Ultimate eLearning terms you should know: Part 2 (M-Z)

Ultimate eLearning terms you should know: Part 2 (M-Z)

Last week, we decoded tongue-twisting eLearning terms from A-L. Today, I’ll complete the list by defining the true meaning of training, from ‘manifest’ to ‘white label’. Let’s dive into the language of learning!


Manifest file: The manifest is a nitty gritty detail of SCORM. The SCORM package itself is a zip file that contains all of the media contents a course is made from, including things like SCOs, HTML and Flash files. The SCORM package also includes the manifest file which determines the structure and contents of the course. The name of the manifest is always imsmanifest.xml and the file must be located in the root of the package. If the manifest file isn’t located in the root of the zip, the course isn’t a valid SCORM content package at all and you will likely run into issues importing it to your LMS.


Mastery score: Defines the score a learner must achieve to pass a SCORM module. A mastery score isn’t compulsory as some SCORM modules don’t include a quiz and some quizzes don’t require a passing score. For example, knowledge checks and practice quizzes are two types of assessment that typically don’t require a mastery score.


mLearning (mobile learning): Learning that’s conducted on a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet. mLearning can occur anywhere at anytime. Many instructors and course developers feel that it’s essential to offer learners mobile options. The movement from desktop to portable devices has had a big impact on the development of online learning content. Content that works on desktop isn’t always suited to mobile learning. Instructional designers increasingly need to develop responsive mobile learning content that can adapt to the many devices learners now use. The rise of mLearning has also driven adoption of the Tin Can xAPI eLearning content standard which can track far more learning activities than older standards like SCORM.


Module: In LearnUpon’s LMS, a module is the basic block a course is built from. A module can consist of any course material, such as a video, document, SCORM file, or an exam or survey.


Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment): Open source learning platform mostly implemented in education settings. One of the main benefits of open source platforms like Moodle is that they’re free and can be highly customized. Companies should be wary of the value a “free” learning platform can deliver and alert to the costs quickly accrued in maintaining, updating and supporting an LMS without a vendor. Despite its low cost and flexibility, Moodle’s weaknesses can make it a costly choice for companies with conflicting needs and requirements. Read this list of the pros and cons of both options to learn how Moodle compares to a cloud LMS.


Multiple intelligences: Theory introduced by Howard Gardner defining eight types of intelligence: logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, linguistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligences. Instead of viewing intelligence as a general ability, the multiple intelligences theory asserts that different learners can excel in different areas.


Navigation: Describes how learners move through a course, website or document. Good instructional design should make navigation clear, simple and engaging for users.


Objectives: Course or learning objectives define the knowledge or skills learners are expected to gain from a training program. The development of course content should be goal-driven. Understanding who learning content is created for, and what they should learn from it, will shape how it’s designed and presented. Defining clear objectives also helps to assess the effectiveness of a course after its completion.


Online learning: Often used interchangeably with eLearning and web-based training. Any form of learning conducted on a computer and usually over the internet.


Open source software: Software for which the source code is publicly available for use and development free of charge. Moodle is an example of open source software that’s used widely in specific kinds of eLearning environments, like universities.


Outcomes: Describes the knowledge or skills learners are expected to gain from engaging with course content. While objectives describe what an instructor intends students to learn, outcomes record what students actually learned.


Pedagogy: Derived from the Greek for ‘to lead’, pedagogy is a teacher-centred approach to educational activities in online and face-to-face environments. In eLearning, pedagogy involves selecting the best methods to convey information to learners.


Podcast: Digital audio files used by millions of listeners to learn about a huge range of subjects. One popular eLearning podcast is hosted by Connie Malamed and started in 2013. Many instructors and course developers have started to create podcasts to share their expertise with learners and the eLearning world in general.


Problem Based Learning: A learner-centred approach that’s similar to Scenario Based Learning. In this approach, learners are presented with a problem and gain knowledge from the development of a solution.


Question pool: A pool of reusable questions from which an exam or survey can be created.


Resources: Learning materials often stored in an LMS. Learners can use resources like help guides or dictionaries to support their learning independently.


Responsive design: Type of web development that allows the appearance of a website to dynamically adapt to a range of screen sizes. Responsive design is essential for software and courseware intended for use on mobile devices. A good LMS should be mobile responsive for the convenience of users. Although considering responsiveness requires extra planning and production time, it also means you won’t need to produce the same course in multiple formats for different devices.


RFP (request for proposal): Document prepared by organizations to help assess LMS vendors during a selection process.


ROI (return on investment): A ratio of the profit accrued by an investment versus the cost of the investment. Training professionals are now often required to demonstrate the ROI of learning programs and software to leadership teams. In learning departments,  ROI is sometimes calculated by comparing the cost of providing training to the tangible results of training, for example a decrease in accidents or increase in number of payments processed. The ROI of an LMS is often calculated by comparing the reduced costs of eLearning to historical costs of face-to-face training.


SaaS (software as a service): Software hosted in the cloud by an LMS vendor so that customers don’t need to install the system locally. Eliminating the installation of an LMS reduces demands on the customer for software maintenance and inhouse technical support. Deciding between a cloud LMS and self-hosted solution should be done early in a selection process. If a self-hosted solution is selected, the team must decide how major applications, like servers, databases and load balancers, are resourced and budgeted. Choosing a cloud based LMS eliminates costs generated by purchasing and installing hardware and allocating resources to manage it. But a self-hosted platform can be a better fit in scenarios where every application in an organization must follow the same architecture.


Scaffolding: Resources given to online learners to help them achieve their goals. That can include praise, dividing a task into manageable steps or offering tips to help them overcome an obstacle. As the online learner progresses, resources are slowly removed. The goal is to provide a learner with the guidance they need to become confident and empowered. The result is that they are able to participate in self-guided learning activities without assistance.


Scalability: Extent to which an LMS can expand to handle a growing number of courses, concurrent users, and request response times. Scalability is an important requirement for organizations that intend to grow or have unpredictable usage patterns. Most companies need an LMS that’s flexible enough to adjust as numbers of admins and learners rise and fall. With a self-hosted LMS, that means the technical team must ensure the platform is powerful enough to manage surges in usage for anything from 1,000 users per month to 1,000,000 users per day. Most cloud based learning management systems are now flexible enough to adapt to those kinds of agile environments. 


SCO (Sharable Content Object): The elements of the SCORM package that can be reused across a range of tools and platforms. When all of the elements of the package are SCORM compliant, the content should be understood by all compatible learning platforms and tools.


SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model): A set of standards developed by Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) and applied when developing LMS content. SCORM defines how online learning content speaks to, and tracks results back to, an LMS. The acronym indicates that SCORM is interoperable: a piece of content that’s easy to reuse, share, and repurpose across eLearning tools and platforms.


SCORM package: Zip file created for upload to a SCORM compliant LMS. The package is created by selecting the export to SCORM option in the authoring tool used to create course content. All the elements of the course (like text, images, video, navigation settings, quizzes) will be used to create the SCORM package. The package understands the SCORM protocol and can be reused and imported to any LMS that supports SCORM.


Self-paced learning: Asynchronous instruction that allows learners to control the pace and timing of their progress through course materials.


Self-regulation: A primary component of self-guided eLearning. Self-regulation involves thinking and acting without relying on the opinions of others. It usually requires determination, focus and self-control, as the learner must overcome challenges and apply the knowledge they’ve gained in order to achieve their objectives.


Simulation: Highly interactive application that allows learners to model or role-play a scenario. Simulations are designed to allow learners to practice skills in a risk-free environment.


Skill gap analysis: Compares a person’s skills to those required to do a job they have been, or will be, assigned to.


SLA (Service Level Agreement): Drafted by an organization and LMS provider to record expectations about the service to be delivered. Should include expectations about the implementation, hosting, performance, maintenance, and support of an LMS. An SLA must also document the consequences of not meeting expectations.


SME (subject matter expert): An individual with specialist knowledge about a topic or subject area covered in a course. Instructional designers collaborate with subject matter experts to develop engaging content that’s informed and accurate beyond the expertise of their own domain.


Social learning: Learning that integrates social tools a learner is likely to use, for example Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype. It’s important that online learning platforms provide support for social learning.


Specification: A plan or protocol agreed between a number of bodies or organizations. In eLearning, a specification usually describes an established approach to the development of content or software. Once a specification has been recognized by an official body, it becomes a standard, like AICC, SCORM or Tin Can xAPI.


SSO (single sign on): A single set of credentials that allows users to access multiple applications in your organization while only needing to login once. When SSO is implemented, users don’t need to login to access applications, like your LMS, separately. This article will help you to decide if SSO could work for you.


Standard: Once an eLearning specification has been recognized by a governing body like IEEE or ISO it becomes a standard. Popular eLearning content standards include AICC, SCORM and xAPI.


Storyboard: Key part of the process of developing eLearning courseware. Originated in cartoon animation as illustrators would roughly sketch frames for approval by stakeholders before drafting final content. Storyboards are usually mapped with tools like PowerPoint, Word, and Visio.


Synchronous learning: Instructor-led learning in a virtual classroom setting. During this kind of event, learners log on at the same time and an instructor guides the class.


Tin Can (xAPI): Developed by Rustici Software at the request of ADL to support the concept that “learning happens everywhere”. Also known as the Experience API (xAPI), the Tin Can API is often seen as the next evolution of SCORM. Tin Can redefined some of the fundamental practices of tracking learning experiences. The major difference between Tin Can and SCORM is the type of learning each can track. While SCORM is limited to recording online learning, Tin Can can track almost any activity. Tin Can delivers a far more detailed view of learner progress, both online and offline. The kinds of learning Tin Can can track include reading a webpage, attending an event, borrowing a library book, playing a game, blended learning, and team-based learning.


Virtual Reality (VR): Virtual Reality or VR is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world.  It is created by surrounding the user of the VR system with an environment, sound and other stimuli that provide an engrossing environment of immersion, imagination and interaction to increase engagement. VR is starting to become more prevalent in eLearning as instructional designers work towards making more engaging content that learners will enjoy completing.


White-labelling: The ability to remove .learnupon.com from your sub-domain, removing all traces of LearnUpon branding and setting up a personalized reply-to from email address. For some companies, simply branding an LMS isn’t enough. Those companies use our white label feature to remove all indications that a platform wasn’t developed inhouse.



That’s quite a mouthful! You should now know your manifest from your module, your cognitive load from your knowledge construction. Missed the first part? Catch up with the ultimate eLearning terms you should know: Part 1 (A-L).