E-Learning Terms

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Evaluating a learner’s actual skill or knowledge level based on the expected skill or knowledge for a person in the same job, position, or assignment.

assessment item
A questionnaire or measurable activity used to determine if the learner has mastered a learning objective.

asynchronous learning
A self-paced learning event. Learners are online at different times and cannot communicate without time delay. Examples: courses taken via Internet, CD-ROM, web presentation, or recorded classes.

authoring tool
Software application used to produce interactive learning materials that bring together all components of a course, such as text presentation, graphics, tracking, and links.


Transferring learning content to many learners simultaneously, as in a satellite broadcast or an IP multicast. In an IP multicast, numerous learners can participate in a learning event that is broadcast over the network using the Internet Protocol from a single source.


Recognition and acceptance as a qualified professional in a specific area. Certification comes after the learner has successfully completed training and has passed an assessment with a minimum acceptable score. To increase validity and assure authentication, the certification process should be overseen by an independent agent.

Scheduled learning event that can take place at a centralized location or in a virtual environment.

cognitive level
A designation that identifies the knowledge and skills (mental or physical) a learner must display to prove mastery of a given reusable information object (RIO).

computer-based training (CBT)
Any instructional event that can be accessed via a standalone computer.

content item
Information stored in a database and used to communicate skills or knowledge. It can be in any media format, including text, graphics, animation, video, audio, and HTML plug-in. It is combined with practice items and assessment items to create a RIO.

content on demand (CoD)
Immediate availability via the network of an offering packaged in a media format such as audio on demand (AOD) and video on demand (VOD).

Activities and information, combined in electronic or print format, designed to help learners develop proficiency in a skill or gain knowledge about a given topic.

A predefined series of learning events designed to meet a specific goal, such as certifying in a particular area or achieving required job skills and knowledge.


Any method of providing education. Methods include instructor-led training, Web-based distance learning, online laboratories, CD-ROMs, interactive TV, videos, and books.

distance learning
Situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous means.


Information and graphics that have been organized in electronic or computerized lessons or chapters and made available via computer.

Education via the Internet, network, or standalone computer. Network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning refers to using electronic applications and processes to learn. E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration.

electronic classroom
A classroom equipped with multimedia devices that are used to enhance learning.

Any method used to gather information about the impact or effectiveness of a learning event. Measurements might be used to improve the offering, determine if the learning objectives were achieved, or determine if the offering has been of value to the organization.


Interaction between the learner and the instructor or system. Feedback increases the quality of the learning experience.


instructional designer (ID)
An individual who, using systematic methodology and instructional theory, creates content for learning events.

instructor-led training (ILT)
A scheduled event conducted by an instructor, either in a classroom or on the network. Sometimes called leader-led training (LLT) or lecture/lab training (if the course includes hands-on lab exercises).


A physical or virtual hands-on activity designed to help learners meet skills-based learning objectives.

Anyone who accesses information to increase his or her skills and knowledge.

learning event
An activity in which a learner increases his or her skills and knowledge.

learning objective
A statement that establishes a measurable outcome. An objective is used as an advanced organizer to indicate how the learner’s acquisition of skills and knowledge will be measured.

Learning Objective (title)
Information, based on RIOs, overviews, summaries, and assessments, that supports a specific learning objective.

Modifying an offering to meet the specific needs of a geographic area, product, or target audience. For example, America uses avoirdupois weight units while Europe uses metric units.



Information about content that allows it to be stored in and retrieved from a database.


Any learning event or service that is made available to a person as either an on-demand event (the offering can be accessed by the learner at any time) or a scheduled event (the offering is made available at a predetermined time).


A specific view into a Web site. The view identifies available offerings that match a person’s request.

practice item
A question or learning activity that gives learners immediate feedback, allowing them to determine whether they can apply the skills and knowledge just learned in a RIO.

Activities that reinforce the material being learned and give the learner an opportunity to apply skills and knowledge. Some practices provide feedback and mentoring. The learner’s performance may or may not be affected by the results of the practice activities. Practice activities include case studies, learning activities, practice quizzes, practice tests, testing quizzes, and practice labs.

prescriptive learning
Matching a learner with offerings designed to fill gaps in the learner’s knowledge and skills.

private sector
Any business or organization that is not a member of the public sector (public education or government agency).

public sector 
Any public education or government agency.


Using feedback to increase a learner’s knowledge and skills relative to a specific learning objective.

reusable information object (RIO)
A collection of content, practice, and assessment items based on a learning objective.

reusable learning object (RLO)
Information, based on RIOs, overviews, summaries, and assessments, that supports a specific learning objective.


self assessment
Process in which the learner determines his or her level of knowledge and skills.

self-paced learning
Learning in which the pace and timing of content delivery are determined by the learner.

subject-matter expert (SME)
An individual who has substantial knowledge about and skills in a specific subject.

synchronous learning
Real-time learning situation that can include immediate, two-way communication between participants.


virtual classroom (VC)
A scheduled offering that is available at multiple locations (either desktop or classroom) via a network.


Web-based training (WBT)
Any instructional event that can be accessed via the Internet or the Web.

Most e-Learning terms were compiled from Cisco’s e-Learning Glossary.