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The Online Learning Glossary

The world of online learning can come with a lot of jargon. In this post we explain some of the different terms you might come across.

This post is part of Getting started with FutureLearn a series about the basics of using FutureLearn.
This post is part of Getting started with FutureLearn a series about the basics of using FutureLearn.

The world of online learning can come with a lot of jargon. We’ve put together this glossary to help explain some of the language you might come across.


Blog Post Images (Side Image)-06-1Adaptive Delivery

A design approach that delivers content that’s adapted to the type of device you are using.



blended learningBlended Learning

When you learn in a variety of different ways. This usually includes some online learning – so as well as learning in a classroom with a teacher you might learn using your phone.



Collaborative LearningCollaborative Learning

This is when you learn together in a group. You share your resources and skills and exchange ideas to improve your learning.




Short for education technology – a whole industry dedicated to improving and evolving learning using tech.





The e stands for ‘electronic’. It usually means learning using a computer.



Flipped classroomFlipped Classroom

This is where learning usually provided in a physical classroom is delivered online, sometimes with the guidance of an online instructor –  as part of this you might watch online lectures, participate in online discussions and complete research at home.



The process of applying game techniques to a non-game activity to motivate people to achieve a goal.



microlearningMicro Learning

This is when learning is split into lots of small chunks, or units – so you learn a bit at a



mobile learningMobile Learning

Like eLearning but instead you learn using mobile technology – like a phone or a tablet.




Written in full: Massive Online Open Courses. MOOCs are free courses in lots of different subjects that run completely online. They have the capacity for lots and lots of learners. You can read more about MOOCs in more detail in this other post we did.



personalised learningPersonalised Learning

A type of learning that’s personally adapted and tailored to you as a learner, to meet your specific needs.



Proof of learningProof of Learning

Some kind of evidence of the learning you’ve done – like a badge or the certificates you can get from us.



Blog Post Images (Side Image)-01-1Social Learning

When you learn through other people. Sometimes it’s interacting with them, discussing ideas and sharing projects to improve your collective knowledge, and sometimes it’s learning from them, from their activities and ideas.



Adaptive learning


This stands for Small Private Open Course. This is typically a course that is done online but access is restricted to a smaller number of learners – so they get a more customised learning experience.



This is one model used to describe how people learn (there are two models of 70:20:10 – here we mean the model for learning and development).  70% of your time is spent learning while working, 20% of your time is learning from feedback and 10% from courses and wider reading.  



Now you’re up to date with your online learning jargon…


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