Glossary of Terms - Digital Promise

Glossary of Terms

Frontline Workers – Frontline workers are the workers at the frontlines, who deal directly with customers and deliver services.

Upskilling – Upskilling encompasses the educational and training opportunities to support frontline workers in progressing to more senior roles with higher pay and better benefits.1

Adult education – Adult education refers to the practice of “education specifically targeting adults engaged in activities to gain new skills, knowledge, or competencies. These systematic activities allow adult learners to “to improve their technical or professional qualifications, further develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge with the purpose to complete a level of formal education, or to acquire knowledge, skills and competencies in a new field or to refresh or update their knowledge in a particular field.”2 This also includes lifelong and lifewide education.

Adult learners – Adult learners are individuals over the age of 16 who are no longer in traditional postsecondary institutions of higher education seeking educational and professional advancement through adult education opportunities. In this report, adult learners are used synonymously with frontline workers, meaning we are specifically speaking about the adult learners employed in frontline positions seeking upskilling opportunities.

Data interoperability – Data Interoperability refers to “the seamless, secure and controlled exchange of data.”3

Data governance – Data governance refers to a data management process or framework whereby an organization or a collection of organizations ensure the collection, storage, and security of high quality data.

Data sharing systems – Data sharing systems are technological platforms where data collected by multiple entities can be shared across and within multiple stakeholders’ organizations.

Outcomes – Outcomes data provide information about the long-term impact of a program or training on an individual’s life. These data track individuals to measure changes in employment status, salary and wages, housing status, and educational attainment.

Outputs – Outputs data track the short-term status of a program or training participant. These data are often what compliance and accountability systems track, such as program retention and attendance numbers, program entry and exit dates, and program or training completion.

Learning records – Learning records catalog information about an individual’s efforts to achieve higher educational attainment. These records could include program and training enrollment and completion, degree and certificate attainment, and adult education assessment results.

Personal data – Personal data describes an individual’s demographics, such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, current employment status, salary and wages, and can include their professional and academic goals.

Employment records – Employment records are often proprietary data collected and managed by employers to track employee status, wages, training participation, and, sometimes, quality of work.

Case management – Case management data are typically collected by program staff. The data are used to inform eligibility for various programs and services, to support individuals in developing program and training plans and pathways, and to align their efforts with achieving their goals professionally and academically. This data may include an individual’s medical, academic, personal, and employment history, barriers they have or currently face, and strengths to capitalize on thus leading to more successful outcomes.

Financial data – Financial data can include an individual’s wage and salary information, bank account information, savings information, and credit score.

Pathways – Pathways are the frontline worker-centered plans to support an individual in mapping out the training and educational programs needed to achieve their professional and academic goals.


  1. The White House (2015, April). White House Report: President Obama’s Upskill Initiative. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/150423_upskill_report_final_3.pdf
  2. UNESCO (2018, September 26). Adult education. Retrieved from http://uis.unesco.org/en/glossary-term/adult-education
  3. https://digitalpromise.org/digging-data-interoperability/
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