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What Is еLearning?

Written by, Martina Georgievska

Updated January, 5, 2022

In this day and age, especially during a pandemic that has curtailed social movement, we increasingly rely on modern digital technology to complete everyday tasks and processes.

For instance, the degree to which we acquire new knowledge, values, and skills via the internet and other multimedia tools has increased dramatically. We Google how to change a lightbulb, nowadays, instead of knocking on our neighbour’s door.

For that reason, learning platforms continue going digital. But what is eLearning exactly? Continue reading as we cover everything from its types to the ways knowledge is delivered.

What Is E-Learning

Electronic learning is a type of learning process delivered electronically. While the broad definition includes both formal and informal learning conducted at a distance, regardless of the topic, some definitions narrow it to a formal course structured by a learning provider.

Although the term was coined in 1999, its origins date back to the invention of the first test machine in 1924. Then in 1954, B.F. Skinner, a Harvard professor, created the ‘teaching machine’, and the 1960s saw the first record of computer-assisted learning.

Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century: backed by the all-reaching access of the Internet, the booming expansion of personal computing devices is driving a revolutionary transformation of the learning process. Now, everyone can learn anything from any place and at any time as long as they have a desktop, laptop, smartphone, and an optional internet connection.

When implemented formally, the modern e learning system comprises several elements, such as live or pre-recorded video and audio lectures, various activities, interactive quizzes, and more. Moreover, it comes in different forms, from digital courses to software programs and interactive platforms.

Types of E-Learning

Educational scientists have identified several types of e learning training depending on the factors such as its content, education tools, the nature of the communication, and more.

Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)

CAI has been playing a role in the classroom-based learning process since the 1970s. This computer-assisted learning method uses a variety of content forms, such as text, graphics, and video, to improve the process of discovery. With CAI, students fully participate as active learners and utilise various digital learning and testing methods.

The biggest contributing factor to CAI’s popularity is the self-paced instruction, meaning students can go through the material at their own pace instead of the teacher’s dictating pace. Another important aspect is the real-time feedback since it immediately highlights the learners’ mistakes. Despite its mechanical nature, CAI persists as an e-learning system worldwide.

Computer Managed Learning (CML)

Although similar to CAI, the Computer Managed Learning process does not include CAI’s interactivity. Instructors using this method of eLearning at work still have to transfer the knowledge and skills traditionally. However, they rely on a personal computer to manage, improve, and record the teaching process.

For example, teachers using CML have access to an abundance of information that helps them develop their lesson plan, track their students’ progress, develop instructional materials, present multimedia related to the topic at hand, and much more.

Fixed E-Learning

The teaching content used in a fixed e-learning course is not adaptable to the needs of its students or their feedback during the learning process. In essence, every student receives the same type of instruction simultaneously—the staple of the traditional classroom for millennia.

Students with different needs than the majority are disadvantaged in an e-learning environment, who would probably get better results in a more responsive learning system.

Asynchronous Online Learning

Asynchronous electronic learning happens when students acquire new material independent of each other or the instructor. The appeal of asynchronous learning is the option to study at any time or place without two-way communication. This student-centred method is preferred by students with busy schedules who prefer flexible study hours.

An example of asynchronous online instruction is an online course, which can be attended remotely at any time or place. Students can also rewatch the lectures on a per-need basis to thoroughly refresh their knowledge or understand the topic.

Linear E-Learning

The linear transfer of information from a sender to a receiver is the basis of the linear e learning content course. However, due to the one-way nature of communication in such environments, students cannot provide feedback or ask for clarification. Therefore, educational institutions are using this limiting method of online teaching with a decreased regularity lately. Imagine receiving training instructions through the television or the radio nowadays. Inconceivable, right?

Adaptive E-Learning

As the name suggests, this learning method adapts to individual students’ needs, skills, preferences, and performance. While implementing adaptive e learning in education curricula is a more complex task than using traditional teaching methods, it still produces the best results. Pupils who study in this individualised environment are happier, feel accepted, and have the opportunity to develop their potential properly.

Individual Online Learning

Based on the traditional form of learning that has been practised for thousands of years, this type of online learning involves consuming the e-learning content at the pace of individual students. They are also expected to meet their own learning goals without participating in group activities or developing their communicative skills. Therefore, this online studying approach should be complemented by modern techniques.

Collaborative Online Learning

Unlike the previous approach that focused on the individual process of acquiring knowledge, the collaborative method emphasises the importance of cooperation in the learning process. In a collaborative e-learning system, students achieve their goals together while relying on their common strengths, learning from each other, and helping those that lag behind.

Delivering E-Learning

LMS (Learning Management System)

In essence, an LMS is a digital learning platform that helps users organise a complete e-learning course and the tools necessary to manage the learning process and track the students’ progress. This digital learning platform facilitates every aspect of the online learning process, offers the essential study material, and allows students to collaborate with the teacher and among themselves.


SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is one of the two most popular LMS standards used to prepare the testing and learning tools for eLearning training courses. When an LMS launches a SCORM file, it will know which content to launch and when depending on user interaction. Typically, most LMS platforms recognise SCORM-packaged content, but newer e-learning systems might not support earlier versions of SCORM software.


Following SCORM is xAPI (Experience API), which is the newer and better LMS standard. This open-source content packaging standard overcomes many of SCORM’s restrictions. With xAPI, you can consume e-learning content on any mobile platform, socialise and collaborate with other students, study through modern AR and VR activities, and enjoy a host of advanced reporting options.

Benefits of E-Learning


The most enticing benefit of most e learning products is their cost-effectiveness. Since the learning process can happen at any time and place, costs for materials, travelling, and accommodation are non-applicable. For example, students won’t have to get all those pricey textbooks as the necessary learning tools and materials are accessible digitally.

Saving Time

The lesson delivery in e-learning courses is accelerated by 25% to 60% compared to conventional learning methods. Moreover, students and instructors do not waste time travelling since they can initiate the learning process from the comfort of their homes. Teachers can also update and amend their lectures immediately and efficiently via the internet.

Improving Performance and Productivity

E-learning offers broad advantages to productivity and performance via features like adaptability, quick delivery, and scalability. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students learning online engage with the content quickly and effectively. They can also take the lectures repeatedly until they thoroughly understand the content.

Lower Environmental Impact

E-Learning is an eco-friendly method of acquiring knowledge and skills since it does not use conventional teaching material like paper, writing, and painting products. Moreover, e-learning training consumers up to 90% less energy and produces 85% fever CO2 emissions per person, compared to traditional college courses.

Popular Electronic Learning Platforms


This enormous online learning community offers tens of thousands of courses in various creative categories, such as traditional and digital arts and design, as well as entrepreneurship, IT, and lifestyle. Note that most of these digital courses are available with a subscription plan and that the courses are not typically accredited.


Professional adults and students can also join Udemy—one of the biggest e-learning course providers that offers almost 200,000 courses taught by 65,000 instructors in over 70 languages. Unlike Skillshare, however, some Udemy courses contribute towards some technical certifications.

LinkedIn Learning

Previously known as Lynda.com before its acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn Learning is another massive open online course provider. The e-learning content it offers is prepared by industry-leading experts in mainly three learning areas: business, creative, and software skills.

Bottom Line

The advent of eLearning training courses has been inevitable in today’s socially distant digital world. Online learning offers many benefits despite some disadvantages, such as the lack of immediate interpersonal communication. For instance, you can consume the online material at your own pace and at any time or place. Instructors also deliver instantaneous feedback and offer a plethora of multimedia content to assist the learning process. So the next time you decide to upgrade your existing knowledge or skills, you will make the right choice if you go for a reputable electronic learning platform.

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What is the purpose of eLearning?

The goal of e-learning is to facilitate the absorption of new skills or knowledge without physically attending a traditional learning setting.

When should I use eLearning?

Attending an online course is suitable in various situations. For instance, students might be unable to visit a physical classroom or perform specific exercises that require digital tools.

What is eLearning, and how does eLearning work?

In the strictest sense, e-learning takes place in a virtual classroom where students and teachers communicate in real-time. Practice and knowledge retention is also conducted digitally. Students can also follow pre-recorded video and audio lectures at their own pace.

An aspiring linguist with a background in teaching, I decided to use my years of experience to educate my audience through writing. The chance to apply my knowledge to my articles, fueled by my passion for research helped me develop my skills and learn more along the way, awakening my interest in even more topics. When I’m not typing behind my desk, you’ll find me learning a new language or pouring my thoughts into rhymes.