50 Instructional Design Acronyms You Need To Know For Your Instructional Design Career

50 Instructional Design Acronyms You Need To Know For Your Instructional Design Career
Summary: Knowing the language of your profession is essential for advancing your Instructional Design career. This article lists the top 50 Instructional Design acronyms used in the industry.

Top 50 Instructional Design Acronyms You Should Know

As is the case with any career path, Instructional Designers must learn the lingo in order to pave the way to professional success. Here are the top 50 Instructional Design acronyms that every Instructional Designer must know.

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A process model that highlights the five phases of eLearning course development, namely Analyze, Design, Development, Implement and Evaluate.

2. AI

Appreciative Inquiry Theory: A learning theory that encourages learners to build upon their existing strengths and skills.


Aviation Industry CBT Committee: A compliance standard that stipulates the way the eLearning course content is supposed to interact with different LMSs.

4. ALE

Adaptive Learning Environment: An online learning system that offers personalized instruction to meet the unique learning needs of each online learner.

5. ALN

Asynchronous Learning Network: Computer-assisted learning that enables online learners to take eLearning courses as per their own schedules.


A motivation model that focuses on 4 elements: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction.


An Instructional Design process model that has 6 key stages:

1. Analyze Online Learners

2. State Learning Objectives

3. Select Methods

4. Utilize Technology & Materials

5. Require Online Learner Participation

6. Evaluate & Revise

8. CAT

Computer Adaptive Testing: A computer-based test whose difficulty level is calibrated based on the online learner’s capability.

9. CBL

Case-Based Learning: A learning approach that encourages online learners to contemplate on case studies that resemble real-life scenarios.


Computer-Based Training / Web-Based Training refer to digital training that is accessible via a personal or networked computer, or other type of mobile device, either installed (CBT) or through an internet browser (WBT).

11. CIPP

An eLearning course evaluation model that systematically focuses on Context, Input, Process, and Product.

12. CLO

Chief Learning Officer: A high-ranking executive who is in charge of organizational learning.

13. CLT

Cognitive Load Theory: A theory which suggests that learning must be delivered as per the learner’s information processing capacity.

14. CMI

Computer-Managed Instruction: Instruction delivered exclusively with the help of computer systems.

15. CMS

Content Management System: Software used for creating and managing electronic content.

16. CSS

Cascading Style Sheets: A language used to stylize the content incorporated in a document which is written in a markup language.

17. DIKW

Data, Information, Knowledge & Wisdom hierarchy: An approach that aims to build organizational wisdom and knowledge by extracting relevant information from the available data.

18. DiSC

A personality profiling tool that is used to classify an online learner’s personality on the basis of 4 traits: Dominant, Influential, Steady and Conscientious.

19. ELO

Extended Learning Outcomes: The essential skills needed to improve on-the-job performance.

20. EPSS

Electronic Performance Support System: Instructional software that helps the online learner to complete an on-the-job task.

21. GUI

Graphical User Interface: A visual interface that makes use of graphics to facilitate human-computer interaction.

22. HTML

Hypertext Markup Language: A markup language that can be used to develop eLearning courses which adhere to web standards.

23. MBTI

Myer-Briggs Type Indicator: A personality assessment used to understand an online learner’s learning preferences.

24. NLP

Neuro-Linguistic Programming: A method to alter the behavior by changing the way the brain responds to stimuli.

25. ICT

Information and Communication Technologies: A wide range of telecommunications and digital technologies that facilitate the exchange of information.

26. ICM

Instructional Curriculum Map: A method to plan the eLearning course structure.


A problem-solving approach that stands for ‘Identify problem’, ‘Define problem’, ‘Explore solutions’, ‘Act to resolve’ and ‘Look back’.

28. IGI

Individualized Group Instruction: An eLearning course created to suit individual and personalized needs of different online learners.

29. ILO

Intended Learning Outcomes: The broader objectives of an eLearning course; what online learners will have mastered by the end of the eLearning course.

30. IPI

Individually Prescribed Instruction: A teaching approach that helps different online learners to overcome their learning difficulties.

31. ISD

Instructional System Design: The process of designing and improving formal eLearning courses.

32. LMS

Learning Management System: Software used to manage the eLearning process.

33. LO

Learning Object: A self-reliant chunk of instructional online training content which is used in an eLearning course. The learning object can be interactive (ILO), reusable (RLO) or contextual (CLO).

34. LOR

Learning Object Repositories: A centralized digital library used to store, modify and share various learning objects.

35. LORI

Learning Object Review Instrument: A technique used to assess the quality of the online training resources and content used in an eLearning course.

36. MOOC

Massive Open Online Courses: A free online course that can be accessed by the public without restrictions.

37. OBE

Outcomes-Based Education: Online training that imparts specific skills relevant to the employee’s job profile.

38. R2D2

Read, Reflect, Display, and Do Model: An Instructional Design framework that caters to diverse online learner needs.

39. RLO

Reusable Learning Object: An independent chunk of online training content that can be reused time and again in a variety of different eLearning activities, modules, and courses.

40. SAM

Successive Approximation Model: A model that recommends to develop and deliver eLearning courses in small repetitive steps.

41. SDL

Self-Directed Learning: Instructional Design method that encourages individuals to find relevant online resources themselves to fulfill their learning requirements or goals.


Sharable Content Object Reference Model: A set of standards for creating cross-platform eLearning courses.

43. SME

Subject Matter Expert: A domain expert who provides input for the development of a formal eLearning course.

44. SOLO

Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes: A simple-to-complex approach of presenting information.

45. TOIS

Task-Oriented Instruction System: A teaching method that focuses on what the learner must be able to do rather what they should know.

46. UXD

User Experience Design: Process of designing easy-to-use eLearning material that maximizes users' experience with the online training content.

47. VARK

A model to classify the learning preferences of online learners into four types:

1. Visual

2. Aural

3. Read/Write

4. Kinesthetic

48. VILT

Virtual Instructor-Led Training: A live training that is delivered over the Internet with an online instructor. It may be synchronous or asynchronous.

49. xAPI

Experience Application Programming Interface: A specification for tracking and recording various eLearning activities that establishes interoperability among various Learning Management Systems.

50. XML

Extensible Markup Language: A markup language used to reuse eLearning content in an effective way.

It may be difficult to commit all of these Instructional Design acronyms to memory. After all, there's only so much room to store all the need-to-know information. However, you can always keep this Instructional Design dictionary at the ready and refer to it whenever the need arises.

Getting started in an Instructional Design career will open you up to the exciting world of eLearning. Download our free eBook How To Kick Start And Boost An Amazing Instructional Design Career to discover all tips for identifying and securing your Instructional Design dream job.