February 27, 2018

One of the first lessons I had to learn when I became an eLearning coordinator was the lingo. As teachers, we know all about abbreviations that nobody understands, CAPS and IQMS and then I am not even talking about learning outcomes and assessments. I would sit in these meetings, and people would throw these words around, and I would have no idea what they are talking about.
So I decided to put together a cheat sheet for you with some of the most commonly used eLearning terms.

eLearning

eLearning is part of the new dynamic that characterises education systems at the start of the 21st century. It describes the intersection between teaching and technology and includes anything where technology is used to enhance learning. You can define eLearning as information and communication technologies used to support learners to improve their learning and to mediate both synchronous and asynchronous learning and teaching activities.
Like society, the concept of eLearning is subject to constant change. However, eLearning should not be confused with the idea of a virtual campus or online courses, these are part of the eLearning universe, but they do not define it.

Blended Learning

Blended learning is a specific way of applying eLearning, by using technology to blend the best of face-to-face teaching with the best of distance learning. Contact time gets enhanced by online discussions, activities, and videos. This model has been applied very successfully by universities and other tertiary institutions. It is important to remember that in high school contact time is more than independent learning. Approximately 75% of learning time is spent in the classroom and only 25% at home. (In primary school it should be closer to 90-10%) So while Blended Learning can be successful in a school environment, it would look significantly different from what is working at a university.

Learning Management System (LMS)

An online platform that allows teachers to share resources and activities with learners. A LMS can be as simple as a website that the teacher use as a resource repository to an more interactive platform that focus on learner interaction like Google Classroom, to something that is only used for learners to turn work in, like Dashboard365 or TurnIt-In (although TurnIt-In’s focus is more on plagiarism than learner management).

Devices

Personal device is a collective term that includes phones, tablets and laptops. The lines between phones, tablets and laptops are in any case so blurred that when it comes to the classroom it doesn’t really matter what type of device learners has.

MOOC’s

Massive Open Online Courses – The internet has changed the way learning happens. It is no longer limited to the people who have the means and time to get into a specific university. Everybody who has access to the internet now also has access to a wide variety of courses – FOR FREE. Most of the prominent universities all over the world has made some (or even all) of their classes available as MOOC’s. My favourite place for MOOC’s is Coursera for more academic courses and Udemy for more practical things.

4C’s

When it comes to eLearning one of the aims are to teach learners 21st-century skills. The most important of these are known as the 4 C’s

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Hyperdocs

Hyperdocs is both a tool for self-paced teaching and a pedagogical tool. It is based on a Google Doc, Slides or even a Google Site filled with activities and curated links, hence the name Hyperdoc, a combination of hyperlink and document.
While Hyperdocs can merely consist of some links to websites or even other Google Docs with notes, that learners can work through, it would usually consist of 5 phases:

  • Engage
  • Explore
  • Explain
  • Apply
  • Extend

Apps

Apps are small little programmes that run on your phone or tablet. Unlike computer programmes that generally have multiple functions, apps are created with one purpose in mind. However, the distinction between an app and a computer program is getting more and more blurry by the day.

Chrome Extensions

Chrome is fantastic by itself, but there are some features you can add to make it even better. These features are called Extensions. They usually are not created by Google themselves, but by third-party developers. When you add an Extension to Chrome, you will see a little icon gets added to your address bar. If you click on the icon, it will launch the Extension. The best is that when you log in on a different computer, you will find all your usual Extensions already there.

Just be warned, while I can not live without some extensions they do end up slowing Chrome down, so you do not want to activate every extension you read about.

Freemium

Lots of apps give you basic functionality for free, but you have to pay if you want the whole set of functions. Quite often the free features are more than enough to meet teachers needs. The word is a combination of “free” and “premium.”

Screencasts

Screencasting is creating a short video clip of your computer screen. This is very handy to show learners how to do something on the computer or add a brief explanation to some notes. But it can also be used very successfully to allow learners to make their learning visual.

Screencastify is a freemium Chrome extension that is very easy to use for screencasts.

Coding

Using a programming language to write a set of instructions that a computer can follow. Coding is considered one of the top 10 skills that employers look for. Also known as programming.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of internet you have. Bandwidth is one of the factors that determine the speed of your internet. If you image the internet as water, bandwidth is the diameter of the pipe you have. The bigger, the pipe the quicker the water will flow. But the speed of the internet is also dependent on how many devices connect to it. If your pipe divides into thousands of little pipes everybody will only get a little water or in this case a little data at a time.

Wifi

Wifi is the wireless network that distributes the data that you have to your individual devices. Wifi by itself is not the internet. It often happens that your internet will be down, but the wifi will still be working. For example, you will still be able to send things to be printed. Or the other way around, the internet can work while the wifi is down. If that is the case, you should be able to access the internet by connecting your computer to a LAN cable.

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