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Refers to requirements that technology must enable individuals with disabilities (sight, hearing, mobiity, cognitive) to use it.


Americans With Disabilities Act.

Adaptive learning

Also called personalized learning. Refers to a teaching approach where the delivery of content and assessment are tailored to each student’s abilities and needs.


Acronym: the classic instructional development process: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation.


Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative: organization within the US DoD charged with implementing guidance for designing and developing efficient, cost-effective, and global distributed learning. See

Adult Learning Theory

Model for instruction to adult learners. Emphasis on the learner's goals, wealth of experience and ability/desire to direct his or her own learning.

Affective learning

Learning that results in changes to emotions, attitudes, appreciations, and values, such as enjoying, conserving, respecting, and supporting.


Affordances are the fundamental capabilities for action suggested by an object or environment. In GUIs, these are perceived affordances, what the screen design suggests are possible. Hidden affordances must be learned, and false affordances can mislead.


Software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams.


Acronym: Artificial Intelligence


Acronym: Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee. International association of technology-based training professionals. Develops guidelines for development, delivery, and evaluation of CBT, WBT, and related training technologies.


Formal term for instructional or teaching strategy, particularly for teaching adults.


Presentation of a rapid sequence of still images in a way that creates the illusion of motion.


Application Programming Interface. An API is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. It specifies how software components should interact.


The structure and organization of a computer's hardware or system software, or of the communication services, hardware, and software supporting a network.


Acronym: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction. John Keller's problem solving approach to designing the motivational aspects of learning environments to stimulate and sustain students’ motivation.


Acronym: Application Service Provider. Internet service company that hosts programs (such as eLearning content, learning management systems) on behalf of clients.


A question, exercise, test, quiz, or other evaluation of the learner's achievement in an eLearning application, or of the learner's level of skill and knowledge before or after training.

Asynchronous learning

Instructional delivery online to learners who do not participate at the same time. Channels include email, discussion boards, self-paced courses. Media include Web, Internet, CD-ROM, DVD.


Similar to programming. Developers assemble media components using a tool (authoring system) to create an application.

Authoring tool

Software used to create e-learning courseware. Sometimes called an authoring system.


Graphical representation of a user, script, program, or non-human system within a virtual world.


Audio Video Interleave, a multimedia container format introduced by Microsoft in 1992. AVI files can contain both audio and video data, allowing synchronous audio-with-video playback.


Back-end architecture

Applications, services, and systems that indirectly support the user interface of a program, application, or system. Often refers to a database or other content resources.

Balanced Scorecard

A structured method of measuring business performance, based on a mix of financial and non-financial parameters.


The measure of the amount of information that can flow through an information channel. Usually expressed as bits per second (bps).

Beta Testing

Usually the last step just before an e-Learning application is released. Selected users try out the course and document content errors, bugs, usability, level of engagement, etc.


The speed at which data is transferred, in bits (binary digits) per second.

Blended learning

Training that combines multiple delivery methods. Usually involves combination of classroom-based training and self- paced e-learning.


"Weblog" - short messages posted to a web site by an author. Personal use, also used for knowledge sharing and expert communication.


An instructional strategy that determines the order of presentation based on the learner's response to previous questions, problems, or situations.


Internet connection via a cable modem, DSL line, or other technology with speeds 1 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s. Needed for rich-media elearning



Acronym: Computer-Based Training. Synonym for e-Learning. Generally CBT is CD-ROM or DVD-based, rather than online.

Classroom training

Instruction with students and facilitator interacting in a real, physical classroom.


Acronym: Chief Learning Officer


(May be short for "cloud computing.") Servers hosted on the Web and used for computation, data storage, and data management.


Acronym: Computer-Managed Instruction, a forerunner of Learning Management Systems (LMS)


"The LMS use case for xAPI." The cmi5 specification defines how the LMS and the content will communicate using the LRS.


Acronym: Content Management System. Software that manages the design, testing, approval, storage, retrieval, and display of e-learning content.


Acronym: coder/decoder. Software or device that converts analog video and audio signals to digital form, compresses them for transmission, and reconverts them upon reception.

Cognitive learning

Learning that results in changes to knowledge recall and the intellectual skills.

Collaborative learning

Learning through the exchange and sharing of information and opinions among a peer group.

Common Cartridge

IMS standard that distills state-of-the-art practice in online education and training into an easy-to-follow format for creating and sharing digital content.


Combining multiple electronic images or videos to create a single image or video. In video, editors use compositing to create complex special effects.

Content curation

Sifting out valuable content from a large amount (say, the Internet) and presenting it to learners in a meaningful way. It can also, in the “museum curator” sense, mean tending to a collection of content items to ensure that it stays relevant and current.

Content Manangement System

Acronym: CMS. Software that manages the design, testing, approval, storage, retrieval, and display of e-learning content.


A small file placed on a user's computer by a visited Web page. E-Learning programs often store the student's name, history, and score information in a cookie.

Cost-benefit analysis

Method of analyzing alternative business solutions by comparing total costs to total benefits.


A collection of elements (lessons, sections, modules, media, resources, evaluation) that provide training on a given subject.


Acronym for Cascading Style Sheets, a style sheet language used to describe the look and formatting of a document written in a markup language such as HTML, XHTML, or XML. This makes it possible to separate document content from document presentation.


A group or series of related courses.


Delivery method

The way in which training is distributed to learners: Workbooks, handouts, classroom instruction, video, audio, CD-ROM/DVD, Internet/Web


Generically, team member involved in instructional development activities: instructional designer, graphic designer, author, etc. In Guild parlance, usually the member who uses the authoring tool.


Instruction; the science of teaching. From Greek "didáskein," meaning "to teach; lore of teaching."

Distance education

Instruction, training, or educational material delivered to students who are not in the same location.

Distance learning

Learning activities designed for use by students who are not in the same location.

Distributed learning

Similar to distance education/distance learning, but involving a blend of online, face-to-face (f2f), and self-study methods.



The use of technology to deliver instructional content and mediate learning activities. May include electronic performance support and knowledge management features.

Electronic Performance Support

A computer program that provides on-demand assistance on a discrete task; job aid; Help feature.


Acronym: Electronic Performance Support System

Expert system

Artificial intelligence program that guides the user through a task. Based on expert decision criteria. Often used for Electronic Performance Support.



"Face to Face." Refers to traditional instructor-led learning in the classroom, or to in-person coaching.


Flash video container format, but completely different from the flv format. f4v files are similar to MP4 files and can be played back by Flash Player 9 Update 3 and above.


Acronym: Frequently Asked Questions. Usually a document or Web page containing questions commonly asked about a topic, and the associated answers.

Far transfer

Learning applied to real-life situations that are somewhat, to greatly, different from the learning context, yet are appropriate applications of the skill or knowledge.


File type. File contains source material for a Flash application. FLA files can be edited by Flash authoring tools, and compiled into SWF files for play.


Multimedia platform distributed by Adobe Systems. Used to add animation and interactivity to Web pages. Also used to integrate video into Web pages, and to develop rich Internet applications.


Flash Video, the container file format that Adobe Flash Player uses to deliver video over the Internet.

Formative evaluation

Evaluation conducted during the development and implementation ("formation") of a program, to obtain information for program improvement. "Did the developers do things right?"



An interactive experience, where the interaction has been play-balanced to achieve optimal playability.


Applying elements of games, such as levels, awards and badges, or competition with coworkers, to eLearning content or placing that content into a gamelike framework, like a Jeopardy-type game.


Acronym: Graphic Interchange Format. A file format for graphic files to display on Web pages, and the filename extension for such a file. Pronounced "Jiff" or "Giff" (hard "G").


Acronym: Graphical User Interface. Pronounced "Gooey". A way of presenting the functions, features and contents of a program by using visual elements, such as icons, as opposed to text.



H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding)/MPEG-4 Part 10 standard for video compression. Used for Blu-ray Disc, YouTube and iTunes Store videos, and real-time videoconferencing. Provides good video quality at lower bit rates than earlier standards.


High Definition video; refers to video systems with higher resolution than Standard Definition (SD) video; display resolutions are 1280×720 pixels (720p) or 1920×1080 pixels (1080i/1080p). "p" indicates progressive scan, 'i" indicates interlaced scan.


Acronym: Hypertext Markup Language. The standard markup language for Web documents meant to be accessed by browsers and understood by humans.



Acronym: Information and Communication Technologies. Synonymous with IT (Information Technology).


A non-profit professional association for the advancement of technology.


Acronym: Integrated Learning System. Software, hardware, and network system used for instruction. Provides LMS services, often including assessments, record keeping, report writing, and user information files. See MLE.


Instructor-led training. May take place in a physical classroom or over an Internet connection.


Global, non-profit member organization that strives to enable the growth and impact of learning technologies in the education and corporate learning sector worldwide.

Incremental Design / Incremental Development

A development approach where small portions of the final product are produced and tested; each piece is completed before the next is developed. See Iterative Design.

Informal learning

Learning that takes place independently from instructor-led and online programs.

Information architecture

Rules and structure that set the organization, categorization, and storage of online content for a particular application or Web site.


As a general term, IT infrastructure consists of the equipment, systems, software, and services used in common across an organization, regardless of mission/program. More specifically it refers to the assets needed to support a particular application or use.

Instructional designer

Generically, team member who applies learning theory to the organization and design of instructional programs.


A program or application feature that requires the learner to do something.

Interlaced video

Older of two methods for rendering video. Displays consist of lines of video across the screen, with odd-numbered lines and even- numbered lines being refreshed alternately. This can cause distortion and flickering. The newer method is progressive video.


Acronym: Instructional Systems Designer or Instructional Systems Design


Acronym: International Organization for Standardization, a non-governmental organization (NGO). The world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards.


Acronym: Information Technology. Synonymous with ICT.

Iterative Design / Iterative Development

Also called successive approximation or rapid prototyping. Creating and user-testing multiple prototypes of a product, and using the feedback to improve the next prototype. See Incremental Design.



A programming language invented by Sun Microsystems. Intended to be operational on any hardware or software system. No relation to JavaScript.


A scripting programming language used to add interactive features to Web pages. No relation to Java.


Acronym: "Just In Time." Generally refers to highly specific instruction or training delivered to the learner at the place and time of need.


Popular file format for photographs and static graphics. The filename extension is JPG.


Filename extension for JPEG files.


JavaScript Object Notation. JSON is a lightweight data- interchange format. Humans can read and write it, machines can parse and generate it.

Just-in-time training

Also called just-in-time learning. Information delivered to learners at the moment they need it and to the location they need it.



A framework for teams using the Agile software development model that matches the amount of work in progress to a team's capacity; work is visualized on a board to optimize flow and quickly identify and resolve blocks and dependencies.

Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model

A four-step training evaluation methodology devised by Donald Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick Level 1

The first level in Donald Kirkpatrick's Four Level taxonomy of training assessment: Measures of participant satisfaction ("Reaction")

Kirkpatrick Level 2

The second level in Donald Kirkpatrick's four level training assessment taxonomy: Measures of course outcomes - cognitive learning and affective disposition ("Learning").

Kirkpatrick Level 3

The third level in Donald Kirkpatrick's Four Level training assessment taxonomy: Measures of on-the- job application possibly resulting from cognitive and affective change due to training ("Transfer").

Kirkpatrick Level 4

The fourth level in Donald Kirkpatrick's Four Level training assessment taxonomy: Measures of effects of on-the-job behavior changes on organizational outcomes. ("Results").



Acronym: Learning and Development


Acronym: Learning Content Management System. Software that manages the creation, storage, use, and reuse of learning content. LCMSs may store content as learning objects.


Lean or Lean IT extends lean manufacturing principles (eliminating waste) to software development; a precursor to the Agile development model, it emphasizes performance, improved processes, and eliminating anything that does not add value.

Learning 2.0

E-Learning design that relies on collaboration, informal learning, and blended learning. Should not be taken to mean that people learn any differently today than in times past.

Learning Object

Reusable, media-independent collection of content created, stored, and maintained for use as a modular building block for e-learning. Synonymous with "RLO."

Learning objective

A clear and measurable statement of the behavior or performance that the learner must master in order to consider the desired learning has occurred.

Learning style

A theoretical and prescriptive description of an individual's unique approach to learning based on strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. This is a popular, yet controversial, concept, unsupported by research.


Acronym: International Federation for Learning, Education, and Training Systems Interoperability.Non-profit organization dedicated to improving systems interoperability and innovation in technology for learning.


Acronym: Learning Management System. Manages the administration of training, usually includes functionality for course catalogs, launching courses, registering students, tracking student progress and assessments.


Learning Record Store. An LRS receives, stores, and returns data about learning experiences, achievements and job performance.


Learning Technology Standards Committee. A committee of the IEEE that develops technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for computer implementations of education and training systems.



"Mobile learning." Delivery of training programs on wireless devices such as cell phones, PDAs, personal players (e.g., iPods) and sometimes includes laptops.


The science of learning. From the Greek, "methein" meaning "to learn."


"Data about other data." Metadata describes the content of an item or other information about the item.


Also spelled meta tag. A specific item of metadata, often used as a means of indexing content, or as a key word for searching.


Short, informal learning experiences that learners consume individually, rather than in formal course frameworks; also: brief learning experiences that comprise a planned program with stated learning goals, e.g., breaking a long course into chunks.


Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension. AKA Mime type, content-type, or Internet Media type. Identifier for file types on the Internet, used with SMTP, HTML, RTP, and SIIP protocols.


Acronym: Managed Learning Environment. The information systems and processes of a university (including VLE) that contribute in any way to learning and its management. See ILS.


Acronym: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.


A representation of a system; a hypothetical description of a complex entity or process; a representative form or pattern.


File compression format for Apple QuickTime (currently based on the MPEG 4 standard). This multimedia container file format supports digitally encoded audio, video and text streams.






A digitized video file format. Largely being replaced by "Real Video" and the Microsoft Media Player.


Standard for generic coding of moving pictures and associated audio information. MPEG-2 is the core of most digital television and DVD formats


Collection of methods for compression of audio and video data, originally defined in 1988 as a standard for audio and video coding formats. Used for web (streaming media) and CD distribution, voice, and broadcast television applications.


Integration of different media, including text, graphics, audio, video and animation, in one program or application.


Needs analysis

A formal process or procedure for identifying and prioritizing training needs, by analyzing the gap between present outcomes and desired outcomes.

Needs assessment

A formal process or procedure for identifying and prioritizing training needs, by analyzing the gap between present outcomes and desired outcomes.



A fundamental style of computer programming; an example serving as a model or pattern;


Formal term for instructional or teaching strategy, particularly for teaching children.


Acronym: Portable Network Graphics, an open protocol for digital images, and the filename extension for such a file. Pronounced "Ping."


Digital media file or collection of files distributed over the internet, typically via RSS. Users view or listen to podcasts on computers or personal players (e.g., iPods)


The process of producing and distributing content via podcast.

Progressive video

The newer of two methods for rendering video. Video is produced by scanning the display in lines sequentially, many times per second. This eliminates flicker and produces a higher quality image. The older method is interlaced video.

Project management

The art and science of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. Also, the role of the person who manages a project.


Rules determining the format and transmission of data. In object-oriented programming, a protocol or interface is what or how unrelated objects use to communicate with each other.

Psychomotor learning

Learning that results in changes to physical skills.


Rapid authoring tool

Authoring tool used to create courses and tutorials, generally by converting PowerPoint files or Microsoft Word documents, or by recording software applications in use.

Responsive Design

Responsively designed content detects the type of display in use, as well as the width, height, orientation, and resolution of a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen, and adjusts to fit that window.


Acronym: Reusable Learning Object. See "Learning Object"


Acronym: Return on Investment. See tutorial: "Return on Investment Calculation."


Acronym: Real Simple Syndication. Method for distributing content, including media files, to subscribers over the Internet.



Acronym: Software as a Service. Software deployment model. The vendor or other provider provides a license for customers to use a software product as an on-demand service.


A simulation where the initial state has been set, and a goal (or goals) are provided for the player.


Acronym: Sharable Content Object Reference Model. A collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning.


A set of instructions written to control a computer, computer program, or system. Scripts are written in a scripting language which is interpreted at runtime, rather than being compiled like a regular program.


An Agile software development model that uses cross-functional teams that build and test software iterations quickly and incrementally.


Standard Definition video has a resolution that meets standards but is not enhanced-definition television (EDTV) or high-definition television (HDTV). Resolution of SD video is either 480i (US) or 576i or 576p (UK and Europe).

Section 508

Section 508, (United States) 1998 Rehabilitation Act, requires that all electronic and information technology procured, used, or developed by the federal government after June 25, 2001, must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Serious game

Also known as an Immersive Learning Simulation (ILS). An optimized blend of simulation, game element, and pedagogy that leads to the student being motivated by, and immersed into, the purpose and goals of a learning interaction.


Microsoft's web application framework that integrates multimedia, graphics, animations and interactivity into a single runtime environment. Provides functionality similar to Adobe Flash.


A model to describe a situation, event, program, or phenomenon. An interactive simulation allows people to manipulate variables that change the state of the model.


Acronym: Second Life


Acronym: Subject Matter Expert. An SME is an expert on content.

Social learning

Learning that happens exclusively or primarily in a social group; in e-Learning discussions, it refers to collaborative learning mediated through social software (such as Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, and similar Web 2.0 applications).

Social media

Online technologies (Internet and mobile-based tools) and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.

Spaced Learning

Also called “spaced repetition,” this instructional approach alternates short, focused periods of learning with breaks. The breaks give the brain time to process information; repeating material in multiple sessions aids in creating a permanent memory.


Noun: A design document (either paper or online), usually containing text and graphics, created to guide a Developer/Author in programming an e-Learning application. Verb: The process of creating this document.


Technique for downloading media (audio, video, or both) to a user's computer in a continuous stream and playing the media upon arrival.

Summative evaluation

Evaluation that assesses the outcome of the training. "Did the training work? Did it fix the problem? Did we do the right thing?"


Shockwave Flash, a partially open file format for streaming multimedia. Requires a plug-in. SWF files support exact positioning of graphical objects, and vector graphics, making files very small and fast to transmit.

Synchronous learning

Event in which the instructor and learners are online simultaneously and interaction occurs in real-time. Examples: Chat sessions, webinars.



Predefined forms that establish the structure necessary to create content easily.


The addition of text to a video image.



User Interface. A UI is the space where interactions between humans and machines or systems take place.

Universal Design

Designing eLearning with the goal of making it usable to all learners, whatever their age, technical savvy, or ability. See User-Centered Design.

User interface

The parts of a computer system that the operator uses to interact with the computer, including the display (screen), keyboard, mouse, touch controls, etc.

User-Centered Design

An approach to eLearning design and development that involves actual users at every stage, with the goal of producing easy-to-use eLearning products that meet the needs of actual learners. See Universal Design.



Scripting language created by Microsoft and based on MS Visual Basic. Embedded in a Web page in order to add interactive features.

Virtual Learning Environment


Virtual world

A simulation of a world that supports multiple players interacting, and typically emphasizes 2.5-D immersion (the appearance of 3-D immersion through a screen).


Acronym: Virtual Learning Environment. System in which learners and tutors participate in on-line interactions of various kinds, including on-line learning. Sometimes synonymous with "Learning Management System (LMS)."


Acronym: Voice Over Internet Protocol. VOIP is the protocol used to transmit voice traffic or audio over the internet or private network. Sometimes VoIP.



Acronym: Web-Based Training. Synonym for e-Learning or online learning.

Web 2.0

Refers to Web applications supporting interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration. Refers to the way users interact with the Web, not to Web technical specifications.

Web Conference

Synchronous meeting using web technology, which may include video, audio and application sharing.


Online seminar, conducted using Web conferencing software. Synchronous event, may sometimes be recorded for asynchronous access.


An electronically enabled workspace, included in most Web conferencing applications. Users can add content and mark it up, so that it functions as a virtual dry-erase board.


A wiki is a Web site on which all users may create, modify and organize content collaboratively, using only a browser (no other software required).


Acronym: Wireless Markup Language. Enabled display of Web content on cell phones and PDA’s, but obsolescent (if not actually obsolete) since smartphones became available.


Windows Media Video, a compressed video format for several proprietary codecs developed by Microsoft. Originally designed for Internet streaming as a competitor to RealVideo. WMV 9 is used for physical-delivery formats, e.g. HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc.


Acronym: World of Warcraft. A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).


Acronym: What You See Is What You Get. Usually applied to editing or authoring tools, WYSIWYG means that the appearance of text or other objects in the tool is very similar to the the way that they will appear to the end user. Pronounced "Whiz-e-wig".



Acronym: Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. Reformulation of HTML as an XML application.


Acronym: eXtensible Markup Language. XML is the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) recommended standard for creating formats and sharing data on the Web.


Acronym: eXtensible Stylesheet Language. A set of recommendations for defining XML document transformation and presentation.