Active learning

A process whereby learners actively engage in the learning process, rather than "passively" absorbing lectures. Active learning involves reading, writing, discussion, and engagement in solving problems, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Activity theory (AT)

A Soviet psychological meta-theory, paradigm, or framework, with its roots in socio-cultural approach. It became one of the major psychological approaches in the former USSR, being widely used in both theoretical and applied psychology, in areas such as the education, training, ergonomics, and work psychology. The foundational concept of the framework is "activity", which is understood as purposeful, transformative, and developing interaction between actors ("subjects") and the world ("objects").


The action of taking something apart in order to study it.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The process of appraising knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences of an individual against predefined criteria (learning expectations, measurement of learning outcomes). Assessment is typically followed by validation and certification.

Basic skills

The skills needed to live in contemporary society, e.g. listening, speaking, reading, writing and mathematics.

Blended learning

Learning in a combination of modes, usually referring to teaching and learning techniques which use a combination of traditional face-to-face teaching and distance learning techniques online.

Collaborative learning

An umbrella term for a variety of approaches in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Groups of students work together in searching for understanding, meaning or solutions or in creating a product.

Community of practice (CoP)

Refers to the process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.

Computer Based Learning (CBL)

Refers to the use of computers as a key component of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes.


A set of assumptions about the nature of human learning that guide constructivist learning theories and teaching methods. Constructivism values developmentally appropriate, teacher-supported learning that is initiated and directed by the student.


The ability to apply learning outcomes adequately in a defined context (education, work, personal or professional development).

Compulsory education

The minimal legal standards and duration of obligatory schooling.

Continuing education and training

Education or training after initial education and training – or after entry into working life aimed at helping individuals to:

– improve or update their knowledge and/or skills;

– acquire new skills for a career move or retraining;

– continue their personal or professional development.

Critical thinking

A mental process of analysing or evaluating information, particularly statements or propositions that people have offered as true. It forms a process of reflecting upon the meaning of statements, examining the offered evidence and reasoning and forming judgments about the facts.

Cultural learning

The way a group of people within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on new information. Is a uniquely human form of social learning that allows for a fidelity of transmission of behaviours and information among conspecifics not possible in other forms of social learning.


The inventory of activities implemented to design, organise and plan an education or training action, including the definition of learning objectives, content, methods (including assessment) and material, as well as arrangements for training teachers and trainers.

Digital literacy

The competence to use information and communication technology (ICT).

Distance education and training

Education and training imparted at a distance through communication media: books, radio, TV, telephone, correspondence, computer or video, online or offline.

Distance education

A field of education that focuses on the pedagogy/andragogy, technology, and instructional systems design that is effectively incorporated in delivering education to students who are not physically "on site" to receive their education. Instead, teachers and students may communicate asynchronously (at times of their own choosing) by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time (synchronously).


A social science that encompasses teaching and learning specific knowledge, beliefs, and skills. Licensed and practicing teachers in the field use a variety of methods and materials in order to impart a curriculum.

Educational games

Games, including video games of this genre, designed to teach people about a certain subject or help them learn a skill as they play.

Educational research

Research conducted to investigate behavioural patterns in pupils, students, teachers and other participants in schools and other educational institutions. Such research is often conducted by examining work products such as documents and standardized test results. The methods of educational research are derived chiefly from the social sciences, and in particular from psychology.

Educational software

Computer software whose primary purpose is teaching or self-learning.

Educational technology

The use of technology in education. It is a systematic, iterative process for designing instruction or training used to improve performance. Educational technology is sometimes also known as instructional technology or learning technology.


An approach to facilitate and enhance learning through, and based on, both computer and communications technology. Such devices can include personal computers, CDROMs, Digital Television, P.D.A.'s and Mobile Phones. Communications technology enables the use of the Internet, email, discussion forums, collaborative software and team learning systems.


Comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of something or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. The concept of experience generally refers to know-how or procedural knowledge, rather than propositional knowledge.

Experiential education (or "learning by doing")

The process of actively engaging students in an authentic experience that will have benefits and consequences. Students make discoveries and experiment with knowledge themselves instead of hearing or reading about the experiences of others. Students also reflect on their experiences, thus developing new skills, new attitudes, and new theories or ways of thinking. Experiential education is related to the constructivist learning theory.

Formal learning

Learning that occurs in an organised and structured environment (e.g. in an education or training institution or on the job) and is explicitly designated as learning (in terms of objectives, time or resources). Formal learning is intentional from the learner's point of view. It typically leads to validation and certification.

Informal learning

Learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. Informal learning is in most cases unintentional from the learner's perspective.

Information and communication technology (ICT)

Technology which provides for the electronic input, storage, retrieval, processing, transmission and dissemination of information.

Information and communication technology (ICT) skills

The skills needed for efficient use of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Inquiry based learning

A student-centered method of education focused on asking questions. Students are encouraged to ask questions which are meaningful to them, and which do not necessarily have easy answers; teachers are encouraged to avoid speaking at all when this is possible, and in any case to avoid giving answers in favour of asking more questions. It enables students to develop and use critical thinking skills, which are transferable across many subject areas.

Instructional design

The analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction.

Instructional scaffolding

The provision of sufficient supports to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students.

Instructional theory

A discipline that focuses on how to structure material for promoting the education of humans, particularly youth. Originating in the United States in the late 1970's, instructional theory is typically divided into two categories: the cognitive and behaviourist schools of thought.

Key skills

The sum of skills (basic and new basic skills) needed to live in contemporary knowledge society.


The outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of study or work.


The process by which an individual assimilates information, ideas and values and thus acquires knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences through study, experience, or teaching, that causes a change of behaviour that is persistent, measurable, and specified or allows an individual to formulate a new mental construct or revise a prior mental construct (conceptual knowledge such as attitudes or values).

Learning by doing

Learning acquired by repeated practice of a task, with or without prior instruction.

Learning content

The topics and activities which make up what is learned by an individual or group of learners during a learning process.

Learning facilitator

Anyone who promotes the acquisition of knowledge and skills by establishing a favourable learning environment, including anyone exercising a teaching, training, supervision or guidance function. The facilitator helps the learner develop knowledge and skills by providing guidelines, feedback and advice throughout the learning process.

Learning outcomes

The set of knowledge, skills and/or competences an individual has acquired and/or is able to demonstrate after completion of a learning process, formal, non-formal or informal.

Lifelong learning

All learning activity undertaken throughout life, which results in improving knowledge, know-how, skills, competences and/or qualifications for personal, social and/or professional reasons.

Lifelong learning

The concept that "It's never too soon or too late for learning". Lifelong learning sees citizens provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home and through leisure activities, not just through formal channels such as school and higher education.


Guidance and support provided in a variety of ways to a young person or novice (i.e. someone joining a new learning community or organisation) by an experienced person who acts as a role model, guide, tutor, coach or mentor.


Refers to thinking about cognition (memory, perception, calculation, association, etc.) itself. Metacognition can be divided into two types of knowledge: explicit, conscious, factual knowledge; and implicit, unconscious, procedural knowledge.


Strictly speaking is the study and knowledge of methods; but the term is frequently used pretentiously to indicate a method or a set of methods. In other words, it is the study of techniques for research, problem-solving and seeking answers, as opposed to the techniques themselves.


It is an internal state that activates behaviour and gives it direction. Emotion is closely related to motivation, and may be regarded as the subjectively experienced component of motivational states.

New basic skills

The skills such as information and communication technology (ICT) skills, foreign languages, social, organisational and communication skills, technological culture, entrepreneurship.

Non-formal learning

Learning which is embedded in planned activities not explicitly designated as learning (in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support). Non-formal learning is intentional from the learner's point of view.


An educational objective is a statement of a goal which successful participants are expected demonstrably to achieve before the course or unit completes.


An activity of a sapient or sentient living being, which senses and assimilates the knowledge of a phenomenon in its framework of previous knowledge and ideas.

Open learning

Learning which gives to the learner a degree of flexibility in the choice of topics, place, pace and/or method.


The art or/and science of teaching. The word comes from the ancient Greek paidagogos, the slave who took little boys to and from school.

Problem solving

Forms part of thinking. It occurs if an organism or an artificial intelligence system does not know how to proceed from a given state to a desired goal state. It is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping.

Problem-based learning (PBL)

A didactic concept of "active learning" in tertiary education. The defining characteristics of PBL are: learning is driven by messy, open-ended problems; students work in small collaborative groups; and "teachers" are not required, the process uses "facilitators" of learning. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their group and organise and direct the learning process with support from a tutor or instructor.


The term qualification covers different aspects:

(a) formal qualification: the formal outcome (certificate, diploma or title) of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards and/or possesses the necessary competence to do a job in a specific area of work. A qualification confers official recognition of the value of learning outcomes in the labour market and in education and training. A qualification can be a legal entitlement to practice a trade (OECD);

(b) job requirements: the knowledge, aptitudes and skills required to perform the specific tasks attached to a particular work position (ILO).


Often described as an active, diligent, and systematic process of inquiry aimed at discovering, interpreting and revising facts. It produces a greater understanding of events, behaviours, or theories, and makes practical applications through laws and theories. The term research is also used to describe a collection of information about a particular subject, and is usually associated with science and the scientific method.

Scientific method

A body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or revising and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

Science education

The field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises science content, some sociology, and some teaching pedagogy.

Situated learning

Education that takes place in a setting functionally identical to that where the learning will be applied.


The ability, usually learned, to perform tasks and actions and solve problems.

Student-centered learning

An approach to education focusing on the needs of the students, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators. This approach has many implications for the design of curriculum, course content, and interactivity of courses.


An integration of two or more pre-existing elements which results in a new creation.


A person whose function is to impart knowledge, know-how or skills to learners in an education or training institution or setting.

Tertiary education

The educational level following the completion of a school providing a secondary education such as a high school, secondary school, or gymnasium. Tertiary education is commonly higher education which prepares students for a quaternary education. Colleges and universities are examples of institutions that provide tertiary education. The term Tertiary education can also be used to refer to vocational education and training.


Refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge and relates to specific useful skills. It forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of content at technical oriented educational institutions.


Anyone who fullfils one or more activities linked to the (theoretical or practical) training function, either in an institution for education or training, or at the workplace.


Any activity offering a learner guidance, counselling or supervision by an experienced and competent professional. The tutor supports the learner throughout the learning process (at school, in training centres or on the job).


A psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as, person, situation and message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.


Short-term targeted training typically provided following initial education or training, and aimed at supplementing, improving or updating knowledge, skills and/or competences acquired during previous training.

Virtual learning environment (VLE)

A software system designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially by helping teachers and learners with course administration. The system can often track the learners' progress, which can be monitored by both teachers and learners.

Vocational education and training (VET)

Education and training which aims to equip people with knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences required in particular occupations or more broadly on the labour market.