Resources Hub Menu / Glossary of Digital Terminology

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | I | L | M | O | P | S | T | V | W |

Click on a letter to skip to that section of the glossary

Please note, at the University of Lincoln the following terms are also commonly known as:

MicroLearning >  Often referred to as Segmented Learning.

Lecture Capture > Often referred to as Lecture Recording.

Below you can find a glossary of digital terminology to help support conversations with teaching and learning across the University.  The information provided below has been prepared by the QAA.

Click here to access a PDF version of the full document: Building a Taxonomy for Digital Learning.




Assessment – computer-based

An assessment that is conducted using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile device. Typically, the assessment is both delivered and marked by an algorithm included in the assessment software loaded on the device. This term can also encompass automatic online assessment.

Assessment – online

An assessment that is conducted using a desktop, laptop or tablet device that is connected to the internet. Typically, the assessment is both delivered and marked by an  algorithm included in the assessment software that is hosted on a remote server (or alternate device).

Assistive technology

A piece of equipment or system that is used to improve or enhance digital leaning access and capability. This is particularly important to individuals with disabilities or difficulties in engaging with digital approaches to learning.

Asynchronous Learning

Learning that does not occur in the same place or at the same time for a whole cohort. Students can access resources and communicate at any time and are not restricted to  accessing this learning at any specific time. Enables students to learn at their own pace in their own time.

Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality is a process that overlays digital learning or teaching content onto the physical world. This term can also encompass mixed reality or MR.

Bring your own device

A term used to describe where students use their own devices to access digital resources to support learning activity.

Cloud-based hosting

Cloud-based hosting is the process of outsourcing an organisation’s computing and storage resources to a remote service provider. Some or all of the resources required to deliver a programme can be stored and accessed by staff and students via the cloud using appropriate software and devices. Multiple users can access these resources at any one time.

Collaborative digital learning

An educational approach to learning that involves groups of learners working together, via digital means, to complete a task.

Content curation

Selecting, assembling, categorising and commenting on digital information for a particular purpose.

Content library

A content library is similar to a traditional library and is a digital store of folders and files which can be accessed by authorised users.

Content management system

A content management system is an application that is used to consistently manage content (for example, documents, images, videos) and allow multiple contributors to create,  edit and publish content.

Digital access

The ability to participate in learning through digital means. This includes providing appropriate hardware and software to facilitate access to digital learning.

Digital assessment

Assessment activities that involve students digitally creating, submitting or completing work. Staff review this work and then either assess it using digital or analogue means to assess the work. Examples include digital examinations, plagiarism-detection software, virtual reality simulations, video performances or digital portfolios.

Digital cheating

Cheating is any action which is intended to enable a student to achieve an unfair academic advantage or to assist another student to do so. This includes, for example, plagiarism, collusion, use of ‘contract cheating’ services,  examination cheating (for example, through accessing unauthorised materials in an exam), or falsification of research data. Digital cheating is cheating which occurs in a digital environment. Some forms of cheating may be more likely to occur in a digital environment where digital mechanisms may make them more easily accessible, although conversely digital mechanisms are used to assist in detecting cheating (for example, through anti-plagiarism software and digital proctoring).

Digital learning objects

Modular or discrete units of learning designed for digital delivery.

Digital literacy

An individual’s ability to use digital information and relevant technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information. This type of literacy requires cognitive and technical skills.

Digital poverty

The recognition that some students have less or inferior access to devices by which to engage with digital approaches to learning. This also extends to a lack of access to an internet  connection with little or no bandwidth which would negatively impact the quality of their  digital learning experience.

Digital proctoring

A term to describe a form of invigilation for digital examinations. This can be done through  the use of artificial intelligence (for instance, using face or voice recognition) or through using staff to proctor via a real-time video link. This can encompass the term online proctoring.

Discussion board

A more formal digital communications space or platform where students (and staff) can  discuss and share elements of their programme. The Board could be specific to a module or  programme or a community of students. Discussion boards are often highly structured  around a topic and are can be closely moderated to ensure that discussions are appropriate to that topic. Also see discussion forum.

Discussion forum

A less formal digital communication space which can be used to engage students in a wider discussion on a number of topics or subjects. Often forums are less structured than discussion boards but require similar moderation to ensure that discussions remain appropriate. Also  see discussion board.


A virtual book acquired digitally as an alternative to a physical book. This is usually accessed digitally through virtual or digital libraries and portals.


Where students are required to develop a body of digital work or evidence in order to demonstrate their skills in a given area, for example, games design or digital media. As with physical portfolios, e-portfolios can consist of several different types of evidence such as documents, reflective logs, images, videos, websites, blogs.

Flipped learning

A pedagogical approach which provides detailed individual instruction to individual students placing the onus on them to use digital resources to gain understanding of content, concepts or theories related to learning outcomes. This happens outside of a physical space. Students are then invited into a virtual or physical space to articulate and discuss their findings and are guided by teaching staff to ensure that gaps in knowledge are filled and further enquires directed appropriately. This approach is designed to ‘flip’ the more didactic approach of lecture or tutorial-based instruction, followed by a more flexible approach to articulating what has been learned and any further enquiry.

Flexible learning

Using different modes of study and technologies of learning to enable students to manage their studies around other commitments and priorities and providing freedom of choice for learners of ways and times to learn, for example, through digital lectures or evening learning sessions.


Method of teaching using games principles to enhance learning and engagement. This often involves the application of game-design elements and principles in non-game contexts, for instance, a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements. Often, this manifests as students being set, and completing, a series of tasks which contribute to reaching an overall goal. The aim of this approach is to maximise students’ enjoyment and engagement through capturing their interest and inspiring them to continue learning.

Guided learning

When a student is being taught, supervised or instructed by an assessor, tutor or another person who facilitates learning and development. Guided learning takes place whether both physically – onsite at a provider – or remotely via digital means.

Independent study/guided independent study

Study activity occurring outside lecture, seminar and other face-to-face activities with the teacher/lecturer. Usually involves reading and/or research undertaken by a student without the guidance of a member of teaching staff.

Learning management system

Digital design and delivery platform – usually accessed using devices – which enables various methods of teaching and learning delivery to be used. Through a learning management system, a provider can use, for example, video or podcasts to support and enhance digital learning methods.

Lecture capture

Dgital video or podcast for students to view, either in real-time or after the lecture has finished.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs)

Short digital courses that students complete digitally, as there is no requirement for any physical attendance at a provider. They are most often open to a wide audience and not limited to those students already registered with an institution. While often based on learning and teaching delivered as part of a

degree programme, they are not necessarily component parts of a larger programme and, as such, students who complete these short courses often do not receive academic credit. However, some students, on successful completion of their short 15 course, may be offered advanced standing for entry to a programme at the provider offering the MOOC which does carry academic credit.


Small learning activities to demonstrate a specific skill or focus on a knowledge gap or term.

*At the University of Lincoln we use the term Segmented Learning (including microlectures)

Mobile learning

The use of mobile devices (for example, phones or tablets) in teaching and learning activity. This term can encompass more traditional learning activities (such as reading digital versions of journals) or less traditional activities such as engaging in virtual simulations.

Online labs

A term to describe ways of replicating activities in physical labs such as simulations, experiments, virtual reality field trips and lab casts which connect staff and students through live streaming.

Offline learning

Offline learning takes place when students who are studying on a digital programme are involved in learning activity that does not involve digital engagement, for example, a student producing non-digital forms of creative work.

Pedagogy first

An approach to the development of digital learning in which the pedagogical approaches to be taken in the delivery of the programme are placed at the forefront and regarded as a key driver in the programme development and design process.

Personalised learning

Personalised learning is an educational approach that aims to customise learning for each student’s strengths, needs, skills and interests. Students can have a degree of choice in how they learn as compared to the face-to-face lecture approach


In the context of e-learning, platform would normally describe the software infrastructure on which a virtual learning environment (VLE) is constructed.


An audio file made available digitally, often a radio broadcast, which can be downloaded to a device


A web-based platform that provides a ‘front door’ for links to key sources of information. A student portal might, for example, provide links to a VLE, student email, learning resources and student support services.

Screen capture tool and screencast

Screen capture is software which allows a screenshot to be taken, annotated and edited. Screencast is a video recording of the screen on a person’s device so that it can be shared with others. Audio or written explanatory commentary can be added.

Social learning

Social learning can be used to describe discussion board or forum participation, as well as any other groupwork activity that takes place digitally, where students discuss and learn from each other

Synchronous learning

Learning that takes place with participants all engaging with material in real time, although not necessarily in the same place (for example, some students may participate onsite while others may participate remotely, both at the same time).

Technology enhanced learning

Technology enhanced learning is an overarching term to describe the use of technology to support learning, teaching and assessment and to enhance the student experience. Technology enhanced learning can support teaching and learning both onsite and remotely. The term web enhanced learning is sometimes used synonymously with technology enhanced learning; although the former is, by definition, a more focused term relating to all technology used to support learning while web enhanced learning focuses on the connectivity and the use of web-enabled resources.


A video file made available digitally, often a video version of a radio broadcast, which can be downloaded to a device. This term can also encompass Vlogs.

Virtual classroom

A digital environment provided through a virtual learning platform, which replicates the physical classroom in a virtual way, allowing tutors and staff to communicate, interact and engage synchronously in teaching and learning activities.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

A platform for supporting learning and teaching (particularly digital learning) and providing a space for learning resources. The precise functions and facility provided by each platform will vary and there will be options to customise and add packages depending on needs. In most cases, a VLE will, as a minimum, provide a repository for documentation (for example, programme/module information, timetables, policies and procedures), provide a message facility and support the submission of assessments and provision of feedback on assessed work.


A web-based learning or training activity, usually interactive, for example, a workshop or seminar. Webinars take place synchronously using video conferencing software, with participants taking part digitally. Webinars may be recorded and made available as a video for asynchronous viewing.