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20 eLearning Terms Everyone Should Know

Have you recently accepted a job in or related to the Learning Technology industry? Or perhaps you’re researching your next big elearning investment?

Whatever the answer, chances are you were very quickly faced with a double-helping of unfamiliar jargon.

As a newbie to the industry myself, it’s clear that elearning is an exciting space to be in. However, if my experience is anything to go by, then getting to know your Authoring Tools from your LMSs, your APIs from your LTI, and your OLXs from your ePortfolios can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks.

I know what you’re thinking… where on earth do I start?!

Thankfully for you, we love to break down learning barriers here at Learning Pool – it’s one of the things that we do best.

So I’ve curated a handy glossary of some of the top elearning terms that might have you scratching your head as you begin your journey to becoming an elearning expert.

In no particular order, here’s my Top 20 as a starting point…

Top 20 Common eLearning Terms

1. Learning Management System (LMS)

A learning platform for the delivery and reporting of training courses or educational programs. In an LMS, learning content is centralized and can be made available to users 24/7, in addition to the tracking and analysis of learning data for enhanced performance and continued learner improvement. Content can be changed or upgraded directly with very minimal administrative resources needed.

2. Learning Record Store (LRS)

A database that stores, manages and performs analysis on learning data. An LRS can be part of a Learning Management System (LMS) that supports the xAPI data format, or a standalone system, such as our own Learning Pool Learning Record Store – the most widely installed LRS in the world.

3. Learning Data

Information that is produced about an individual or group of learners during the completion of an online learning course. It is traditionally captured in the SCORM format, with more recent elearning initiatives capturing learning data in the xAPI format.

4. Learning Analytics

The measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data accumulated during an online learning activity. Learning analytics allow for deep insight into the behaviours, competencies and experiences of learners in addition to accurately identifying areas for improvement in both the learner and the learning environment.

5. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI)

A standard of cross-system operability created by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. It exists to connect learning systems, such as the LMS, with external tools in a way that is standardized; enabling enhanced accessibility of learning content across many institutions.

6. Application Programming Interface (API)

A set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.

7. xAPI (Experience API / Tin Can)

xAPI (or the Experience Application Programming Interface, to give it it’s full name) develops on existing API functions by recording data in a consistent format using a universally applicable vocabulary.

Learning in both online and offline environments can be recognised and recorded using xAPI, which also allows for vastly different systems to communicate this learning data securely and efficiently.

The xAPI vocabulary format consists of an ‘Actor > Verb > Object’ structure. In simple terms, this may look like; John Smith > Completed > Learning Activity.

8. Social Learning

A learning concept recognizing that undertaking training/educational courses in a collaborative forum in which ideas can be discussed and concepts freely explored contributes to much higher engagement and retention than more traditional teacher/learner environments.

Our award-winning social learning platform, Learning Pool Platform, is built around these principles.

9. Synchronous Learning

A course structure that dictates that learners must access and consume an online course simultaneously, regardless of geographical location. Synchronous learning allows for real time interaction among instructors and learners, whereas Asynchronous learning does not.

10. Asynchronous Learning

The ability for learners to access and consume an online course at different times. This is a core concept in elearning and Web Based Training (WBT) and allows a course to be delivered at a pace that suits each individual learner.

11. Massive Open Online Course (OLX)

An online course delivered to large numbers of users at any one time, OLXs can be applied for both corporate training and the delivery of educational content.

In addition to the delivery of content, OLXs often facilitate collaborative discussion and interactions between both students and teachers, or instructors and learners.

12. Gamification

The integration of participation incentives that are largely based upon gaming principals to encourage engagement with a software platform. In elearning, this includes the use of point scoring, trophies and badges, various ‘levels’ and leaderboards to increase engagement with and retention of education content.

13. Curation

The sourcing, organisation and presentation of content or media. In elearning, the curation process is often a core part of creating online courses, in which a diverse range content is collated from internal and external sources. Curating learning content can drastically reduce the time taken to create an online course and enables course content to stay highly topical and relevant.

14. Authoring Tool

A tool (either desktop or browser-based) that allows instructional designers to integrate an array of media formats to create training/elearning that is engaging and interactive.

15. Blended Learning

An educational syllabus that combines multiple media types with a combination of offline and online learning; often a blend of classroom environments and elearning.

16. Micro Learning

A method of delivering content to users in small, specific bursts, allowing users to control what and when they learn. For example, a piece of educational content or information may be delivered in the size of a tweet.

17. ePortfolio

The accumulation of evidence demonstrating an individual’s work and accomplishments, hosted and displayed on a web-based or digital platform.

18. Open Badges

An accomplishment recognition initiative developed by the Mozilla Foundation. ‘Open Badges’ refer to a method of packaging information about achievements and fulfilled goals and embedding it into a portable image file; acting as a digital badge.

19. Open Source

A piece of software with a source code that is freely available for the public to modify to suit their individual needs. Often, changes are shared and the software is collaboratively improved upon.

20. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Software that is licensed to a company or individual on a subscription basis. SaaS has notable benefits, such as cost savings resulting from the absence of hardware installations, maintenance and upgrades. Additionally, SaaS products are easily scaled to suit the precise needs of the customer as the software is hosted externally by the vendor. This benefit extends to development and upgrades, as SaaS users can simply log on to a service that is consistently maintained.

For further jargon-busting support, check out our Complete Glossary of Elearning Terms & Jargon Definitions

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