In Conversation: five questions with Peter Forrest about his glossary of e-learning terms

Feb 15, 2023 by Erin Becker

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Peter Forrest is an experienced learning design consultant and manager, and has worked across different sectors including technology, professional services, and higher education. His work involves consulting with clients to identify their learning and performance goals and address them with high-impact learning solutions.

At the start of the year, with his team at Logicearth Learning Services, Peter put together The Ultimate Glossary of eLearning Terms, covering the core components of digital learning, L&D strategy, learning design, and learning technologies.

I appreciated Peter's thoughts on how he came to the L&D field and what went into creating this glossary, and I hope you enjoy his insights as much as I did!

This interview is part of a Nomadic blog series featuring different perspectives on L&D, leadership, and how companies are transforming the way they do business, learn, and grow. If you're interested in these topics, you might also enjoy my earlier interview with our CEO and co-founder Matt Burr, where we talk about how learning can support business transformation.


In Conversation: Five Questions with Peter Forrest

1. Before we dive in to discussing the glossary of e-learning terms, what brought you to work in learning design in the first place?

I’ve always been interested in learning and personal development, and after I started my career in software development, I became interested in how technology can support the learning process. And when I wanted to move from that career path, I completed a distance learning MBA with the Open University, where I could see technology-supported learning in action. That spurred a move into distance and online learning, which was great, though I eventually came to see that we needed to do more to encourage the application of learning in multiple contexts. And that led me to some very exciting projects focused on that need.

Now, it’s really my dream job: solving problems, creating useful learning interventions, working with great people in multidisciplinary cross-functional teams, and generally broadening my view of the world every day.

2. What was your main motivation for putting together the glossary?

We had a really good glossary already that the team had created previously. It needed updating, however, and I wanted to make it more useful to anyone who worked in the learning field. That meants making it work for different audiences: whether you were involved in putting together digital learning, working with stakeholders, or an in-house L&D function. I also wanted it to be useful whether you were new to L&D or had been in the industry for a while. Finally, it needed to serve people at all levels, from CLO to junior designer.

I guess my other reason was that I wanted to learn, too. And this was a great way to refresh some of my knowledge around L&D.

3. How challenging a task was creating the list? Did it take long to put together?

The main challenge was thinking about our different audiences and trying to make sure we spoke their language. We thought about our different customers and their needs and drew on our experience with clients, making sure to keep in mind what they might need from a glossary. I think if we’d had more time, we could have systematised this more, with clearer tagging that would make it easier for us to maintain. But I think that will have to wait for version 2.0.

It did take time as well. It’s a large glossary, and I needed to spend some time reading through it. I also wanted the process to be collaborative: there’s a great depth of expertise in the team, and I wanted to tap into that and get feedback, and input from my learning professional colleagues who bring their own experiences and perspectives. So that took a bit of coordination in the team.

4. Was it difficult finding a consensus on how the terms are defined?

We didn’t argue about the definitions themselves, but we did have some discussion around the wording and tone of voice. We wanted the glossary to be accessible and in plain English, and some of my efforts were initially a bit formal. And there were a few places where I had focused on one aspect of a definition, so I loved getting feedback and using it to make updates and changes.

There is still room for improvement! So if you or anyone else gets confused, or can’t find a term, or disagrees with us, then look me up on LinkedIn and let me know. We’ll be making amendments more regularly now to keep it up to date and add more terms as the industry evolves, and it’s always great to get feedback on how we can improve.

5. What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in learning who might be intimated by all the industry jargon?

Read our glossary. 😊 (I'm being somewhat facetious: I wouldn’t expect people to learn, just by reading. But it is a useful resource to bookmark!)

What I would say is to think short-term and long-term. Short-term, start small: roles in learning can be quite specialised, whether you’re starting as a junior technologist, learning designer, digital designer, L&D administrator, or have transferred in from another area, you don’t need to know everything all at once. Focus on the terms that are important in your area right now, to develop your competence.

And as you're doing all that, be sure to also lay the foundations for the long-term: keep asking questions and stay curious: curious about learning, but also about business, psychology, neuroscience, behavioural science, and a whole bunch of other areas that relate or that you’re interested in. And look for examples: great work that you can learn from, that you can steal ideas from.


Thanks again, Peter, for sharing your thoughts! I loved hearing more about the background behind this incredible tool, and will be sure to bookmark it for future reference. 😊

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