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E-learning Glossary

There are some terms you should know before you enter the world of e-learning. You can find definitions for the most important ones below. We guarantee that, after reading our e-learning glossary, many previously enigmatic topics will no longer be a mystery to you.



Accessible e-learning courses can be used and understood by people with impairments, disabilities or technological difficulties, e.g. visual, hearing or cognitive impairments. It is the responsibility of instructional designers and developers to make online courses accessible, easy to understand, clear and simple. For more information and solutions regarding web accessibility in general, visit

Action Mapping

Action Mapping is a method for creating practical and effective learning experiences. It involves four steps: Identify Business Goals, Define the Actions, Create the Learning Activities, and Check for Alignment. Action Mapping ensures that training directly supports real-world goals, making learning more relevant and useful.


ADDIE is an instructional design framework that represents a systematic approach to the development of effective learning experiences. The acronym stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate, outlining the key stages in the instructional design process.

ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning)

An initiative established by the US Department of Defense, the goal of which was to standardize the delivery framework for online training courses. Its main contributions to this field include SCORM and xAPI.

Adaptive learning

Adaptive learning is a powerful and effective approach to learning that enables learners to achieve their learning goals and improve their knowledge and skills. It uses technology to adapt the learning process to the individual learner. Adaptive learning systems use algorithms and data to analyse learners’ knowledge, skills and preferences, and use this information to modify the content of the course. That way the course content and activities are tailored to each learner’s needs and goals, providing a more personalised and effective learning experience. Adaptive learning can be applied to a wide range of e-learning courses, including self-study courses, blended learning programmes and even traditional classroom courses. Adaptive learning systems can be integrated with learning management systems (LMS) and other e-learning platforms, providing a range of benefits for learners and teachers, including increased engagement, motivation and retention, as well as improved assessment and feedback.


The first official standard for e-learning technology that was developed in 1993 by the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee. It was set up in order to ensure the compatibility of e-learning courses with AICC-compatible LMSs.


The part of an e-learning course which is intended to evaluate a learner’s skill or knowledge level.

Asynchronous learning

A general term used to describe forms of educational or learning activities that do not occur in the same place or at the same time, but can be conducted on a more relaxed schedule at different locations, during different hours.

Audio script

A document that contains text to be recorded by voice actors or a recording studio. It is useful if there is a plan to include a voice over audio track in an e-learning course.

Authoring tool

A type of software that is used to develop e-learning courses. Digital training content created in an authoring tool can be published and distributed on the web, such as via a learning management system (see: LMS). Authoring tools allow you to create and organize content such as slides, animations, images, audio tracks, videos, quizzes, games and many other features and elements that help you learn about a given topic in an efficient and interactive way. The most popular tools used for online training design today include, but are not limited to: Articulate Storyline, Articulate Rise360, Adapt or Adobe Captivate.


Blended learning (or hybrid learning)

Teaching methods that integrate technology and digital media with traditional instructor-led classes.

Branching learning (branching scenarios)

An interactive form of learning that is based on decisions made by the learners, who are then presented with the results. Branching scenarios are routes through the learning content that highly depend on the actions taken by a user.


CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool

Software used to assist professional translators in a translation process. It has a lot of features that make translators’ work easier, faster and better, such as translation project management, glossaries, translation memories, additional editing options, submission options, format conversion, machine translation, translation review, etc.

Cc (closed captions / subtitles)

A process of displaying text, most often at the bottom of the screen. Useful for audiences and learners who cannot hear the audio (for various reasons) or who cannot understand the language being spoken. Closed captions can be turned on or off.


Certification is the issuance of an award or document that certifies that an individual has completed an educational program and possesses certain knowledge and skills.


It is a standard for LMSs developed by the ADL. It combines the SCORM structure and xAPI tracking capabilities and is able to track learners’ progress, activities and results, even outside the LMS. Learners don’t have to be online to take the course. cmi5 will automatically send data to the LMS once the Internet connection is established again.

Continuous localization

Continuous localization is the process of integrating localization into the product development lifecycle, enabling companies to quickly and continuously release their products in multiple languages.


A cookie is a piece of data from a website that is placed on the user’s device and stored in a web browser and can later be retrieved by that browser. Cookies inform the server that users have returned to a particular website. When users return to a website, the cookie provides information such as the user’s browsing activities or data previously entered by the user into form fields. Cookies also allow the website to display selected settings and targeted content.


Instructional, educational or training course materials designed to be used and delivered either via a software program or over the web.



The binary file format (filename extension: .doc) used and generated in Microsoft Word. Its successor is DOCX format.


A format for word processing used by Microsoft Word, similar to the .doc format but much more efficient, compatible and error-free.


DTP (desktop publishing) is the process of using computer software to create and arrange text, images and other elements to create professional-looking documents, such as brochures, magazines and books. DTP is also used during e-learning course creation or localization, especially when there is a lot of text that needs to be formatted properly to be readable for learners.


E-learning (electronic learning)

Refers to the provision of digital educational materials, usually in the form of online courses available over the Internet using computers or mobile devices. The training can be completed by studying at home, at work or anywhere that has access to the Internet. Online courses include interactive elements such as audio, video, images, quizzes, knowledge checks, game-like activities and other supplementary materials that are useful for explaining a particular topic. Year after year, there has been a gradual but significant increase in the popularity of e-learning courses, which are now being implemented everywhere. The e-learning industry is growing at a rapid pace and this trend seems to be continuing.



An application development platform and playback technology developed by Adobe that is used for producing animations, desktop applications, mobile apps, rich web applications and more. It was phased out with the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML5) and is now a deprecated software platform that is also no longer supported by Adobe.

F2F (face-to-face)

Face-to-face training is a more traditional way of learning, by attending classes either in a classroom or online with an element of face-to-face contact with the instructor.



A useful technique used in the development of e-learning courses. It is based on incorporating game-like design techniques such as points, rankings, trophies, badges or other rewards in non-game contexts to improve the motivation, retention and engagement of learners and help them achieve their training goals.


The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a computer file format for the compression and storage of image files that supports both animated and static images.



The latest version of HyperText Markup Language, HTML5, is a mobile-friendly code that allows multimedia content to be rendered and presented directly in a browser. It was updated in 2014 and includes features that help better support audio, video and graphic content. HTML5 is also more efficient than the obsolete Flash, which is no longer supported, because it requires less processing power.



The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Their Instructional Technology Standards Committee works to develop technical standards, recommended practices, and guidelines for computer-based implementations of education and training systems.

Immersive learning

Immersive learning is a training methodology that uses the latest technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality or 360-degree videos, to simulate real-world scenarios and train employees in a safe and immersive training environment. The overall effectiveness of such training is enhanced by increased learner engagement.

Instructional design and instructional designers

Instructional design is the process of creating instructional learning materials. An instructional designer (ID) typically uses an authoring tool to develop effective online course content that achieves specific learning objectives. The ID is usually briefed on business and training needs by a subject-matter expert (SME) who is in close cooperation with the ID in many stages of the online course development process.


International Organization for Standardization, an international federation of national standards bodies that develops and publishes international standards.


JavaScript (JS)

An object-oriented computer programming language commonly used to add interactivity to websites or e-learning courses.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A standard for compressing digital images. It allows a significant reduction in file size without losing too much image detail.


LCMS (learning content management system)

Software that makes it possible to manage administrative as well as content-related functions of training. LCMSs combine the course management capabilities of an LMS (learning management system) with CMS (content management system) capabilities for content creation and storage.

Learning and development (L&D)

The process of improving the specific skills, know-how, and performance of employees and entire teams through various trainings, in order to drive better business performance.

Learning objective

The development of course content should be oriented to the objectives. Determining who the training content is developed for and what the participants are expected to learn from it will influence the way the content will be designed and presented. Learning objectives specify the knowledge, skills or attitudes that trainees are expected to acquire from a training program or e-learning course. Clear objectives also help to evaluate the effectiveness of the training after its completion.

LMS (learning management system)

Software that simplifies and automates training administration. An LMS tracks courses, has a database of users, records their data and provides reports. An LMS typically focuses on the management of finished courses and is designed to be able to support courses created in many different authoring tools.


Localization of e-learning courses is the process of adapting the course to meet the needs of a particular language or culture or to comply with the legal requirements of a specific locale. This means not only translating text-based content, but also images, audio, video and more. You can easily localize your e-learning materials with – start by filling out the free quote form here.

Localization source file formats

The types of files that contain the content that needs to be translated or adapted for a specific locale or target audience. These files are typically used by localization professionals and software tools to extract the source content for translation and then insert the translated content back into the file. Some common localization source file formats include: XML (Extensible Markup Language), DOC (Microsoft Word Document), XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format), and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

The choice of localization source file format may depend on the type of content being translated or the tools being used for localization. It is important to choose a format that accurately represents the source content and supports the translation and localization process effectively.


LXP stands for Learning Experience Platform, which is software that delivers personalised and engaging learning experiences through AI-powered recommendations, microlearning modules, social learning tools, gamification, and personalised learning paths. Organisations use it to deliver modern and effective learning experiences to their employees or customers.



A way of delivering training content which provides material in small quantities or chunks. Each individual chunk focuses on a particular learning objective. Absorbing knowledge on a single topic at once minimizes distractions for learners, helping them understand and remember the educational content more easily. It is designed to help learners acquire new skills and knowledge quickly and is often used in combination with other learning methods.

Mobile learning

Learning that takes place through a mobile device, such as smartphone or tablet, without time and location constraints.


A part of an e-learning course, usually consisting of a whole training chapter or an assessment test.


Multimedia is the presentation of information and instructions using a combination of graphics, text, video or audio.


This is a basic feature built into most e-learning courses that allows you to move between slides or pages, menus, and other interactive parts of the course. As an element of the interface, it also allows you e.g. to turn the subtitles on or off, pause the course, go straight to the menu or even download additional materials.

Neural machine translation

Neural machine translation (NMT) is an artificial intelligence-assisted translation technology that uses deep learning algorithms to produce more accurate and natural translations.


Online learning

Online learning, often used as a synonym for e-learning. Web-based training distributed via the Internet.

Open captions

Cannot be turned off. Usually they are a hard-coded/burned-in part of the video file or media player.



PDF stands for “Portable Document Format”. PDF format is used to view documents in electronic format, regardless of the software, hardware or operating system used. It is a PostScript-based universal file format originally developed by Adobe and has become an international standard for document and information exchange.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

A graphic compression format developed by Macromedia. PNG has almost entirely replaced the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).


Quality assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) in the e-learning industry is the process of evaluating and testing e-learning materials to ensure that they meet defined quality standards. This may include assessing the accuracy, relevance and completeness of content, proper formatting and layout, as well as testing course features such as navigation, multimedia, audio narration, language and accessibility. Quality assurance in e-learning aims to ensure that the end user, the learner, has a positive experience and that the objectives of the course are met.

Question pool

A question pool contains a set of questions on a particular subject that, in most cases, will be randomly drawn from during the assessment/knowledge check (a test or quiz) of an e-learning course.


Responsive layout/design

A modern web design approach that makes the layout flexible, allowing GUI to adjust smoothly to various screen sizes. A responsive layout adapts to the user’s device, its screen orientation, and the size of the display or window in which the content is displayed. The content should render flawlessly, without overset text or overlapping elements, so it remains easily readable.


SAM (Successive Approximation Model)

SAM, or Successive Approximation Model, is a way of designing learning materials that focuses on collaboration and quick testing. It has three main parts: Preparation, Iterative Design, and Iterative Development. SAM encourages working closely with experts and making changes based on feedback during the design process.

SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)

The Shared Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is the most popular standard for packaging online courses into special files. It contains and defines a set of content guidelines that can be read by any compatible learning management system (see: LMS).

SCORM package

E-learning content packaged into a transferable ZIP file. It contains all the information needed to transfer learning content to a SCORM-compliant LMS.


E-learning simulation is a virtual scenario designed to prepare participants for real world situations, such as using a device, carrying out certain activities, handling a certain process or navigating and using a company’s software.

SME (subject matter expert)

An individual who has proficient subject matter knowledge and skills in a particular field, topic or issue. The SME ensures the accuracy of the content and works closely with the e-learning development team by providing essential information, feedback or content guidelines for a new e-learning course.


This is a key document used in the e-learning course development process that visually organizes the text, graphics and audio elements, as well as the interactions and branching of each screen/slide in an online course. The storyboard serves as the basis for developing an e-learning course and is typically created using tools such as PowerPoint or Word.



An e-learning template is a pre-made set of slides, images, designs and other elements that are used by course developers to build online courses quickly and easily or to get inspired and stimulate creativity. There are a plethora of templates available on the Internet.

Text-to-speech (TTS)

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a technology that converts written text into speech. TTS is used to read digital text, such as web pages, e-books and documents, and is particularly useful for people with visual impairments or reading difficulties. It can also be used for applications that require a voice similar to the human voice, such as automated telephone systems, video or e-learning.

Tin Can

See: xAPI


Transcreation (a fusion of the words “translation” and “creation) is the process of adapting and redesigning content for a new audience and language while maintaining the original intent, tone, and style. It goes beyond literal translation in order to ensure cultural relevance and resonance.

Translation glossary

A translation glossary is a database of key terms and their translations to ensure consistency and accuracy of translations. Translation glossaries can be created for a variety of purposes, such as maintaining a consistent brand voice, meeting legal or regulatory requirements, or ensuring the accuracy of technical terminology. Glossaries can be created by subject matter experts, professional translators, or by compiling terminology from already translated content. They help improve the quality of translations by providing a centralized resource that translators can use during the translation process.

Translation management system (TMS)

A translation management system (TMS) is a software platform that automates and streamlines the translation and localization process for businesses. It provides tools to manage translation projects, facilitate collaboration, and ensure consistency and quality of translations. A TMS can help companies reduce costs and improve translation quality.

Translation memory

A translation memory (TM) is a database tool for storing previously translated content, allowing translators to reuse it in future translation projects. By reusing existing translations, the TM reduces translation time and costs while ensuring consistency. A TM is particularly useful for companies with a large volume of repetitive content, such as product manuals or technical documentation.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

A URL is the unique address used to identify a resource, usually a website, on the Internet.

UX (user experience)

UX is how the user feels using an application, program or other software and its interface, and how easy it is to use and navigate through it.


Virtual classroom

A web-based system for online learning that is used when the instructor and students are in different locations. It allows for interactions between students and the instructor. Educational multimedia content can usually be provided at the same time.

vILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training)

vILT, or Virtual Instructor-Led Training, is a way of teaching where an instructor leads a class online instead of in person. It uses virtual tools like video conferencing to connect learners and the instructor. vILT allows people to participate in training from different locations and still interact with the instructor and fellow learners in real-time.

Voice over (VO)

An audio track in an e-learning course, usually including the voice of an off-screen narrator or a dialogue.

Voice over script (audio script)

This is a key document in the process of creating or localizing e-learning course. It organizes audio text and is typically created using tools such as Word or Excel. Such an audio script usually contains all the necessary parts of the narration to be read by the speakers/voice talents in the recording studio. Such a document should describe in detail the spoken parts and specify where in the e-learning course a given fragment should be played, on which slide, at what time, etc. Voiceover scripts often also contain guidelines for pronunciation of names, units of measurement or other less common technical text.


WBT (web-based training)

WBT refers to all types of digital learning in which educational materials are made available online.


A webinar is an online course or seminar conducted over the Internet, most often in the form of a live video. The instructor speaks to the audience, usually also showing slides, multimedia or demonstrating the operation of some application or program. Webinars can also be recorded and made available to people later. As for interactions with the instructor, participants are usually allowed to ask questions in real time via microphone or chat.


WYSIWYG is an acronym that stands for ‘What you see is what you get’. In e-learning courses, WYSIWYG refers to the ability to see and edit course content in a way that accurately reflects what it will look like when published or completed. This means that the course developer working in an authoring tool can see the content as it will be displayed to the learner, including text, images, animations and other media. Many e-learning tools and platforms support WYSIWYG editing, making it easier for course developers to create high-quality e-learning courses.


xAPI (Tin Can)

Experience Application Programming Interface, Experience API or xAPI (formerly known as Tin Can) is a communication protocol for e-learning technology that allows for secure and efficient collection and recording of any data or activity on a wide range of learner experiences. It also ensures flawless communication with the LMS (see: LMS). Rich data capture that works both online and offline has made the xAPI specification the successor to SCORM.

XLIFF or XLF (XML Localization Interchange File Format)

XLIFF is an XML-based byte-text file format created to standardize the way localization data is sent and exchanged between tools in localization processes. The format is common in the translation industry and is supported by CAT tools.

XML (Extensible Markup Language)

A markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding digital documents in a structured text format that can be read by both humans and machines. It allows custom tags to be defined and is used to represent and transfer information on the web, between two computer systems or different applications.

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