It’s A Tech Thing (Terms used in Educational Technology)


Adaptive learning

Software that adapts its content and pacing to the current knowledge level of the user, so it’s almost like having a personal tailor for your education.

Evaluating a learner’s actual skill or knowledge level based on the expected skill or knowledge for a person in the same job, position, or assignment.

Assessment item
A questionnaire or measurable activity used to determine if the learner has mastered a learning objective.

Asynchronous learning

A student-centered teaching method that uses online resources to facilitate learning without requiring students and instructors

Authoring tool
Software application used to produce interactive learning materials that bring together all components of a course, such as text presentation, graphics, tracking, and links.

Blog (web log)
A web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

To simultaneously send the same message to multiple recipients. Broadcasting is a useful feature in e-mail systems.

Transferring learning content to many learners simultaneously, as in a satellite broadcast or an IP multicast. In an IP multicast, numerous learners can participate in a learning event that is broadcast over the network using the Internet Protocol from a single source.

Recognition and acceptance as a qualified professional in a specific area. Certification comes after the learner has successfully completed training and has passed an assessment with a minimum acceptable score. To increase validity and assure authentication, the certification process should be overseen by an independent agent.

Scheduled learning event that can take place at a centralized location or in a virtual environment.

Cognitive level
A designation that identifies the knowledge and skills (mental or physical) a learner must display to prove mastery of a given reusable information object (RIO).

Computer-based training (CBT)
Any instructional event that can be accessed via a standalone computer.

Content item
Information stored in a database and used to communicate skills or knowledge. It can be in any media format, including text, graphics, animation, video, audio, and HTML plug-in. It is combined with practice items and assessment items to create a RIO.

Course Management System (CMS)(aka Learning Management System — LMS)
Software that automates the administration of a class web site. These often include modules for online class discussions, grade books, homework turn-in and pickup, class calendars, and tools to make it easy to upload documents and link to electronic course reserves.

The broadcasting of data over a wide area via radio waves. It most often refers to supplemental information sent by television stations along with digital television, but may also be applied to digital signals on analog TV or radio. It generally does not apply to data which is inherent to the medium, such as PSIP data which defines virtual channels for DTV ordirect broadcast satellite systems; or to things like cable modem or satellite modem, which use a completely separate channel for data.

Datacasting often provides newsweathertrafficstock market, and other information which may or may not relate to the program[s] it is carried with. It may also be interactive, such as gamingshopping, or education. An electronic program guide is usually included, although this stretches the definition somewhat, as this is often considered inherent to the digital broadcast standard.

Digital audio
Refers to the reproduction and transmission of sound stored in a digital format. This includes CDs as well as any sound files stored on a computer. In contrast, the telephone system (but not ISDN) is based on an analog representation of sound.

Digital editing
Editing a portion of a movie by digitizing one or more frames and altering them electronically or combining them with other digitized images, and then printing the modified frame.

Discussion boards
Forums on the Internet or an intranet where users can post messages for others to read.

Any method of providing education. Methods include instructor-led training, Web-based distance learning, online laboratories, CD-ROMs, interactive TV, videos, and books.

Distance learning
Situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous means.

Information and graphics that have been organized in electronic or computerized lessons or chapters and made available via computer.

E-learning (electronic learning)
Term covering a wide set of applications and processes, such as web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more.
Education via the Internet, network, or standalone computer. Network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. e-learning refers to using electronic applications and processes to learn. e-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM.

Electronic classroom
A classroom equipped with multimedia devices that are used to enhance learning.

Any method used to gather information about the impact or effectiveness of a learning event. Measurements might be used to improve the offering, determine if the learning objectives were achieved, or determine if the offering has been of value to the organization.

Interaction between the learner and the instructor or system. Feedback increases the quality of the learning experience.

Information structured like hypertext, that also includes sound, images, animation or video.

Intellectual property
An idea, invention, formula, literary work, presentation, or other knowledge asset owned by an organization or individual. Intellectual property can be protected by patents, trademarks, service marks, and/or copyrights.

Instructional technology

Combining education and technology to enhance a curriculum. Instructors can alter how they deliver content to students depending on the technology available at their school.

Interactive media
Allows for a two-way interaction or exchange of information.

An international network first used to connect education and research networks, begun by the US government. The Internet now provides communication and application services to an international base of businesses, consumers, educational institutions, governments, and research organizations.

Instructional designer (ID)
An individual who, using systematic methodology and instructional theory, creates content for learning events.

Instructor-led training (ILT)
A scheduled event conducted by an instructor, either in a classroom or on the network. Sometimes called leader-led training (LLT) or lecture/lab training (if the course includes hands-on lab exercises).

Anyone who accesses information to increase his or her skills and knowledge.

Learning object
A reusable, media-independent collection of information used as a modular building block for e-learning content. Learning objects are most effective when organized by a meta data classification system and stored in a data repository such as an LCMS.  A learning object has been defined as: Any entity, digital or non-digital, that may be used for learning, education or training Any digital resource that can be reused to support learning Web-based interactive chunks of e-learning designed to explain a stand-alone learning objective” “A digitized entity which can be used, reused or referenced during technology supported learning.”

Learning platforms
Internal or external sites often organized around tightly focused topics, which contain technologies (ranging from chat rooms to groupware) that enable users to submit and retrieve information.

Learning portal
Any web site that offers learners or organizations consolidated access to learning and training resources from multiple sources. Operators of learning portals are also called content aggregators, distributors, or hosts.

The transmission of information to more than one recipient. For example, sending an e-mail message to a list of people. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing can also use multicasting.

Encompasses interactive text, images, sound, and color. Multimedia can be anything from a simple PowerPoint slide slow to a complex interactive simulation.

Online learning
Learning delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. See web-based training and internet-based training.

PDF (Portable Document Format)
File format developed by Adobe Systems to enable users of any hardware or software platform to view documents exactly as they were created — with fonts, images, links, and layouts as they were originally designed.

Practice item
A question or learning activity that gives learners immediate feedback, allowing them to determine whether they can apply the skills and knowledge just learned in a RIO.

Activities that reinforce the material being learned and give the learner an opportunity to apply skills and knowledge. Some practices provide feedback and mentoring. The learner’s performance may or may not be affected by the results of the practice activities. Practice activities include case studies, learning activities, practice quizzes, practice tests, testing quizzes, and practice labs.

Prescriptive learning
Matching a learner with offerings designed to fill gaps in the learner’s knowledge and skills.

Private sector
Any business or organization that is not a member of the public sector (public education or government agency). public sector Any public education or government agency.

Real-time communication
Communication in which information is received at (or nearly at) the instant it’s sent. Real-time communication is a characteristic of synchronous learning.

Using feedback to increase a learner’s knowledge and skills relative to a specific learning objective

Reusable information object (RIO)
A collection of content, practice, and assessment items based on a learning objective.

Reusable learning object (RLO)
Information, based on RIOs, overviews, summaries, and assessments, that supports a specific learning objective.

Self assessment
Process in which the learner determines his or her level of knowledge and skills.

Self-paced learning
Learning in which the pace and timing of content delivery are determined by the learner.

Highly interactive applications that allow the learner to model or role-play in a scenario. Simulations enable the learner to practice skills or behaviors in a risk-free environment.

Subject-matter expert (SME)
An individual who has substantial knowledge about and skills in a specific subject.

Synchronous learning
A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to “call on” participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio- or videoconferencing, internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts.


Providing every student with a laptop or tablet to make learning more individualized, increase independence, and extend academics beyond the classroom.

Virtual classroom (VC)
A scheduled offering that is available at multiple locations (either desktop or classroom) via a network.

Web-based training (WBT)
Any instructional event that can be accessed via the Internet or the Web.


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