Elevate your instructional design expertise.

Stay ahead with industry news and discover valuable tips and tricks on the IDOL Blog.

Become an IDOL 10: Instructional Design Jargon Defined with Rachel Hudish

become an idol become an idol podcast blooms taxonomy definitions elearning glossary hybrid learning idol courses academy instructional design instructional designer learning microlearning online learning podcast scorm terms xapi Jul 31, 2019

Published: July 30, 2019

Episode: 10

Instructional Design Jargon Defined with Rachel Hudish

Guest: Rachel Hudish

In this episode, I’ll be chatting with Rachel Hudish about the jargon and industry terms that are used in instructional design. We’ll be sharing stories, analogies, and definitions to illuminate the meaning of each word.

If you are a new listener to Become an IDOL, we would love to hear from you.  Please visit our Contact Page and let us know how we can help you today!

In this episode we discuss:

WBT, CBT, eLearning, Online Learning, mobile learning


Authoring tools: Software used to package multimedia for delivery online. Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline are examples of authoring tools


508-compliance: An amendment to the US Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal law that requires all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. It goes beyond just supporting those who are blind or deaf or hard-of-hearing. 508-compliance seeks to support anyone with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. For example, navigation like buttons, tabs, and fonts need to meet accessibility for vision impairments such as color blindness or low vision -- both in color and in high contrast.


SCORM: Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is an XML-based framework used to define and access information about learning objects so they can be easily shared among different learning management systems (LMSs). It was designed to facilitate moving course content and related information (such as student records) from one platform to another, to make course content into modular objects that can be reused in other courses, and to enable any LMS to search others for usable course content.

The SCORM specifications, which are distributed through the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative Network, define an XML-based means of representing course structures, an application programming interface (API), a content-to-LMS data model, a content launch specification, and a specification for metadata records for all components of a system. The ADL specification group's next challenge is to motivate vendors to comply with SCORM specifications.

LMS (learning management System): is a software application that is used to administer, track, report and deliver training. You can automatically add learners, enroll them in the appropriate courses, roll out exams, issue certificates, and access reports. Examples include Blackboard, Canvas, D2L, Moodle, Schoology.


xAPI: xAPI is a simple, lightweight way to store and retrieve records about learners and share these data across platforms. These records (known as activity statements) can be captured in a consistent format from any number of sources (known as activity providers) and they are aggregated in a learning record store (LRS). The LRS is analogous to the SCORM database in an LMS.

The x in xAPI is short for "experience," and implies that these activity providers are not just limited to traditional AICC- and SCORM-based e-learning. With xAPI you can track classroom activities, usage of performance support tools, participation in online communities, mentoring discussions, performance assessment, and actual business results. The goal is to create a full picture of an individual's learning experience and how that relates to her performance.

API stands for application programming interface, a common method for software systems to interact and share data. xAPI activity statements can be generated by activity providers and sent to the LRS, or they can be sent from the LRS to other systems. Many current applications offer APIs to make their data available in other systems, and vice versa.

An xAPI activity statement records experiences in an "I did this" format. The format specifies the actor (who did it), a verb (what was done), a direct object (what it was done to) and a variety of contextual data, including score, rating, language, and almost anything else you want to track.

Some learning experiences are tracked with a single activity statement. In other instances, dozens, if not hundreds, of activity statements can be generated during the course of a learning experience. Activity statements are up to the instructional designer and are driven by the need for granularity in reporting.


SIS - Student Information System


Instructional Methods

Micro-learning: microlearning is any brief and targeted learning object that spans between 3 to 6 minutes. These microlearning “nuggets” can be connected or stand alone, and they should be able to be referred to at any time and by anyone — ideally by being available in a repository for quick access.

Microlearning is focused on specific learning outcomes and can be used as a part of formal training when quick references are appreciated by trainees.

For learners in need of a “refresher” or a “quick revision”, microlearning enables them to learn without having to browse pages upon pages of content, which ultimately is one of the most important microlearning benefits!

One could argue that an example of microlearning is Buzzfeed’s Tasty recipe videos. They are short, stand-alone, and aim to teach a technique.


Game-based learning: GBL uses competitive exercises to challenge learners in order to motivate them to learn better. Educational games usually follow some type of story element to engage and immerse learners more effectively into the content -- it ties it back to real-world application. GBL also allows students to practice and learn from mistakes without consequence.

Game-based learning is also known as serious games. 


Gamification: Gamification applies game mechanics to a non-game situation or content to engage users and solve problems. This is where we also see badging. It uses point-scoring, leaderboards, competition to drive learning and engagement. If activities are associated with badges, it can motivate your learners to move through the content. Andrew Hughes gave a great presentation at DevLearn in 2018 about Game-based learning vs Gamification


An example of gamification is a company provides employees with Fitbits and then incentives activities in a points system. It can set up challenges, which includes leaderboards and bonuses for distributed teams to compete against one another. Incentivizing employees with real money helps motivate them more than something that is intangible like recognition. Rotating these challenges monthly with quarterly incentives helps keep participants engaged and motivated.

ID Models


Backwards Design (UBD): A method of designing an educational curriculum by setting goals before choosing instructional methods and forms of assessment. Start with identifying the desired results, determine the acceptable evidence, and then plan the learning experiences and instructional methods.


70-20-10 model: 70% of learning comes from new experiences, 20% of learning comes from others (social learning, formal feedback, coaching, online networking, communities of practices, etc.), and 10% from courses and materials (online content, audio and videocasts, job aids, etc)


ID Methods


ADDIE: A conceptual and iterative application model for instructional systems design; the components include Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. (Similar models include Dick and Carey, but D&C allows for revision, whereas ADDIE is a straightforward process.)


SAM: successive approximation model. It addresses the performance need through iterations, repeated small steps, rather than with perfectly executed giant steps. SAM addresses project roadblocks (product quality, meeting timelines and budgets, and managing SMEs). Most importantly, SAM is an agile eLearning development process built specifically to create performance-driven learning.


Agile: A sprint is a period of time allocated for a particular phase of a project. Sprints are considered to be complete when the time period expires. There may be disagreements among the members of the team as to whether or not the development is satisfactory; however, there will be no more work on that particular phase of the project. The remaining phases of the project will continue to develop within their respective time frames.


Learning experience design: Learning is a human and preferably social process. Putting the learner at the center of your design process is called human-centered design. This is an important part of how and why LX design works. This means you have to get to know and understand the people you design for. You want to figure out what drives them and how you can ignite their intrinsic motivation. That's why getting in touch with your target audience through interviews, observations and co-creation is indispensable.


Understanding by Design (UBD or Backwards Design): Designs learning by setting goals before choosing instructional methods and forms of assessment. Backward design focuses on identifying the desired results, determining the evidence that the learning took place, and planning the learning events. 


Rachel - I’ve used UBD for about 7 years in the majority of my projects. It is useful when you need to get a SME to focus on what the learner should be able to walk away knowing how to do. Since I work mostly in training, it is mostly a question of what does someone need to be able to do in their job after taking this course and how would we assess that within a course.

Project team members

Stakeholder: anyone who may affect or be affected by your project. Sometimes, you can separate between internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders can be executive level, project leaders, and other staff members -- anyone inside your organization who may be affiliated with the project. External stakeholders focus more on clients and customers or community partners. Typically, external stakeholders are who your project is meant to serve/service. Properly identifying your stakeholders can help drive your project forward.


Rachel -- For example, when I migrated the LMS for the company that I work for, I needed to know who my internal and external stakeholders were so I knew who I had to communicate changes, provide updates or training, or ask for help, assistance, or input about processes and procedures. It also made it easier when I had to create documentation for parts of my job that I may need support -- you can’t have one person in an organization providing technical support.


SME: Subject Matter Expert is an expert in their field or knowledge area and ensures that the content of the course is accurate. The SME and instructional designer relationship should strive to function like a partnership. SMEs are content experts, ISDs are learning experts.


Elearning developer or Content developer: An e-learning developer, sometimes referred to as a content developer, is typically responsible for creating the visual and graphical design or layout of course content. These positions really focus on how the content is going to be presented to the learner, especially in meaningful and engaging ways, such as infographics, videos, Storyline or Captivate learning objects, and so on.


Elearning Specialist or Online Content Strategist: These positions focus on designing, developing, and evaluating e-learning/online content, either at the course or program level. They evaluate current teaching and assessment methods, review customer surveys, and then suggest ways to innovate and improve course/program materials to improve them such as making them more engaging and scalable.

Instructional delivery


Blended or Hybrid learning: One component is online and the other is in-person instruction and practice activities.


Instructional systems design: usually military or government training


Module: A module is one component of a course that usually has lessons. You can think of it as a heading in an outline and the lessons are sub-bullets.


Objectives vs Outcomes (learning) objective-what you hope they learn and outcome-what students will be able to do at the end of the course


Blooms Taxonomy: verbs to use to create both outcomes and objectives. Goes from knowledge to evaluate and includes verbs that correlate from simple to complex. 

Or Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical ordering of cognitive skills that can, among countless other uses, help teachers teach and students learn. The framework was revised in 2001 by Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, yielding the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. (You can read more here.) The most significant change was the removal of ‘Synthesis’ and the addition of ‘Creation’ as the highest-level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. And being at the highest level, the implication is that it’s the most complex or demanding cognitive skill–or at least represents a kind of pinnacle for cognitive tasks.





Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I'll be publishing a new episode every two weeks and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in an read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!

Listener Spotlight for this episode:



Join the Conversation

We have a wonderful and friendly community of expert and novice IDOLs in the Become an IDOL Facebook Group. We would love to have you join us in the group or chat with IDOL courses on any of our social media channels.


📝Back to Basics: Instructional Design Terminology

📝Glossary of Instructional Design terms

📝50 Instructional Design Acronyms to Know