Pedagogical glossary

This is our glossary where you can look up any terms that you might not know or not be sure about. The references you find will usually be in English, but you might also find some sources in your country’s language. Teachers can also use this list to get inspiration for what to implement in their teaching.


Assessment is the process through which the progress and achievements of a learner or learners are measured or judged in compliance with specific quality criteria (International Bureau of Education, UNESCO).

Asynchronous Learning (derived from the Greek language Asyn meaning “not with” and Chronos meaning “time”) refers to a student-centred learning approach in which teacher and student interactions do not in the same place or at the same time. In an online setting, asynchronous learning allows flexibility so that student participants in an online classroom to engage in learning activities that do not require joining discussions at the same time with everyone else. It is also referred to as online learning in a computer-based learning modality, where geographically separated learners interact on a given subject, independent of time and place (Carr, 2012). Asynchronous learning can help with keeping students engaged.

Teachers use student response systems (e.g. clickers or students’ smartphones) to evaluate student understanding quickly, give guidance and decide what to do next in the classroom discussions (e.g. Mentimeter). Based on text messages, teachers may create multiple-choice questions or more open short-answer questions (Thomas and McGee, 2012).

Collaborative learning is a process of interactive learning and, group knowledge-building (Scott, 2015). The core of this approach is the assumption that people create meaning together and that this process enriches them (Matthews, 1996, in: Davidson & Major, 2014).


Collaborative software (e.g. Google Docs, Padlet); also referred to as groupware, workgroup support systems or group support systems) is a computer software designed to help people working on the same task both synchronously and asynchronously. It is usually associated with collaborative online work (Chichernea, 2012).

A communication platform or software provides remote access to systems and the possibility to exchange files and messages in text, audio and video formats (e.g. MS Teams). This includes terminal emulators, file transfer programs, chat, instant messaging programs and similar functionality integrated within multi-user domains, MUDs) (Wikipedia).

Concept maps (e.g. Coggle, Mindmup) may help evaluate students' issues with conceptualisations and knowledge representations (Novak, Godwin and Johansen, 1983). Concept maps consist of graphs of nodes and labelled lines that represent terms and concepts in a given domain and are used to measure important aspects of an individual’s declarative knowledge (Fitzpatrick & Zizzi, 2014). Martindale and Collins (2007) argued that concept mapping supports visualisation of the relationships between concepts, ideas, images, and words (Huang, Tu, Wang, Chen, Yu & Chou, 2017).

Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is often called a ‘dual focused educational approach’ combining content and language (Coyle, Hood, and Marsh 2010). CLIL aims to develop students’ foreign language competence while facilitating their learning of subject matter (Kampen, Admiraal & Berry, 2018).

Dashboard/Monitoring tools provide an overview of selected performance metrics and indicators (e.g., Edmodo). Dashboards can also provide a real-time view on the performance of an organisation or system and consequently can be used to develop the operation right at that moment (Education Analytics White paper, 2017).

Data protection refers to the strategies and processes that can be used to secure the privacy, availability and integrity of one’s data (European Commission).

Digital Formative Assessment (DFA) includes all features of the digital learning environment that support the assessment of student progress and provide information to be used as feedback to change the teaching and learning activities in which students are involved. Assessment becomes ‘formative’ when evidence of learning is actually used by teachers and learners to adapt the next steps in the learning process (Looney, 2019, p.11 of the literature review: The proposed working definition of DFA is based on Black and Wiliam’s 2010 definition of formative assessment, modified to reflect digital contexts).

Digital learning environment refers to the use of digital platforms and tools to structure learning and content aims, guide and sequence activities, and to elicit evidence of understanding (e.g., LAMS). It may involve a combination of technologies as well as face-to-face interactions (Looney, 2019).

Digital storytelling according to Sylvester and Greenidge (2009), incorporates anything which allows learners to use digital technology to create a narrative. It may support learning in different subjects, including literacy (including digital literacy), sciences, mathematics, and so on (Kim, Park and Baek, 2011; Starčic et al., 2016).

Digital educational games refer to computer or online games that are used for educational purposes (Chung & Wu, 2011). Digital educational games can help students learn in a self-directed manner and develop positive attitudes towards learning (see Bertram, 2020).

E-Portfolio/digital diary (e.g. OneNote, Mahara) are personalised learning platforms (Looney, 2019). In education, a portfolio refers to a collection of documents which describe the learning process. It can be used for storing learners’ work, recording achievements, as assessment of and for learning, to keep track of learners’ progress, for presentation and marketing purposes or for mobility between educational institutions (Softic et al., 2013).

E-textbook is a learning platform that incorporates e-learning and e-publishing technologies. It features a dynamic and interactive reading material, and functions as an interface for learning activities among learners who are part of a learning community. Learners can edit and personalise their own text by writing notes, highlighting, and combining related sections based on their understanding and prior knowledge (Gu, Wu & Xu, 2014).

Formative assessment is (or assessment for learning) is not one specific practice, but rather an approach to teaching and learning. It may be best seen as a conceptual approach –a dynamic process that teachers adapt according to conditions and needs (Clark, 2010). Black and Wiliam (2010) define formative assessment as ‘…all those activities undertaken by teachers — and by their students in assessing themselves — that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs’ (Wiliam, 2011).

Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged (Geraci, 1991, in: Data Interoperability, Candela, Pagano & Castelli, 2013). Interoperability between different educational tools can help with personalising digital learning environments for students, for instance, by facilitating the sharing of assessment data (Jakimoski, 2016).

A learning management system is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses, training, or learning and development programs (Wikipedia).

Mobile learning includes some features of Web 2.0 (smartphone and tablet access to Internet) as well as texting features, and tools to take pictures, make audio recordings to support multimedia assessment (e.g. Math4Mobile, Milage+). Mobile learning, by definition, opens possibilities for learning ‘anytime, anywhere’ Looney, 2019, p. 32). This may involve opportunities for situated learning, or to have ready access to study tools and opportunities to engage with peers and/or to received automated feedback. Mobile learning may also be used to differentiate instruction to address varied student needs (Thomas and McGee, 2012).

Peer assessment is the assessment of learners’ work by other learners (International Bureau of Education, UNESCO).

Personalised learning is teaching and learning that is designed to meet the individual needs, interests and preferences of learners who actively take part in the planning of their learning e.g. setting learning goals, self-assessment of learning (Bray & McClaskey, 2013).

Rubrics (in assessment) are scoring tools containing performance criteria and a performance scale with all score points described and defined. Rubrics are specific guidelines with criteria to evaluate the quality of learner work, usually on a point scale. Learners may use rubrics to judge their own work, and to edit and improve it. Rubrics may be part of the national curriculum or syllabi, or be provided in a separate document. (Adapted from: OECD 2013). A rubric is normally comprised of two components – criteria and levels of performance. For each criterion, the evaluator applying the rubric can determine to what degree the learner has met the criterion, i.e. the level of performance. Sometimes rubrics can include descriptors that spell out what is expected of learners at each level of performance for each criterion. An analytic rubric articulates levels of performance for each criterion so the evaluator can assess learner performance on each criterion. A holistic rubric does not list separate levels of performance for each criterion. Instead, it assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole (International Bureau of Education, UNESCO).

Self-assessment is assessment by which the learner gathers information about and reflects on his or her own learning, judges the degree to which it reflects explicitly stated goals or criteria, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and revises accordingly. It is the learner’s own assessment of personal progress in knowledge, skills, processes, and attitudes (International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, Adapted from: Ontario Ministry of Education 2002).

Self-regulated learning focuses on learners’ role in determining their own goals and strategies, actively addressing the ongoing planning and completion of tasks, thus recognising and reflecting on one’s understanding and its effects besides the learning task. Zimmerman (2002) stated that SRL, therefore, goes beyond relying on skill-specific in-depth knowledge, by requiring self-motivation, self-awareness, and behavioural skills to effectively make use of that knowledge (Triquet, Peeters & Lombaerts, 2017).

Student agency is rooted in the belief that students have the ability and the will to influence positively their own lives and the world around them. Student agency is defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to affect change (OECD, 2019).

Summative assessment is the assessment of learners’ achievement at the end of a term, stage, course or programme usually, although not necessarily, involving formal testing or examinations. Summative assessment is most commonly used for ranking, grading and/or promoting students, and for certification purposes (International Bureau of Education, UNESCO).