Your guide to e-learning: Jargon buster

continues to generate waves of new technologies, terms and definitions.  Here is our guide to its vibrant vocabulary

(Aviation Industry Computer Based Training Committee)
An organisation that is developing standards for e-learning companies to
follow. The standards will enable you to run courses and content from many
different publishers on various Learning Management Systems (LMS).

(Application Service Provider)
The ASP model or “hosted service” involves you “renting” a software
application (a Learning Management System, for example) and the hardware it
runs on from an external company, rather than installing it and managing it on
your internal IT systems. Users access the hosted system using a standard
Internet connection and browser.

Learning activity that does not require you to be in a specific place at a
specific time such as self-paced courses. Asynchronous collaboration involves
person-to-person interaction with a time delay using tools such as e-mail and
threaded discussion boards.

Software that enables authors to design and develop learning content and
courseware. Many provide elements of instructional design and most use template-based
tools to help authors structure learning materials quickly.

learning content
Learning content developed to address a specific learning need that
published or off-the-shelf materials cannot closely address.

A learning solution that combines and integrates classroom-based training
with additional e-learning components to address a specific learning
requirement. For example, a blended solution may use pre- and post-online
assessments to support an instructor-led workshop.

Broadband technologies, such as ADSL and cable, enable you to download
content from the Internet at very high speeds and provide a continuous online
connection. Broadband enables authors to increase the use of rich multimedia in
e-learning content design.

(Computer Based Training)
A broad definition relating to training materials accessed using a
computer. A more current definition relates to training materials accessed
locally using a CD-Rom or floppy disk whereas e-learning content is accessed
through a network connection.

The process of learning through communication and interaction, usually
between peers, mentors, tutors and instructors. Collaborative learning can be
reproduced online through various tools, such as e-mail, chat, threaded
discussions and virtual classrooms.

The knowledge and intellectual property that is packaged and distributed
using e-learning technologies. E-Learning content ranges from basic Web pages
and documents to fully interactive courses, events, assessments and

Digital surrounds (DS) relate to the blended solution approach. DS add
e-learning components such as online courses, e-mail access to tutors, virtual
classrooms, and online assessments to surround and extend an instructor-led
event or programme.

“The use of network technology to design, deliver, select, administer,
support and extend learning” (Elliott Masie, E-Learning Europe Conference, July
2000). Network technology refers to the WWW and private intranets or extranets.

The distributed architecture of Internet technologies allows e-learning to
be deployed right across an organisation regardless of physical location.
Enterprise-wide also includes learning delivered outside of the company walls,
to suppliers, partners and customers.

Hardware and software which allows users to access the Internet while
safeguarding internal network security. This is important when considering
ASP-type solutions that require users to access systems and data outside the
internal network.

(Hypertext Mark-up Language)
A language used to create and access documents over the WWW.

(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Involved in e-learning standards development. The work of organisations
such as IMS, AICC and ADL feeds into the IEEE to create standards that can
achieve international approval.


Instructor-led training, usually in a classroom setting.

Global Learning Consortium
The IMS Project is involved in global learning standards development,
focusing on the use of XML to make learning content interoperable with other
learning technologies.

Unstructured learning that often comes in the form of communication,
information sharing and know-how.

Delivery of education and training using a Web browser over the public
Internet, private intranet or extranet.

The ability of various combinations of hardware and software to work
together. In an e-learning context,. Interoperability relates mostly to content
working with Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

A network that uses Internet systems to deliver information within an
organisation. Working like a private Internet, an intranet is protected from
people outside the organisation using security measures such as firewalls.
Learning Management Systems and other e-learning technologies can be deployed
on intranets, delivering content across the organisation.

Traditional approach of taking courses just in case you may need them at
some point in the future.

The ability for a learner to access the exact knowledge they need at the
exact moment they need it.

A systematic process of recording, capturing, storing and delivering
knowledge across an organisation. Know-how can be captured from individual
employees and shared with broader groups to improve performance.

Management System (LMS)
Core e-learning technology that manages and delivers learning content to
specific users in a systematic way. An LMS can cover a range of functions from
authoring, competency and skills assessments, content delivery, collaboration,
administration, tracking and reporting.

Learning objects are self-contained learning components (a course module,
video or audio clips, a presentation, tests or a best practice, for example)
with associated learning objectives that are stored and accessed independently.
Learning objects can be assembled and reassembled on the fly to create new
courses or sequenced to form individual learning paths.

A Learning Portal provides a gateway to a consolidated and searchable
catalogue of learning resources. Learning portals can be public allowing consumers
to buy courses online or they can be internal and private Learning Portals for
a company’s internal resources.

Mobile Learning enabled by wireless technologies and handheld computers.

Another term for e-learning and used interchangeably with Internet-based
training and Web-based training.

Digital Assistant  (PDA)
Handheld computer used to manage files, contacts, appointments etc. With
wireless technologies the PDA has the potential to provide mobile access to
e-learning content.

In an e-learning context, tailoring content to suit individual needs and

(Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model)
A blueprint for an open standards based, learning object-driven e-learning
system from the US Government’s Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) project.

A computer that delivers requested data (an online course, for example) to
multiple users across a network.

An interactive role-playing learning application that enables learners to
test their skills in a risk-free environment.

An interactive and collaborative learning event that requires all
participants to be “present” at the same time similar to a classroom-based session.
In an e-learning environment, synchronous learning is possible through
real-time chat and virtual classroom sessions. To confuse things further, some
virtual classroom tools allow you to record a “live” session to be accessed
later at any time, making it an asynchronous learning event.

Software that enables learners to “attend” a classroom online. Through a
Web-based console, students can view the trainer’s computer screen, which
serves as the classroom blackboard or whiteboard. The trainer can show a
presentation, walk everyone through an application such as a spreadsheet or
take people to a Website while communicating using two-way voiceover IP
(Internet protocol). Learners can take over the microphone, ask questions,
complete surveys and even write on a virtual whiteboard.

(wireless application protocol)
A specification that enables online content to be viewed by wireless

Delivery of education and training using a Web browser over the public
Internet, private intranet or extranet.

(Extensible mark-up language)
Provides a standard for how all computer systems will exchange information
in the near future.  For e-learning, XML
provides an important way of structuring and labelling learning objects with
precise descriptions making them highly searchable and also tells other
technologies what the e-learning content means and how it is organised.

guide to e-learning was published with Personnel Today on 3 April 2001. Written
by Paul English of Futuremedia Plc. Contibutors: Laurence Scotford, Chris
Robinson, Kay Philips

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