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 systemic 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 as necessary. These learning products include online courses, instructional manuals, facilitator guides, participant workbooks, training videos, learning simulations, infographics, and more.
Instructional Designers adhere to 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.
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, mixed or integrative learning, 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 that is 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.
So why are many consultants, facilitators and other learning professionals moving from traditional learning programs towards Blended Learning?
Blended Learning provides ultimate flexibility when it comes to presenting content. Material can be presented in a live setting, while other subject matter can be available online. 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?
Blended Learning enables organizations to efficiently and quickly deliver training to a wide audience. Online material, such as videos, interactive courses and pre-recorded lectures, can be reused to get new employees up to speed quickly.
3. Extend Reach
It provides organizations the opportunity to extend their reach to geographically dispersed 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
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 is 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!