Understanding Online Learning Terminology. Part I

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Like many other industries, e-learning has many terms and abbreviations that might seem unfamiliar or confusing at first. Now, in the time of remote studying, work from home and online training, it is more important than ever for both educators and learners to adjust to these changes quickly. Keeping up with online learning terminology is an integral part of this adjustment. Below, we provide the list of common terms and abbreviations related to online education and their definition:

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

VLE is a combination of all-in-one software solutions that facilitate online learning. It includes different types of digital media, like videos, chats, audio and podcasts. The software usually manages the administration of training, launching courses, registering students, tracking student progress and assessments. Users can virtually communicate with one another. Moodle, OLAT, and Blackboard are just some examples of VLEs. It can also be referred to as a learning management system (LMS) or a learning platform.

Learning Platform

It is a rather general term that refers to the technologies people use to build and conduct online learning. It usually includes the authoring software, the Learning Management System (LMS), or both.

Virtual Classroom

It is an online space where a live education or training environment is created and accessed through digital devices. Learners and instructors need to use the same virtual classroom software to communicate. Virtual classrooms can be downloaded as a desktop application or mobile app, or accessed online with cloud-based software.

24/7 Access

One of the main benefits of online learning is the ability to make the learning experience available anytime and anywhere from a different type of devices and operating systems. This is especially helpful for learners outside of the workday and when instructors and learners are in different time zones.

Blended Learning

This approach to learning combines face-to-face classroom experiences with online learning. Blended learning is also referred to as hybrid learning. This method combines the benefits of both traditional classroom learning and virtual learning and is often used for adult learners who are going back to college after having been in the workforce for some period of time. Read more about this approach here.

Educational Technology (EdTech)

EdTech involves the use of digital tools for the learning process and includes different domains, such as learning theory, computerized training, and online learning. These tools can include images, videos, audio recordings, e-books, charts, infographics, educational software and more.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

This is a web-based class, where students learn new information through video lectures and interact with the educators and other students in online forums. Some MOOCs use peer-reviewed papers as the grading criteria. MOOCs provide a flexible way to learn new skills, advance career, deliver quality educational experiences at scale and sometimes offer university credits towards your degree in your school.


A webinar is a seminar conducted over the Internet. They are usually conducted live, although sometimes made available as a recording. Webinars usually have facilitators and enable real-time participant debate in online chats. Instructors share the information with participants using diagrams, slides, audio and other multimedia content. Often instructors may answer participants’ questions in real time.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

BYOD is a policy whereby employees or trainees are allowed to bring and use their own mobile, tablet, or laptop device in a training or work setting. Nowadays, most LMSs are designed to be responsive and functional on any type of device and operating system making it easy for learners and admins to access their online training.

Web-based Training (WBT)

WBT refers to instruction where materials are delivered and communication happens mainly via the Internet. It utilizes cloud-based computing tools for access, administration, delivery and analytics. WBT can be sometimes referred to as virtual training, or distance learning.

Know of some more important terms that we haven’t yet explained here? Share with us in the comments.

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