The Ultimate eLearning Jargon Glossary 2023
LMS, LXP, SCORM, WBT, EPSS, NGLE, CBT, ITS!? Lost in a world of elearning terms and abbreviations?
Digital learning is teeming with cryptic terms, many of which are not at all self-explanatory and have various, equally-confusing alternatives.
In this A to Z, we shed some light on the subject and have compiled a list of the most important terms and abbreviations in the field of e-learning in 2023.
Jump to a relevant section or scroll on to browse…
Adaptive Learning Systems (aka Intelligent Tutoring Systems / ITS)
Adaptive learning systems gather data on the learner's activities and use this to adapt the learning journey to the individual’s observed needs. Using algorithms, the system will deliver image based content to a visual learner and interactive content to a communicative learner, or advanced content to a learner showing expertise in the subject area.
The term API stands for Application Programming Interface. This is a tool that acts as a bridge between two software platforms, allowing them to communicate data with one another.
In the context of e-learning, an API can be hugely valuable by allowing your learning platform to communicate learner data with related business systems, such as your HR software or collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams. This saves time by reducing the need to duplicate the management of employee data across multiple platforms.
An authoring tool is software for making it easier to create e-learning content. This could include interactive applications with which text, graphics, sound and interactivity can be combined to form a piece of content. Authoring tools can be used to create simple presentations or WBT (web-based training), or with an advanced tool - a full interactive module. No programming knowledge is required for using an authoring tool.
Learn more about our own authoring tools:
Cloud hosting is the housing of digital resources or applications across multiple servers, often across multiple data centres or even countries. This can help to reduce the risk of downtime from a single machine failure.
Also known as cloud-based hosting, this can be a highly effective way for organisations - especially large, multi-site operations - to ensure speed of resource delivery regardless of location, and to scale as needed without the potential limitation of a single machine.
Conversational Learning (aka Conversational Interfaces)
Conversational learning interfaces utilise the basic concepts of social learning to create an interactive learning experience. The chatbot guides the user through the learning material with a question and answer conversation between user and bot.
Emoji's are a key part of conversational learning. Used as a replacement for body language, emoji's provide the learner with the non-verbal cues that are missing from digital training tools.
Custom content (aka bespoke content)
Custom elearning content is developed specifically for the needs of any individual client, in order to best meet their current and future training needs.
The alternative is ‘off the shelf content’, which is typically lower cost and used to deliver quick, compliance-based training. This can be good for ‘tick-box’ kind of training in areas such as basic health and safety awareness.
However, if you’re looking to use e-learning to engage learners and drive performance in the context of your business, then custom content will tend to be much more effective.
Learn about the custom elearning content development services we offer at imc.
Digitisation, Digitalisation and Digital Transformation
Digitisation is simply the transfer of assets from analogue to digital. In the context of learning, this is often taking paper based training materials or face to face classroom delivery, and creating online learning media, which is often housed in an LMS.
Digitalisation is the tactical use of digital tools to improve business processes. For example, this could be analysis of employee or team data within a performance management system (or even just a spreadsheet), in order to identify skills gaps or improvements to training materials. Digitalisation could go as far as changing a business model - for example, a physical goods store moving to ecommerce or a training company switching to selling courses online.
Digital Transformation is the broadest move that happens as a strategic shift orchestrated by the highest level of management. It is a long-term, highly coordinated series of digitalisation projects that may need to overlap and interact with each other.
Digital Transformation can be a powerful modernisation of an organisation that enables it to find new efficiencies, adopt the latest and future technologies, and literally change the organisational culture.
This is what imc Learning is all about - the term e-learning stands for ‘electronic learning’. Also known as elearning without the hyphen and digital learning, the word dates back to the days of installing training software to your desktop computer from a CD-ROM.
Now though, e-learning tends to be seen as synonymous with online learning and mobile learning that’s available anywhere and any time.
Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS)
An EPSS supports just-in-time (JIT) learning. In contrast to formal learning, this takes place at the point of need. EPSS is typically deployed to support a piece of software and can either guide a user through a process or act as a JIT tool, on hand to provide support when needed. The user gains independence and confidence by efficiently learning new systems and processes without the aid of expert trainers.
More about Electronic Performance Support.
An extended enterprise means a company that needs to train, for example, franchisees, external service providers, brokers, their supply chain etc. Such training can be tackled strategically and efficiently by creating learning portals, customised for each type of audience, built into your LMS.
The term Game-Based Learning refers to learning experiences that are delivered through the use of a game. A learning environment must be created that is attractive for the user, in which he or she can develop through positive, entertaining learning experiences.
More Game-Based Learning advice on our blog.
This term refers to player motivation principles, such as rewards, to drive learner engagement. Gamification elements within training could be scores that are displayed to the learners and allow them to compare themselves with other players. Further gamification elements are badges and badges, which are awarded after completed tasks.
Gamification principles for motivation can be incorporated into training without the learning experience actually involving a game.
This is a skill and process that combines foundational principles in learning psychology with the latest available technologies to design content for the best possible learning experience. Trends in recent years have moved towards learner engagement, as well as the effectiveness of content, helping people want to follow the training materials.
Multimedia content options, such as video that is now more accessible with ubiquitous, fast internet access, and principles such as gamification and games-based learning, are now key elements of the instructional design toolkit.
Modern e-learning software, such as our own authoring tools, allow L&D professionals and subject matter experts with no formal industrial design training to create effective learning content.
Interactive learning requires a greater level of learner involvement than the stereotypical, ‘click next’ e-learning experience. Interactive training content has been shown to bring better learning outcomes than a passive learner experience, as it tends to be more engaging and forces the learner to process information and put their learning into action.
Interactive videos are films that allow learners to decide for themselves what they want to see next. The learner is thus not only a passive viewer, but actively determines what he or she sees and learns.
Learning Experience Platform (LXP)
The LXP is a relatively new concept that takes e-learning beyond a top-down, employer-led platform into being a more immersive environment where employees can explore what to learn next. This allows them to proactively develop their own knowledge and skills.
Many LXPs take principles of context exploration and recommendation engines from the likes of Netflix. They can be a key tool for large companies to encourage a culture of learning.
A learning nugget is a short learning unit or a building block or a mini module in e-learning that usually lasts no longer than five minutes. The term is often used in connection with Micro-Learning.
Learning Management System (LMS)
A Learning Management System, (LMS for short) is software used to digitally host, manage and track learning content, which is typically assigned by tutors to their learners.
More about Learning Management Systems on our Learning Suite page.
Learning Content Management System (LCMS)
A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is software that enables the creation, storage and management of reusable learning objects. It also enables web-based learning to be organised and maintained by multiple authors. An LCMS combines the functionality of an LMS and a content management system (CMS).
Learning Record Store (LRS)
A Learning Record Store is connected to an xAPI or Tin Cab and collects, stores and retrieves data and learning activities. An LRS can be integrated into an existing LMS.
Learning System Suite
The concept of the Learning System Suite is a combination of an LMS and LXP, as well as a NGLE.
It provides all the top-down training delivery and assessment capabilities associated with a Learning Management System (LMS) for the essentials of onboarding and compliance, combined with the intuitive and engaging environment of a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and the broader ongoing training, collaboration and interoperability you might consider to be a Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) (or NGLE).
The imc Learning Suite is built for exactly this purpose - a solution for learning management, experience and performance all in one place, while integrating seamlessly into your existing tech stack.
Learning content is divided into small units or building blocks for the user to access as individual elements at any time. This flexible approach is also often termed as 'learning nuggets'.
Mobile Learning (M-Learning)
Mobile Learning refers to training accessed through mobile devices. This makes the learning experience more flexible and more independent of time and location.
Mobile Learning modules are typically designed primarily for a smaller screen size, especially phones, enabling any time, anywhere learning. This requires streamlined content that is less taxing on bandwidth, and a different approach to user navigation.
More about Mobile Learning on our blog.
A MOOC (a Massive Open Online Course) is an online course aimed at a large number of participants and is usually free of charge. Pioneers of this format are Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.
In the field of software, the term multi-tenancy refers to a single application (so in our context, the LMS) shared by multiple user groups who each experience their own, individualised learning environment. This means that different user groups can have different learning portals (each with its own entry portal, its own features, user rights, content, look & feel, etc.), while the system is centrally managed through a single LMS.
This can greatly reduce the cost and time needed to adapt the training experience for different teams, partner organisations, or even customers.
Read more about multi-tenancy LMS solutions in our in-depth article on the topic.
Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE)
L&D professionals and industry commentators have been bemoaning the limitations of learning management systems and predicting their imminent death almost since they were invented. One of the key complaints is their closed nature that requires a great deal of additional administration alongside other business and HR systems.
The idea of the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment or NGDLE is that it opens up a learning and people performance ecosystem of tools with open standards and principles, perhaps with single sign on (SSO), which will greatly reduce the siloing of learning assessment, collaboration, feedback and general communication.
Some people drop the ‘Digital’ as a given, giving us NGLE.
Our own imc Learning Suite is an example of such an integrated solution that plays nicely with other popular business tech solutions.
On-site Hosting (aka on-premise hosting)
In contrast to cloud hosting where data can be stored on multiple servers, and possibly even across multiple territories, on-site hosting will house data at a single client location.
While data security has generally improved over the years and many organisations have moved entirely over to the cloud, on-site hosting can still be appropriate for some organisations where security is of extra concern, and / or to ensure compliance with specific industry or local regulations.
The downside of on-site / on-premise hosting compared to cloud tends to be reduced scalability as resource needs grow or the economies of scale associated with a company maintaining thousands of machines at one or more data centres, rather than a small number on-site. However, this is not a concern for some single-site organisations.
On the Job Training refers to learning that takes place alongside activities at the workplace, and usually under the guidance of a colleague, coach or mentor or also through an EPSS. In colloquial terms, "learning by doing" refers to this type of training.
Performance Management System
A performance management system enables the ongoing, regular monitoring of employees against KPIs and individual targets. These targets and expectations will be set to support collective contribution towards the wider organisational strategy.
A good performance management system will include learning resources to help support individuals and give them data on their own performance, while providing a management dashboard so that L&D and HR teams can identify an issues, in order to offer additional support or intervention where needed.
The imc Learning Suite incorporates the functionalities of a Performance Management System in the LMS. With its extensive Learning Analytics modules, the imc Learning Suite provides both learners and tutors as well as managers with clear dashboards regarding the learner's progress and performance.
The leading modern learning management systems can aid in the use of learner data to identify potential training requirements of individuals or certain groups.
Predictive analytics is a foundation of adaptive learning systems and learning experience platforms.
API (Application Program Interface) as explained above is a general set of protocols that enables various software to interact and communicate data between each other. REST API or RESTful API (Representational State Transfer) is a subset of this that deals specifically with web applications and is mostly used to handle HTTP requests.
The abbreviation SCIM stands for System for Cross-domain Identity Management and is one of the open standards for managing user information across platforms. In the context of L&D and HR, it can greatly streamline IT tasks and reduce admin time when using cloud-based apps and services, as it allows your IT team to automate many repetitive tasks, such as employee details and learning requirements.
The abbreviation SCORM stands for "Sharable Content Object Reference Model" which references the digital packaging of e-learning courses. Through this format, SCORM courses can be imported and launched through any SCORM compliant platform. Industry standard LMS all include SCORM players.
Serious Game (related terms: Adventure Game or Learning Game)
Serious games are not exclusively for entertainment purposes, but instead convey knowledge or skills through playful actions. See also: Gamification and Game-based Learning which aim to engage and motivate learners through adventures and competition.
Social Learning promotes an interaction between learners through sharing learning experiences. e-Learning can include social elements through comment functions, social media postings, instant messages, forums, wikis, video chats, etc. which can typically be integrated with modern LMS. In addition, virtual communities can be set up to exchange ideas, knowledge and new contributions.
More about Social Learning on our blog.
Validated Learning Management System (VLMS)
Many companies – for instance, in the food, pharmaceutical or medical sector – need to meet strict regulatory requirements such as FDA Title 21 CFR Part 11. These requirements include that all processes leading up to the production of a product have to be documented and verified at any time. This also applies to employee training, as it is an essential factor in the quality management process.
A Validated Learning Management System (VLMS) - like the imc Learning Suite - enables organisations to make their training processes compliant with these strict requirements. Read more about Validation and Validated Learning Management Systems here.
Learning through videos is popular with both employers and learners as it can convey much more information than static formats in a short space of time, and can appeal to those who prefer visual or auditory content. Videos can be designed and animated in different ways to contextualise learning, or directed by real people - 'characters' - who guide learners through a topic. 'Explainer videos' can be highly effective for onboarding new staff and introducing new concepts.
An advanced use of video-based learning is the interactive video.
More about Video-Based Learning on the blog.
Web-based Training (WBT)
Unlike computer-based training (CBT), no specific software installation is required. Instead, with WBT, the user accesses learning materials via a website or online learning platform.
xAPI (also Experience API or Tin Can)
xAPI is often seen as a further development of SCORM. In principle, learning content and learning management systems (LMS) can exchange information with each other in order to record a wide variety of data and learning activities.
To this end, xAPI has redefined some of the basic practices for tracking learning experiences. The main difference between xAPI and SCORM is the type of learning that each participant can follow.
While SCORM is limited to recording online learning, xAPI can track almost any activity. Here xAPI provides a much more detailed view of learning progress, both online and offline.
Different learning methods that xAPI can track include reading a web page, attending an event, borrowing a library book, playing a game, blended learning, and team-based learning. The xAPI data is stored in a Learning Record Store (LRS).
Convincing stakeholders for an LMS
The success of introducing a learning management system hinges on those responsible for the launch taking due account of their stakeholders - and not underestimating them. We have compiled some expert tips and a checklist to help you in convincing your stakeholders.
Stop boring software trainings!
Stop boring software-trainings! That is the mission of Sarah Hillmann, Trainings Specialist and Business Consultant. She has prepared a new way to train customers for using imc's Learning Management System (LMS).
More information about the LMS
If you would like to find our more about the Learning Management System of imc, please find all information here.
I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.
Communication, creative content and social media are my passion. "KISS - Keep it short and simple" is my credo.
To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.
Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.
I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.
Computer Games in Professional Development
“Games have helped to shape the development of AI applications”
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu has been Managing Director of the Foundation for Digital Games Culture since February 2018. In this interview, we asked the games expert, how computer games and professional development go together, and which competences can best be conveyed with digital games. We also wanted to know, which changes game fans can expect thanks to the enormous technological advancement relating to AI.
Hello Ms Uzunoğlu, thank you for making time for this interview on (serious) games. We are particularly excited to hear your answer to our first question. Do you have a favourite computer game?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: No, I have no absolute favourite game. One of the games I really enjoy playing right now is Supertype. It is both simple and fascinating. Players can train their physics skills and abstraction capability by solving small riddles.
That sounds entertaining but also demanding. The foundation you’re managing aims to highlight economic, cultural and social potentials of digital games as sophisticated as this one. A rather extensive and ambitious goal? What specifically is behind that mission?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: What is behind games? Groundbreaking content, design approaches and technologies for the digital age. Yet, these games components are barely developed for applications outside of the games industry. Our foundation wants to change that. We believe in a society that leverages games to shape digitisation, employs gamification to find new approaches to problem solving, and understands digital games as enrichment of its cultural identity. On that note, we consider ourselves a bridge between the games industry, society and other parts of the economy. We highlight opportunities for collaboration, and create new connections between players from different fields. That is why we also describe our work as a cross-over approach.
What would you say makes a computer game valuable?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Games are cultural goods. In principle, every game has a certain underlying value. It is always a cultural product created by certain persons under certain circumstances. Commercial productions are primarily concerned with the games being fun, fascinating and engaging – the same criteria that mark successful books or movies. Of course, there are games that create awareness of relevant issues, or aim to convey specific content. That also applies to serious games. Yet, even an abstract game without a clear message can have artistic value.
Do you think certain competences are best learned in a game rather than by other means?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: In general, games teach us to deal with frustration and failure. In the long term, you can only be successful if you are able to learn from your mistakes. Most games are based on some sort of system. This makes them particular suitable for getting across relationships. You learn to grasp the consequences of your actions. You understand how individual changes affect a bigger process. According to a recent study by PwC, HR managers who already use serious games utilise these primarily for training soft and hard skills, as well as their employees’ cognitive skills. Digital games are also used more intensively in training and professional development. The interactive aspect helps to convey complex learning material and solidify knowledge.
Where do you see possibilities and opportunities for companies for imparting competences with a game-based approach?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: For many people, games open the door to the digital world. So, when it comes to digital topics, gamification and serious games allow you to pick up from where their daily life begins. According to PwC, more than half of the HR managers using serious games see a clear benefit from these games. The same applies to colleagues and superiors who hold that the fun factor helps to understand and manage work processes. Everyone can progress at their own pace, which also removes any fear of real consequences. At the same time, results are easy to analyse and compare. That is why HR professionals see the greatest potential for serious games in the training process.
Can computer games challenge themselves? How can computer games sensitise for moderating the use of digital games?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Games that question their own content have been around for a while. For instance, the German game “Spec Ops: The Line” deconstructs the image of the heroic soldier and the just war. Meanwhile, at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, the protagonist faces the fact that their reality is only a simulation and that they should switch off their console. Apart from such content-related conflicts, there are also certain mechanisms that indicate that a game might have been played for too long: game characters getting tired or text overlays.
Let’s move on to the scientific topic of the year: artificial intelligence. AI has a major impact on digital formats and solutions. How do you see technology changing the gaming sector? What is your assessment of that technology in principle?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Artificial intelligence has always played a crucial role in games. After all, we are competing against the computer unless we have a human opponent. Thus, the games industry has helped to shape the development of AI. Especially when extensive animated game worlds are produced, complex AI systems are working in the background which react to our interactions. Some games also allow us to build relationships with characters that are controlled by the computer. These relationships will change depending on our actions in the game. AI systems in the background make this possible.
Which AI-based serious games do you know? Where are these successfully utilised?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: For most games, AI is a key component of a bigger creation, just like graphic and audio design. Naturally, the same holds true for serious games. Digital games respond to our actions or inputs based on algorithms. These are AI systems, albeit weak ones. The main drivers for innovation are found in the large entertainment games segment. A while ago, “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” based on The Lord of the Rings caused a great sensation. In this game, AI opponents learn from every battle and adjust to the players’ behaviour. You could say they “remember” past encounters.
What future trends do you see for AI-based computer games?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Especially in the major international games productions, the trend goes towards the creation of even more realistic worlds inhabited by almost lifelike characters. Of course, if you want a character to appear more real and behave more intuitively to the player’s behaviour, you need more sophisticated AI systems. So ultimately, it is about leveraging AI to create virtual characters exhibiting plausible reactions to ourselves.
Do you think there are limits to the use of AI in computer games? What would those limits be?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Generally speaking, limits are dictated by the current state of the art and the budget. That is why continuous funding for games on a national level is crucial for the German games industry, especially with regard to the last aspect mentioned. German developer studios can only keep up with the international competition if they have sufficient financial means. That applies to AI specifically, but also to games production in general.
We are curious about your foundation’s upcoming projects. Which one are you most excited about?
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: First of all, we initiated a new event series on cultural aspects of games this year as the next instalment of “Quartett der Spielekultur,” which is supported by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media. We also launched GamesTalente, a nationwide sponsorship programme for teenagers, together with Bildung & Begabung (“education and talent”), the national centre for the advancement of young talent. In line with our objective to build bridges, we will guide representatives of various foundations and a group of educators through this year’s Gamescom trade fair, and introduce them to the particularities of the industry. Several other projects – some with national reach – with renowned partners like the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (EVZ Foundation) are in the application stage. Naturally, I am greatly anticipating feedback and responses to these.
Thank you very much for the exciting interview, Ms Uzunoğlu! We will keep a keen eye on your planned projects, and wish you every success with all your ambitions!
Career development rethought: training soft skills through serious games
Communication and leadership skills are more important than ever, not only in times of virtual teamwork. We show you how you can map learning progress in a meaningful way and give you a summary and an outlook on future developments.
Gamification raises corporate learning to a new level
Many large organisations are already taking advantage of the positive effect of games on learners when it comes to the professional development of their employees. We have taken a closer look at the most common types of games for you.
I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.
I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work.
My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.
Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.
Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations, New Work
Watch out: Video-based Learning
Saturday afternoon: I’m feeling like Houdini after learning a few quick magic tricks from YouTube, my nephew Tom’s birthday party is saved, plus I can use the money I’ve saved to take Tom out next week. Sunday morning: Tom’s relaxing after his party and, like every Sunday, watching an episode of Art Attack on the Disney Channel. This week he’s drawing dogs.
What do Tom and I have in common? We both learned something thanks to videos at the weekend!
What works so well in our free time is now becoming more and more popular in organisations. Although YouTube and how-to series have been around for a while for anything from boiling an egg to installing a dishwasher, video-based learning is the new black in continuing education. Or as Josh Bersin says: „Video is the next text.“
So what’s the big deal?
YouTube has more than one billion users - almost a third of all Internet users (YouTube). Sir Ken Robinson's TedTalk on „Do schools kill creativity“ has over 58 million views. The number of videos and the access to videos on the world wide web is increasing, and with it the number of hobby filmmakers. This is not least due to the fact that the smartphone possibilities are getting better and better when it comes to video. So you can say:
This is a trend that companies are now following so they can benefit from the advantages of visual learning - but also because videos simply fit in so well with the continuing education trends "mobile learning" and "microlearning".
Still not convinced on e-Learning videos?
Humans are visual beings. In the Stone Age we learned to pay attention to movements and thus to recognise enemies and dangers early on. Even today, moving images attract our attention. Videos also help us to understand and process information more quickly - more precisely, 60,000 times faster than text messages. And finally, learning is information processing.
The memory masters show the way: If they want to remember long chains of numbers, they usually link these verbal messages with visual images in their mind. This activates different brain areas to increase memory recall and ultimately better learning results.
more reasons why you need videos in your content library
They’re especially well-suited for short software how-to´s. In addition, the recordings can easily be created by learners themselves. Keyword: user-generated content.
Simple drawings or animations in comic style can explain complex and technical topics clear and concise way and get to the heart of the matter.
Because learners have to react to the content and thus influence the further course of the story, passivity is prevented even with longer content and engagement increases.
Using real people in real situations increases identification with the learning content.
Rotatable 3D or 360° views make it possible to explore a new product or even an unknown place to the deepest corners.
Now you know the why and what, get started on the how tips for creating video trainings
Finally, for those who would like to bring a little Hollywood glamour into their training, here are a few tips for creating learning videos:
- keep it simple, stupid (KISS). Keep your learners on their toes with short, sharp videos
- don't lose sight of your objectives and target group
- combine visual and auditory stimuli for maximum learning success
- but: don’t forget subtitles, most videos are played mobile without sound
- give your learners control over content selection with meaningful titles and playlis
We hope you will conquer the hearts and minds of your learners with our tips. The next issue of eLearning Punk next month will be dedicated to "Blended Learning".
E-Learning Punk is an article and talk series for all L&D Pros who want to dare something and believe that digital training has to be colourful and loud.