Online learning glossary – real meaning for real people

Have you researched online learning as a training or educational medium for your workplace or classroom? Or are you wondering about a possible career in the design and development of online learning, but you are not sure what all terms mean?

When you are new to a field, it is important to get the words right so you can understand what others are saying and so you can communicate about this topic effectively. This article provides an introduction and glossary of the terms associated with online learning. After making this list, I was even surprised at how many terms there were!

LYDKONFERENCERING: Audio conferencing refers to a connection between three or more locations involving a voice-only connection. This can be done over the phone or via the computer. When the audio conference is conducted between computers over the Internet, it uses a technology called VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).

ASYNCHRONOS LEARNING: When students attend an online learning course at different times, it is called asynchronous learning. This can also be called eLearning or Web Based Training (WBT). Asynchronous learning allows students to complete a course at their own pace and schedule.

BLENDED LEARNING: Blended learning is an instructional method that includes a combination of online and personal learning activities. For example, students may perform online pace assignments online after a specific date and then meet on site or online for additional learning activities.

COMPUTER-BASED EDUCATION (CBT): CBT refers to any type of course that runs on a computer, either on a CD, on a person’s hard drive or on the Internet. The distinguishing point is that computer-based training does not involve an instructor or facilitator who is physically present. Now that most computer-based training takes place over the Internet, the term is rarely used. More common terms are online learning, eLearning and Web-based training (WBT).

Course material: Courseware refers to all instructional software provided on a computer.

DISTANCE EXTENSION or DISTANCE LEARNING: Distance learning / learning occurs when students and their instructors are in different geographical locations and the instruction takes place on an electronic device, such as a computer or mobile phone. Learning can occur in a synchronous environment where all participants are connected at the same time or in an asynchronous environment when the participants are engaged in learning at different times.

eLearning: eLearning (abbreviation for electronic learning) is an umbrella term that refers to all types of training, education and instruction that occur on a digital medium, e.g. a computer or mobile phone.

HYBRID LEARNING: See blended learning.

Informal learning: Informal learning occurs when people need to know something. They set their own learning goals and acquire knowledge, skills and information in their own ways. This can be by asking questions, observing experts, practicing and speaking. It is the kind of natural learning that humans do outside of a structured environment.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN: Instructional design involves identifying knowledge, information, and skill gaps in a particular group of people and creating or choosing learning experiences that close that gap. Instructional designers base their learning decisions on cognitive psychology, instructional theory, and best practice.

LED TRINING INSTRUCTOR (ILT): ILT typically refers to teaching in a classroom environment where the instructor and students are together at the same time and in the same physical place.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNER: An instructional designer practices crafts and science in instructional design. This person identifies the needs of a targeted audience and determines the best approaches to meet the needs of the audience. It may involve designing and writing online learning courses as well as writing the necessary manuals for instructor-led training. Some instructional designers also create graphics and use authoring systems to produce online courses.

INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA: Interactive multimedia allows students to provide input to an online course and receive feedback as a result of input. The input may consist of a mouse click or move, gestures, voice commands, touching an input screen, text entry and live interactions with connected participants.

MOBILE LEARNING: Learning that takes place on a handheld device, e.g. A mobile phone that can take place anytime, anywhere.

MULTIMEDIA: Multimedia refers to the presentation of information and instruction through a combination of graphics, audio, text or video. Multimedia instruction is often interactive.

ONLINE LEARNING: The term online education is often used synonymously with eLearning. It is an umbrella term that includes any kind of learning gained on a computer and usually over the Internet.

SELF-PACED LEARNING: Self-paced learning refers to the type of instruction that allows a person to control the flow of course equipment. This implies that the learning environment is asynchronous.

SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNING: Learning on social media refers to the acquisition of information and skills through social technologies that allow people to collaborate, talk, provide input, create content and share it. Examples of learning on social media can be found through online social networking platforms, blogs and microblogs (like Twitter), online talk radio and wikis.

STREAMING MEDIA: Streaming media refers to video and audio downloaded to a computer from the Internet as a continuous stream of data and played when it reaches the destination computer.

SYNCRONOS TEACHING: When students attend an online learning course at the same time, but in different places, it is called synchronous learning. Synchronous learning allows students to interact with the instructor and other participants. This is done through software that creates a virtual classroom.

VIDEO CONFERENCE: Video conferencing refers to the use of video technology (both hardware and software) to create a virtual meeting between two or more people in different physical locations. Participants can see and hear each other through this technology.

VIRTUAL CLASS: The virtual classroom refers to a digital classroom learning environment that takes place over the Internet rather than in a physical classroom. It is implemented through software that allows instructors and students to interact.

WEBINAR: A webinar is a seminar or workshop where the facilitator and participants see the same screen at the same time. Usually, the webinar has an audio component that the facilitator manages and functionality that allows participants to chat by entering text, answering polls, raising their hands and asking questions.

WEB-BASED EDUCATION (WBT): WBT refers to all types of digital instruction where the learning material is presented via the Internet.