Ultimate Guide: The Essential eLearning Glossary For 2020

elearning jargon decoded! After reading this, you’ll be able to confidently hold your own in a conversation on elearning. 

If you’re new to the elearning scene, you’re probably as flummoxed as the woman in the comic strip!

Don’t worry. We’re here to help crack some of the mystery surrounding elearning terms so that the next time you’re having a conversation with someone on elearning, you’ll not only feel less intimidated by the jargon, but also be able to talk the talk!

Let’s dig right in!


ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING: Here students participate in an online learning program at different periods and learners can finish a course at their own pace and schedule.

AUTHORING TOOL: A software program that enables users to create elearning content integrating text and multimedia which is SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) compatible. More on SCORM later in this blog.


BLENDED LEARNING: An instructional approach that leverages both online and in-person learning activities. For example, students can complete self-paced assignments online by a certain date and then meet for additional learning activities on-site or online.


CMS (Content Management System): A software application used to create and manage web-based content. The authorisation system allows multiple users to access the CMS without interacting with each other.

COMPUTER-BASED TRAINING (CBT): Courses that run on a device — a CD, a hard drive or via the Internet. What’s advantageous here is that computer-based learning does not require in-person training.

CONTENT CHUNKING: A method of sorting and organizing course content into smaller, more manageable pieces of information so that it can be easily consumed by the learner.


DISTANCE EDUCATION or DISTANCE LEARNING: A situation wherein students and instructors are spread across locations and the courses are taught online. Training may take place in a synchronous environment where all participants interact simultaneously or in an asynchronous environment where participants train at different times.


eLEARNING: This encompasses all kinds of training and learning conducted on a digital medium.


FLIPPED CLASSROOM: A type of blended learning wherein the learner consumes course material either via video lectures or other means and homework or assignments are done in the classroom. This allows the instructor and learner to have one-on-one discussions on topics thereby enhancing the learning experience.

FLIPPED LEARNING: A teaching approach that allows instructors to make the most of class time by allocating learning material to learners to be viewed outside the class either prior to or after the class session. As a result, group discussions and interactions in the class are of a much higher standard.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: The purpose of this assessment is to provide learners (K12 and Adult/Corporate) with input on areas that they need to develop and a chance to recognize their strengths during the course. These assessments are given at the end of every learning module. Check out this infographic for more info.


GAME-BASED LEARNING: The application of gaming principles in learning and training. It is designed to balance learning content with gameplay and the user’s ability to retain and apply the topic to real-world scenarios.

GAMIFICATION: This learning style uses game elements like leaderboards, points, badges, levels, and achievements to improve participation of the users during the learning process. Here is an example of gamified learning.


INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN: The practice of evaluating, designing, creating and converting educational materials to an online curriculum. Instructional Designers (or IDs) take into consideration cognitive psychology, instructional theory and best practices while designing courses.

INSTRUCTOR LED TRAINING (ILT): Training sessions in a classroom where both the teacher and the learner are in the same physical location at the same time. In the digital age, ILT can also be delivered via a virtual classroom.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNER: One who designs and develops the storyboard for online learning courses as well as the manuals needed for online training. Some IDs are also adept at creating graphics, videos and generate online courses using authoring tools, although the graphic design and video production is typically performed by dedicated design teams.

INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA: This allows users to manage, combine, and manipulate various media types such as text, video, computer graphics, sound and animation.


K-12: From an elearning point of view, K-12 refers to creation of educational and learning content for children in Kindergarten through to Grade 12. 


LMS (Learning Management System): Software that is used to create, manage and deliver elearning content to learners, interact with them and track their performance.


MICROLEARNING: This involves breaking course content into several, organised, small, bite-sized units to help the learner comprehend the subject in a short period time. Essentially, this helps with improved retention and higher engagement. This approach does very well for adult learners as it works around the work-day without disturbing existing work schedules.

MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses pertain to free, easy and open access online courses aimed at unlimited participation by people across locations. Khan Academy, BYJU’S and LinkedIn Learning are examples of MOOC.


PROBLEM-BASED STORYTELLING: A teaching method that uses challenging issues and problems as tools to facilitate learning instead of a more traditional presentation of concepts. 


RAPID LEARNING: A method of developing elearning courses within a shorter time frame and a smaller budget, without using complicated processes or programming techniques.


SCENARIO-BASED LEARNING: A type of learning which employs interactive, problem-based scenarios for the learners to work their way through. This helps learners attain the skills necessary to handle similar real-world situations.

SCORM: Shareable Content Object Reference Model is a set of technical standards that ensure compatibility of the Learning Management System and the course content with other SCORM-compliant systems.

SELF-PACED LEARNING: A type of instruction that enables the learner to dictate the pace of the course.

SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNING: This refers to the use of social media platforms to gain knowledge and skills. This enables students to interact, provide feedback, create and share content. Social media learning generally occurs via social networking sites, forums and microblogs.

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: This is used to assess whether a learner has achieved the pre-defined learning objectives and reached the desired level of skill. It’s usually given at the end of a course. See this infographic.

SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING: When participants engage in an online learning program at the same time, from across locations it is defined as synchronous learning. A learner interacts with the instructor and with other learners through a virtual classroom system.


VIRTUAL CLASSROOM: An online classroom where learners and instructors interact over the web, through features of chat and video conferencing.  There has been a spike in this form of learning via the use of webinars ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit our world.


WEB-BASED TRAINING: All forms of electronic instruction that present learning content through the Internet.

WHITEBOARD: A type of animation that enables learners to grasp concepts via the use of drawings and other creative elements on a whiteboard.

We’ll be updating this list to include new terms. So stay tuned!

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