen formally and informally — the 70:20:10 model is one model that tries to show this.

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xAPI (Experience API )

Also called Tin Can, this is a way to capture any kind of learning event. It is more flexible and detailed than SCORM, but is also harder to implement, and relies on having the correct technologies in your ecosystem. Technically, it’s based on JSON, and uses a flexible structure where events have the following components: [actor], [verb], [object] [context]. 

 

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5 MOMENTS OF LEARNING NEED

This idea ties in with performance support. Here are two blogs to help you check if you are meeting all 5 moments of learning need:
— Blog 1: Are You Meeting All Five Moments of Learning Need?
— Blog 2: How to Use The 5 "Moments of Need" Model In Corporate eLearning

70:20:10

This is a model for L&D that corresponds to a proportional breakdown of how people learn effectively. It proposes that we learn 70% of what we need to know from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events. It’s attracted a lot of criticism mainly because it attaches specific values to each area, but it remains a valuable model to ensure that we think beyond the learning course, and pay attention to the importance of context and knowledge transfer in learning and application.

Check out this helpful video, which breaks it down. 

10,000 hour rule

Based on his research, the journalist Malcolm Gladwell stated it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials. Contrast it with K. Anders Ericsson’s research into “deliberate practice” and you can see that this isn’t a rule that stands up to too close a scrutiny. Nevertheless, it makes the point that it takes time as well as effort to achieve mastery, and we shouldn’t expect results overnight.

 

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