L&D Glossary

180+ essential learning terms L&D professionals should know

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10,000 hour rule

An idea coined by the journalist Malcolm Gladwell that it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials. Gladwell's idea has attracted criticism from psychologists, although Gladwell contends that he doesn't suggest that practicing anything for 10,000 hours guarantees success. The idea relates to Anders Ericsson's research on high performance, which finds that 'deliberate practice', not genetic inheritance, is at the heart of why some people perform so well at certain tasks. Ericsson has also cautioned against the over-application of the '10,000' hour rule. 

5 moments of need

A model developed by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson focused on the moments a learner requires specific information to be able to perform assigned tasks more efficiently and effectively. These moments are key for learners to expand their knowledge and skills, and each of them should be seen as an opportunity for performance improvement and building upon learners’ strengths. Like several number-based models, the 5 moments of need model is not based on scientific research but on the professional experience of Mosher and Gottfredson. 


A model for organisational learning which holds that successful leaders gain 70% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events. The figures are sourced in the tabulation of data from a series of interviews with a small group of leaders run by the Centre for Creative Leadership in the 1980s. Participants were asked to describe the learning experiences that led to their success. The exact proportions have not been reproduced in academic research but defenders of the model point out that it is a valuable thinking tool for understanding the critical importance of on-the-job learning.




Active listening

A soft skill that requires you to pay full attention to a speaker and understand what they’re saying by asking open ended questions and reflecting on what is being said, before responding,

ADDIE model

One of the approaches used by content developers and instructional designers to create instructional course materials. ADDIE has five phases: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. Each phase may occur concurrently or sequentially.

Adult learning theory

A theory that focuses on exploring how adults learn. Understanding how adults learn is vital for creating successful training programmes. Instructors use the framework to design L&D programmes that meet the needs of professionals throughout their career journey.

Adaptive learning

Courses or platforms which personalise experiences to the learner’s role, knowledge, goals or behaviour using upfront questioning, assessments and behavioural data. Both branching logic and algorithmically generated syllabuses can be used to build adaptive learning.

AI (Artificial intelligence)

Also known as machine intelligence, enables machines, especially computer systems, to mimic the decision-making and problem-solving capabilities of the human mind. Applications of AI include natural language processing, machine vision and speech recognition. AI has been used in technology-enabled learning from its earliest stages. The latest iterations leverage deep learning techniques to generate course content like questions and summaries from the source material.

AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee)

An international association of technology-based training professionals which was founded in 1988 and existed until 2014. The AICC developed guidelines for the aviation industry and the worldwide training community, including the standard protocol for tracking the completion of digital learning modules which is the antecedent to SCORM. Although AICC is seen as obsolete in comparison to SCORM, it permits certain data transfers (like embedding a package in a different domain and sending completion data back to an original host) which are useful for some applications in corporate learning.

Agile learning

An approach to training and development that focuses on speed, flexibility and collaboration. It creates an enabling culture for employees to take responsibility for self development as well as the development of others.


A model of adult learning, including five assumptions about how adult learners differ from child learners, developed by Malcolm Knowles. Like so many educational models, the theory is particular to Knowles and shouldn't be mistaken for a generally accepted theory of adult learning and teaching.

API (Application Programming Interface)

A communications protocol that allows two pieces of software to send information, receive information and modify each other’s databases. SOAP, REST and GraphQL are all languages in which APIs can be built. The SCORM standard and its successor, xAPI, can both be seen as APIs. Single Sign On describes a specific set of APIs used to authenticate users moving between different systems.

AR (Augmented reality)

A method of learning design that overlays guidance and information over real world objects via a mobile app or goggles.

ATS (Applicant tracking system)

A software used by recruiters and employers to track candidates throughout the recruiting and hiring process.

Authoring tools

Applications and software used to facilitate the development of online learning by supporting the creation, edition, reviewing and testing of eLearning.




Big 5

A personality trait model (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism/emotional stability and openness to experience) grounded in large scale linguistic analysis. A scientific alternative to pseudoscientific personality models such as Myers-Briggs.

Biologically primary knowledge and skills

Knowledge and skills that we have evolved to learn. For instance, few people need instruction in learning to walk. Similarly, children just 'pick up' their native language. Although these skills can be honed in culturally specific ways, trial and error, imitation and discovery learning suffice for any individual to learn them. Our ability to store information related to biologically primary knowledge domains in the short term memory has no limits in terms of cognitive load.

Biologically secondary knowledge and skills

Knowledge and skills that allows us to do things that are culturally-specific and which require instruction and effortful learning in some form, whether formal or informal. These skills did not evolve in human prehistory but developed as a part of human culture. All forms of technology, art, and cultural practice are biologically secondary. For instance, writing was only invented a few thousand years ago. Accordingly, mass literacy did not emerge until the advent of mass education during the industrial revolution. Our ability to store information related to biologically secondary knowledge domains in working memory is quite limited and the transfer of this information to long term memory and habit requires deliberate practice. The concept does not necessarily account for connections between ideas and cultural memes which develop and spread implicitly, without any intentional instructional process behind them.

Bloom’s taxonomy

A classification system that defines and distinguishes between learning objectives. It covers the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. Each types of learning is split into hierarchical levels of achievement. The model was devised by a committee of educationalists led by Benjamin Bloom. Clark Quinn has described the model as not well structured - no single hierarchical structure could apply to all types of learning outcomes.

Blended learning

A type of learning that combines contact learning in the classroom or with coaches with eLearning, curated resources, independent exploration and practice.

Body language

A type of communication using physical behaviour, expressions, and mannerisms to express or convey the information. It is often done instinctively rather than consciously.


The basic form of personalisation in a chat sequence, course or pathway where the user’s journey can take different routes through a pre-mapped logic tree.

Build or buy

Different strategies to set up learning platforms and content systems. Custom build strategies cost more upfront but incur little or no license fees. Buy strategies are faster to implement, cost much more on an annual basis and are tied to vendor roadmaps.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

A practice allowing learners to bring their mobile devices to the training environment. This includes any form of technology (smartphones, laptops, tablets) that will help the learner access the training content.





The orchestration of people, competencies and processes to achieve performance outcomes for an individual, team or organisation.

Capability academy

A platform, usually focused on a small number of skills, which combines skill assessments, learning pathways, cohort-based social learning features, a community of practice and a curated resource bank.

Career pathing

A talent development process involving a supervisor(s) working with an employee to lay out their potential trajectory through the organisation. It involves defining goals and identifying the skills and experience an employee must gain to achieve them.


A form of AI trained with different datasets and supported by branching logic to help HR and learning teams answer common questions. Chatbots are also widespread in consumer customer service.


A process that enables learning and development to occur and allows performance to improve. It involves an experienced person, a coach, who trains and guides a learner in achieving a specific goal.

Cohort learning

A collaborative learning style common for in-person, classroom settings. It involves a group of individuals who assemble to learn and advance through an educational program together.

Cognitive psychology

The study of the way we take in information from the outside world and how we make sense of that information. Cognitive psychologists try to build up cognitive models of the information processing that goes on inside people’s minds, including memory and thinking. These insights are often generalisable and applicable to learning design.

Collaborative learning strategy

A strategy that involves transitioning from an individual mindset to a team mindset. It aims to develop teams, not just individuals. It requires a team-centric model across the organisation.

Community of practice

A group of people with a common interest who engage in a process of collective learning by sharing their knowledge and improving their practice.


The collection of knowledge, skills, behaviours or attributes required by individuals and teams to perform a task.

Competency model

The group of competencies necessary to perform the tasks that belong to a role or set of roles.

Computer-based training (CBT)

Legacy terminology for interactive digital learning (or e-learning).

Compliance training

A type of training that involves courses that must be completed by specified roles at certain times to comply with government regulations. Examples include health and safety courses and training on financial regulations.

Content Chaos

Content Chaos is the unmitigated growth and poor management of learning content. In a digitised world, it is draining L&D’s budget, undermining its reputation and clogging its systems. 

Content curation

The process of finding, selecting, organising and adding new context to existing resources. Curation enables L&D to support job performance and skill development without building new learning content.


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Content tag

A phrase or term assigned to a piece of content in order to relate it to other types of content that are similarly tagged in a system.

Content Intelligence

In L&D, a content intelligence solution analyses content libraries assessing the content’s relevance to skills, benchmarking against other libraries as well as free resources, and then ranking the content by degree of relevance, thereby providing concrete data to support informed decision-making. Content Intelligence allows large organisations to get the most of their L&D spend by understanding how people, skills and content interrelate.

Content library

See ‘Learning content libraries’.

Curiosity, creativity, critical thinking

Examples of what are seen as key ‘21st-century skill’ to navigate a volatile and rapidly changing (or VUCA) world. In practice, they are difficult to pin down as a generic skills since they are linked to domain specific knowledge.

Cross skilling

Training employees to perform multiple roles so that the organisation is more adaptable to changes in the supply and demand of talent.


A comma-separated values file that translates easily into a simple view of data in an Excel spreadsheet. CSVs are used frequently to export data from one learning system and import it into another.

Custom content

Proprietary training material which is built internally or by third party agencies and applies in organisational settings.




Data fluency and literacy

Ways of describing the skill of being able to work with concepts to do with mathematical data (such as statistical significance) to understand proposals and make decisions.

Discovery learning

Learning knowledge and skills from direct experience with minimal guidance which is driven by trial-and-error. In a myth popularised by controversial educationalists such as Ken Robinson, discovery learning is often incorrectly seen as a more effective way to learn based on the observation of young children acquiring biologically primary skills such as movement and language. In fact, guided learning with an element of formal instruction outperforms discovery learning in all settings and is the only way that biologically secondary knowledge and skills can be acquired.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

A term used to describe programs and policies that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals. This includes people of different ages, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities and disabilities, genders, cultures and religions. DEI is vital to create and maintain a successful workforce.

Deliberate practice

A term coined by the psychologist Anders Ericsson to describe how individuals reach high performance in a given skill. The essence of deliberate practice is the formation of a mental model of the skill in action and the comparison of real performance against this model. Deliberate practice, not genetic inheritance, lies behind all great talents. Although deliberate practice is most effective when begun in early childhood, Ericsson shows how any individual can apply deliberate practice to gain mastery of a skill at any point in life.

Design thinking

A process that solves problems within every function. Five principles of design thinking are particularly relevant to the employee experience - reducing friction, embracing iterative problem solving, using genuine empathy, responding to a user’s needs and having a tolerance for failure.

Digital learning

Also knowns as e-Learning or online learning, includes anything that embraces learning through technology, such as websites, ebooks, social media and online communities, online lectures, webinars, podcasts and microblogging. It is a viable way of training and developing people in organisations.

Double loop learning

An educational concept created by Chris Argyris in the mid-1980s and later turned into an effective organisational tool. It entails the modification of decision-making rules and goals because of experience. It’s a double loop because the first loop uses the decision-making rules or goals while the second loop enables their modification.




eLearning / e-Learning / ELearning

The catch-all term for interactive digital learning content which for most of its history consisted of slide-based sequences of images, text, video and interactive such as questions or click-and-drag interactions. The media is rooted in the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (or SCORM) standard developed by the US military around the period of the First Gulf War (1991) in order to standardise computer-based training delivery across its global operations. In the past 10 years, modern elearning has evolved into something resembling multi-device optimised microsites and has moved beyond the SCORM standard. Nevertheless, slide-based SCORM packages are still widely found inside organisations.

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Employee experience (EX)

Everything a worker experiences through their journey in a particular company. It involves all the things they learn, do, see and feel at each stage of the employee lifecycle. The employee lifecycle consists of five stages - recruitment, onboarding, development, retention and exit.

Employee engagement

The emotional commitment the employee feels towards their work, teams and organisation. Employee engagement measures how employee feel about their organisation using four main groups - highly engaged, moderately engaged, barely engaged, and disengaged.

Experiential learning

The process of gaining knowledge and skills through personal, hands-on or on-the-job experience. Although all content must also be experienced, and all forms of experience constitute a form of content, generally L&D distinguishes experiential learning from learning from pre-recorded material.

Extended enterprise

The ability of a platform to serve different content and permissions to users outside of the organisation whilst remaining linked to a ‘mother-ship’ instance.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

Systems like Oracle and SAP designed to record and analyse the movement of resources in an organisation. The first generation of corporate learning management systems were folded into these large ERP systems.




Fixed mindset

In a fixed mindset, individuals believe qualities, such as talent or intelligence, are fixed traits. They spend time documenting their attributes rather than developing them, and believe that talent alone is enough for success. A fixed mindset is contrasted with a growth mindset and seen as a blocker on individual, team and organisational performance.

Flipped curation

A more efficient way to get to higher impact learning design. Instead of accepting SME time as a bottleneck, flipped curation puts technology-enabled curation at the front of the design process. It leads to impactful learning pathways that contextualise the best content in the world to effectively support your organisation’s learning needs.

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Flipped classroom

A type of blended learning focused on increasing learner engagement. The students are first introduced to content in an online form, outside of class and practice through it at school.

Formal learning

A type of structured training that takes place in a planned setting (e.g. in a classroom or online). It involves experienced trainers, mentors, and instructors who share their knowledge with learners. Creating formal employee training programs is becoming more and more common within organisations overall and the remains the default approach to developing skills, even as large enterprises increasingly prioritise more personalised and agile forms of informal learning.

Four stages of competence

A learning model that consists of four stages. The first stage is unconscious competence. Here the learner is unaware that a skill or knowledge gap exists. The second stage is conscious incompetence. In this stage, the person doesn’t know or understand how to do something but they recognise the deficit and the value of a new skill that addresses it. The next stage of the model is conscious competence. In this stage, the individual knows or understands how to do something. However, they need to concentrate to demonstrate their knowledge or skill. The final stage is unconscious competence. Here the new skill has become “second nature” to the individual after they have spent a long time practicing. As a result, the skills is performed with ease and it can be performed while executing other tasks.





The process of adding game designs into non-game environments such as websites, online communities, learning management systems and more. In learning, gamification is used to make training scenarios more entertaining and encourage higher levels of engagement with a course or platform.

Generation X

People born between 1965 and 1980, although there might be slight range variations in different definitions. Generation X is also called the “middle child” generation as they follow the baby boomer generation and precede Millennials.

Generation Y

People born between 1981 and 1994/6, also known as Millennials. They follow Generation X and precede Generation Z.

Generation Z

People born between 1997 and 2010. Generation Z is also known as zoomers. They succeed Millennials and precede Generation Alpha.

Graphical user interface (GUI)

A form of user interface allowing users to interact with software programmes through graphic-based components such as menus, symbols and visual icons (as opposed to a purely text-based system known as a command-line interface).

Goal orientation

The development of behaviour and attitudes which are oriented at achieving performance outcomes (such as project or commercial successes) rather than conforming only to minimum expectations, is a key theme in organisational talent development. All lifeforms, no matter how simple, appear to exhibit goal orientation in their behaviour, although scientists do not agree on whether this owes to genetic coding, conscious agency or some mixture of the two.

Growth mindset

If they have a growth mindset, individuals believe that they can develop their abilities with dedication, practice and hard work. A growth mindset is a distinguishing characteristic of individuals who are willing to take risks and fail in pursuit of their ambitions. The concept has become controversial for the associated claim that growth mindset is a general capability that enables people and organisations to overcome almost any challenge and its promotion as a generic skill. In fact the originator of the term, Carol Dweck, herself points out that a growth mindset does not necessarily transfer between domains.




Human Capital Management (HCM)

A term used to describe end-to-end HR systems such as Workday and SuccessFactors which provide administrative management of talent acquisition, talent development, talent management and succession planning. Integration with HCM systems and processes is often a key requirement for L&D systems.

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Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

Software that manages human resources systems and processes, such as training, payroll, recruitment, induction, benefits, and attendance. Most L&D data must ultimately be recorded in a HRIS.

Human-centered design

An approach used in design, management, and engineering frameworks to develop solutions by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process.

Human-centered leadership

Leadership that puts people first. Human-centered leaders create nurturing work environments that leave room for learning, understanding, and our needs as human beings.

Human resources (HR)

In an organisation, HR is the department in charge of all employees and employee-related operations. This department is responsible for managing the employee lifecycle and administering employee benefits. Often HR is involved in the training and development of its workers, who are considered some of the company's most important resources.

Hybrid working

A flexible time of working that allows employees to split their time between office and remote working.




Informal learning

A type of learning that happens away from a structured, formal classroom environment; and learners set their own goals and objectives. Informal learning takes many forms, from self-study and participating in forums to watching videos and listening to coaching sessions.


Summary documents which combine imagery and words often used as portable supporting resources in digital learning experiences.

Interactive PDFs

Clickable documents, sometimes containing questions or videos, which are a means of delivering interactive learning via email instead of hosting it in learning management systems.

Internet of things (IoT)

Communication between people, software and physical objects to automate process in the home and in industries such as manufacturing and logistics. Leveraging IoT is a key theme in skill development programmes and itself a medium for instructional delivery.

Instructional design

The creation of learning materials and experiences that help the acquisition and application of skills and knowledge. The term can also be referred to as an instructional system design (ISD), a system that assesses needs, designs processes and materials, and evaluates their effectiveness. ISD can help organisations create a practical and systematic process for designing effective curricula.

Instructor-led training (ILT)

A type of training facilitated by an instructor(s) for an individual or a group of learners. ILT can be conducted in person (in a training room, office, classroom etc) or online. Skills and materials are taught through lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and presentations. Instructor-led training is extremely beneficial when the material is new or complex.

Inquiry-based learning

Learning through involvement, participation, and inquiry. As opposed to learning methods like memorization, inquiry based learning is more active and often involves problem-solving, experience, or research.




Job aids

Tools, instructions, or devices aimed at reducing mistakes at work by providing information on how to perform a work-related task. Job aids can include one-pagers, cheat sheets, print-outs, performance support materials, and more.

Job architectures

Taxonomies of roles, competencies, skills and tasks seen as the critical enabler of coherent skill development and talent management processes.

Job analysis

Breaking down roles into tasks, competencies and skills to enable the development of training programmes and performance-support resources.




Kirkpatrick’s Learning Evaluation Model

A globally recognised model used to evaluate the results of learning and training programmes used for both formal and informal training methods. The model uses four criteria levels - reaction, learning, behaviour and results.


Information, concepts, facts and mental models which are often distinguished from skills on the basis that whereas knowledge of a role, subject, discipline or domain is a prerequisite to the performance of work in that area, it is not sufficient. Content-driven learning solutions are often forced to rely on knowledge as an index for skills, which make other forms of measurement and evaluation necessary. The role of knowledge - and of content in general - in skill development, has been criticised in recent years by those who assert that ‘content consumption is not learning’. In fact, performing a skill is not possible without acquiring the knowledge of how that skill should be performed in order to form a mental model.

Knowledge management

The practice of storing, categorising and surfacing organisational knowledge to support business outcomes. In the past 10 years, with the explosion of digital content created in collaboration systems and software, the question of knowledge management has returned with fresh urgency. Large players like Slack and Microsoft focus on this challenge as well as start-up businesses like Guru and Notion. Knowledge management overlaps with the learning experience system category and is explicitly recognised as a goal for some learning systems, such as Fuse Universal.




Leadership development

A set of activities that prepare leaders (current and future) to effectively perform their roles. Leadership development enables employees to improve their skills in areas such as strategy, decision making and project management.

Learning asset

Any digital resource or currently available classroom or virtual event which a) has its own URL and content metadata and b) is suitable for consumption as a standalone experience, rather than a unit which must be completed in a series of other units (see ‘Learning object’ below).

Learning content management system (LCMS)

A type of software designed to host and manage learning content and publish it to multiple portals. Although modern learning platforms tend to integrate authoring, LCMS and LMS functionality, the single-source publishing feature of an LCSM distinguishes it from content management in most other learning systems.

Learning content libraries

Catalogues of digital content (courses, video, books, articles or podcasts) provided by vendors which either seek to tackle all business skills or focus on a specific area. The supremacy of purpose-built learning content libraries has been challenged in recent years by new entrants which are proven with consumer audiences, in professional publishing settings or in higher education.

Learning culture

A wide-ranging term that might best be defined as the habitual behaviours in an organisation relating to training, skill development, knowledge sharing and innovation. Learning cultures can be categorised according to maturity (in the four stage model produced by Josh Bersin Associates, for example) or simply by type. A compliance-driven learning culture is likely to emerge in safety-critical industries like offshore platforms and healthcare, where failure in critical projects is not acceptable and as a result, relatively inflexible modes and expectations of learning evolve. At the other extreme, start-ups and knowledge-driven businesses aspire to a continuous learning culture, in which it is safe to fail and employees engage in continuous informal and self-led learning in pursuit of higher performance. Because an open and continuous learning culture is a key enabler for innovation (and collaboration in general), when Chief Learning Officers pursue a ‘learning culture’ they have this definition in mind.

Learning & Development (L&D)

A specialised HR function that focuses on creating the right culture and environment for individuals and organisations to learn and grow. L&D reduces turnover by improving employees’ skills, knowledge and competencies while increasing productivity and job satisfaction.


Learning design

A framework that supports learning experiences. It involves decisions about the content, structure, timing, learning activities and strategies, as well as the technology used to support learning.

Learning ecosystem

A system that delivers learning experiences set by the organisation by providing an environment for people to interact with content, technologies, and data. It can be broad and organisation-agnostic, open, and accessible to anyone. Learning ecosystems can be seen as combining the technologies that specifically support intentional learning (HCM/HRIS, LMS, LXP, content libraries and talent marketplaces) or encompass the much broader range of publishing and communications technology inside and outside an organisation.

Learning experience platform (LXP)

A consumer-grade, skill-driven learning platform in which the user chooses their own learning pathway from a diverse array of personalised content. LXPs must include the ability for administrators to curate pathways from external resources and integrate large content libraries. LXPs also often include features to support user-generated content like publishing tools and forums. Because learning can happen in so many ways, it is possible to find almost any feature of a website or app in certain LXPs. Some LXPs also extend beyond content management into feature-sets traditionally seem as part of career pathing, talent management and performance management systems. Others extend the user-generated element into featuresets that resemble fully-fledged knowledge management systems, including features like Q&A and search.

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Learning management system (LMS)

A system through which administrators can assign and track highly structured training content. The LMS evolved separately in corporate and higher education settings, each with their own functionality requirements. Initially, the LMS was a platform to manage resources involved in supporting classroom training sessions but its focus has gradually moved into managing digital learning. The LMS is often a closed system which doesn’t integrate easily. The most basic function of a modern corporate LMS is the ability to host and report on SCORM or xAPI learning packages. In recent years, the explosion of digital learning has led to the emergence of much more open course publishing and management systems that also resemble an LMS. Widespread open source products like Wordpress can also mimic many aspects of a learning management system. These new entrants often do not support the specialist hosting requirements of SCORM. Like the LXP market, the LMS market is extremely diverse. Generally the distinction between an LMS and an LXP is that whereas the concept of a course lies at the heart of an LMS, an LXP is organised around the concept of skills.

Learning object

A term often used in learning management systems to describe courses and resources. Usually a learning object will have its own URL and metadata, but sometimes these objects are inaccessible via a unique URL because they are included in larger learning objects.

Learning pathway

A learner’s route through a range of digital learning activities, which allows them to build knowledge progressively. Learning pathways can be defined by learning platforms.

Learning technologies

A term used to describe software like authoring tools, learning management systems, learning experience platforms and virtual classrooms which are built explicitly to support organisational learning. In fact, almost any digital or physical publishing or communications platform can be seen as a learning technology. This is recognised in Jane Hart’s annually published list of ‘Top Tools for Learning’ which regularly features technology like YouTube and Google at the top of the list.




Managed learning services (MLS)

A framework agreements that allow large components of an organisational L&D department to be delivered by a third-party contractor. MLS agreements often include the procurement of in-person / virtual training and content development, for example.

Massive open online course (MOOC)

A model for delivering free online learning content available to anyone who wants to take a course. MOOCs don’t have a limit on attendance and provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills.


The practice of forming relationships between more and less experienced people in a certain domain or, more recently, simple those with different skillsets (to promote diversity of thought). Specific technologies are available to match mentees with potential mentors.


The valued ability to think about your own mental processes and improve them. On a personal level, metacognition enables reflective practice and personal improvement. On an organisational level, metacognition enables teams to develop feedback loops that lead to continuous improvement.


The practice of awarding digital certifications (sometimes known as ‘badges’) for achievements that are not formally certified by traditional educational institutions and training organisations, enabled by supporting technologies that allow awardees to share the achievement on social media platforms and take it with them in the form of a permanent record that persists between job roles.


A type of learning that delivers short bursts of content for learners. It can take different forms, from text to interactive multimedia and it’s usually no longer than five minutes in length. Microlearning is great for exercising agile learning.

Modern learning platform

A term to describe products which combine elements of a learning management system (they manage courses, host content and track training completion) and learning experience platform (they allow the curation of pathways from external resources, integrate large content libraries and include social features). Modern learning platforms provide an alternative to a learning ecosystem or techstack.

Multimodal learning

Using different delivery methods and media to deliver a learning programme. The goal of multimodal learning is to reinforce the knowledge-transfer process by repeating content in different contexts and to make the learning accessible to learners in different contexts (for example, those who work remotely or in-person, those who have mobile devices vs laptop computers).





The concept that we all experience and interact with the world around us in many different way and that there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving. Recently, neurodiversity has been linked to higher organisational performance and L&D programmes are increasingly aimed at recognising or fostering neurodiversity.

Neuroscience (in learning design)

A popular theme in L&D and everyday life which centres on the idea that we can apply the insights yielded by neuroscience to design ‘brain-friendly’ training and train our brains to learn better. The claims of applicability of neuro-scientific research to learning design are often exaggerated (extending brain phenomena observed in specific situations to general theories, for example) and studies have shown that brain-training apps do not product generalisable improvements in cognitive performance. Cognitive psychology is a good alternative.

New skilling

The continuous development of in-demand skills to ensure an organisation is well equipped to compete in the face of emerging technologies and business models.

Nuanced skills

Skills which are defined in reference to specific domains, contexts and organisations. For example, authentic leadership in people operations at ACME, as opposed to authentic leadership. Nuanced skills are important to meaningful skill development because any skill must always be applied in a particular domain and the evidence of the transfer of any skill which is not biologically primary (such as speaking, thinking, moving) between domains is not clear.

Nudge theory

A concept in behavioural sciences proposing indirect suggestions and positive reinforcement as ways to influence the behavior and decision-making of groups or individuals. Nudge theory is often used by government departments and businesses to subtly lead people into the ‘right’ decision.





The process new employees go through in order to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to become effective members of an organisation.

Off-the-shelf content 

Ready-made training materials produced by external providers which are acquired by organisations in order to deliver training. This content tends to be generic and unspecific, for example, compliance training is often delivered in the form of off-the-shelf content.

On-demand learning

A learning strategy that allows employees access to real time knowledge, at a time, place and pace of their choosing.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

A collaborative goal-setting methodology used by teams and individuals to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results.

Organisational culture

The underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation. According to the Competing Values Framework, there are four types of organisational culture - Clan culture, Adhocracy culture, Market culture and Hierarchy culture.

Organisation effectiveness

The concept used by organisations to measure their effectiveness in reaching intended outcomes and goals. Organisational effectiveness is usually measured by comparing net profit with desired profit. Growth data, customer satisfaction surveys etc are other measures of effectiveness.

Organisational psychology

The scientific study of organisational structure and the ways in which employees interact, think and behave at work.

Open resources

Educational content released in the public domain under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

Open source software

A type of software released under a license which grants users the right to freely use, study, redistribute and modify the original source code.





The science, art or profession of teaching and education.

Performance management

A process intended to improve individual and organisational performance. Performance management philosophy addresses how people should be managed to achieve the performance that the organisation needs to succeed.

Performance support

A training needs analysis and learning design methodology, resting on the theory of the 5 moments of learning need, which seeks to develop useful resources and place them at the moments of work when they are most needed.

Personal learning network (PLN)

A type of informal learning network that consists of the learner’s preferred people, digital devices and information sources with which they interact and use for deriving knowledge.


The action of tailoring a product or a service to accommodate someone’s individual requirements.

People analytics

A data-driven method linked to adding business value that focuses on studying all people processes, functions, challenges, and opportunities at work to elevate these systems and achieve sustainable business success.

Power skills

A type of skills that focus on our mindset. They’re less-defined skills such as strategic thinking, leadership, productivity, personal development, listening, and communication.

Psychological safety

The ability to show and employe oneself without fear of negative consequences of status, carrier or self-image. Psychologically safe teams characterise with team members feeling respected and accepted.


Any processes, tasks or materials that a new hire is expected to complete before day one on the job. Preboarding creates a baseline of knowledge for new hires and is used by organisations to save money and time.


A test taken by training participants before the start of the instruction. Pretests help determine class knowledge, set prerequisite skills or weed out participants for which the class might be too difficult.

Problem-based learning

A student-centered pedagogy which uses open-ended problems from trigger material to teach students about a particular subject.




Question bank

A set of questions that can be used repeatedly. Question banks are typically used by instructors to create a database of questions that can be reused in multiple assessments.

Question distribution engines

Short assessments that often allow learners to test their knowledge without repeating information they already know.




Rapid development

Tools and practices that reduce the development of learning content from weeks or hours to minutes.

Remote learning

Also known as remote training, distance education and virtual instruction; occurs when the trainer and learner are separated by distance rather than in a traditional classroom setting. Technology such as video conference, email and discussion boards is used to transmit the information so that physical presence is not required.

Remote working

A flexible working arrangement allowing employees to do their jobs from a location other than a central office operated by the employer.


A process of leaning new skills needed to do an entirely different role. Reskilling is a lateral learning experience aimed at people with ‘adjacent skills’, that are close to the new skills a company requires.




Self-directed learning

A type of training in which the learner manages their own training, from timing to content and delivery.

Sentiment analysis

The process of determining whether the emotional tone of a piece of writing is neutral, positive or negative.

Serious games

Games that are not developed solely for fun but are intended for learning, educational or product promotion purposes.

Single loop learning

A type of learning that focuses on doing things right. Adjustments are made to correct problems or mistakes. Although causality might be observed, typically, it isn’t addressed. $


The ability to do something, or to perform a task or activity well, especially because that activity has been practiced. There is no agreed definition of what should be seen as a skill in different settings. The term can be applied to categories which resemble personal traits (openness, resilience), domain-specific functional abilities which are seen as more easily transferable (handling a forklift truck, spreadsheeting) or to behaviours and practices that play out across any functional domain (radical candour, reflective practice). Skills are as diverse and nuanced as human culture (and, indeed, animals can also learn and teach skills). As the ability to do something (say, selling), a skill can easily be broken down into many subcategories (say, presenting, creating value hypotheses, designing solutions, handling negotiations and account planning). At the most granular level, no individual’s mental model or practice or knowledge of a skill exactly coincides with another’s.

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Skills framework

A shared definition used to describe what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to people’s roles and skills. Skills frameworks help fix product-at-scale team issues when used for systems such as job descriptions, skills development, goal setting, hiring and more. Depending on their audience, skill frameworks often ‘zoom in’ on areas of particular focus (breaking selling down into solution design, account planning and so on) or zoom out by rolling up several skills into one (aggregating hypothesis design, statistics and data visualisation into ‘making decisions with data’ for example). Skill frameworks may also include forms of levelling (from beginner to expert) that are intended to be common across multiple skills. Skill frameworks can be complex or simple and large or small.

Skills intelligence

A market category referring to systems that infer skill prevalence and levels using individual user engagement and large datasets. Skills intelligence systems provide organisations with an alternative lens on skill development to the traditional approach of developing a theoretical taxonomy.

Skills gap

The mismatch between the skills required by an employer and the skills employees actually possess.

Skills palette

The way Filtered describes its own taxonomy of defined skills because, unlike a fixed taxonomy or framework, the palette is non-hierarchical and can easily be mixed to produce nuanced skills appropriate to organisational needs.

Skills taxonomy

A structured list of skills defined by an organisation and used to measure the supply and demand of skills. Skills are classified into groups and clusters.

Social learning

A type of online learning that takes place in a social setting, most recently via social learning platforms or social media, in which users can communicate, collaborate, and interact about the learning topic.

Soft skills

Also known as interpersonal skills, refer to someone’s behavioural competencies such as language, communication and social skills, personality traits etc. which characterise the way they form relationships and interact with others. Hard skills supplement soft skills.

Subject matter expert (SME)

An individual who has specialised knowledge in a particular area, topic, process, technology etc. SMEs are sought out to solve specific problems and challenges. They can be an employee or a third-party contractor.

Steering committee

A group of key players in an organisation tasked with providing strategic guidance and project oversight without being directly involved in the day-to-day execution.


Written script and description of graphics and interactions in an eLearning course.

Structured learning

Courses or learning programmes that employ instructional methodologies. Structured courses, formal learning, and curriculums are other terms for structured courses.

Succession planning

The process of identifying crucial positions within your organisation and developing action plans for employees to assume these positions. This is done to ensure a pipeline of effective leaders throughout the business, who are prepared to take the positions after current leaders leave or retire.

Synchronous learning

A type of real-time interactive online learning. Remote labs, delivery platforms and distance learning technologies are used by the learners and instructors to interact.

Systems thinking

A holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the process, understanding or philosophy of how constituent parts interact within a system. In 1994, Peter Senge’s book on learning organisations popularised the concept within the training industry. The book mentions systems thinking as one of five disciplines of a learning organisation.




Tacit knowledge

A type of knowledge gained through lived experience in your personal and professional life. Tacit knowledge is difficult to share or express, and is often subjective and informal due to its inherent, social context.

Talent intelligence

A process allowing companies to gain a competitive edge by collecting and analysing external data regarding their competitors’ talent pool, jobs, skills, and functions. The term now also refers to a category of smart recruitment and internal mobility software (also known as 'Talent Marketplaces') which use skills taxonomies, natural language process and recommendation engines to optimise job applications and match people with roles or projects within organisations.

Talent management system

A system used by mid- and large organisations that enables HR departments to track and manage the recruitment, development and performance of employees and candidates.

Task analysis

I. e.  job task analysis, is the examination and description of the steps involved in the completion of a job or a task. It can include elements such as duration, speed, mental activity and more. Task analysis is critical to conduct a needs assessment.


The technique or science of classification. It also refers to the division of thoughts, topics and objects into categories or systems that include descriptions for each entry.

Team alignment

The process of achieving a common understanding by which individual team members and cross-functional teams collaborate and communicate in order to deliver specific organisational objectives and goals.

Tin Can API

Early name for what is now referred to as the Experience API or xAPI (see ‘Experience API).

Training program

An activity or series of activities to boost productivity, skills, performance, and knowledge. Training programs are associated most often with pre-structured sequences of activities but they may also include unstructured experiments, social gatherings and ‘real-world’ tasks.

Training needs analysis

A type of analysis used to design useful learning or measure its effectiveness which follows a three-levelled process: 1) organisational analysis, 2) job-task analysis, and finally 3) person analysis.





The method of learning new skills or teaching employees new skills. A culture of upskilling is a culture that focuses on closing talent gaps by teaching workers new skills.

User experience (UX)

The way a user experiences and interacts with a system, service or product. This includes their perception of usability and efficiency. In order to provide a seamless and efficient training experience, learning technologies use a graphical user interface (GUI) which has a positive impact on the UX.




Video content management system (Video CMS)

An online learning system that allows organisations to centralise, manage and deliver video content.

Virtual classroom

A digital learning environment that allows instructors and students to interact with each other and engage in learning. Virtual classrooms have features that other learning environments might not have such as instructors being able to display learning materials, polls and quizzes, recording the session etc.

Virtual internship

A work experience programme that allows interns to gain work experience whilst working remotely rather than being physically present at the organisation’s office.

Virtual training system

A virtual learning system that uses live workshops to provide training to workers via an online platform.

Virtual reality (VR) for learning

An enhanced type of learning allowing students to interact and experience their lessons in different ways. Students are able to see what they are learning instead of just reading about it, hence, understanding complex topics much easier.

VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity)

An acronym used to describe the world at large and, more specifically, to describe situations and external conditions at the workplace that make decision-making difficult. VUCA means that we don’t expect conditions external to the organisation to remain the same. It is used by organisations as an underlying principle to guide leadership, make plans on approaching difficult situations and conditions, and the ways to respond to them.




Web 2.0

The generation of web with websites beyond static HTML web pages. The emphasis is on cloud computing, content generated by users and social networking. In training, Web 2.0 is associated with dynamic learning portals with a focus on users being able to collaborate and share information.

Web 3.0

Originally called the Semantic Web, Web 3.0 is the upcoming third generation of the World Wide Web where website and applications will be able to process information in a smart human-like way. Technologies such as machine learning, Big Data, decentralised ledger technology (DLT) etc will be aimed at creating a more intelligent, autonomous and open internet space.

Web-based training

A type of training done via a web-based or online environment. Virtual training or distance learning are other names used for this type of training. It uses cloud-based tools for administration, access, analytics etc. Web-based training can be either live or on demand.


An online space (website or database) developed collaboratively by a community of users which goal is to provide unbiased content. Users are allowed to add, edit and remove content. In large wikis, moderators are necessary to monitor and improve content for clarity and accuracy.

Workplace learning

The process of acquiring knowledge and skills in the workplace. This can happen formally and informally.


xAPI (Experience API )

A JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)-based reporting API which can capture any kind of learning event (as opposed to the progress, completing and score tracking possible with SCORM). The API uses a flexible structure based on events which are statements which the following components: [actor], [verb], [object] [context]. For example: [David] [shared] [article] [with URL, https://hbr.org/2015/07/how-to-manage-a-team-of-b-players].




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