Training & Learning

L&D Glossary: The Fundamental Learning Terms & Job Titles You Need to Know in 2023

We’ve all been there: you’ve just joined a webinar, ready to improve your L&D practice and start making a real impact, but wait…what’s this? People are dropping mysterious terms that have you scratching your head in confusion.

We understand that industry-specific terminology can be a little overwhelming. That’s why we’ve gathered all the key L&D terms in one convenient place, including easy-to-follow links if you’d like to learn more about a specific concept, methodology, or term.

From 5 Moments of Need to Workforce Planning, here are all the fundamental L&D terms and job titles you need to know.


5 Moments of Need®

An on-the-job performance framework pioneered by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson, 5 Moments of Need enables learning in the flow of work, providing learners with what they need when they need it. 


A framework that suggests approximately 70% of learning happens on the job, 20% from peer interactions like mentors, and 10% from formal education.



A virtual or physical place for people to learn, share knowledge, and grow and should include goals that aim to find new solutions, technologies, and practices that progress the collective state of knowledge of the organization. 

Accomplishment-based talent development

A talent management approach based on Thomas F. Gilbert’s work from Carl Binder that focuses on accomplishments–the valuable outputs from people’s behavior–instead of skills, knowledge, or competencies. 

Adaptive learning

A learner-centered strategy that leverages data analytics to keep track of employee progress and achievements and provide them with flexible, customized training resources and tasks tailored to their educational needs.

ADDIE model

An acronym for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation: the five stages of a development process that starts with a comprehensive plan at the beginning of a project. 

Adult learning theory (Andragogy)

A set of guiding principles that explain how adults learn and can be used wherever they learn, including in corporate settings. 

Agile learning

A learning approach that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and speed and takes an ongoing approach to learning by implementing continuous feedback loops to regularly iterate on course creation and develop collaborative working environments. 


In an LMS, analytics help you examine how learners are interacting with courses through metrics such as grade averages, completion rates, and participant satisfaction which will be compiled into reports or dashboards.

Applicant tracking system (ATS)

A software solution that automates the recruitment process, including storing CVs and cover letters, tracking application status, and recommending the best fit for the position. 

Application programming interface (API)

A software intermediary that is designed to communicate between components by sending self-described messages and waiting for a response that gives insight into whether it worked. For example, at 360Learning, our API lets you automate several instructions related to users, groups, courses, and programs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The capacity of a computer or system to learn, compute, relearn, correct itself, and behave in ways broadly reflecting human intelligence. Includes Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Text Analytics, Natural Language Processing, and Speech Recognition, among many, many others.

Assistant Vice President of Learning & Employee Experience

A role responsible for developing human capital strategies and employee experience programs and managing the planning, design, and administration of the employee experience roadmap. They will also be responsible for managing a team of L&D professionals.

Asynchronous work

A workplace practice where there is no expectation on colleagues to be online simultaneously or immediately responding to each other, with an aim to maximize the productivity of teams and individuals without being dependent on others completing tasks. 

Augmented Reality (AR)

The interactive computer-generated experience that modifies and enhances the user’s real-world environment with stimuli like sound and visuals. 

Authoring tool

A program that enables you to create a digital course and publish it in select formats, including drag-and-drop and other user-friendly interfaces, with no coding required. 

Autonomous work

A workplace practice that encourages a low authority, high accountability culture where employees decide when and where their work should be done, but also where they have the authority to make decisions that contribute towards the overall improvement of their performance.


Behavior Engineering Model (BEM)

Developed by Thomas Gilbert, the BEM is a systematic approach to identifying and addressing performance problems in the workplace. The model is based on the premise that performance problems are often caused by environmental factors rather than individual factors, which, when addressed, can lead to improved performance. 

Behavioral learning

A school of thought that believes people learn through experiences by associating a stimulus with either reward or punishment and is considered instrumental in how to motivate people to learn.

Big 5

The five-factor model of personality (Big 5) is based on the five relatively enduring traits of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.

Blended Learning

An L&D approach that traditionally splits learning into the two categories of teacher-led classroom sessions and self-paced eLearning prepared by an instructor. 

Bloom's Taxonomy

A hierarchical framework that orders cognitive skills used in the process of learning (remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating) to help teachers develop effective learning outcomes and assessments.


Capability Academy

An L&D strategy that focuses on high-value projects and developmental assignments that build employee capabilities with upskilling initiatives that directly involve key stakeholders, including the C-suite. 

Career development

The process an employee takes to develop, adapt, and evolve their skills as they progress along their career path. 

Career path

The plan and alignment of an employee’s future career opportunities or growth within an organization, which in turn, meets immediate and future talent priorities within the company. 


Software that uses AI to simulate human conversations with users on websites and digital devices to automate responses and answer FAQs.

Chief Culture Officer (CCO)

A C-suite level role responsible for the development and implementation of organizational culture, including aligning said culture with the company’s mission, vision, and values, and that it supports the company's overall business objectives.

Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)

A C-suite role responsible for overseeing, developing, and executing HR strategy in line with the organization’s business goals, including succession planning, talent management, organizational and performance management, and training and development. 

Chief Learning and Innovation Officer

A C-suite role responsible for all learning solutions within the organization, including leading training and skill development and creating, implementing, and overseeing L&D plans for employees throughout their career path within the company, from onboarding to updating training as technology or methodologies change. 

Chief Learning Officer (CLO)

A senior-level executive who oversees all L&D programs within an organization. They create learning strategies, oversee their execution, and ensure that all educational programs align with larger company goals. Also referred to as Chief Knowledge Officers or Directors of L&D.

Chief Learn-ologist

A consultancy role that serves as an advisor, designer, and facilitator for clients and stakeholders, which includes eLearning and instructor-led design, learning facilitation, and advice for L&D teams on solutions for LMS implementation, system deployment, and performance support.

Chief People Officer (CPO)

A senior-executive role responsible for the management and oversight of an organization's human resources, including talent acquisition, employee engagement, compensation and benefits, learning and development, and performance management.


Training that connects a teacher with a learner in one-on-one sessions to provide a higher level of support and customization on a specific topic or set of topics of interest to the learner. 


A common software tool that allows multiple people to collaborate and work on a single file, think Word or Google Docs. In an LMS like 360Learning, co-authoring democratizes the learning process by allowing all employees to build and share online courses and leave feedback. 

Cognitive learning theory

A learning theory that uses metacognition–your awareness of your own thoughts–to understand how thought processes influence learning and to guide those thoughts to help learners gain knowledge more effectively.

Cohort learning

A collaborative learning approach where a group of learners, the cohort, advance through a course, syllabus, program, or academy together. 

Collaborative Learning

A training methodology where employees share their knowledge and expertise, teaching and learning from one another at the same time.

Competency model

A model most commonly used in recruitment and learning and development that groups a collection of competencies (skills, knowledge, and behavioral requirements) aimed to guide an employee towards successful job performance. 

Completion rate

Expressed as a percentage, the completion rate represents a learner’s progression throughout a course or session, and is often used as a metric by L&D teams to measure the effectiveness of training. Completion rates are often used alongside other program evaluation methods.

Compliance training

Any employee training mandated by legislation, policy, or regulation for educating employees on safety, legal, or company regulations and procedures. 

Computer-based training (CBT)

A form of eLearning that uses computers to deliver instructional content or interventions, typically designed for first-time software users, company policies, and health and safety. 

Content intelligence

The strategy of using artificial intelligence and software capabilities to carry out market research concerning the effectiveness and impact of content in creating learning results. 

Content management

The process of collecting, administering, and publishing information in any format. In an LMS, content management features let administrators define how different learners use the system by setting permissions, assigning courses, and tracking completion.

Continuous learning

An ‘always on’ process to motivate employees to acquire new skill sets and knowledge, improve performance, and drive innovation within an organization.

Continuous performance management

An ongoing process of supervising an employee’s performance through frequent one-on-one discussions and feedback throughout the year. 

Corporate learning

A company-wide strategy for educating employees at a high-level and developing organizational capacity to gather and share knowledge for the purposes of productivity and competitive advantage.

Corporate Online Open Course (COOC)

An open and distributed learning experience available to learners of a company, intended for a small community of employees, partners, or customers.

Course creation

The design, creation, and delivery of online courses for training and interventions. 


The process of training employees in multiple skill sets and job roles that extend beyond their specific job functions or skills.

Custom content

In-house designed, created, and developed training for targeted or unique interventions as well as for training on company culture, language, or processes. 

Customer education

Educational support and guidance offered to customers that goes beyond just product or service training. For example, this may include wider industry trends or best practices.

Customer training

All of the ways customers become familiar with your product or service, including training and tutorials that show them how to get the most out of their investment.


Deliberate practice

A theory from psychologist Anders Ericsson that involves targeted and task-centered training programs that are highly structured activities with the explicit goal of improving performance. 

Design thinking

In L&D, design thinking is a non-linear and iterative problem-solving process that uses five phases (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test) to focus on the learner first and foremost to create innovative solutions. 

Digital badge

An electronic credential most commonly earned through online learning that indicates specific skills or accomplishments that can be displayed and verified online.

Digital learning

An L&D training approach that uses a digital platform to deliver educational content to learners, including videos, animation, interactive games, slideshows, and podcasts.

Digital Learning Associate

A role that collaborates with advisors and stakeholders to identify learning tools or methodologies to match each learning need within the organization, create content for digital learning, manage the administration of the content on the learning platform, and produce multimedia content. 

Digital Learning Manager

A managerial role responsible for an organization’s digital learning strategy, which can include eLearning and blended learning.

Director of Knowledge and Learning

A senior-executive role responsible for managing an organization's knowledge and learning resources, including intellectual assets, information, and data. 

Director of Learning

A senior executive responsible for the analysis of existing training programs and evaluating if they provide employees with the required skills to perform their roles. This includes evaluating instructor performance, signing off on new training programs, and preparing a budget.

Director of Learning & Careers

A senior-executive role responsible for helping employees advance their skills and knowledge by ensuring that learning strategies are effective by evaluating individual and organizational development. They may also be responsible for designing digital learning. 

Director of Learning and Development

A senior-level executive who oversees all L&D programs within an organization. They create learning strategies, oversee their execution, and ensure that all educational programs align with larger company goals. Also referred to as Chief Learning Officers or Directors of L&D.

Director of Learning and Organizational Development

A senior-level executive responsible for managing and supporting the assessment of organizational needs and the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs that facilitate the professional development and continuous learning of team members, particularly executives and emerging leaders.

Director of Learning Experience Design

A senior-level executive responsible for overseeing the design and development of engaging and effective learning experiences for an organization's employees. Their primary focus is on creating learning experiences that are intuitive, interactive, and engaging, and that foster a positive and productive learning environment.

Director of Learning Strategy & Design

A senior-executive role responsible for the oversight of learning design and development of course content, assisting with the design and management of policies and procedures, the analysis and reporting of key performance indicators, and providing the technical leadership to the team of instructional designers to manage the design and development of learning solutions.

Director of Talent Development

A senior-level executive responsible for designing and executing the talent development strategy for an organization, including oversight of the development and management of training and development programs to help employees acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently. 

Discovery learning

A learning method based on inquiry where learners construct knowledge instead of taking in information passively (constructivism) through a self-directed learning process, and is highly relevant to workflow learning

Diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) training

Learning experiences established with a mission to educate employees about the differences between people in order to help them understand and respect those differences. The most effective DEI training is integrated into core learning paths, and begins with onboarding.



An L&D approach that uses a digital platform to teach learners new concepts and skills through the use of structured online courses.

Emotional intelligence (EI)

A concept coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman, EI is a person’s capacity to be aware of their emotions and the emotions of others and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. EI consists of the five pillars of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. 

Employee development plans

A vital L&D tool for achieving high employee retention, employee development plans serve as a roadmap for individuals, outlining what they need to do to enhance their skills and progress within their organization.

Employee engagement

All workplace factors that contribute to encouraging outstanding employee performance and motivating them to be invested in the company’s success, with L&D being a critical element in building employee engagement.

Employee experience

From an L&D perspective, employee experience is their journey from onboarding to exit. As author Jacob Morgan puts it, this means creating a place where people want to show up, instead of assuming that people need to show up.

Employee performance

The effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of an employee to carry out the duties, tasks, and responsibilities in the flow of work as prescribed to their role.

Experience API (xAPI)

A data specification used in the field of eLearning, designed to track and record learning experiences and activities that take place outside of traditional learning management systems. Also called tin Can API.

Experiential learning (ExL)

Simply, learn by doing. ExL is an L&D approach that focuses on how learners apply what they are learning through real-world experiences.


Fifth Discipline

Described in the book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge, the Fifth Discipline advocates group problem solving using the systems thinking method in order to convert companies into learning organizations.

Fixed mindset

A learner’s mindset where the individual believes that skills, intelligence, and talent are purely intrinsic and cannot be developed. 

Flexible learning

An L&D approach that puts learners in the driver’s seat of their learning journey by empowering them to set their own learning priorities, make the most of connecting with experts, and upskill from within as they learn in the flow of work. 

Flexible work culture

A workplace culture that gives employees more control over where and when they work, blending asynchronous working and autonomous working with hybrid working.

Formal learning

Think structured learning, such as training a number of learners in a room on a set schedule, who are instructor-led and given a one-way flow of information on the topic. 

Four stages of competence

A learning model that focuses on the four progressive psychological states involved in becoming proficient in the skills and characteristics that enable the employee to perform highly in their role: unconscious competence, conscious competence, conscious incompetence, and unconscious incompetence.

Four-Component Instructional Design Model (4C-ID)

Described in the book, Ten Steps to Complex Learning, the 4C-ID model is a great model to start identifying and focusing on impacting employee performance in the flow of work if your L&D practice is performance-orientated. 

Frontline training

Educational programs and interventions for those employees with customer-facing roles such as hospitality, retail, and health care.



A game-based LMS feature that uses game design principles to encourage learning and includes content gamification, which is more interactive or engaging, and performance gamification, which has elements like levels or challenge modes. 

Generative AI

Artificial intelligence that can create a range of new content, such as images, text, and audio.

Global Learning & Development Partner

A partner-level role is responsible for designing, implementing, and evaluating learning and development programs for employees across different regions and countries.

Goal orientation

The level of motivation a person or group has towards working to achieve new skills or reach set goals.


Hard skills

These are the specific, measurable, technical, and objective skills required for a job, for example, core coding competencies.

Head of Instructional Design

An executive who oversees staff who design education courses and curriculums for businesses and other organizations, working with teams to create training materials, teaching manuals, and student guides in a variety of subjects.

Head of Learning

An executive responsible for creating strategies to improve the skills or professional expertise of employees and to maximize their productive value. Other duties can include calculating the current productive value of individuals or departments and using learning theories to inform the direction of training.

Head of Learning Design

A senior-level position responsible for leading the design and development of learning experiences, programs, and curricula. The role involves collaborating with subject-matter experts, instructional designers, and other stakeholders to design and implement effective learning strategies and solutions.

Head of People & Culture

A senior-level executive responsible for the organization’s culture practices and the administration of performance management, employee relations and engagement, diversity and inclusion, and compliance, as well as oversight of all people activities from recruitment to retention and exit.

Head of Talent

A senior-executive role responsible for managing the organization's talent acquisition and development strategies, including recruitment, talent management, and leadership development. Also known as a Head of Talent and People.

Head of Talent Management, Learning, and Inclusion

A senior-executive role responsible for the oversight of the talent management strategy of an organization, including the management of employee learning and development programs and ensuring the organization's diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are effective.

Human Capital Management (HCM)

The process of strategically investing in the development of employees and their skills to drive engagement and business value, viewing them as stakeholders who invest their Human Capital to generate more wins for the company.

Human Resources (HR)

The department that deals with the hiring, administration, and training of staff. Strategic HR can also guide and influence company and organizational structure, workforce planning, compensation and benefits, and employee relations issues.

Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

A software solution that automates human resources processes such as managing and storing employee information and related policies and procedures. 

Hybrid learning

An L&D solution to hybrid working that rethinks blended learning by splitting it into synchronous training, such as online sessions and collaborative workshops, and asynchronous learning, like video sessions, quizzes sessions, and self-directed modules. 

Hybrid Working

A workplace arrangement that combines both remote work and in-person work in a flexible manner where employees have the option to work from home or another remote location for a portion of the workweek while also coming into the office for some in-person work.



The process of training and educating an established employee in the skills and processes they need to succeed within your organization, such as training for a lateral move or a promotion. 


A phase in the onboarding process where new employees are introduced to the basics of the organization, including culture, benefits, and work environment. 

Informal learning

The learning that occurs outside of the training classroom, and comes in many forms, such as mentoring or coaching, collaboration in breakout rooms, and learning in the flow of work.

Instructional design (ID)

A development process based on learning and instructional theory from the analysis of learning needs and goals through to the development of a delivery system to achieve those goals and needs, including developing instructional materials and activities, and pilots and evaluation.

Instructional Designer

A role responsible for instructional design: the development or redesign of courses and creation of training materials to meet the goals and needs of learning and instructional theory within the organization.

Instructor-led training (ILT)

Think traditional L&D, the ‘sage on the stage’, in a classroom or on a screen, lecture-based teaching or training. 

Internal mobility / Internal movement

When an employee moves to a different role or department within the company, the two most common types are a lateral move (same level, but a different department or role) and an upward move (a promotion and movement into a higher role). 

Internet of Things (IoT)

Physical objects that can exchange information with other systems and devices over the Internet–a big component of Industry 4.0.


Job aids

Also called cheat sheets, are essential tools that empower employees with the knowledge they need in the flow of work to perform tasks independently. 

Job analysis

The detailed examination of the information about a role, including skills, competencies, and responsibilities.

Job architecture

The conceptualization of an organization’s job infrastructure, as defined by Deloitte, encompassing job levels, job titling conventions, grades, career paths, spans of control, the criteria for career movement, and equitable compensation programs based on job value.

Just-in-time learning (JIT)

An L&D method that gives employees access to relevant, quick, and helpful knowledge when they need it by empowering them to source personalized information by requesting a quick course or asking a question to internal subject-matter experts, and immediately applying the learning to their tasks.


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A set of metrics that measure training effectiveness and impact on core business goals. KPIs should include quantitative measurements (sales revenue, conversion rates, turnover, productivity) and qualitative measurements (customer feedback, customer and employee satisfaction).

Kirkpatrick Model

One of the most commonly used methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of training programs. In a nutshell, the Kirkpatrick Model lets you create a chain of evidence that shows exactly how the training you instituted led to tangible outcomes, for example, an increase in sales volume. 

Knowledge management

The process of capturing, storing, and disseminating the knowledge and experience of employees within an organization.

Knowledge Manager 

A managerial role responsible for overseeing the curation and delivery of corporate knowledge within the organization, with the primary goal of maintaining company knowledge and making sure effective delivery processes are implemented to give employees the tools they need to perform. 

Knowledge sharing

An L&D system that, by leveraging knowledge management, enables the safeguarding of critical organizational information or skills by enabling it to be transferred between employees so that if they leave, the knowledge remains within the company.

Knowledge silo

When an employee or department has information or skills that are cut off from the rest of the organization.


L&D Advisor

An advisory role responsible for providing smooth end-to-end delivery for all parts of learning and development solutions or programs grounded in learning plans. 

L&D Consultant

A consultancy role responsible for the analysis and research of employee needs in an organization, the assessment of those areas where improvement is needed, and the engagement and collaboration with departments that will be running the programs they develop. 

Leadership development

An L&D function that aims to grow and improve the skills, abilities, and confidence of individuals to perform in leadership roles. 

Learning and Development (L&D)

The process of upskilling an employee through training courses, development programs, eLearning, and personal growth opportunities; the learning interventions that drive an employee’s career development.

Learning and Development Manager 

A managerial role that oversees the training and growth of all employees in an organization. An L&D manager develops the talents of employees to their full potential by focusing on individual and organizational needs. Also known as a Learning Manager. 

Learning and Development Specialist

A role responsible for creating, developing, and delivering employee training plans for companies and working with clients to assess their needs and develop a tailored training program. 

Learning asset

A learning and development resource delivered through a learning management system. 

Learning content repositories (or learning content libraries)

An element of content management that stores didactic resources, featuring filters and meta tag options for easier object cataloguing and search, along with advanced file management functions and multi-format content support.

Learning culture

An organization's culture of learning. Ideally, a workplace environment where all employees are eager to learn, free to ask questions, rewarded for taking risks, and have access to the resources and support they need to upskill and grow. 

Learning design

A process of creating learning experiences structured around drafting, outlining, reviewing, and formalizing learning resources and assets. 

Learning ecosystem

An organization’s learning infrastructure. All the people, systems, tools, and technology that enable learning at an organization. Ideally, a learning ecosystem should be decentralized, peer-driven, and agile. 

Learning Experience Designer

A role responsible for maintaining the optimization of training programs within the organization on the learner as at the core of the educational experience. 

Learning experience platform (LXP)

A learning software solution that focuses on the content delivery experience and specializes in aggregating content from multiple different areas.

Learning hub

An online platform where learning content from all sources is gathered for learners to explore, interact, and collaborate in one place. 

Learning in the Flow of Work (LITFOW)

Simply, LITFOW occurs when people learn while performing work. Josh Bersin describes LITFOW as learning that is embedded into the platform in which people work, so the systems can coach and train them to be better on the job. Also called workflow learning. 

Learning management system (LMS)

A learning management system is a software solution for creating, managing, and delivering eLearning content, and optimizing and reducing the learning and development busywork through automation.

Learning Management System Administrator

A role responsible for the administration and operational performance of an LMS, including configuring courses, carrying out reports, designing certifications and learning paths, and consulting with internal stakeholders to improve the learning experience.

Learning Module

Self-contained units of educational content designed to teach a specific topic or set of related topics. 

Learning needs

The knowledge and skills identified by learners as being necessary to perform tasks and responsibilities within their role, and which motivate them to undertake training. 

Learning object

A digital resource, such as a video, website, or interactive tutorial, that can be used again and again to assist learning and achieve learning objectives. 

Learning organization

An organization where learning is a part of everyday work, with the right process, and empowers employees with the right tools for teaching and learning from each other, rather than relying solely on L&D teams to deliver learning experiences.

Learning path

A collection of grouped courses that helps learners to master a particular topic or subject.

Learning platforms

Online software ‘point solutions’ that cover a variety of use cases each, such as sales enablement, partner and customer training, onboarding, and corporate culture development. 

Learning strategy

A measurable and actionable roadmap that establishes clear knowledge goals that align with the organization’s business goals, identifies and prioritizes knowledge and skills gaps, and sets a long-term plan for addressing those gaps.

Learning Strategy & Operations Manager

A managerial role responsible for the streamlining of training development with the aim of improving learning outcomes by analyzing all the processes and technologies involved in the learning processes across the organization.

Learning technology

The tools, systems, and applications that are used to facilitate learning and training activities.

Learning theories

Concepts, styles, and models that range from psychology to philosophy to help L&D professionals understand the mechanisms that power the human learning process. These help design effective courses and impact return on investment. 

Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model (LTEM)

A model developed by Will Thalheimer designed to help L&D teams get feedback to build more effective learning interventions and validate learning results.


Managed learning services (MLS)

The outsourcing of the management and administration of training.

Manager of Learning Solutions

A managerial role responsible for designing and maintaining engaging and functional digital learning, including eLearning design and development and LMS partnership.

Manager of Training Programs

A managerial role responsible for developing training programs aimed at enhancing employee skills, including the teaching, planning, and implementation of training content. 

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

An open and distributed learning experience available to a large number of learners, with no limit on attendance.


The matching of an experienced employee, a mentor, with a less-experienced employee, a mentee, to facilitate and influence the mentee's professional growth in their career journey. The most impactful mentoring programs see development benefits for both the mentor and the mentee, notably, leadership training for mentors. 


Thinking about thinking. The main trait of cognitive learning theory (above).


A certification for microlearning (below). 


An L&D approach where learning occurs in small chunks of information, such as short videos, quick quizzes, or a few minutes of gamification, ideally no longer than 10 minutes.

Mobile learning

Digital education conducted on a mobile device like a smartphone. 

Multimodal learning

A learning theory that suggests training has a greater impact on learners if the content engages the various types of communication, such as visual, audio, reading, and writing.



Refers to the naturally-occurring variations in the brain that cause some people to process, learn, and/or behave in ways that are different from the majority. L&D should be looking to understand and support the unique strengths and challenges of the neurodiverse workforce.

New Hire Enablement Specialist

A role focused on the onboarding process, including facilitating the flow of information and experiences, understanding of product and culture, and empowering relationship building. 

Nudge theory

A learning theory based on the idea that by shaping the environment, one can influence the likelihood that one option is chosen over another by individuals, but keeping the ability of the learner to keep their freedom of choice and feel in control of the decisions they make.


Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

A goal-setting framework that identifies common objectives and divides them into measurable components. OKRs are impactful because they give employees a clear focus on what matters most, build accountability into the work process, and make it easier to measure progress and celebrate success. 


The transition process for former employees leaving the organization. A successful offboarding process includes accepting a resignation, a communication plan, knowledge transfer, recovering company assets, revoking access to tools, and settling final payments–all done with sensitivity to the nature of the end of the employment relationship. 

Off-the-shelf content (canned content)

Pre-designed training content from a third party that can be purchased to fill an immediate content gap, for example, standardized employee compliance training.


The process of introducing a new hire to the organization through a series of standardized events (preboarding, induction) and milestones to help them learn about their new company, co-workers, and their individual roles and responsibilities. Typically occurs in the first weeks and months of an employee's role.

On-Demand Learning

Digital learning that empowers learners to access content right when they need it and is most impactful when leveraged for use in the flow of work learning

Open-and-Distance-Learning (AKA FOAD in France)

An approach that provides flexible learning as a solution to the separation of learner and instructor through digital learning. 

Organizational culture (company culture)

The values, beliefs, and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact, perform, and handle business transactions. Company culture lives and breathes in everything the organization does–including how learning is done. For L&D, creating great learning experiences is critical to building and strengthening culture.



Essentially, the method and practice of teaching. However, recently a distinction has arisen that pedagogy is a concept primarily applicable to teaching children, and is less effective in the teaching of more mature and more experienced learners (see: adult learning theory).  

Peer-to-peer learning (also peer training)

A training method that puts collaborative learning (above) at the forefront, operates from the bottom up to include all employees and establishes an ongoing dialogue between learners and in-house experts. 

People-first language (inclusive language)

A linguistic prescription (rules defining preferred use of language) which helps L&D create a culture that proactively welcomes inclusivity. For example, ‘people with autism’ rather than ‘autistic people’.

Performance gap analysis

As defined by Guy Wallace, the detailed examination that captures the requirements for work outputs and their key measures and associated tasks, the roles & responsibilities, and the typical gaps for use downstream in design. The analysis is then used to inform instructional design. 

Performance management

The ongoing process aimed at raising performance by setting individualized goals, reviewing progress, and developing people through learning opportunities.

Performance orientation

An approach, most notably spearheaded by Guy Wallace for over 40 years, that posits L&D programs should give preference to driving better organizational performance over traditional topic-centered approaches to learning.

Performance review

A systematic and periodic assessment and documentation of an employee’s job performance.

Performance support

Job aids (above) that should be easily accessible through an LMS and updated in real-time to ensure the information is relevant to all learners. 

Personal Learning Network (PLN)

A group of interconnected people with shared interests in the same industry that you interact with and learn from through collaboration and discussion, such as the L&D Collective. Your PLN can also consist of blogs, emails, podcasts, social media, and websites. For example, see our CLO Connect series, our L&D Plus Podcast, and the L&D Podcast by David James.

Power skills

According to Forbes, these are the soft skills that have been rebranded in the post-pandemic and remote-work environment. Think, adaptability, collaboration, creativity, critical analysis, and emotional awareness.


A phase in the onboarding process where the new hires receive relevant communication and paperwork that happens before their first day at work, including company policies. 

Product training

Content, courses, or training that develop employees’ skills to understand and effectively communicate the company’s products or services to customers. 

Professional development (PD)

The process a person undertakes through learning and training to develop new skills, stay current with industry knowledge, and advance their career. These can include academic degrees, coursework, attending conferences, and informal learning.

Program Manager of Training

A managerial role responsible for helping organizations in developing, facilitating, and administering training programs, including carrying out business needs assessments, implementing learning and development plans, and promoting training programs that impact the performance of employees.


Quality assurance

A program for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service, or facility to ensure that standards of quality are being met.



In L&D, the deliberate sharp increase in the development of an employee’s skills through company processes, especially after onboarding.


The onboarding process for former employees rejoining the organization. 

Relevance score

A percentage expressed metric that tells content creators how useful and relevant learners found the course. For example, in 360learning, it is a unique reporting feature that helps content authors ensure that their training is up-to-date and understood by their learners.

Remote learning

Web-based training that occurs when the learner and instructor are not in the same room, but the learning still occurs live, such as on Zoom or Google Meet. 

Remote working

A workplace arrangement where an employee works from home rather than commuting to the place of work. 


A learning concept and approach for helping employees stay up-to-date on the relevant skills needed in their career path and in their role. In the context of the shortening half-life of skills, reskilling also refers to the training and development individuals need to complete to either perform their existing role in a new context, or to transition to a completely new role.

Resources not Courses

A term coined by Nick Shackleton-Jones, referring to developing resources and performance support shaped to address specific learner concerns and goals, rather than starting from the presumption that a course is the answer.   

Resources-first approach

As defined by David James, an approach of tackling employee performance and capability issues with digital resources as a first port of call, addressing specific work challenges for distinct employee groups, accompanied by supplementary activities.

Return on Investment (ROI)

A metric that expresses the profitability and efficiency of an investment by comparing the cost to revenue. In L&D, ROI is used to show stakeholders the impact of a training on organizational goals or business needs. Make sure you download our easy-to-use ROI calculator!


Sales enablement training

A training process that encompasses everything from providing salespeople with product information to creating custom training courses for them: the knowledge, content, and tools you provide your sales folks.

Self-directed learning

A theory that aims to give learners control and empower them to identify their own learning needs and goals, set their own learning strategy, and evaluate their own learning outcomes.

Senior Director of Content and Knowledge

A senior-level executive responsible for leading an organization’s efforts to deliver exceptional customer experiences via content optimization. 

Senior Learning and Talent Manager

A senior-executive role responsible for designing and implementing learning and talent development programs to support the organization's talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies, including identifying learning and development needs, designing and delivering training programs, and evaluating their effectiveness.

Serious game

A digital learning format inspired by video game codes to help employees learn in a fun way, and often includes a reward system that boosts the commitment of employees to their learning. 

Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)

A set of technical standards and specifications used to create online training programs that make it possible to create and share learning content, or to purchase third-party content and use it on your platform.

Six Boxes® Model

A performance improvement model developed by Carl Binder and associates, which provides a framework for analyzing and improving performance in organizations by examining the six key components of results, processes, knowledge and skills, motivation, individual capacity, and environment. 


The developed aptitude or ability of an employee to use their knowledge effectively and readily in the execution of the responsibilities within their role. 

Skills framework

A framework used in learning and development to design a common language of skills to aid in recruitment, onboarding, performance reviews, upskilling, and other activities. 

Skills gap

The difference between the skills that an employee possesses and the skills that the organization requires for the role. 

Skills matrix

A visualization of the degree of competency held by each employee so that L&D can make more informed decisions around talent development.

Skills taxonomy

The classification of skills that L&D defines and structures to identify the current and required level of skills within the organization, and is especially helpful in recruitment and skills gap analysis. 

Small Private Online Course (SPOC)

A private course for small groups within a company that covers a specific topic and is aimed at a targeted audience.

Smart recommendations

Using a learning platform, informing employees of learning materials that will help them with their current workflows, based on factors including user engagement and specific role requirements.

Social learning

An interactive L&D approach that enables learners to engage with each other throughout the learning process, and includes features like the ability to like and react to peer posts, live chat Q&As, and competitive gamification. 

Soft skills

The skills that support an employee in their role, and generally fall into categories such as culture, people, and relationships. As described in Forbes, think: communication, emotional awareness, flexibility, adaptability, and the capacity for teamwork. 

Software training

Learning directed at increasing an employee’s competency when using a relevant computer program.


In L&D, the stakeholder is the manager, executive, or director that engages with you and your team to provide training or interventions to solve particular business needs or goals of the organization.

Strategic Director of Learning & Quality Coaching

A senior-executive role responsible for the strategic leadership of learning and quality control that includes creating the learning experience of employees, enhancing experience through onboarding, supporting product and technology needs, and the overall strategic vision for improvement through data analytics and trending of quality coaching.

Strategic Learning Partner

A partner role responsible for partnering with stakeholders to align team skills to impact learning through tailored learning solutions, including consultancy and project management. 

Stretch training

An approach to learning that challenges individuals to step outside their comfort zones and take on tasks or projects that require them to expand their skills, knowledge, and abilities. 

Structured learning

Learning that occurs in an organized way with a defined syllabus, curriculum, or path with objectives, structure, or formal hierarchy. Think, university, training program, or a certification. 

Subject-Matter Expert (SME)

An internal (or external) professional with advanced knowledge in their field. In L&D, SMEs are critical in helping develop content that needs knowledge or expertise on a specific subject as well as participating in mentoring programs. 

Succession planning

A process that facilitates internal mobility by ensuring that there is an internal talent pipeline for critical roles: a roster of employees with the right skills and knowledge ready to step into a position that suddenly becomes vacant.

Successive Approximation Model (SAM)

Developed by Dr. Michael Allen, the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) is a simplified version of the ADDIE Model designed to elicit feedback and build working models earlier in the course development process.

Synchronous learning

Online training that requires learners to virtually attend a class at the same time as the instructor and colleagues/classmates. Can include collaborative learning elements such as group discussions, breakout rooms, live workshops, and peer feedback.

Systems thinking

See the forest, not the trees. A problem-solving concept of handling the complexity of the world by seeing the wholes and relationships instead of splitting them into their constituent parts.


Talent intelligence

The process where companies collect and analyze data on their competitors’ talent, employee satisfaction, and business practices to achieve a competitive edge. 

Talent management system

An integrated software solution that streamlines the talent process by addressing the four pillars of recruitment and onboarding, performance management, learning and development, and compensation management. 

Talent marketplace

A software solution that uses people’s skills, interests, and preferences to match them to potential roles.

Talent suite

Employee development software that serves an organization’s need to attract, develop, and reward its workforce. Best for companies looking to hire external candidates, get them onboarded quickly, view skills within their organization, and effectively compensate their employees based on performance.

Target audience analysis

A detailed examination, as defined by Guy Wallace, for capturing various demographics data and the incoming knowledge and/or skills from education and experiences to influence the downstream modular design and deployment strategies and tactics.

Task analysis

The detailed examination that collects data through the observation of how a task is accomplished. 

Top-down training

A traditional approach to learning that puts decision-making on training strategy in the hands of a few leaders at the top, with a handful of executives deciding which training to create and deliver, rather than empowering learners to set their own priorities. 

Training needs analysis

The detailed examination of identifying the skills your employees need to do their job well in order to prioritize and schedule relevant learning solutions.

Training organization

A person or an organization providing (or offering to provide) training or assessment of skills and knowledge, also commonly known as vendors.

Training program

A learning plan that sets out a syllabus or sequence of trainings to equip employees with the skills and knowledge to excel in their roles and careers.


Upskill from within

An L&D mindset that shifts focus from annual top-down training based on external courses and towards continuous reskilling based on peer-driven learning content.


Training that gives employees new skills and knowledge to help them do their jobs better, and goes beyond the needs of an employee's current role to expand their skill set for career advancement and internal mobility.

User experience (UI/UX)

A design process that focuses on the end-user, how they interact with a product, their perception of utility, ease of use, and the efficiency of the product. 

User-generated content (UGC)

Any learning content that is created and published on an eLearning platform or LMS by the learner or employee.


Vice President of Learning Experience

A senior executive role responsible for leading the training and development programs of an organization as a leader of training teams and curriculum design and development.

Vice President of Talent Acquisition 

A senior-executive role responsible for managing the organization's talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies and oversees the HR functions of your team in identifying, evaluating, and recruiting potential candidates for open and usually long-term positions.

Vice President of Talent and Culture

A senior-executive role responsible for managing the organization's talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies, as well as its culture and employee experience. This role usually combines the responsibilities of Vice President of Talent Management with Chief Culture Officer or Head of Employee Experience.

Vice President of Talent Development

A senior-executive role responsible for overseeing the organization's talent development strategy. Ultimately responsible for designing and implementing training and development programs to help employees acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently as well as to retain talent within the organization.

Vice President of Talent Management

A senior-level executive responsible for overseeing the organization's talent management strategy, with a focus on talent acquisition, development, and retention, as well as succession planning and workforce planning.

Video content management system (Video CMS)

A software solution that enables organizations to deliver and manage video content or courses to learners.  

Virtual classroom

The online learning environment that learners join to interact with their instructors. 

Virtual instructor-led training (VILT)

Any training led by a lecturer presented in a virtual or digital environment.

Virtual reality (VR)

An artificial environment or simulation experienced through sensory stimuli (such as sights and sounds) provided by a computer that, in L&D, can deliver, enhance, and accelerate remote experiential learning.


Web-based training

Like eLearning, web-based training is an L&D approach that uses a digital platform to teach learners.


A company wiki is a cluster of web pages or a site where you can store, share, and regularly update your course material, and is a useful facilitator for asynchronous learning. 

Work output

As defined by Carl Binder, a work output is a deliverable, widget, document, relationship, transaction, or decision–a countable noun


The day-to-day steps involved in an employee’s actual work where they apply their skills and knowledge as they complete their tasks from the beginning to the end of a working process.

Workforce planning

A process undertaken to ensure a company has enough employees in the proper role with the right skills to reach the overall business goals both now and in the future.