Claned’s Glossary of Online Learning Jargon

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Claned

Online learning is valuable in so many ways. The only catch? All. That. Jargon.

How is an ‘LMS’ different from an ‘LXP’? Or, why are ‘hybrid learning’ and ‘blended learning’ two different things despite sounding so similar? If you find yourself drowning in questions like these, you’re not alone. Be it first-time online course builders or people who’ve been doing this for a while, the ever-renewing list of online learning jargon can throw everyone in for a loop.

But fret not! At Claned, we’re all about making online learning as accessible as possible for everyone – beginners and professionals alike. So we’ve put together a handy online learning glossary to help you along as you navigate this exciting new era in learning and training. Might want to bookmark this for later! 

[To help make your search easier, the terms are arranged in alphabetical order.]

Asynchronous Learning

Great learning can take place even outside the traditional constraints of time and place. And that’s what asynchronous learning is all about. 

In this form of classroom model, learning takes place at different times for different learners. There are no set class times and learners can access the lectures, course materials and assessments on their own time. Which is why asynchronous learning offers far more flexibility and autonomy to learners than traditional forms of learning.

Asynchronous learning can also be combined with ‘synchronous’ learning to suit the needs of your learning program. So for example, your learners could watch pre-recorded lectures and participate in online discussions whenever they want to within a specific time frame. But they might also be required to take assessments on a particular day at a particular time.

Blended Learning

Because online learning exists, a whole variety of opportunities have now opened up in front of us. Blended learning uses one such opportunity to combine or “blend” in-person learning with online learning elements. 

There are a handful of classroom models that integrate technology with learning. But what sets blended learning is that the online learning elements in the course are not meant to replace the in-person learning experience. Instead, the online learning elements serve to support the in-person components of the program. 

A blended classroom could, for example, have face-to-face lectures and discussions while also requiring learners to go through online learning content and complete online assessments.

Cooperative vs Collaborative Learning

Okay, so this isn’t really a definition. But since our online learning glossary is all about making sure you don’t trip on commonly confused terms, let’s untangle these two terms!

Both cooperative and collaborative learning are shared learning experiences that encourage learners to actively participate in and be responsible for their own learning. 

But here’s the difference between the two in a nutshell. 

Cooperative Learning: Each learner is accountable for not only their own learning but also the learning of their peers. Instead of competing with one another, learners are encouraged to work together and use their own skills and knowledge to support the learning experience of their peers. The instructor is deeply involved in this formal learning process and can even assign roles or responsibilities to learners to do their part.

Collaborative Learning: More group-structured than instructor-led, collaborative learning is all about letting learners do their thing. The learners work together towards their learning goals and if needed, assign roles and responsibilities to each other. Unlike cooperative learning, learners have more autonomy, seek their own information and resources and engage in various forms of informal learning (see below).

Flipped Learning

Yet another classroom model that combines face-to-face learning with technology – but with a twist!

In traditional learning, learners typically attend lectures and then expand on what they’ve learned by going through additional materials outside the classroom. Flipped learning literally ‘flips’ this script. In flipped learning programs, learners go through the learning materials first to develop a basic level of knowledge. They then broaden that knowledge through in-class lectures and interactions with the instructor.

At Claned, you’ll hear us gushing about Flipped Learning a lot. In our experience of working with different learning approaches, flipped learning has repeatedly proven itself to be an effective, reliable method of offering meaningful learning. This approach is also a great way of making the most of online resources as well as the limited time that learners get to spend in lectures and discussions.

Hybrid Learning

Hybrid Learning is often confused with Blended Learning (see above) – but here’s a key difference to look out for! 

Like Blended Learning, the Hybrid Learning model also combines elements of online and in-person learning. But it does so in such a way that the online learning elements are meant to replace some or all of the in-person parts of the learning experience.

Imagine a hybrid learning classroom where some learners are attending in-person lectures while some learners have the option to view or attend the lectures online. It’s an ideal approach for cases where the main learning program is being carried out in one location while the learners are spread out across locations.

Informal Learning

Here’s the thing: effective learning doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom. In this era of easily available information, online learning benefits greatly from resources that extend beyond the confines of an online learning program. 

Informal learning is any and all learning that takes place outside the structured learning environment. It’s unplanned, unstructured, asynchronous, and driven solely by the interests of the learner!

Think of the videos, podcasts, and articles your learner seeks out to learn more about a topic they covered during the course. Or the questions, comments and discussions taking place on your forums. All of this makes for valuable learner experience, even as it takes place outside the formal structure you prepare for them. 

Learning Analytics

Hear us out: we know exactly how online learning jargon-y this one sounds. But if you want to measure the value and impact of your online courses, this one’s worth digging into.

Every online learning program generates tons of data – from “how many people participated?” to “how exactly did this improve employee performance?” and everything in between. Learning analytics is the process of collecting, analysing and most importantly, reporting this data in a way that makes sense and can offer useful insights to you about what worked, what didn’t and why.

To know more about learning analytics and how to succeed with it, read our blog post here. What is Learning Analytics?

Learning Design

Every learning program is a collection of big and small decisions made about the experience. What topics should be covered? What kind of content should be added? How difficult should each assessment be? 

Learning design is the careful and considerate process of making all these choices, backed by insights from pedagogical research and best practices. Without learning design, running an online course would be like shooting shots in the dark. It would simply be a series of random guesses for what might help learners internalise the knowledge instead of leading them down a carefully created path.

When done right, learning design helps you make the best decisions for your course and your learners on everything from content to structure to activities, and more. It’s a deep and fascinating topic that is required reading for anyone looking to set up a new course. 

Good thing we have a detailed blog post you can go through!

Learning Path

Imagine online learning programs as a journey from point A – where your learners’ current competencies are – to point B – where you’d like their competencies to be. But if online courses are a journey, it’s important that you chart a course for your learners to easily make their way through. 

A learning path (or learning pathway) is the series of small steps that your learners must take to reach their point B and achieve their learning goals. It’s made up of all the small, individual tasks and activities that they must participate in and complete to reach the knowledge, expertise or skill level that awaits them at the end of the course.

LMS

LMS or Learning Management System is a lesson in online learning jargon 101. Any online learning glossary in the world is incomplete without a mention of the term or its long-standing impact on the industry.

In its simplest form, an LMS is an online learning platform that allows you to store, deliver and track your learning programs. 

For a long time, the LMS has been the go-to option for learning and training needs across industries. They are well suited for running formal training programs with heavy administrator control, rigid structures and limited capabilities. 

But as technology evolves and with it our learning needs, there have recently been questions about the durability of the LMS. Modern LMSs are attempting to change with the times, expanding their capabilities. But with all that said, it’s impossible to deny that there is a new learning platform in town – the LXP (see below).

LXP

LXPs, or Learning Experience Platforms, are a relatively recent innovation when compared to the good old long-standing LMS. And this recency is a big part of the LXP’s appeal.

As a learning platform, the LXP has been built from the ground up keeping the latest technology and modern learning needs into account. 

There is little to no administrator control and learners are allowed to navigate and contribute to their learning experience at will. Thanks to xAPI, LXPs also have the capability of integrating a wide variety of online apps, tools and resources into the learning program.

Both LMSs and LXPs have their own merits and offer two very different learning experiences for both learners and organisations. Which one should you choose? Here’s a helpful read. LMS vs LXP: Which One’s Right for You?

Pedagogical Scripting

Where pedagogy (the theory and practice of learning) and ‘scripts’ come to play together! 

This step of the course-building process focuses on creating a set learning narrative that leads learners to the desired learning outcomes. 

As with any good scripting process, the goal of pedagogical scripting is to be as specific about the various elements of a learning program as possible. All the instructions, content and activities – as well as the structure and sequence in which they are presented – should be decided beforehand. And how are these pedagogical scripting decisions made? On the basis of thorough educational research and the best practices in online learning. 

Social Learning

Do people learn better together? The theory of social learning – and the immense amount of research that backs it – certainly believes so!

Be it through in-person interactions or virtual discussions in online learning programs, learners learn better when learning is placed within a social context. When people feel free to share opinions, ask questions and engage in enthusiastic discourse in an educational setting, the learning experience improves for everyone involved. 

And this is just as true for an online learning setting as it is for a physical classroom. When social learning is mindfully incorporated into an online course, it leads to excited learner communities, collaborative problem-solving and high engagement and participation.  

(To see this in action, read more about how FCA witnessed off-the-charts participation levels on their Claned-built course).
READ: How FCA’s Skill Training Program Succeeded “Beyond Expectations”

Learning Platform-Specific Terms:

The simplest way to set up an effective online course? Choose and invest in a versatile, well-designed online learning platform. And once you’ve got the right platform on your side, keep these often-used terms in mind. 

Because this online learning glossary would certainly be incomplete without these three common terms you’ll encounter all the time when working with an online learning platform.

eLarning platform showing board, module, and content on claned learning platform

Board

Wouldn’t it be nice to have everything you need for your learning in one easy-to-access spot? Of course, it would – which is why any learning platform worth its salt features a handy ‘board’ for your course. 

A board is a one-stop, virtual place where you can store and display all the content, resources and materials you’d like to offer your learners. A board can feature a variety of learning materials in different content formats such as videos, PPTs, texts, VR, audio recordings and more. It’s also where your learners can view and complete assessments as well as participate in discussion forums. 

Content

Want to keep your learners engaged? Make your online learning programs more interesting by including a variety of content formats. We’re fortunate to be learning (and building courses) in a digital era that allows us to distribute and consume information in a variety of unique ways. 

There are videos, PDFs, and presentations, and then there are other unique experiences like VR, AR, MR, webinars, podcasts, instructographics and so much more – all of which you can directly embed into the learning experience. A good learning platform allows you to not only integrate these resources but also store them in a ‘Content’ folder or section for easy viewing and access.

Module

Everyone enjoys learning when it’s presented in a form that your learners can easily imagine tackling. That’s why within every board, you get the option to break your content into smaller, more digestible parts. These are known as the ‘modules’.

And how are these modules created? The most common way of breaking up your content into modules is to have each module focus on a single aspect of the overall course topic. Imagine you’re building a product training course. You could dedicate one module to introducing the product and its need, another module to covering its features, yet another module for exploring various use cases and so on. 

Conclusion

The world of online learning is like no other. All the innovations, the upgrades, the creative solutions and the reinventions of old practices make this a highly dynamic and exciting place to be.

And in the face of all the excitement, the results and the rewards, keeping up with online learning jargon often feels like a small price to pay. Especially when you have an online learning glossary and Claned’s many resources to help you along!

Need more support? Have more questions? Building an online course or thinking about building one?

Reach out to us at sales@claned.com!

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