Developing an online glossary allows tutors and students to create and maintain a list of key words and definitions. A glossary of terms is particularly helpful when a topic uses a lot of terms that may be interpreted to mean different things to different people working within medicine. Not understanding a term can keep readers from engaging with content. It can even cause some to abandon a topic because they perceive the content as over their heads. As tutors the last thing you want to do is alienate readers.

Examples of technology

Moodle Glossary – The glossary activity module allows participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary.

WordPress Glossary  –  Codeat’s Glossary for WordPress is a valuable plugin that automatically creates wordlists from your content and creates styled tooltips. Glossary allows you to create a glossary or dictionary section that groups valuable definitions and automatically links them to their relative terms inside your posts and pages. On hover, highlighted terms in your post/page will show a tooltip with a description and a link to a dedicated post for that description.

A glossary allows you to clarify terms which are sometimes misunderstood.
Online glossaries can be easily updated at any time.
It is possible to enrich entries with multimedia content like videos or audio samples and to connect individual glossary entries to related subjects in an online course.

Glossary content needs to be quality tested to ensure that correct information is provided and that weblinks remain active.
To gain a sufficient volume of material requires engagement and time investment by the whole class and teachers.
Glossaries need to be constantly updated in line with changes in practice.

Other considerations
Having a good glossary is all about giving readers the information they’re looking for so they can better engage with your site content. A good glossary must:

  • Be easy to navigate This usually means putting terms in alphabetical order, but if you have many terms, it might be best to organise them by categories instead of leaving them in one long list. You could also allow visitors to see “most viewed” or “most searched” terms.
  • Be easy to understand If your definition is as complex as the word you are trying to define, you’re not building a useful glossary and will only alienate learners even more.  For certain subjects, images might be incredibly useful. Video may also be helpful for explaining some terms. For example, procedural terms like a certain technique may be easily explained with a Youtube video. This gives a quick, engaging answer that may provide a better answer than if you only used words.