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The ABC's of E-Learning: A Glossary of Terms

ABC's of E-Learning: A Glossary of Terms


The business world is becoming more and more dependent on the digital world for timely delivery of information and educational material. E-learning, as it is widely known, has become an ever important tool for bringing education in to the workplace in almost every industry. E-learning is also known as multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-based training (CBT), computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), learning content management system (LCMS), and web-based training (WBT). Besides the wide range of names associated with e-learning, there are also many terms associated with this industry that may not be widely known.

Below we have compiled a list of the ABC's of e-learning to help you understand and be more comfortable in this ever growing digital realm.



Application Service Provider is a software product in a format that is network or internet based. Little or no software installation on a local computer is typically required in order to deliver and track training. Information is fed from and to the remote server location. Service is usually subscription-based.

Asynchronous E-Learning

Asynchronous e-learning is computer-assisted training where the instructor and participants are involved in the course, class or lesson at different times. This allows participants to access training materials when it is convenient for them, whether the instructor is available or not. An example would be shared drive programs, or web-based training.

Audio Conferencing

Audio Conferencing is defined as a connection between three or more locations that involve a voice-only connection. This can be accomplished via telephone or the computer. When the audio conference is conducted between computers over the Internet, it is using a technology known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).



Blended Learning

Blended learning requires a combination of in-person and online learning activities as its instructional approach. For example, students can complete online self-paced assignments and then meet online or on-site for additional learning activities.



Computer-Based Training (CBT)

Computer based training is often referred to as e-learning. CBT is a general term that relates to all training that is delivered with the assistance of a computer. CBT can be delivered via the internet, CD, or shared files on a network.


Courseware is software that is designed for an educational program. Courseware can include material for instructor-led classes, self-directed computer-based training (CBT), material coordinated with live classes conducted over the Internet, videos for large classes or individuals, and web sites offering interactive tutorials.



Distance Education / Distance Learning

Distance education or Distance learning is when students and their instructors are in different geographical locations and the instruction occurs on a digital device, such as a mobile phone, tablet or computer. The learning can occur in a synchronous (see below) environment, or an asynchronous (see above) environment.




E-Learning is the act of learning through digitally delivered content, services and support. On-demand e-learning, live online e-learning, online coaching, knowledge bases, learning architectures, simulation based learning, and blended learning are all examples of e-learning.



Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning, (see blended learning) is a model of course design that combines face-to-face instruction time with online course work.



Interactive Multimedia

Interactive multimedia offers learners to provide input to an online course and receive feedback as a result of their input.



Learning Management System (LMS)

Learning management systems offer management tools and tracking of the involvement and input of participants, usually with the assistance of a database. The system tracks who is scheduled, started or completed a specific training program, and what their test results are.

Learning Content Management System (LCMS)

Learning content management systems are for collaborative development of e-learning content with built-in resource sharing and project management processes.



Mobile Learning (mLearning)

Mobile learning is instructional content that is pushed through a hand-held device, such as a smart phone. This allows for greater flexibility as to when and where learning can take place.



National Learning Time (NLT)

National Learning Time (or seat time) is the time taken for completion of an e-learning course. NLT is an approximation of the amount of time it will take 80 to 90 percent of the target audience to complete the course.




Software as a Service is software licensed on a subscription basis. Service is accessed over a network or directly via the internet by web enabled devices e.g tablet, laptop, PC  or thin clients using a browser. 

Social Learning

Social Learning: Collaboration, brainstorming and discussion with co-workers are all part of social learning. In the scope of e-Learning, this could be anything from utilizing social media outlets to discussion threads or live chats within your e-Learning course.

Synchronous E-Learning

Synchronous e-learning is computer-assisted training with the instructor and participants involved in the course, class or lesson at the same time. The trainer and participants can log in and interact with each other even if participants are at multiple facilities or locations. Web conferencing is a form of synchronous e-learning. A large audience spread out over several locations can be instructed at a single time by the use of LCD projectors, computers and conferencing telephones.

Streaming Media

Streaming media are video and / or audio files that are downloaded from the internet to a device as a continuous stream of data. The media is played immediately as it reaches the device, before the media file has completely downloaded.




tLearning stands for tablet learning, and it is a specific mode of mLearning in which learning content is accessed through tablets, such as iPads and Android devices.




A videobook is a book that is performed or reenacted in a video format and is structured similarly to a book. Videobooks are used chiefly in teaching. Most videobooks are single website entities that focus on teaching the viewer (typically through a subscription) a particular topic, and they are not interactive.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is the use of video technology (hardware and software) to enable a virtual meeting between two or more people in different physical / geographical locations. Participants can see and hear each other simultaneously through this process.

Virtual Instructor-Led Classroom (VILT)

A virtual classroom is a digital classroom learning environment that occurs through the Internet instead of a physical classroom. It is implemented through software that allows students and the instructor to interact.




A webinar is a workshop or seminar where the participants and the facilitator view the same screen at the same time. Webinars typically have an audio component that the facilitator controls and an interactive element that allows the participants to chat by answering polls, entering text, and asking questions.

Web-Based Training (WBT)

Web-based training refers to all types of digital instruction where the instructional material is presented through the Internet.

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