an activity designed to encourage active engagement by learners in an online environment. It will typically involve some kind of interaction/co-operation.The term was coined by the Australian academic Gilly Salmon.

early education

this term refers to the educational experiences of young children and may include learning experienced in family settings and through informal activities as well as that through planned provision.

early years

a period of childhood which, dependent on the context and understanding used, may range from pre-birth to around the age of 8

ecological validity

in a research study, the extent to which the findings can be generalised beyond the particular environment and conditions of the original study.


a development of the critical pedagogy movement which aims at 'planetary consciousness', educating for a sustainable future for humanity and the environment. It promotes sustainable civilization from an ecological perspective, involving significant changes to existing economic, social, and cultural structures. It sees current environmental education, outdoor education, and education for sustainable development as inadequate to address the challenge.

educational technology

the identification, development, organisation, or utilisation of educational resources. It is commonly used in a more limited sense to describe the use of ICT, equipment-orientedtechniques or audiovisual aids in educational settings.

elaborated code

a term in sociolinguistics, introduced by Basil Bernstein (1924-2000), which refers to a style of language marked by its formal, explicit, and complex features. It contrasts with restricted code. Because the education system makes much use of elaborated code, it is suggested that those who have difficulty in using elaborated code will struggle to cope generally.

elementary schools

the term used in North America for primary schools. It was also used in the past in the UK for schools which covered the age range from 5 to 14, particularly in industrial areas. Elementary education was also a term used for primary education.

emotional intelligence

the ability to perceive, assess and monitor one's own and others' emotions, including the ability to empathise, motivate, and influence. It features in the work of Howard Gardner (b. 1943) and has been popularised by Daniel Goleman (b.1946).

endowed school

a school set up for charitable purposes and endowed with funds (cash, shares or property) by its founders. Many were brought in to the state sector after the 1870s reforms.


a philosophical movement of the 18th century characterised by an emphasis on human reason and science rather than on tradition and beliefs. This rationalism had a considerable influence in politics, economics, and religion (see modernity).

enquiry learning

a learner-centred approach that emphasises higher order thinking skills, including analysis, problem solving, discovery and creative activities, both in the classroom and the community. Most importantly, in enquiry learning learners are responsible for processing the data they are working with in order to reach their own conclusions.

ethnic minority

a group, within a community, which has different national or cultural traditions or identity from the majority population.


the study of causation, of why things occur. Etiological issues are important in educational research when trying to pick out key factors in some phenomenon, or in discriminating between causation and mere correlation. For example, a study may struggle to determine if reading for pleasure activity contributes to reading ability, or if it is reading ability that leads to more reading for pleasure. As with many etiological issues in education, the answer may not be clear-cut.

expressive learning

an approach which focuses on creativity and performance on the part of learners. Learners may communicate what they have learned through the expressive arts - music, drama, dance, for example, and be assessed in those terms.


a term used for university teaching or courses offered to students not in full-time study. In Latin, the words mean 'beyond, or outside the walls' so it also sometimes refers to study away from campus or an institution.


descriptive of activities which fall outside the formal curriuclum. Such activities may include optional lunchtime and afterschool clubs and societies, for example. Some dispute the term but it can be useful for distinguishing learning which is beyond the compulsory core (see informal curriculum)