E-Learning Terminology

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


3D (three-dimensional): The sense of depth perception and volume in a physical universe 24/7/365: The all-the-time availability of a particular e-learning experience

action: A motion or deed that a learner must take within a game or simulation. Such an act will lead to particular outcomes

admin: The makers of a game who set the gameplay rules and the end user license agreements (EULAs) that dictate the relationship between players and the designers

affordances: The concept that a person is afforded certain acts by the objects and events in an environment (1977, J.J. Gibson). The affordances are the acts themselves that are “afforded.”

agent: A software program that has been scripted to perform particular “independent” actions

animated avatar: A digital stand-in for a character that involves movement

animation: The scripted movements of various digital elements

anonymity: The state of not being identifiable by name or otherwise

artificial intelligence (AI): A simulation of human intelligence created through computer software programs / coding

asynchronous: Events that do not happen concurrently, simultaneously, or synchronously. These refer to events that do not occur in “real time”.

atomic learning object: A basic unit of instruction that has a specific instructional objective and contains content items for teaching learners a skill, knowledge for decision-making, or other applied information; may include practice and assessments

audiovideo: This relates to both integrated sound and video digital files

augmented reality: The use of “add-ons” to a real-time, real-space in terms of sounds and visuals in order to enhance the user’s ability to interact with that space. (This is often done through projectors, and mobile and portable devices.)

avatar: A digital computerized stand-in for a person or character. These may range from highly unrealistic to realistic. Some avatars are inanimate objects, and others mimic humans and animals.

blended learning: Blended classroom instruction with a human facilitator or coach; a mix of face-to-face and online learning

branching logic: A simulation that allows different paths through an experiential learning experience or simulation

brief: A succinct summary of the forthcoming game or simulation to prime the learning

computer based training (CBT): This refers to when a person interacts with a computerized simulation without human interaction or human mediation.

close-ended: Limited or predefined choices

collaboration: The teaming of various participants in order to achieve particular simulation / gaming and /or learning objectives

construction: The creating of a mental concept or “sense” of a particular knowledge domain

continuous learning environment (CLE): An employment or training environment that offers continuous as-needed learning

cooperative: A type of learning that involves team members working together to achieve a shared aim through strategizing and mutual communications

critical incident: An emergency or difficult scenario within a simulation

critical reflection: The deep thinking that enables people to learn better and with deeper retention if they have time to consider the precepts and implications of particular learning

cybernetics: The theoretical and practical study of communication and control processes in biological, mechanical, and electronic systems

cyclical content: Learning that is mapped to a specific “real” activity and often consists of plenty of practice

debrief: A formal and systematic way of analyzing learning particularly after an educational game or simulation

decision point: A moment when a learner must make a major choice or decision

deductive logic (also see “inductive logic”): A type of logic that offers a restatement of premises for a new understanding of truth. No new information is offered in deductive logic. Rather, the mere “facts” (premises) are restated in fresh ways. Here, the person moves from the general to the specific.

deep learning: The acquisition of new knowledge with strong analysis and transferability/ applicability skills to new situations

demo session: A “demonstration” session refers to the showing and describing of a process. This may include the explanation of the purposes behind the session.

descriptive modeling or simulation: A simulation that tries to show or “model” a real situation but which does not offer a predictive / foretelling approach. It merely “shows” or describes.

design: The conceptualization of a purposeful plan for later execution; the organization of structure to achieve learning ends

diagnostic information: Data that links to learner performance in a particular game or simulation.

dialogue: A conversation between two or more individuals

disembodied (also see “embodied”): A state of learning in virtual space where learners do not interact in physical space but rather in virtual space. This means people are engaging without their physical bodies.

disruptive technology: A new technology that changes the current way of approaching a particular problem or issue

distraction: Something that moves a participant’s attention away from a particular action (something which game designers strive to avoid)

distributed learning: The nature of distance or remote education in the sense that the instructor is not co-located with the learners. The learning “distributed” geographically. This may also refer to virtual collaborations.

domain knowledge: The (often-foundational) knowledge of a particular field

“Easter Eggs”: Digital “Easter Eggs” are special hidden treats on a DVD or in a game that may only be found with a particular set of scripted actions and behaviors at particular times in the interaction.

embedded training: Training anytime and anywhere but connected to a combat vehicle used in the US military

embodied (also see “disembodied”): Learning in real-space and real-time while using one’s physical body (so including the proprioceptive sense)

EULA (End User License Agreement): A policy which dictates the terms of play and protects game design companies against potential legal liabilities

experiment: An empirical procedure to test or discover something not known before; the testing of a principle or supposition

experiential: An event that is personally observed or undergone, learning by experience, embodied (in real-time and space) or disembodied (via digital means) learning

exploit: A design or coding error in a game that allows users or players to unfairly gain advantages.

facilitation: The act of making a process easier or smoother; coordinating an event

feedback loop: The return of commentary and insights to learners after learners take certain actions or submit certain ideas

feedback strategy: the designed plans for providing substantive information (and often personalized) responses to learners in a simulation or game

fidelity: The nature of being factual, accurate, and true to the real world

first-person: The endogenous point of view where the narrator is also the “I” or the self. In games, the first-person shooter sees through the eyes of the shooter.

first-person shooter: A computer game that involves militaristic exercises or hunting that involves a main protagonist with the first-person point of view

follow-up: An action that is designed to increase the effectiveness of a previous action. A follow-up may be done directly after the first event, or it may occur after a larger span of time. A “debriefing” is a kind of follow-up.

forced decision: A point in a game where the learner is under pressure to make a clear decision

full-sensory: Engaging the full five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) or a majority of the five senses

game editor: A tool used to affect a game’s design, sometimes made available to “modders” to enhance the virtual objects and processes in an online immersive game

game-based model: A game-based learning model bases the learning on gaming, game theory, and the insights garnered from gaming

game cycle: This starts at the beginning of a stage and is completed when a certain point of achievement is reached. Often, this is marked by a change—of scene, of abilities, of goals, or some other indicator

game design: The theories and practices used to create effective and engaging games

game studies: The formal study of gaming, what is learned, how people interact, and other elements form game studies

game theory (also known as “theory of games”): Various strategies for maximizing gains and minimizing losses; a stratagem of using mathematics to aid in decision-making in competitive situations (often used in political science, economics, military planning).

gameplay: This is a term popularized by Marc Prensky that is defined as “all the activities and strategies game designers employ to get and keep the player engaged and motivated to complete each level and an entire game.” (Prensky, 2002). This also includes the thinking, actions, and decision-making that make a game fun or not. This involves the game’s rules and how success may be achieved.

GBC (goal-based learning): The use of an aim around which to focus a particular unit of teaching and learning. practical learning and is often part of the training

generic character: A stand-in for other groups or characters

goal-based scenarios: Another term for a simulation

granularity: The size of a learning object

guidelines: Rules that dictate how something should be achieved.

haptic (touch): A branch of psychology that focuses on skin-level sensory data

human mediation: The use of instructors to lead or facilitate an online course or an online meeting

high-cost (in reality): The actual costs of some types of training as in flight training, shuttle training, all-terrain military training, and others that often are simulated and delivered virtually because of lower costs

high risk (in reality): The actual dangers involved in a live simulation such as a live-fire exercise or a scuba rescue or a nuclear meltdown emergency exercise. In such cases, simulations may be used to convey the training but at much less risk.

holistic understanding: A macro understanding of a particular issue, not just a specific skill or isolated task ability. A macro view may be an organizational perspective or a leadership perspective, with the many pieces of a system working in tandem or in some sort of interplay.

hypothesis: A proposition or working theory about a particular field / situation / reality. A hypothesis is often tested both theoretically and experimentally (empirically) to strive for evidence and potential proofs.

inductive logic (see “deductive logic” also): This type of logic is formed with a collective body of facts. From this body, the individual jumps to a conclusion. Here, a person moves from the specific to the general. Inductive logic requires the amassing of facts and details before any sort of conclusion may be drawn.

immersive: A three-dimensional (3D) environment that apparently surrounds the player or learner. Such an environment often involves several types of senses. A full-surround experience in gaming and simulations with 3D and multi-sensory approaches

intelligent learning games (ILGs): A type of game with educational purposes

interaction: The reciprocal actions and communications between people in a game or simulation. These often occur in real time although some (in a simulation) may occur asynchronously.

interactive spreadsheet: An online statistical or numerical spreadsheet that offers different outputs depending on the inputs of the learner. These will simulate different processes like what happens to loans over time, how the national budget deficit is affecting the economy, how different inputs may affect a company’s bottom line, and other common simulations.

interface: The design of the screen and input device for users to interact with a computer. The interface design needs to be highly “usable” for easy user actions.

interoperable: The ability to function within and between systems

intuition: A deep insight

iterative: A process that repeats or is recursive is “iterative.” This suggests that a process is not achieved just once through but will take a number of repetitions for success.

job aid: A resource that provides support or assistance for particular work

knowledge dimension: This involves the type of knowledge that is being conveyed, and these may include any of the following: factual, conceptual, procedural and meta-cognitive.

L/CMS ("Learning Course Management System" or "Learning Content Management System"): An online system of software and pedagogical design that allows for the dissemination and interchange of learning objects in an educational or training environment

large-scale: A large (many-membered) deployment of a simulation or a game. This adjective merely indicates the size of the effect of the game or simulation.

learning activities: Designed learning that would enhance learner perception and education

learning environment: A created system to facilitate teaching and learning.

learning log: A type of diary maintained by learners to capture their evolution of thinking about a certain topic as they experience the learning. This may be used as part of the debriefing afterwards.

learning object: A digital entity which may be used for learning

leverage: The gaining of a high return with a small investment; a mechanical advantage or power used through use of a lever

lifecycle: The length of time that a work may be used

linear content: Digital content that exists along a particular timeline. Various types of mass media—books, movies, most DVDs and others—are considered linear in terms of content.

long-term decision-making: The view developed by some simulations that help learners take a long-term view in their strategizing and decision-making

longevity: The number of hours that a player will interact with a game. Some formulaic design aspects to this involve avoiding tedium, not having too much repeated story, and creating new interests for learners).

ludic:Playful in an aimless way

manipulative: A digital object that may be handled, re-shaped and used in the design of a larger object or to achieve a particular aim

mediated education: The use of technologies to enhance e-learning

mediation: The human-facilitation (or intervening) of a particular simulated experience or educational game. Mediation is usually done to add value to the learning experience.

metadata: Data about data

methodology: In education, the analysis and evaluation of subjects and the methods used in teaching them. In game design, a set of principles, procedures and rules used within the discipline for the prototyping and creation of games.

mixed reality: Real and digital environments that use some digital simulations and gaming into a combined sense of reality

mixed scales: This refers how simulated environments often have non-real-world differences in sizes between objects. There’s also a mix of scales regarding time, with some events taking a short time and others with extended play time. Costs for objects may not have any tie to a real-world economy.

MMORPRG (pronounced “mor-peg”): Massively multiplayer online role-playing game

mobile learning: Learning delivered via mobile learning platforms

modder: A person who “modifies” existing games through open-source coding or special software tools released by gaming companies

model: To show how something should be done, as within a simulation or game system

modification or “mod”: A change that may increase the playing value of a game. People who create a change may be called a “modder.”

multi-layered: The complexity of a game or simulation

multi-player: This adjective refers to the multiple number of participants in a particular game or simulation.

nonplayable character: A character in a simulation which may not be changed or manipulated or “played” by the participant. Rather, this character is part of the landscape or a conduit for information and condition information.

omniscient: A view from above or outside the action, with many characters observed

on-the-fly generation: The rendering and portrayal of a particular digital phenomena in a game or simulation based on how it is scripted

ontology: The basic categories of knowledge and their relationships to each other, with the suggestion that these categories represent reality

open-ended game: A game that doesn’t have a clear purpose but just progresses. Here, the game creator and the player both contribute to the playing, in more of a “partnership.” Different players may take different approaches. Players not only destroy objects but may create them in open-ended games. The player may express himself / herself in open-ended games. There are different ways to play games and different ways to achieve particular aims.

packaged learning: Pre-designed learning “out of a box”. This is not instructor-led but automated or run by the computer. This is a form of computer-based training (CBT).

participatory simulation: A simulation involving a group of people brought together to actualize the simulation—whether an interaction or scenario or decision-making, or other

pattern: A sense of design or distinctive style that learners may perceive as part of their simulation

pedagogical agent: A created persona that may be used in simulations and games to promote the learning and play. This may be animated or inanimate. It may resemble a person or not. It may have an artificial intelligence (AI) backend or simply involve scripted feedback. The agent may / may not involve audio interchanges.

performance-centric economy: The importance of trainings and their implications on worker performance in the job market

pervasive learning: This term refers to ubiquitous (‘ubi”) learning and m-learning (“mobile learning”). This suggests that learning must happen anytime anywhere at any time there is a need.

point-of-view: The angle of action that may be taken with a particular game. Some angles may be first-person, second-person, and third-person.

practical work: Applied tasks that have a practical value

predictive simulation: A simulation that offers a kind of foretelling modeling

pressure: The creation of simulated pressure to force a decision by the learner / player / participant

probability: The chances of a particular outcome, based on various calculated factors

problem-based learning (PBL): The solving of a problem as part of simulations, based on adult-learning theory. The more applicable the problem may be to an adult learner’s life, the greater the engagement in that learning.

procedural: The defined process by which something may be achieved

qualitative model: A research model that uses information gathered in a way that does not rely on statistical or empirical basis. Here, various methods such as first-hand observations and other approaches may be used. Data may be triangulated in order to get more robust results

quantitative model: A research model that uses empirical data-gathering and statistical analysis methods to collect information

range of possibility: The definitions of the parameters of available actions for the players in a game

reflexive learning: The learner observes his / her own learning and guides his / her own learning activity with the guidance of learning tools

repeatable: The phenomena of replayability for re-experiencing a game or simulation. This is considered one of the main strengths of simulations

replayability: A feature of games and simulations that allows each to be re-experienced virtually any number of times

repository: A database or collection of information

reusability: The ability to be relevant and applicable in different situations

reusable learning object (RLO): A digital file that contains learning contents and metadata. This may also contain introductory material, contextual material, and assessments. This is usually based around one discrete learning objective.

risk-free environment: The simulated environment that involves “virtual” risk that does not carry over into the “real world.” Simulations are preferred in many situations where the learning may involve untenable risk.

robust: Highly effective, rugged, and applicable to the real world

role profiles: Descriptions of the various roles and abilities of virtual characters in a simulation or game

rules: Guidelines that describe the boundaries for behavior and actions in the virtual spaces. Oftentimes, these rules are taken from real-space.

scaffolding: The building of learning objects that enhance learning for a variety of learners of different backgrounds and abilities by offering opt-in and required learning experiences

scaled usability inspection: A limited test of the functionality of a particular simulation or game

scenario: The outline of a plot or scene

schema: A plan or underlying, organizational structure, conceptual framework

SCORM: Sharable content object reference model

script: The text of a manuscript or document or dialogue

second-person point-of-view: The writing in the second person point-of-view (as in the “you”)

self-directed: Determined by the individual’s self will and not outside factors

serious games: Games that require deep consideration or with high-minded themes

setting: A place or background for dramatic action

sharable: Able to be used on disparate operating systems (OS-es), software platforms, learning management systems (LMS) and between repositories. This is similar to being “technology agnostic.”

Shavian reversal: A type of game in which the game and content are rarely integrated, which Seymour Papert (1998) calls “Shavian Reversals, a term from genetics in which an offspring has inherited the worst characteristics of both parents.

short-term decision-making: The cognitive process of considering various options and making choices within a brief period of time

situation-oriented: Based on a particular context

situational: Based on a particular context

spreadsheet simulation: An enactment involving numbers and numerical calculations

stochastic: Characterized by randomness and non-predictive / non-deterministic states. A stochastic model is an open-ended model.

state-based model: A simple sort of simulation which is based on different locales and “states.” States refer to discrete simulated places. These are often used for exploration sims.

strategic decision-making: The cognitive process of considering options and making choices within a larger plan or stratagem

subsystem: A subordinate or secondary coordinated body

synchronous: Real-time “right now” actions. This may also suggest time-coordinated actions

tacit knowledge: Implicit and “hidden” knowledge. One goal of online simulations has been to surface tacit knowledge and to make it explicit.

teaching case: A case study, which may be fictional or non-fictional, which is deployed for the purposes of analysis and learning

teamwork: The cooperation and coordination that may occur between people in a shared endeavor. In virtual space, this may be a game goal.

third-person point of view: This point of view is written in the more objective and omniscient view of the following: he, she, they, and it.

time compression: This feature may collapse time into a much smaller unit. For example, weeks may past in a time lapse of a few minutes. Or the results of many choices may be run through a game or a simulation in minutes—but may represent interchanges that took days of simulated time.

Training: A learning or transitional period that often involves the acquisition of new skills, attitudes, understandings and / or ideas

training environment: A virtual or four-walls simulation of a workplace or working environment where trainees may practice their skills

transfer: The movement of learning and skills from a simulated environment into a live-action and real-world one

transference: The placing of emotions from one thing to another. In the creation of a digital avatar, for example, transference may occur in terms of the user’s identity to that of his / her digital self

trigger: Predefined and predictable moments when something irrevocable happens in a video game or simulation. This may be indicated by a transition of scenes, the achieving of a particular level of gameplay, or a major event. Triggers lead to higher powers oftentimes and new scenes, and these are seen as rewards for gamers.

tutorial system: A scripted computer system to provides one-on-one support to learners

ubiquitous: Omnipresent, everywhere at one time, usually in reference to learning available in every context through the use of wireless fidelity (wifi) connections and mobile devices

verisimilitude: The apparent accuracy and authenticity of a simulation. The higher the verisimilitude, the closer the simulation is to emulating the real world.

virtual coach: A pedagogical agent that exists in the online space. This “coach” facilitates the action and the learning. It may offer advice and other value-added feedback.

virtual lab: A simulation of a laboratory, often used in the hard sciences. These may include simulations of chemical processes, extractions, the effects of various forces on various materials, and other types of experiments.

virtual product: A commodity that exists in digital space.

virtual reality: The creating of an artificial reality using digital means. This often involves multi-sensory channels and multimedia.

visualization: The mental picturing of a particular scene or situation, in part dependent on the quality of the visual depictions

whiteboard interface: A digital drawing surface which may be used for the real-time exchange and archival of visual ideas.