10 common e-learning terms explained

As an e-learning adviser I am frequently accused of using words or acronyms which those less involved in or new to e-Learning may find confusing. For those unfamiliar with acronyms and their meaning this presents an instant barrier for communication; both written and spoken.

So why do we do it?  Do we automatically think that people understand the language and therefore we ‘expect’ people to know, or is it a product of an ever quickening online-cultured society?

Woman screaming

Help! I can’t take these acronyms any more!

On a wider scope, what effect has an online and mobile-based landscape had in terms of the English language? Text-speak has certainly emerged for a younger generation of people and often used for other communication, simply because it uses less words and syllables.

To help those unfamiliar or new to the world of post-16 education, here are some helpful explanations of 10 of the most common educational bits of jargon I come across.

1) M-learning:  The ever widening acceptability of smartphones and tablet devices for learning is having a profound effect on the way some providers deliver learning.  M-learning is all about the use of mobile devices in the classroom.

2) Gamification:  This is the process of transforming your e-learning content or even hard copy content into an interactive game-based format.  Gamification can, if done correctly, transform the level of engagement with the learner by presenting the information within a unique format, as no two games need to be the same; although most formats will include typical gaming elements like rewards, levels, titles and positive feedback.

3) Blended Learning:  A flexible system combining classroom training or face to face site visits with either on demand web-based interactive online training at a time and location to suit the learner; typically, via a VLE (Virtual learning environment). Alternatively interactive content can be pre-loaded onto a mobile device by the learner or tutor so that the device can be left with the learner.

4) Social Learning: Largely means collaboration, through brainstorming or discussion with co-workers or other types of communication. In the scope of e-Learning, this could mean anything from using social media to discussion threads or live chats within an on-line e-Learning course.

5) Storyboarding:  A procedure which allows developers to outline the content of an e-learning course before the development process begins. This helps designers identify what texts, visuals and other elements they want to incorporate within the course.

6) Tin Can API:  (API standing for application programming interface)  Tin Can is the next generation of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) which has been the standard for interactive e-learning content for a while now.  SCORM is a collection of files, standards and specifications for web-based e-learning. Its purpose is to define communications content and its host system and is commonly supported by a learning management system or VLE.

7) Learning Management System:  Commonly referred to as an LMS, usually an online software platform which will publish, manage, track results and create reports for online courses and training.

8) 508 Compliant:  Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act contains accessibility standards for all types of content. However for our purposes an e-Learning course that is 508 Compliant ensures that all learners, especially those with disabilities, can access the content in the course.

9) SME:  In this case SME refers to a Subject Matter Expert and not a small to medium enterprise. SMEs are the people who have the in-depth applied subject knowledge and expertise to ensure the accuracy of your e-Learning course.

10) Rapid e-Learning Software:  Packages of software, some of which are free or open source, which can build e-Learning courses quickly, with little time required to create the finished learning object. Most packages like Articulate Storyline or iSpring include easy to use templates or wizards.

There are loads of other educational jargon terms that we use, often without realising. Please feel free to add your suggestions below.


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