wall-of-knowledge -photo by Joel Filipe Unsplash

By FAO (with some amends by Gil Dekel).

Terms marked with asterisk [*] are taken from the American Society for Training & Development.


  • ADDIE model*: Classic model of an instructional system design process that includes the steps: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation from which the acronym is taken.
  • Add-on (LMS extension): Software components that add specific capabilities to a larger software application.
  • Animation*: The rapid sequential presentation of slightly differing graphics to create the illusion of motion. Animation can have greater purpose in illustrating a process than a static visual, but it requires more information to be processed by the computer and thus higher bandwidth. Compare to audio, video, text, and graphic.
  • Assessment*: The process used to systematically evaluate a learner’s skill or knowledge level.
  • Asynchronous learning*: Learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay. Examples are self-paced courses taken via the Internet or CD-ROM, Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups, and e-mail.
  • Audio conferencing*: Voice-only connection of more than two sites using standard telephone lines.


  • Bandwidth*: The information-carrying capacity of a communication channel.
  • Bitrate: Speed of Internet connection or Bitrate describes the rate at which bits are transferred from one location to another. In other words, it measures the transmission of data in a given amount of time. Bitrate is commonly measured in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (Kbps), or megabits per second (Mpbs).
  • Blended learning*: Learning events that combine aspects of online and face-to-face instruction.
  • Blog (weblog) *: An extension of the personal Web site consisting of regular journal-like entries posted on a web page for public viewing. Blogs usually contain links to other websites along with the thoughts, comments, and personality of the blog’s creator.
  • Bps (bits per second) *: A measurement of data transmission speed in a communications system; the number of bits transmitted or received each second.
  • Browser*: A software application that displays World Wide Web pages originally written in the text-based HTML language in a user-friendly graphical format.
  • Byte*: A combination of 8 bits.


  • CD-ROM* (compact disc read-only memory, or compact disc read-only media): A computer storage medium similar to the audio CD that can hold more than 600 megabytes of read-only digital information.
  • Chat*: Real-time text-based communication in a virtual environment. Chat can be used in e-learning for student questions, instructor feedback, or even group discussion.
  • CMS (content management system) *: A centralized software application or set of applications that facilitates and streamlines the process of designing, testing, approving, and posting e-learning content, usually on web pages.
  • Coaching*: A process in which a more experienced person, the coach, provides a worker or workers with constructive advice and feedback with the goal of improving performance. (See also mentoring, which focuses on career development and advancement.)
  • Courseware*: Any type of instructional or educational course delivered via a software program or over the Internet.


  • Delivery*: Any method of transferring content to learners, including instructor- led training, Web-based training, CD-ROM, books, and more.
  • Discussion boards*: Forums on the Internet or an intranet where users can post messages for others to read.
  • Distance education*: Educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous means of instruction, including written correspondence, text, graphics, audio, CD-ROM, online learning, audio- and videoconferencing, interactive TV, and FAX. Distance education does not preclude the use of the traditional classroom.
  • Distance learning*: The desired outcome of distance education. The two terms are often used interchangeably.


  • E-learning (electronic learning) *: Term covering a wide set of applications and processes, such as Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more.
  • E-learning 2.0: Refer to new ways of thinking about e-learning inspired by the emergence of Web 2.0.
  • E-mail (electronic mail) *: Messages sent from one computer user to another.
  • E-mail list*: A form of one-to-many communication using e-mail; a software program for automating mailing lists and discussion groups on a computer network.
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) *: A set of activities supported by application software that helps a company manage such core parts of its business as product planning, parts purchasing, inventory management, order tracking, and customer service. Can also include modules for finance and HR activities. The deployment of an ERP system can involve considerable business process analysis, employee retraining, and new work procedures.
  • Evaluation*: Any systematic method for gathering information about the impact and effectiveness of a learning offering. Results of the measurements can be used to improve the offering, determine whether the learning objectives have been achieved, and assess the value of the offering to the organization.


  • F2F (face-to-face)*: Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment.
  • Facilitator*: The online course instructor who aids learning in the online, student-centered environment.
  • Feedback*: Communication between the instructor or system and the learner resulting from an action or process.
  • Firewall*: A technology that gives users access to the Internet while retaining internal network security.


  • GNU General Public Licence: A free license for software and other kinds of works.


  • Host*: (noun) A computer connected to a network; (verb) To store and manage another company’s technology and/or content on your own servers.


  • Icon*: A simple symbol representing a complex object, process, or function. Icon-based user interfaces have the user click on onscreen buttons instead of typing commands.
  • ILT (instructor-led training)*: Usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners. The term is used synonymously with on-site training and classroom training.
  • Informal/formal learning*: Formal learning is a class, a seminar, a self-study course. Informal learning is not formally defined learning, which takes palce at home, work, and throughout society, such as over the water cooler, at the poker game, asking the guy in the next cube to help out, collaborative problem solving, watching an expert, or sharing a terminal for e-learning.
  • Infrastructure*: The underlying mechanism or framework of a system. In e-learning, the infrastructure includes the means by which voice, video, and data can be transferred from one site to another and be processed.
  • Instant messenger (IM)*: Software that lists users’ selected “buddies” (friends, family, co-workers, and so forth) who are online and enables users to send short text messages back and forth to them. Some instant messenger programs also include voice chat, file transfer, and other applications.
  • Instructional design: The systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. In job-related training, the aim of instructional design is to improve employee performance and to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Instructional designer (ID)*: An individual who applies a systematic methodology based on instructional theory to create content for learning.
  • Internet*: An international network first used to connect education and research networks, begun by the US government. The Internet now provides communication and application services to an international base of businesses, consumers, educational institutions, governments, and research organizations.
  • Intranet*: A LAN or WAN that’s owned by a company and is only accessible to people working internally. It is protected from outside intrusion by a combination of firewalls and other security measures.


  • Job aid*: Any simple tool that helps a worker do his or her job (for example, a flow chart to follow when answering a customer service call). Job aids generally provide quick reference information rather than in-depth training.


  • LAN (local-area network)*: A group of personal computers and/or other devices, such as printers or servers, that are located in a relatively limited area, such as an office, and can communicate and share information with each other.
  • LCMS (learning content management system)*: A software application (or set of applications) that manages the creation, storage, use, and reuse of learning content. LCMSs often store content in granular forms such as learning objects.
  • Learning*: A cognitive and/or physical process in which a person assimilates information and temporarily or permanently acquires or improves skills, knowledge, behaviours, and/or attitudes.
  • Learning environment*: The physical or virtual setting in which learning takes place.
  • Learning game*: Learning games, also called gamifications, are simulations involving a competitive component, a challenging goal and a set of rules and constraints. The term “learning game” is also used to indicate simpler game-show quizzes used to support memorization of factual knowledge.
  • Learning object*: A reusable, media-independent collection of information used as a modular building block for e-learning content. Learning objects are most effective when organized by a metadata classification system and stored in a data repository such as an LCMS.
  • Learning objective*: A statement establishing a measurable behavioural outcome, used as an advanced organizer to indicate how the learner’s acquisition of skills and knowledge is being measured.
  • Learning platforms*: Internal or external sites often organized around tightly focused topics, which contain technologies (ranging from chat rooms to groupware) that enable users to submit and retrieve information.
  • Learning solution*: Any combination of technology and methodology that delivers learning.
  • Line chart: diagrams that display quantitative information or illustrate relationships between two changing quantities (variables) with a line or curve that connects a series of successive data points.
  • LMS (learning management system)*: Software that automates the administration of training. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalog, records data from learners; and provides reports to management. An LMS is typically designed to handle courses by multiple publishers and providers. It usually doesn’t include its own authoring capabilities; instead, it focuses on managing courses created by a variety of other sources.
  • Localization*: The tailoring of an offering to meet the specific needs of a geographic area, product, or target audience.


  • Mentoring*: A career development process in which less experienced workers are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance. Mentoring can occur either through formal programs or informally as required and may be delivered in-person or by using various media.
  • Modular*: Made up of standardized units that can be separated from each other and rearranged or reused.
  • Multimedia*: Encompasses interactive text, images, sound, and color. Multimedia can be anything from a simple PowerPoint slide show to a complex interactive simulation.


  • Navigation*: 1) Moving from a Webpage to a Webpage on the Internet. 2) Moving through the pages of an online site that may not be part of the WWW, including an intranet site or an online course.


  • Offline*: The state in which a computer is in operation while not connected to a network.
  • Online*: The state in which a computer is connected to another computer or server via a network. A computer communicating with another computer.
  • Online learning*: Learning delivered by Web-based or Internet-based technologies. See Web-based training and Internet-based training.
  • Online training*: Web-based or Internet-based training.
  • Open-source software*: 1) Generally, a software in which the original program instructions, the source code, is made available so that users can access, modify, and redistribute it. The Linux operating system is an example of open source software. 2) Software that meets each of nine requirements listed by the non-profit Open Source Initiative in its Open Source Definition.
  • OS (Operating System): Programs and data that manage computer hardware resources and provide a software platform on top of which other programs (applications) can run.


  • PHP: Scripting language designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages.
  • Plug-in*: An accessory program that adds capabilities to the main program, used on Web pages to display multimedia content.
  • Post*: To place a message in a public message forum. Also, to place an HTML page on the World Wide Web.
  • Proprietary software: Software owned by a vendor and licensed under exclusive legal rights that restrict users from modification, distribution, reverse engineering and other uses.


  • Rapid e-learning: A methodology to build e-learning courses rapidly. For example, an instructional designer or a subject matter expert can create slides in Powerpoint, record narration on top of the slides, use some easy-to-use software to add tests, and then upload the whole package to a learning management system or a Web site.
  • Real-time communication*: Communication in which information is received at (or nearly at) the instant it’s sent. Real-time communication is a characteristic of synchronous learning.
  • Reusable*: E-learning content that can be transferred to various infrastructures or delivery mechanisms, usually without changes.
  • RLO (reusable learning object)*: A collection of RIOs, overview, summary, and assessments that supports a specific learning objective. (Pronounced “R-L-O”)
  • ROI (return on investment)*: Generally, a ratio of the benefit or profit received from a given investment to the cost of the investment itself. In e-learning, ROI is most often calculated by comparing the tangible results of training (for example, an increase in units produced or a decrease in error rate) to the cost of providing the training.
  • Role play*: (noun) A training technique in which learners act out characters in order to try out behaviours, practice interactions, communicate for a desired outcome, and/or solve a dynamic problem. Role plays can reinforce learning and help people apply new information, skills, and techniques; (verb) To participate in a role play.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication): A method of sharing and broadcasting content such as news from a Web site. Using XML markup language, items such as news articles can be automatically downloaded into a News Reader or published onto another Web site.


  • Saas (software-as-a-service)*: A model of software deployment where an application is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer’s own computer, SaaS alleviates the customer’s burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support.
  • SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)*: A set of specifications that, when applied to course content, produce small, reusable learning objects. A result of the Department of Defense’s Advance Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative, SCORM-compliant courseware elements can be easily merged with other compliant elements to produce a highly modular repository of training materials.
  • Self-assessment*: The process by which the learner determines his or her personal level of knowledge and skills.
  • Self-paced learning*: An offering in which the learner determines the pace and timing of content delivery.
  • Serious games*: A software application developed with game technology and game design principles for a primary purpose of learning.
  • Simulations*: Highly interactive applications that allow the learner to model or role-play in a scenario. Simulations enable the learner to practice skills or behaviours in a risk-free environment.
  • SME (subject matter expert)*: An individual who is recognized as having proficient knowledge and skills in a particular topic or subject area.
  • Storyboard*: (noun) An outline of a multimedia project in which each page represents a screen to be designed and developed; (verb) To create a storyboard.
  • Synchronous learning*: A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to “call on” participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via smart phones, audio or videoconferencing, Internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.


  • Task analysis: In instructional design, it is a detailed analysis of actions and decisions that a person takes to perform a job task, including the identification of the knowledge needed to support those actions and decisions.
  • Template*: A predefined set of tools or forms that establishes the structure and settings necessary to quickly create content.
  • Training*: A process that aims to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviours in a person to accomplish a specific job task or goal. Training is often focused on business needs and driven by time-critical business skills and knowledge, and its goal is often to improve performance.


  • Videoconferencing*: Using video and audio signals to link participants at different and remote locations.
  • Virtual*: Not concrete or physical. For instance, a completely virtual university does not have actual buildings but instead holds classes online.
  • Virtual classroom*: The online learning space where students and instructors interact.
  • VoIP (voice over IP)*: Voice transmitted digitally using the Internet Protocol. Avoids fees charged by telephone companies.


  • Web 2.0*: The use of Internet technology and web design to enhance information sharing and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs.
  • Webcast*: (Web + broadcast) (noun) A broadcast of video signals that’s digitized and streamed on the World Wide Web, and which may also be made available for download; (verb) To digitize and stream a broadcast on the World Wide Web.
  • Web conference*: (noun) A meeting of participants from disparate geographic locations that’s held in a virtual environment on the World Wide Web, with communication taking place via text, audio, video, or a combination of those methods; (verb) To participate in a Web conference.
  • Webinar: The term is a short version for Web-based seminar. A presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. Can be video, audio or chat-based.
  • Web site*: A set of files stored on the World Wide Web and viewed with a browser such as Edge, Chrome, or FireFox. A Web site may consist of one or more web pages.
  • Whiteboard*: An electronic version of the dry-erase board that enables learners in a virtual classroom to view what an instructor, presenter, or fellow learner writes or draws. Also called a smartboard or electronic whiteboard.
  • Wiki*: A collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative Websites and to power community Websites.

* Terms marked with asterisk [*] are taken from the American Society for Training & Development.

Some edits to this article by Gil Dekel.


© FAO. Re-published from FAO publication. Re-published here with permission from FAO.

11 February 2017.