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Words Matter!

Anyone who has ever been a student probably can remember an exchange such as this during their school career.

Student: “Ms. Smith, can I sharpen my pencil?”

Ms. Smith: “I don’t know, CAN you?”

Class: Collective groan

Student: “Ms. Smith, MAY I…?”


As people with backgrounds in education, we here at Omnibiz tend to be picky when it comes to choosing our words! We know that words are powerful, and can mean the difference between student success and student failure. When designing courses, it’s important to be consistent with language for several reasons. 

  1. This helps to avoid student confusion about where in the course materials and information are located.
  2. Consistent language leads to increased comprehension of the course materials.
  3. When ambiguous language is used, it’s open to interpretation. Using consistent and concrete terms when trying to teach new concepts is one way to aid student success. Two big words that are often misconstrued in the world of online learning are “module” and “lesson”.

Let’s take a look at the meanings of these words, the difference between the two, and how they can be used consistently to make your course more clear for your learners. 

Modules- Not For Outer Space!

When we think of the word “module”, we may think of part of the International Space Station, but in online learning, modules mean something different. According to, a module “refers to an instructional unit that focuses on a particular topic”. A module covers a broad topic, and is organized into smaller parts called lessons. Modules also include learning objectives, resources, and end-of module assessments. 

Learn Your Lesson

A lesson is defined as “a short period of time during which learners are taught about a particular subject or taught how to perform a particular activity.” It is a smaller, more specific part of a broader module. For example, in the module “Your Solar System”, a lesson within that module would be “Jupiter”. Lessons also include objectives and shorter assessments. 

Why Differentiate? 

As we mentioned before, it’s very important to use consistent language when creating an online course. Using the words “module” and “lesson” correctly will lead to less student confusion. For example, if the instructor tells students that something is located in Module 9, and it’s really located in a different module, Lesson 9, the student wastes time looking for information. This can result in frustration and low course completion rates. 

One of the best things an online instructor can do is to be clear and consistent with language! Set your learners up for success. You have an idea that you want to share, so make sure it’s accessible to the people you want to share it with!