L&D Jargon Terms And Acronyms: A Glossary For Professionals

L&D Jargon Terms And Acronyms: A Glossary For Professionals

A Baker’s Dozen Of L&D Jargon Terms And Acronyms To Know

The goal of these articles is to provide you with the kind of industry-specific context that AI or Wikipedia wouldn’t know to give you. In my previous article, we decoded the following 13 common L&D jargon terms/acronyms:

  • Instructional Design (ID)
  • Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Synchronous and asynchronous learning
  • Microlearning
  • Gamification
  • Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Blended learning
  • Flipped classroom
  • AICC
  • xAPI
  • cmi5
  • Learning ecosystem

It seems to have proven quite useful! And since then, I’ve received quite a few suggestions on what to include next, with an emphasis on the acronyms. So, here are 13 more L&D-specific jargon terms and their acronyms:

13 Jargon Terms And Acronyms For L&D Professionals

1. SME

Commonly pronounced “smee,” a SME is a Subject Matter Expert with specific domain knowledge. In L&D, we need to work with people like this often, whenever our own expertise isn’t enough. SME stakeholders typically want us to include more information in the trainings that we’re building, and it’s our job to advocate for what the people learning from these trainings need to know.


This is an acronym for the most common training development methodology of the last 100 years. It stands for:

  • Assess
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

In the traditional waterfall project management approach, projects ideally begin and go through each stage in sequence until the end. In real life, it rarely works out this cleanly, but ADDIE remains the most well-known approach to making training.

3. SAM

Well, that’s my name of course! But this approach to making training takes its name from the Successive Approximation Methodology. Think of it as a more agile-friendly or iterative design model than ADDIE. With SAM, you start with a short preparation phase, then quickly get to creating content that is progressively refined.

4. 5Di

This is a more recent training delivery methodology that’s gaining traction quickly. Like ADDIE, it refers to stages of the development process. These are:

  • Define
  • Discover
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Deploy
  • Iterate

Note that the middle stages of Design, Develop, Deploy map nicely to ADDIE’s Design, Develop, Implement. While ADDIE is generally conceived of as a linear process, 5Di ties the beginning/ending stages together to become circular, but in a more directional and explicitly staged way than SAM.


Not a learning model, but rather a motivational model that was popularized as a way for Instructional Designers to get and keep attention on their content. It’s an acronym made up of:

  • Attention
  • Relevance
  • Confidence
  • Satisfaction

However, there’s plenty more to this model.


CBT stands for Computer-Based Training and it’s a term from a pre-eLearning time that is still in use today. It simply refers to training that requires the use of a computer. So, all eLearning qualifies, as does any software-based training. Back in the days before the internet, it was common to circulate physical media (floppy disks, CDs, etc.) that could be put inside a computer for CBT. Unlike CBT, WBT (or Web-Based Training) requires an internet connection as well.

7. CMS

In the world of L&D, this could refer to a Content Management System (such as the platform running your local intranet), but it more likely is in reference to a Course Management System. It depends on who you’re talking to, so it’s reasonable to ask and be sure. Like an LMS, this is a place to manage course listings. Though, unlike an LMS, this term is used generally for synchronous trainings instead of asynchronous ones.

8. ILT

This is Instructor-Led Training requiring a facilitator or instructor to direct the class in real time. Usually, this is in reference to a physical classroom (as you probably experienced in school), but sometimes people use this term to describe virtual training, too—though technically vILT and VC (below) are more descriptive for these internet-dependent forms of delivery. By the way, nobody rhymes “ILT” with “kilt,” we say all the letters for some reason.


Unless you’re at a startup, VC does not mean Venture Capital. Instead, it’s what we call a Virtual Classroom which is commonly associated with the use of communication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Adobe Connect, and the like. These may also be called Virtual Instructor-Led Training. If such a session is recorded for later replay, then Recorded Virtual Classroom is a more technically accurate description, though it is not as commonly used.

10. MOOC

Think of the sound a cow makes when you say “MOOC,” which stands for Massive Open Online Course. This is a cohort-based, online, blended learning format made popular in the late 2000s. These typically operate at a greater scale than other synchronous trainings, serving hundreds or thousands or even tens of thousands of people instead of dozens. MOOCs are only semi-synchronous though, while people typically come together online for specific time-based experiences or events, they do most of their work independently.

11. PBL

PBL or Problem-Based Learning, also sometimes referred to as Project-Based Learning, is often pronounced “pebble”. It’s a term for training that involves active exploration of real-world challenges via projects or problems that learners are tasked with solving. If you’ve ever worked on a group project or individually on a scenario or case study where you learned things along the way, chances are it would be classified as PBL. It is a trend common in adult learning and is also used in academic settings as well.

12. WCAG/508

These are specific guidelines that provide definitions for accessibility, or how we make our work more usable for more people—some of which may have visual or mobility or other disabilities. Section 508 is the regulation in the USA, though this has largely been supplanted by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the W3C that creates international standards for the World Wide Web. While such protocols are very useful (and may be legally required), keep in mind that they provide only minimum standards, and are not specifically tailored to learning needs. To make your content truly accessible, and to ensure that it is functionally inclusive, ultimately it’s always best to test!

13. CE/CPE

If your organization serves people in professionally accredited fields, such as medicine, finance, insurance, real estate, or dozens of other more regulated industries, chances are there are some Continuing Education or Continuing Professional Education requirements that encourage these professionals to stay current in their profession. Trainings that offer CE or CPE credit must conform to specifications that are set by a professional body that sets and regulates their use. Because these specifications were created and evolved independently, they all operate a bit differently. If your organization offers these credits, you’ll want to research the specifics and become familiar with their uniquely idiosyncratic rules.

Parting Words

Still lost in L&D lingo? This guide was written to help capable people who are new to L&D hit the ground running and communicate better. Time to become a voice that matters within the L&D community!