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Glossary of Terms


Active Server Pages (ASP)
A programming language that extends standard HTML-based web sites to include database content management. The Microsoft standard as opposed to CGI/Unix programming languages and environment.

Adaptive training programs adapt themselves to the skill level or preferences of the learner.

Classic model of an instructional system design process that includes the steps Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation from which the acronym is taken.

Adult Learning Theory
Principles and practices of providing instruction to the adult learner. Primarily concerned with an adult's well-defined learning goals, wealth of experience and ability/desire to direct his or her own learning. See andragogy.

See Artificial intelligence.

Acronym for Aviation Industry CBT Committee. An emerging set of standards The AICC sets guidelines in the development, delivery, and evaluation of e-learning programs. These guidelines are developed specifically for the aviation industry, but are being widely adopted in a variety of other industries. See for more details.

ALC – Annual Leadership Conference
ATD Leadership Conference gathers chapter leaders from ATD’s 136 chapters to network and learn best practices for running their chapters. It is an opportunity to network with chapter leaders and ATD staff, to grow the profession, and to learn what it takes to be a more successful chapter. Attended by the Officers of the Board of Directors. Typically held at the end of October in Alexandria, VA.

Alpha Version

An alpha version of a program is also known as a "pilot" version, which can be tested for overall usability and training effectiveness.

The first step in the classic A-D-D-I-E model of Instructional System Design. In the analysis phase the audience is defined and performance improvement needs are identified.

The opposite of pedagogy. A European term introduced into the English vocabulary by Malcom Knowles, it is the art and science of helping adults learn. A prime contributor to most theories of adult learning, andragogy as set out by Knowles emphasizes an adults' capabilities to direct and motivate themselves, utilize past knowledge to assist learning and evaluate the contents of training for relevance and quality.

The rapid sequential presentation of slightly differing graphics to create the illusion of motion. Animation can have greater purpose in illustrating a process than a static visual, but it requires more information to be processed by the computer and thus higher bandwidth. Compare to audio, video, text, and graphic.

A small program, that runs on the Internet or an Intranet, written in the programming language known as Java.

Any stand alone computer program.

Application Service Provider (ASP)
Internet hosting service provider. A company that hosts a program on behalf of its customers. Many training programs and learning management systems are now offered on an ASP platform.

ARCS Model
A theory about the best way to instill learner motivation, developed by John Kellar, PhD. The four steps in the model are: gain learner Attention, describe the training's Relevance, instill Confidence in the learner that the training can be successfully completed, and leave the learner Satisfied after a learning goal has been achieved.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence. The range of technologies that allow computer systems to perform complex functions mirroring the workings of the human mind. Gathering and structuring knowledge, problem solving, and processing a natural language are activities possible by an artificially intelligent system.

Assessment Item
A question or exercise on a test, quiz, or other evaluation.

See Active Server Pages or Application Service Provider.

Asynchronous Training/Learning
A learning program that does not require the student and instructor to participate at the same time. Typically self-paced, online tutorials.

A disposition toward a certain behavior. Psychological theories hold that attitudes are revealed by examining behaviors and shaping attitudes can in turn influence behaviors.

The intended end user population of a training product. Careful consideration of audience factors such as learning styles, level of education, preferences, background, and job responsibilities helps create more successful e-learning.

The medium of delivering information to be processed by a learner's ears. Compare to text, video, graphics, and animations.

Audio Conferencing
Voice-only connection between three or more locations.

Similar to "programming", developers assemble discrete media components using a tool called an authoring system.

Authoring System or Authoring Tool
A program, like Macromedia Authorware, designed for use by a non-computer expert to create training products. An authoring system does not require programming knowledge or skill to operate. Enables non-programmers to create e-learning programs. Although there are over 100 authoring systems on the market, Captivate, Authorware, Articulate, and Toolbook, are among the most common.


The measure of amount of information that can flow through an information channel. Commonly measured in bits per second. Modem connection to an internet server is a typical example of a low-bandwidth connection; an Ethernet connection within a LAN is an example of a high-bandwidth connection.

A measure of the quantity of information transmitted on a communication line; largely replaced by the use of bits-per-second.

See Bulletin Board System.

An action or set of actions performed by a person under specified circumstances that reveal some skill, knowledge or attitude. Training seeks to increase desirable behaviors or introduce new behaviors and/or eliminate undesirable ones.

A standard of reference used for comparison. The performance of a learner is measured against a benchmark such as the performance of an expert. The performance of a technology-based training product is measured against a benchmark such as the training procedures it replaces.

Beta Test
An important function of quality control and one of the last steps before release of a software product. Beta testing involves the use of a product by selected users to create a formal documentation of content errors, software bugs, usability, level of engagement, and other factors.

The elementary constituent of digital information, the value of which can take only the forms 0 or 1. Bits are often measured by adding prefixes to signify a value. One kilobit contains approximately 1,000 bits; one megabit contains approximately a million bits; one gigabit contains approximately one billion bits.

Bits-per-second (bps)
A measure of the speed of the information transmission over a communication line; often confused with baud.

Blended Learning
A training curriculum that combines multiple types of media. Typically, blended learning refers to a combination of classroom-based training with self-paced e-learning.

Blog / Weblog

"Blog" is short for "Web Log" and refers to short messages that are posted onto a web site by an author. Blogs are typically informal and personal messages, almost like daily diary entries. Blogging has caught on as a cheap form of knowledge sharing and expert communication. See for more information.

Bloom's Taxonomy
A hierarchical ordering of affective and cognitive learning outcomes developed by Benjamin Bloom.

A tutorial structure that progresses through material in a path that depends on the learner's response to questions.

Digital signals delivered (along with analog signals) over copper medium to businesses and households. Typically refers to an internet connection via a cable modem or DSL line with speeds 1 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s.

Also called a Web Browser. A program used to access the text, graphic, audio, video and animation elements of the Internet and Intranets. Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are the most commonly used browsers.

Bulletin Board System

Also known as BBS. The computer equivalent of a public note board, messages can be posted to a BBS for viewing by other users and other computers. A BBS is often called a threaded discussion.

A word made up of eight bits of information. One byte is the amount of information required to represent one character.


Cable Modem
A device that connects a computer to the Internet through a Cable TV coaxial cable. Cable modems are considered to be a high bandwidth, or high speed connection.

See Computer-based Education.

See Computer-based Learning.

See Computer-based Training.

Compact Disc Read Only Memory. An optical disc, recorded on and read by a laser, used to store large quantities of information. One CD-ROM has 650 Mb of storage capacity. Due to our current state of "bandwidth blues" CD-ROM/DVD delivery as a subset of e-learning may be around for long time.

A formal evaluation process conducted by a neutral third party on a fee-basis, typically using a rigorous, accurate, reliable, validated software test suite and evaluation methodology. Certification is for a specific version only of the product being tested. Certification may lapse after a specific duration. Certification can be lost or revoked. Certifying body stands behind its evaluation of the product or service.

Chat or Chat Room
Text-based group communication on the Internet. Multiple users can type their questions and answers for everyone to see. This form of group communication occurs in real-time.

The CHapter Incentive Program (CHIP) is a revenue sharing program that offers chapters an opportunity to earn additional revenue. With the CHIP program, local chapters share the revenue from new business they generate for ATD programs and services. CHIP includes national memberships, conference registrations, and books published through ATD.

Each chapter has been assigned a source code, ATD Nebraska’s is: CH6064. When you as a member use the chapter source code when purchasing ATD products and services, the ATD Nebraska chapter will get a portion of the revenue.

The process of separating learning materials into brief sections in order to improve learner comprehension and retention.

Classroom Training
Any training conducted where the students and facilitator interact in a real, physical classroom. Unlike "Instructor-led Training (ILT)" which, although there is an instructor, could still take place over an Internet connection.

Clip Media
Pre-existing pictures, audio files, videos clips that can be "clipped" out and pasted directly into a computer program. Also known as "stock media".

See Computer Managed Instruction.

Cognitive Loading
The process of placing elements into a person's short-term memory.

Collaborative Learning
Learning through the exchange and sharing of information and opinions among a peer group. Computers excel in mediating collaborative learning for geographically dispersed groups.

COM – Chapter of the Month

Requirements for selection:
  • Have an SOS submission accepted
  • Must be CORE compliant and innovative
  • Not featured as Chapter of the Month within the past two years

Competencies / Competency Model

A structured list of knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required for job performance. Competencies are used as the foundation to guide needs analyses and evaluations. Unfortunately most competencies end up in a filing cabinet to be referenced only when updating job descriptions. Used properly, they are powerful drivers of assessment and training.

A 'self-test' software test suite is available to both implementer and user. Software test suite usually designed to rigorously test inputs, processes, and outputs of a guideline, recommendation, specification, or standard: Know the source. Provider of test suite may or may not allow users of test suite to claim more than conformance (no formal Endorsement).

A technique used to encode information so that it fits in a smaller package for easy storage or transmission.

Computer Based Education
A generic term for a computer program used by a learner to acquire knowledge or skills. See e-learning.

Computer Based Learning
A generic term for a computer program used by a learner to acquire knowledge or skills. See e-learning.

Computer Based Training
A generic term for a computer program used by a learner to acquire knowledge or skills. See e-learning.

Computer Managed Instruction
The components of e-learning that provide assessment, student tracking and personalized lesson plans.

Computer Supported Learning Resources (CSLR)

The parts of a e-learning product other than those that instruct, test, or track progress. These include glossaries, bulletin boards and chats, bibliographies, databases, etc.

One of the three required parts of a properly composed learning objective, as defined by Robert Mager. Circumstances under which the performance will be tested and materials that will be provided to the student are described in the condition statement.

The implementer asserts adherence to guidelines, recommendation, specification or standard. User tests assertion by inspecting results. No form of testing is used other than evaluating actual results against expected results.

A small file placed on a user's computer by a visited web page. Many e-learning programs will store the student's name, history, and score information in a cookie file.

CORE – Chapter Operating Requirements
Chapter Operating Requirements, requirements the Chapter must meet on an annual basis to retain their status with the National Society

  • Consists of 17 elements in five key areas: administration, financial, membership, professional development, and communication, which are necessary for running a chapter like a business
  • The mandatory annual chapter CORE report submissions are due each year on January 31.

Cost Avoidance
Component of analyzing competing business alternatives based on reducing or eliminating costs, such as student travel and instructor fees. Return-on-investment studies take account of cost avoidance in calculating final returns.

Cost-benefit Analysis

Method of analyzing competing business alternatives based on comparing total costs to total benefits. A proper cost-benefit analysis takes into account all benefits, including productivity, savings, and motivation, and weighs them against all costs, including expenditures, overheads, and lost opportunities.

Term used to describe the collection of elements that make up training on a given subject. Usually a course is broken up into lessons, sections, or modules but course is sometimes used interchangeably with these terms.

Course Map
Usually a flow-chart or other illustration, a course map details all of the component elements of a course. Course maps often illustrate the recommended order that students should complete the training.

Software designed specifically for use in a classroom or other educational setting, containing instructional material, educational software, or audiovisual materials. "Courseware" is a term used to describe software resources which are used for Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL). to mediate or support a course or module.

CPLP – Certified Professional in Learning and Performance
The ATD Certification Institute built the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance™ (CPLP™) credential to provide a way for workplace learning and performance professionals to prove their value to employers and be confident about their knowledge of the field.

If you have at least three years of industry-related experience and education, plus the desire to continue your professional development and prove your value, then consider the CPLP™ credential.

One of the three required parts of a properly composed learning objective. The performance level that must be achieved by the student along with a concrete measurement for the performance level are described in the criterion statement.

Criterion Referenced Instruction
A system of instruction developed by Bob Mager. Synonym for performance based instruction; instruction whose value is measured by the ability of the end-user to meet specified criterion after completion.

A series of related courses.

Jargon referring to the Internet, or the World Wide Web.


Delivery Method
Term describing the way in which training is distributed to learners. Print-based workbooks, classroom, video, audio tapes, CD-ROM, and Internet are all sample delivery methods.

The second step in the classic A-D-D-I-E model of Instructional System Design. The design phase builds on the analysis information and includes the formulation of a detailed plan for the instruction, known as the Design Document. Sometimes Design is broken into "high level design" for the design doc and "low level design" which culuminates in a script or storyboard.

Used to describe any member of a training project team, usually referring to creators such as writers, graphic artists, and programmers. Technically, this term should refer only to instructional designers, but it is often used synonomously with the term developer.

Used to describe a member of a training project team involved in development activities or the project team as a whole. Could refer to an instructional designer, graphic designer, writer, etc.

The third step in the classic A-D-D-I-E model of Instructional System Design. The development phase follows the plans created in the design phase to create materials ready for several iterations of testing and refinement.

Opposite of analog. Computer signals, the information manipulated by a computer and transferred on the Internet, are digital. A digital signal varies by discrete values only; that is any point defined within a digital signal will have the value of either 1 or 0.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Refers to high speed Internet connections obtained through a special service of the phone company, using their standard telephone line.

Domains of Learning
Three divisions used to classify types of learning: psychomotor (physical), cognitive (mental), and affective (emotional).

Drill and Practice

An interactive exercise used to develop basic skills like keyboard operation. Involves the repetition of short sequences of practice, chained together to make up more complex processes.

See Digital Subscriber Line.

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)

Digital Versatile Disc Read Only Memory. Like a CD-ROM, an optical disc recorded on and read by a laser, but used to store even larger quantities of information, specifically 8.5 gigabytes.


See Digital Versatile Disc.


Broad definition of the field of using technology to deliver learning and training programs. Typically used to describe media such as CD-ROM, Internet, Intranet, wireless and mobile learning. Some include Knowledge Management as a form of e-learning.

Electronic Performance Support System

A program that provides on demand assistance on a discrete task. Considered to be a support tool or job aid. A good example of an EPSS is the built in help functions of many software programs.

ELW – Employee Learning Week
ATD has declared Employee Learning Week the first week in December as an awareness campaign to encourage organizations to recognize the value of employee learning and to develop a highly skilled workforce. The week is an opportunity for your chapter’s member companies, business leaders, managers, and learning professionals to recognize the importance of workforce and skills development with an event, meeting, or communications.

Short for electronic mail. The process of one user employing a computer to send a text message to an electronic mailbox to be retrieved and viewed by another user. Also, the message itself.

End-to-end Solution
Term used by e-Learning companies to describe a complete set of products and services, typically including learning management systems, off-the-shelf content, and custom services. Don't believe the hype.

Entry Behavior
The prior knowledge, skill or attitude that is a pre-requisite to a given course, or that is assumed to be present by course designers.

See Electronic Performance Support System.

A means of connecting computers in a local area network with high-bandwidth coaxial or optical cable connections. Sometimes called 10baseT.

The final step in the classic A-D-D-I-E model of Instructional System Design. The evaluation phase involves formative evaluations, evaluations of the product during development, and a summative evaluation, the final evaluation of the effectiveness of the training in solving the instructional problem.

Events of Instruction
The nine steps outlined by Robert Gagne that correlate to and address the conditions for effective adult learning. In brief, each lesson should (1) capture attention, (2) inform the learner of the objective, (3) stimulate recall of prior learning, (4) present material, (5) provide guidance, (6) elicit performance, (7) provide feedback, (8) assess performance, (9) enhance retention and transfer.

Expert System
An artificial intelligence program in which a decision tree is created based on an experts decision criteria.

An internal, private website that has restricted access to certain outside users as well. For example, an organization may create a parts Inventory web site to support their internal manufacturing efforts, while giving read-only access to their outside vendors who need to know when to re-supply their parts.


Face-to-Face. Example: We're going to do some initial training F2F and then distribute CD-ROMs for post-work.

The politcally correct term for "instructor", "trainer", "teacher" or "class leader".

See Frequently Asked Questions.

Can be positive or negative, is used to shape behaviors, and should closely follow an action for maximum result.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Generally called FTP. One method of transferring files over intranets or the Internet.

An application that isolates part of a network, like a company's private intranet, from access to or by other parts of the network, like the public Internet.

Formative Evaluation

An evaluation performed at a late development stage, used to revise and improve an training program before launch.

Frequently Asked Questions
Also known as FAQ. A web document made up of questions commonly asked about a particular subject or in a particular forum and the associated answers.

See File Transfer Protocol.


Generic (off-the-shelf) Courseware
e-Learning products developed for a broad audience, not for a specific organization. Most generic courseware is complete junk.

The medium of delivering static images to be interpreted by the learner visually. Compare to audio, video, text, and animation.

A file format, and filename extension, for graphics files for display on web pages. Popular format as it provides the best picture quality to file size tradeoff.

Graphical User Interface
A way of representing the functions, features and contents of a program to a user by way of visual elements, such as icons, as opposed to textual elements, such as words and character strings. The Microsoft Windows operating system is the classic example of a program with a GUI.

Pronounced "gooey". See Graphical User Interface.


Hard Skills
As opposed to "soft skills", this term relates to technical or IT related skills.

Physical equipment like computers, printers, and scanners. Compare to software.

HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) is the study of how people interact with computers and to what extent computers are or are not developed for successful interaction with human beings. A significant number of major corporations and academic institutions now study HCI.

Help Desk

A team that can be contacted by end-users for assistance with hardware and software problems.

A high-bandwidth connection, like a cable modem, will allow transmission rates in the range of Gigabits per second and allow the use of data intensive information like video, audio and complex animation.

The verb describing the physical storage of a Web page or other Internet content. As in, "we are hosting our program on our in-house computers."

See Hypertext Markup Language.

Hypermedia links text, graphics, video, audio, and animation and leaves the control of navigation through its elements in the hands of the user.

Text elements within multimedia documents, classically underlined and in colored font, that can be clicked on by the user to follow a path to a new location in a document, supplemental material like a graphic or another page on the net.

Hypertext Markup Language
More commonly referred to as HTML. The standard programming language for web documents meant to be accessed by browsers.


ICE – ATD International Conference & Expo

International Conference & Expo is held each spring. This premier event for workplace learning and performance professionals welcomes attendees from more than 70 countries. The conference features 200+ educational sessions from industry leading experts, and a work-class EXPO filled with the latest products and services available from top suppliers.

A simple symbol representing a complex object, process, or function. Icon-based user interfaces have the user click on onscreen buttons instead of typing commands.

See Instructor Led Training.

The fourth step in the classic A-D-D-I-E model of Instructional System Design. The implementation phase involves the delivery of the training to the intended audience and the use by that audience.

Information Architecture

The organization and categorization of online content. The rules and structure of where and how to store content. Especially relevant for knowledge management programs and corporate intranets where users must be able to quickly find desired information.

Instructional Designer
The person who applies instructional learning theory to the organization and design of learning programs.

Instructional Systems Design

Term describing the systematic use of principles of instruction to ensure that learners acquire the skills and knowledge essential for successful completion of overtly specified performance goals.

Instructor Led Training (ILT)

Training mediated by a live instructor, such as classroom training or live classes delivered over an web-based conference system.

An program feature that requires the learner to do something. Should help to maintain learner interest, provide a means of practice and reinforcement.

The modern network of tens of thousands of interlinked computers, evolved from the US government's ARPANET project of the 1960's. The public Internet encompasses the world wide web, the popular multimedia portion, as well as the e-mail, FTP, gopher, and other services.

Internet-based Training

The term most commonly used in the mid 1990's to describe web-based learning programs.

Internet Explorer (IE)

The Internet Web browser developed by Microsoft, which is also the most commonly used browser today. Typically called just "IE". For example, "Do your students use IE or Netscape to access the web?"

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

A company that providers Internet access and hosting services.

A network owned by an organization that functions like the public Internet but is secure from outsider access and regulated by representatives of the organization often called system administrators.

See Instructional Systems Design.

See Internet Service Provider.


A programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that is intended to be operational on any hardware/software system.

Java Applet
A small program (i.e., application) written in Java. Java applets are sent from the host computer to the end user's computer (known as the client) and is then run (or "executed").

Job Aid
A tool which can exist in paper form or on the computer which provides on-the-job instruction for a specific task.

A popular file format for photographs intended for display on web pages. The file extension is JPG.

Just In Time
Popular term to described the benefit of e-learning's accessibility. As in, "Our sales force can access our online, just-in-time training whenever they have a question about a product; no longer do they have to enroll in, and wait for, a classroom training program."


Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model refers to the four step training evaluation methodology developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1975. Level 1 refers to the students to reaction to the training (derisively called "smile sheets"). Level 2 refers to the measurement of actual learning (ie, knowledge transfer). Level 3 measures behavior change. Level four measures business results.


See Local Area Network.

See Learning Content Management System.

Learning Content Management System (LCMS)
A web-based administration program that facilitates the creation, storage and delivery of unique learning objects, as well the management of students, rosters, and assessments.

See Learning Management System.

Learning Management System
A program that manages the administration of training. Typically includes functionality for course catalogs, launching courses, registering students, tracking student progress and assessments.

Learning Objective
The clear and measurable statement of the behavior that must be observed after training is concluded in order to consider the training a success. According to Robert Mager's work, a learning objective contains a condition statement, a performance statement, and a criterion statement.

Learning Service Provider (LSP)
A third party company that hosts e-learning programs/content on it's own servers. Customers pay to access, or to "lease", these programs.

Learning Style
An individual's unique approach to learning based on strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Though experts do not agree how to categorize learning styles, an example of a categorization system is one that separates learners into auditory learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners.

A unit of learning concerned with a specific skill. This term is sometimes interchanged with the terms section or module.

Local Area Network

A network of computers in a confined area, such as a room or a building. A LAN accessed with internet technologies can be considered an intranet. Typically LAN's operate at what is considered to be a high bandwidth speed.

The process in which a program is converted for delivery in a different country. Unlike "translation" which connotes a simple re-writing of words, localization includes re-writing for cultural and social differences as well.

Procedure performed by a user to declare that a specific system or application is going to be used. Log-in information is used by the computer to mark and track information specific to the user. It can also be used to declare to other users that an individual is presently active on a network.

A low-bandwidth connection, like a telephone line, will allow transmission rates in the range of kilobits per second and restrict the use of data intensive information like video and photo quality graphics.

Microsoft's commercial implementation of e-learning standards to identify, catalog, launch, and track course objects. Based on the IMS standards.

See Learning Service Provider.


Stands for "mobile learning" and refers to the usage of training programs on wireless devices like cell phones, PDAs, or other such devices.

Mastery Learning
Also known as criterion referenced instruction, in which students are evaluated as having "mastered" or "not mastered" specific criteria or learning objectives.

Meta Data
Information that provides macro-level details about a course object, such as author, title, subject, date created, etc. Typically meta data is recorded in XML files and are read by LMS and LCMS systems.

The combination of different delivery media like books, audiotapes, videotapes and computer programs in one curriculum. Not to be confused with multimedia, where different media are integrated into one product. See blended learning.

A representation of an object, process, behavior or attitude used by a learner for comparison/contrast and duplication/avoidance. Both positive and negative examples can serve as models.

The activity of recreating the functions and aspects of a model. When a novice sales person watches an expert make a sales call, and then mimics the expert's tone and wording, he or she is exhibiting a modeling process.

A piece of hardware used by computers to transfer and receive information. The term is taken from the full title MOdulator-DEModulator.

A file format digitized video. Largely being replaced "RealVideo" and the Microsoft Media Player.

The integration of different media, including text, graphics, audio, video and animation, in one program. Also referred to as newmedia.


Negative Reinforcement

Encouraging a correct behavior by punishing any behaviors other than it. An example is putting a child into "time out" after she throws a tantrum. According to most adult learning research negative reinforcement is not recommended for most adult learning situations.

Stands for "Internet etiquette". Refers to the commonly accepted rules of behavior and communication in e-mails, chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc. For example, proper netiquette is to not use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS in messages because this is the equivalent of shouting.

A collection of computers that can exchange information and share resources.

An electronic bulletin board reserved for discussion of a specific topic.


Operation of a computer while not connected to a network.

Operation of a computer while connected to a network.

Online Learning
Synonym for e-learning.

Operating System
A computer program that controls the components of a computer system and facilitates the operation of applications. Windows Me, Windows XP, Linux, and MacOS are common operating systems.


See Personal Digital Assistant.

Refers to the Adobe Acrobat file format for online documents.

Opposite of andragogy. The art and science of how children learn.

One of the three required parts of a properly composed learning objective. Observable and measurable actions that should be demonstrated by the learner after the completion of training are detailed in the performance statement.

Performance Objective
The performance capability the learner should acquire by completing a given training course. Synonymous with learning objective.

Performance-based Instruction

Learning activities centered on the acquisition of skills more fundamentally than knowledge. Performance-based instruction, also called criterion-referenced instruction, relies on learning objectives to communicate what is expected to be achieved and evaluation of task completion to determine success.

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

A small, handheld computer currently limited in functionality (e.g., calendar, rolodex, to do list). PDA's are expanding in their capabilities to include wireless e-mail and Internet access, thus opening opportunities for mobile learning and support (m-learning).

Pilot Test

Also known as an Alpha test or formative evaluation. A version of the training program is delivered to a sub-set of the target audience for an evaluation of its instructional effectiveness.

Term created by joining the words picture and cell, a pixel is the basic unit of measurement for picture displays. Computer screen size is often measured in pixels, with 1024x768 and 1280x1024 being common measurements.

A small piece of software that works in conjunction with a web browsers to add additional functionality, like streaming audio or video.

Positive Reinforcement

Encouraging a behavior by rewarding that behavior after it is exhibited. An example is buying a child a toy after they do well on a test. An example in adult education is congratulating a learner after a question is answered correctly, or providing a completion diploma upon course completion.

A basic requirement or step in a process that must be fulfilled before moving on to an advanced step. Being able to stand is a prerequisite to being able to walk. In computer training, using the mouse is a prerequisite to using a graphical user interface.

See Programmer Ready Materials.

The chip or chip set that performs the operations central to a computer's functioning.

A detailed set of instructions that make a computer able to perform some function. A program can be written by the user but the term is commonly used to refer to a specific pre-created software package, such as a word processor or spreadsheet.

A working model created to demonstrate crucial aspects of a program without creating a fully detailed program. Adding details and content incrementally to advancing stages of prototypes is one process for creating successful applications.



Instantaneous response to external events. A real time simulation, like a driving simulator, follows the pace of events in reality.

Request for Proposal (RFP)
The official document produced by an organization that requests vendor bids for specific products and services.

To revise pre-existing training material for a different delivery format. For example, instructor guides and student manuals are often repurposed into web-based training.

Reusable Learning Object (RLO)

A specific chunk of content and code that represents an assessment, exercise, instructional content, etc. In theory, RLO's can be used in many different courses.


Acronym for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. SCORM is a series of e-learning standards that specify ways to catalog, launch and track course objects.

Search Engine
The two types of search engines, the catalog and the crawler, both locate requested information on a web site or on the whole of the World Wide Web. A catalog engine compares the user request with a collection of data that it contains concerning web sites. A crawler engine scours the contents of sites themselves to find a match to a word or string of words.

A division of training concerned with one topic. Several sections commonly make up a lesson, but the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term lesson or module. Self-paced Instruction Any instruction where the learner dictates the speed of progress through content.

Self-paced instruction
Training the enables learners to complete instructional segments on their own, without the guidance of an instructor.

A networked computer that is shared by many other computers on the network. Intranets use servers to hold, or "host", web pages.

SIG – Special Interest Group
Special Interest Group, group associated to a special interest that meets.

A mode of instruction that relies on a representation in realistic form of the relevant aspects of a device, process, or situation.

Programs that allow a user to complete tasks with computers, such as word processing and graphics programs. Compare to application.

See Subject Matter Expert.

Soft Skills
The informal term for non-IT related business skills. Examples include leadership, listening, negotiation, conflic management, etc.

A collection of frames created by a developer that detail the sequence of scenes that will be represented to the user; a visual script.

Subject Matter Expert (SME)

The member of a project team who is most knowledgeable about the content being instructed upon. Frequently, the SME is an expert contracted or assigned by an organization to consult on the training being created.

Subordinate Objective

An task or objective that must first be mastered in order to complete a terminal objective.

Summative Evaluation
An evaluation performed after development used to measure the efficacy and return-on-investment of a training program.

Synchronous Training/Learning
A training program in which the student and instructor participate at the same time. For example, an instructor-led chat session is a form of synchronous training. Common examples today include the use of products from Centra, Interwise, or others that enable web-casts of live events.


Talent Management – TM
Competency-based Talent Management helps organizations fill openings in key jobs and avoid productivity loss and maintain competitive advantage.

Organizations retain top talent and build on the investment it has made in its employees, by preparing them for future positions.

There is a much higher degree of success for lateral and upward moves if the competencies required for the job are matched with the competencies of those individuals applying for the position.

Target Population
The audience defined in age, background, ability, and preferences, among other things, for which a given course of instruction is intended.

Task Analysis
A process of examining a given job to define the discrete steps (tasks) that insure effective and efficient performance of the job's requirements.

Acronym for Technology-based Learning. Synonymous with TBT, or Technology-based Training. Just say e-learning.

See Technology-based Training.

Transmission control protocol/ Internet protocol. The set of rules and formats used when transmitting data between servers and customers over the Internet.

Technology-based Training (TBT)

The term encompassing all uses of a computer in support of learning, including but not limited to tutorials, simulations, collaborative learning environments, and performance support tools. Synonyms include CBL (computer-based learning), TBL (technology-based learning), CBE (computer-based education), CBT (computer-based training), e-learning, and any number of other variations.

Terminal Objective

A learning objective the student should be able to master after completing a specific lesson or part of a lesson.

The medium of delivering information via words to be read and interpreted by the learner. Compare to audio, video, graphic, and animation.

A mode of instruction that presents content, checks understanding or performance, and continues on to the next relevant selection of content. Tutorials may be linear or branched. 


Uniform Resource Locator
More commonly referred to as URL. The standard address for a web page on the Internet or on an intranet.

See Uniform Resource Locator.

An evaluation and measurement of a computer program's overall ease-of-use.

User Interface

The components of a computer system employed by a user to communicate with the computer. These include the equipment, such as a keyboard or mouse, and the software environment, such as the desktop of Windows or the program lines of DOS.


Vertical Slice

A program prototype that includes the development of one section, usually a complete lesson, for the course.

The medium of delivering information created from the recording of real events to be processed simultaneously by a learner's eyes and ears. Compare to audio, text, graphics, and animation.


See Wireless Application Protocol.

Acronym for Web-based Training. Synonomous with e-learning.

Weblog / Blog
"Blog" is short for "Web Log" and refers to short messages that are posted onto a web site by an author. Blogs are typically informal and personal messages, almost like daily diary entries. Blogging has caught on as a cheap form of knowledge sharing and expert communication. See for more information.

Wireless Application Protocol

The technical specifications required to communicate and display content on wireless devices, such as WAP-enabled cell phones. Relevant for m-learning.

Workplace Learning & Performance (WLP)
Workplace Learning and Performance is defined as “the integrated use of learning and other interventions for the purpose of improving human performance, and addressing individual and organizational needs. It uses a systematic process of analyzing and responding to individual, group, and organizational performance issues. It creates positive, progressive change within organizations by balancing humanistic and ethical considerations.”

World Wide Web

The most popular component of the Internet which can be accessed with browser software. Offers interconnected screens containing text, graphics and occasionally other types of media.

See World Wide Web.

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