Expanding your eLearning vocabulary can help increase productivity and avoid any confusion with your team and clients. Whether you are an instructional designer or an eLearning developer, you should commit these 8 key basic eLearning terms to memory…


8 Basic eLearning Terms


1. Instructional Design


Instructional Design (ID) is the process of identifying learning gaps, and then designing and developing content to close those learning gaps.


It involves delivering (both digital and physical) created learning products, as well as tracking performance and adjusting content. These learning products include online courses, instructional manuals, facilitator guides, participant workbooks, training videos, learning simulations, infographics, and more.


Instructional Designers follow instructional design models, which provide a framework to organize and structure learning materials. Two widely used models are ADDIE and SAM.



ADDIE is an acronym whose letters stand for the five phases in its approach to design, which are (1) Analysis, (2) Design, (3) Develop, (4) Implement and (5) Evaluate. This is traditionally considered a linear model in which one phase would be finished, before moving on to the next.


2. SAM

SAM, which stands for Successive Approximation Model, is considered to be a more agile approach to design that has three stages: (1) Evaluate, (2) Design and (3) Develop.


My personal preference is ADDIE, but my team and I don’t follow a traditional approach to ADDIE. We use ADDIE Agile. We even train other development teams on how to apply Agile to ADDIE to get better results. This model is super simple and can easily be duplicated across all training projects. When you apply Agile principles, you reduce the limitations created by linear phases.

2. Blended Learning


The eLearning term, Blending Learning, also called hybrid, is an approach to education that combines two main learning methods: (1) online learning and (2) traditional classroom-based learning (CBT).


Blended Learning programs typically consist of three primary components:


1. In-person classroom instruction and activities facilitated by a trainer.

2. Online learning materials, such as videos, interactive courses, pre-recorded lectures, etc.

3. Structured study time with peer interaction guided by both the online learning material and skills developed during the in-person classroom instruction.


For example, using a Blended Learning approach, learners may be asked to complete an online course or watch an online training video before coming to class.


During the in-person classroom instruction, the learners and facilitator would discuss what they learned in the online materials. In this case, online learning materials support in-person learning experiences.


eLearning terms


So why are many consultants, facilitators, and other learning professionals moving from traditional learning programs towards Blended Learning?


1. Flexibility


Blended Learning provides ultimate flexibility when it comes to presenting content. With an online component, you can increase flexibility and convenience over how and when your learners take training.


Wouldn’t it be great if you could have your learners get the basics out of the way prior to a live learning experience so that you could just dive into the application and practice?


2. Efficiency


Blended Learning enables organizations to efficiently and quickly deliver training to a wide audience. You can reuse online material, such as videos, interactive courses, and pre-recorded lectures to get new employees up to speed quickly.


3. Extend Reach


It provides organizations the opportunity to extend their reach to remote employees by offering their learning programs online.


With the reduction of in-person classroom time with a Blended Learning approach, facilitators are able to run more programs simultaneously and reach employees around the globe without incurring travel or event costs.


3. Learning Management System (LMS)


A Learning Management System, often referred to as an LMS, is a software platform that organizations use to create, organize, deploy, and measure the performance of online training courses and educational programs for both onsite and remote learners.


The role of an LMS varies depending on the organization’s objectives, training strategy and desired outcomes. However, the most common use for LMS software is to deploy and track online training initiatives. With that said, most LMSs have advanced tracking and reporting capabilities.


This enables eLearning professionals to track an online learner’s progress and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the eLearning course to enhance performance and continued learner improvement.


4. eLearning Authoring Tool


eLearning terms


Simply put, the eLearning term, authoring tool, is the tool you will use to create eLearning material. It is a software package that features asset libraries and design tools that allow Instructional Designers to create online training materials that are engaging and interactive for learners. We use the eLearning authoring tool Articulate 360 for most of our eLearning solutions. 


If you are just starting out as an eLearning developer, we offer downloadable custom eLearning templates in The Shop to give you a head start on your eLearning course!


These tools may include pre-made interactions, images, graphics and audio that can be quickly uploaded into an eLearning template to reduce development time. They can also assist in organizing and delivering eLearning content through an LMS platform.


eLearning Authoring Tools can be categorized into three different categories:


1. Desktop eLearning Authoring Tool


Like most programs you use on your computer, many authoring tools have you download and install an application on your computer. After installation, you can then use it as you would any other application even if you do not have an internet connection.


2. PowerPoint Add-Ins and Plugins


PowerPoint isn’t always a bad thing! Add-ins and Plugins can extend PowerPoint’s capabilities by adding a tab to your ribbon in PowerPoint. iSpring is one example of a PowerPoint plugin that you can purchase to create SCORM compliant eLearning with PowerPoint. Once you click the tab, it opens the additional eLearning features that you can apply to normal PowerPoint slides.


These PowerPoint add-ins and plugins tend to offer simpler eLearning features than a computer download or cloud-based tool would, but still super useful for quick eLearning development. However, they can be very useful for people who already have a lot of PowerPoint slides that they would like to repurpose as online education.


Check out this article for more information on the available add-ins and plugins for PowerPoint.


3. Cloud-Based eLearning Authoring Tools


Many of the newer authoring tools, such as Storyline, Captivate, and Elucidat, are cloud-based. This means you access the tool using the internet.


The biggest benefit of cloud-based eLearning authoring tools is that you can work on your content from any computer anywhere. You can start work on a lesson in your office, travel to a satellite office across the country and continue working there, without having to take your files with you.


For more examples of eLearning cloud-based authoring tools, check out this 9 eLearning Authoring Tools: Comparison and Review article.




SCORM, another eLearning term, which stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, has become so widely used, it is often referred to as the default standard of eLearning.


It refers to a popular set of technical standards for packaging eLearning software products, so they work correctly once uploaded to any LMS. SCORM allows training developers to distribute their content to just about any LMS system with few, if any, issues.


In essence, a training professional will create an eLearning course using an authoring tool and export the material into a SCORM compliant output, which is a zip folder. The zip folder is then uploaded to the LMS of the users choice and published to learners. The learner can then launch it in the browser, and the LMS tracks and reports on the SCORM compliant course.


6. SME


eLearning terms


Instructional Designers are subject matter experts in designing learning experiences, and engaging learners. In some cases, they may also be experts in building out eLearning courses. They are not experts on the content that is covered in the courses they build, however. That is where a SME comes into play.


The SME, which stands for Subject Matter Expert, is the person who has extensive knowledge about the subject matter you are creating eLearning for. This person involves himself throughout the development of the content and the eLearning course development to validate and ensure content is accurate.


Here are six tips on how to effectively partner with an SME throughout the course development process:


1. Establish expectations and course objectives, so that you are both aligned.

2. Host a Scoping Meeting to complete the Training Analysis template.

3. Create a backlog of all tasks that need to be completed to deliver the project as quickly as possible.

4. As you build out content, write down any questions that come up and bring them to your meetings with the SME.

5. Take detailed notes during your meetings with the SME to avoid misunderstandings and inaccurate content.

6. Ensure that you engage with your SME throughout the design process to get their approval of your eLearning course content.


7. Storyboarding


Storyboarding allows learning developers to outline eLearning courses in detail at the very beginning of an eLearning project, before the development process starts.


A Storyboard highlights eLearning course design elements, such as visuals, text, audio, interactions, navigation and anything else that will be used in the eLearning course. In essence, the storyboard serves as the course blueprint that tracks each step a learner must take to complete the eLearning course from start to finish.


This is a very important step because it helps ensure everyone involved in the project is in alignment with the course objectives and direction of learning. It helps everyone understand what they need to design and develop to have a successful end product.


8. Gamification


eLearning terms


Gamification is the concept of applying game-design mechanics and elements to non-game applications, such as eLearning courses. It can include gaming elements such as: rewards, challenges, points, levels, titles, a leaderboard, and positive feedback.


You present the learning materials to your learners in a fun and unique way to help them grasp concepts faster and increase retention. It provides a better learning experience because learners are able to stay engaged throughout the course. In addition, employees become more productive in the workplace with the shortened learning curve Gamification creates.


To highlight the importance of Gamification in eLearning, TalentLMS conducted a survey in 2019 that found that, “Employees say gamification makes them feel more productive (89%) and happier (88%) at work.”


In addition, TalentLMS also reported that “83% of those who receive gamified training feel motivated, while 61% of those who receive non-gamified training feel bored and unproductive.”


8 Basic eLearning Terms Every Newbie Needs To Know


So, there you have it. Drop a few of these terms during your next team or client meeting, and you are sure to impress. However, let’s not stop at just these 8 eLearning terms. What other basic eLearning terms must you know to be successful? Please post below. I would love to hear from you!

Are you ready to dive in and become a full-stack Instructional Designer and eLearning Developer without getting another degree? Check out my 12-week immersive program: Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program.






The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.

After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.

Gayle Bower


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.

Laurie Henderson


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!

Wendy McMillian


L&D Project Manager

The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!

Gabby Grimaldo


Future Instructional Designer

If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!

Shanna Howe


Future Instructional Designer

I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).

Aviva Berkowitz


Future Instructional Designer

I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.

Krista Johnson Awomoyi


Freelance Instructional Designer

I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!

Shawnice Edge


Instructional Designer Training Facilitator

Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.

I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!

Brian Hightower


Freelance Instructional Designer

My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!

Sarah Smith


Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design

I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.

Lee R


Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!

Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!

Sheryl Rhoades
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer


Shawntay has been incredible!

Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.

President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.


IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!

The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.

LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker


A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!

Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.

Amanda Buckley
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University


Creative & Highly Talented!

Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer.  She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program.  It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


Breaks Down Mammoth Projects

“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”

Ashley Christian
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning


Top Notch Professional

Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.

Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research


Fortunate to Find Shawntay!

“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”

Jonathan Burt
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.


Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!

“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”

Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services


Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?

“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”

Mellora Moore
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships


Quality Products & Solutions!

“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”

Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach


“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”

Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.

Patrick Hodges
Managing Partner, PHiG


“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”

Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

I have known and worked with Shawntay  as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations.  The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention.  Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.

Owner, Certified Consulting Services


“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”

I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.

Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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