E-learning comprises all forms of electronically supported learning
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

 and teaching. The information
Information systems
Information Systems is an academic/professional discipline bridging the business field and the well-defined computer science field that is evolving toward a new scientific area of study...

 and communication systems, whether networked learning
Networked learning
Networked learning is a process of developing and maintaining connections with people and information, and communicating in such a way so as to support one another's learning.The central term in this definition is connections...

 or not, serve as specific media to implement the learning process. The term will still most likely be utilized to reference out-of-classroom and in-classroom educational experiences via technology, even as advances continue in regard to devices and curriculum.

E-learning is essentially the computer and network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual education
Virtual education
Virtual education refers to instruction in a learning environment where teacher and student are separated by time or space, or both, and the teacher provides course content through the use of methods such as course management applications, multimedia resources, the internet, and videoconferencing...

 opportunities and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM. It can be self-paced or instructor-led and includes media in the form of text, image, animation, streaming video and audio.

Abbreviations like CBT (Computer-Based Training), IBT (Internet-Based Training) or WBT (Web-Based Training) have been used as synonyms to e-learning. Today one can still find these terms being used, along with variations of e-learning such as elearning, Elearning, and eLearning. The terms will be utilized throughout this article to indicate their validity under the broader terminology of E-learning.


The worldwide e-learning industry is estimated to be worth over $48 billion according to conservative estimates. Developments in internet and multimedia technologies are the basic enabler of e-learning, with consulting, content, technologies, services and support being identified as the five key sectors of the e-learning industry.

Higher education

By 2006, 3.5 million students were participating in on-line learning at institutions of higher education in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. According to the Sloan Foundation reports, there has been an increase of around 12–14 percent per year on average in enrollments for fully online learning over the five years 2004–2009 in the US post-secondary system, compared with an average of approximately 2 per cent increase per year in enrollments overall. Allen and Seamen (2009) claim that almost a quarter of all students in post-secondary education were taking fully online courses in 2008, and a report by Ambient Insight Research suggests that in 2009, 44 percent of post-secondary students in the USA were taking some or all of their courses online, and projected that this figure would rise to 81 percent by 2014. Thus it can be seen that e-learning is moving rapidly from the margins to being a predominant form of post-secondary education, at least in the USA.

Many higher education, for-profit institutions, now offer on-line classes. By contrast, only about half of private, non-profit schools offer them. The Sloan report, based on a poll of academic leaders, indicated that students generally appear to be at least as satisfied with their on-line classes as they are with traditional ones. Private institutions may become more involved with on-line presentations as the cost of instituting such a system decreases. Properly trained staff must also be hired to work with students on-line. These staff members need to understand the content area, and also be highly trained in the use of the computer and Internet. Online education is rapidly increasing, and online doctoral programs
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 have even developed at leading research universities.

K-12 Learning

E-learning is also utilized by public K-12 schools in the United States. Some E-Learning environments take place in a traditional classroom, others allow students to attend classes from home or other locations. There are several states that are utilizing cyber and virtual school platforms for E-learning across the country that continued to increase. Virtual school
Virtual school
A virtual school or cyberschool describes an institution that teaches courses entirely or primarily through online methods. Though there are tens of thousands of commercial and non-accredited courses available online, the term "virtual school" is generally reserved for accredited schools that teach...

 enables students to log into synchronous learning
Synchronous learning
Synchronous learning refers to a group of people learning the same things at the same time in the same place. This is the type of pedagogy practiced in most schools and undergraduate programs, but not in graduate programs...

 or asynchronous learning
Asynchronous learning
Asynchronous learning is a student-centered teaching method that uses online learning resources to facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people. Asynchronous learning is based on constructivist theory, a student-centered approach that...

 courses anywhere there is an internet connection. Technology kits are usually provided that include computers, printers, and reimbursement for home internet use. Students are to use technology for school use only and must meet weekly work submission requirements. Teachers employed by K-12 online public cyber schools must be certified teachers in the state they are teaching in. Cyber schools allow for students to maintain their own pacing and progress, course selection, and provides the flexibility for students to create their own schedule.

E-learning is increasingly being utilized by students who may not want to go to traditional brick and mortar schools due to severe allergies or other medical issues, fear of school violence
School violence
School violence is widely held to have become a serious problem in recent decades in many countries, especially where weapons such as guns or knives are involved...

 and school bullying
School bullying
School bullying is a type of bullying that occurs in connection with education, either inside or outside of school. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or emotional and is usually repeated over a period of time.In schools, bullying occurs in all areas...

 and students whose parents would like to homeschool but do not feel qualified. Cyber schools create a safe haven for students to receive a quality education while almost completely avoiding these common problems. Cyber charter schools also often are not limited by location, income level or class size in the way brick and mortar charter schools are.


In the early 1960s, Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 psychology professors Patrick Suppes
Patrick Suppes
Patrick Colonel Suppes is an American philosopher who has made significant contributions to philosophy of science, the theory of measurement, the foundations of quantum mechanics, decision theory, psychology, and educational technology...

 and Richard C. Atkinson
Richard C. Atkinson
Richard Chatham Atkinson is an American professor of psychology and academic administrator. He is the former president and regent of the University of California system, and former chancellor of U.C...

 experimented with using computers to teach math and reading to young children in elementary school
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

s in East Palo Alto, California
East Palo Alto, California
East Palo Alto is a city in San Mateo County, California, United States.-Overview:As of the 2010 census, the population of East Palo Alto was 28,155. It is situated on the San Francisco Peninsula, roughly halfway between the cities of San Francisco and San Jose...

. Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth
Education Program for Gifted Youth
The Education Program for Gifted Youth, at Stanford University, is a gifted education program which offers distance and residential summer courses for students of all ages. It is a distance learning program, meaning that courses are taught remotely via the Internet, rather than in the traditional...

 is descended from those early experiments.

Early e-learning systems, based on Computer-Based Learning/Training often attempted to replicate autocratic teaching styles whereby the role of the e-learning system was assumed to be for transferring knowledge, as opposed to systems developed later based on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), which encouraged the shared development of knowledge.

As early as 1993, William D. Graziadei described an online computer-delivered lecture, tutorial and assessment project using electronic mail. In 1997 he published an article which described developing an overall strategy for technology-based course development and management for an educational system. He said that products had to be easy to use and maintain, portable, replicable, scalable, and immediately affordable, and they had to have a high probability of success with long-term cost-effectiveness.

In 1997 Graziadei, W.D., et al., published an article entitled "Building Asynchronous and Synchronous Teaching-Learning Environments: Exploring a Course/Classroom Management System Solution". They described a process at the State University of New York (SUNY)
State University of New York
The State University of New York, abbreviated SUNY , is a system of public institutions of higher education in New York, United States. It is the largest comprehensive system of universities, colleges, and community colleges in the United States, with a total enrollment of 465,000 students, plus...

 of evaluating products and developing an overall strategy for technology-based course development and management in teaching-learning. The product(s) had to be easy to use and maintain, portable, replicable, scalable, and immediately affordable, and they had to have a high probability of success with long-term cost-effectiveness. Today many technologies can be, and are, used in e-learning, from blogs to collaborative software
Collaborative software
Collaborative software is computer software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve goals...

, ePortfolios, and virtual classrooms. Most eLearning situations use combinations of these techniques.

E-Learning 2.0

The term E-Learning 2.0 is a neologism for CSCL systems that came about during the emergence of Web 2.0
Web 2.0
The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web...

 From an E-Learning 2.0 perspective, conventional e-learning systems were based on instructional packets, which were delivered to students using assignments. Assignments were evaluated by the teacher. In contrast, the new e-learning places increased emphasis on social learning
Social learning (social pedagogy)
Social learning is learning that takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interaction between peers. It may or may not lead to a change in attitudes and behaviour...

 and use of social software
Social software
Social software applications include communication tools and interactive tools. Communication tools typically handle the capturing, storing and presentation of communication, usually written but increasingly including audio and video as well. Interactive tools handle mediated interactions between a...

 such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and virtual worlds such as Second Life
Second Life
Second Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab. It was launched on June 23, 2003. A number of free client programs, or Viewers, enable Second Life users, called Residents, to interact with each other through avatars...

This phenomenon has also been referred to as Long Tail Learning
See also

E-Learning 2.0, by contrast to e-learning systems not based on CSCL, assumes that knowledge (as meaning and understanding) is socially constructed
Social constructionism
Social constructionism and social constructivism are sociological theories of knowledge that consider how social phenomena or objects of consciousness develop in social contexts. A social construction is a concept or practice that is the construct of a particular group...

. Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded
Grounded theory
Grounded theory is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the generation of theory from data. It is mainly used in qualitative research, but is also applicable to quantitative data....

 interaction about problems and actions. Advocates of social learning claim that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others.

However, it should be noted that many early online courses, such as those developed by Murray Turoff
Murray Turoff
Murray Turoff is a retired Distinguished Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology who was a key founding father of computer-mediated communication.-Career:...

 and Starr Roxanne Hiltz
Starr Roxanne Hiltz
Starr Roxanne Hiltz is a retired Distinguished Professor of Information Science/Information Systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology...

 in the 1970s and 80s at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
New Jersey Institute of Technology
New Jersey Institute of Technology is a public research university in Newark, New Jersey. It is often also referred to as Newark College of Engineering ....

, courses at the University of Guelph in Canada, the British Open University
Open University
The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...

, and the online distance courses at the University of British Columbia (where Web CT, now incorporated into Blackboard Inc. was first developed), have always made heavy use of online discussion between students. Also, from the start, practitioners such as Harasim (1995) have put heavy emphasis on the use of learning networks for knowledge construction, long before the term e-learning, let alone e-learning 2.0, was even considered.

There is also an increased use of virtual classrooms (online presentations delivered live) as an online learning platform and classroom for a diverse set of education providers such as Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System comprises 31 colleges and universities, including 24 two-year colleges and seven state universities...

 and Sachem School District
Sachem School District
Sachem Central School District is one of the largest school districts by population on Long Island and among all suburban school districts in New York, United States. Founded in 1955, the district now encompasses residents of the Census-Designated Places of Holbrook, Holtsville and Farmingville, as...


In addition to virtual classroom environments, social networks have become an important part of E-learning 2.0. Social networks have been used to foster online learning communities
Online learning community
An online learning community is a public or private destination on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members by facilitating peer-to-peer learning. Through social networking and computer-mediated communication, people work as a community to achieve a shared learning objective...

 around subjects as diverse as test preparation and language education
Language education
Language education is the teaching and learning of a foreign or second language. Language education is a branch of applied linguistics.- Need for language education :...

. Mobile Assisted Language Learning
Mobile Assisted Language Learning
-Definition:Mobile Assisted Language Learning describes an approach to language learning that is assisted or enhanced through the use of a handheld mobile device....

 (MALL) is a term used to describe using handheld computers or cell phones to assist in language learning. Some feel, however, that schools have not caught up with the social networking trends. Few traditional educators promote social networking unless they are communicating with their own colleagues.

Approaches to e-learning services

E-learning services have evolved since computers were first used in education. There is a trend to move towards blended learning services, where computer-based activities are integrated with practical or classroom-based situations.

Bates and Poole (2003) and the OECD (2005) suggest that different types or forms of e-learning can be considered as a continuum, from no e-learning, i.e. no use of computers and/or the Internet for teaching and learning, through classroom aids, such as making classroom lecture Powerpoint slides available to students through a course web site or learning management system, to laptop programs, where students are required to bring laptops to class and use them as part of a face-to-face class, to hybrid learning, where classroom time is reduced but not eliminated, with more time devoted to online learning, through to fully online learning, which is a form of distance education. This classification is somewhat similar to that of the Sloan Commission reports on the status of e-learning, which refer to web enhanced, web supplemented and web dependent to reflect increasing intensity of technology use. In the Bates and Poole continuum, 'blended learning' can cover classroom aids, laptops and hybrid learning, while 'distributed learning' can incorporate either hybrid or fully online learning.

It can be seen then that e-learning can describe a wide range of applications, and it is often by no means clear even in peer reviewed research publications which form of e-learning is being discussed. However, Bates and Poole argue that when instructors say they are using e-learning, this most often refers to the use of technology as classroom aids, although over time, there has been a gradual increase in fully online learning (see Market above).

Computer-based learning

Computer-based learning, sometimes abbreviated to CBL, refers to the use of computers as a key component of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom
A classroom is a room in which teaching or learning activities can take place. Classrooms are found in educational institutions of all kinds, including public and private schools, corporations, and religious and humanitarian organizations...

, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes.

Cassandra B. Whyte
Cassandra B. Whyte
Cassandra Bolyard Whyte is an American higher education administrator, teacher, and educational researcher. She is recognized for publication and leadership in the areas of higher education management, improving academic performance of students, campus planning and safety, predicting educational...

 researched about the ever increasing role that computers would play in higher education. This evolution, to include computer-supported collaborative learning, in addition to data management, has been realized. The type of computers has changed over the years from cumbersome, slow devices taking up much space in the classroom, home, and office to laptops and handheld devices that are more portable in form and size and this minimalization of technology devices will continue.

Computer-based training

Computer-Based Trainings (CBTs) are self-paced learning activities accessible via a computer or handheld device. CBTs typically present content in a linear fashion, much like reading an online book or manual. For this reason they are often used to teach static processes, such as using software or completing mathematical equations. The term Computer-Based Training is often used interchangeably with Web-based training (WBT) with the primary difference being the delivery method. Where CBTs are typically delivered via CD-ROM, WBTs are delivered via the Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 using a web browser
Web browser
A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier and may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content...

. Assessing learning in a CBT usually comes in form of multiple choice questions, or other assessments that can be easily scored by a computer such as drag-and-drop, radio button, simulation or other interactive means. Assessments are easily scored and recorded via online software, providing immediate end-user feedback and completion status. Users are often able to print completion records in the form of certificates.

CBTs provide learning stimulus beyond traditional learning methodology from textbook, manual, or classroom-based instruction. For example, CBTs offer user-friendly solutions for satisfying continuing education requirements. Instead of limiting students to attending courses or reading printed manuals, students are able to acquire knowledge and skills through methods that are much more conducive to individual learning preferences. For example, CBTs offer visual learning benefits through animation or video, not typically offered by any other means.

CBTs can be a good alternative to printed learning materials since rich media, including videos or animations, can easily be embedded to enhance the learning. Another advantage to CBTs is that they can be easily distributed to a wide audience at a relatively low cost once the initial development is completed.

However, CBTs pose some learning challenges as well. Typically the creation of effective CBTs requires enormous resources. The software for developing CBTs (such as Flash
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements, games and flash animations for broadcast...

 or Adobe Director
Adobe Director
Adobe Director is a multimedia application authoring platform created by Macromedia—now part of Adobe Systems. It allows users to build applications built on a movie metaphor, with the user as the "director" of the movie...

) is often more complex than a subject matter expert or teacher is able to use. In addition, the lack of human interaction can limit both the type of content that can be presented as well as the type of assessment that can be performed. Many learning organizations are beginning to use smaller CBT/WBT activities as part of a broader online learning program which may include online discussion or other interactive elements.

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)
Computer-supported collaborative learning
Computer-supported collaborative learning is a pedagogical approach wherein learning takes place via social interaction using a computer or through the Internet. This kind of learning is characterized by the sharing and construction of knowledge among participants using technology as their primary...

 is one of the most promising innovations to improve teaching and learning with the help of modern information and communication technology. Most recent developments in CSCL have been called E-Learning 2.0, but the concept of collaborative or group learning whereby instructional methods are designed to encourage or require students to work together on learning tasks has existed much longer. It is widely agreed to distinguish collaborative learning from the traditional 'direct transfer' model in which the instructor is assumed to be the distributor of knowledge and skills, which is often given the neologism E-Learning 1.0, even though this direct transfer method most accurately reflects Computer-Based Learning systems (CBL).

Locus of Control
Locus of control
Locus of control is a theory in personality psychology referring to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B...

 remains an important consideration in successful engagement of E-learners. According to the work of Cassandra B. Whyte, the continuing attention to aspects of motivation and success in regard to E-learning should be kept in context and concert with other educational efforts. Information about motivational tendencies can help educators, psychologists, and technologists develop insights to help students perform better academically.

Technology-enhanced learning (TEL)

Technology enhanced learning (TEL) has the goal to provide socio-technical innovations (also improving efficiency and cost effectiveness) for e-learning practices, regarding individuals and organizations, independent of time, place and pace. The field of TEL therefore applies to the support of any learning activity through technology.

Technology issues

Along with the terms learning technology, instructional technology, the term Educational Technology
Educational technology
Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and...

 is generally used to refer to the use of technology in learning in a much broader sense than the computer-based training or Computer Aided Instruction of the 1980s. It is also broader than the terms Online Learning or Online Education which generally refer to purely web-based learning. In cases where mobile technologies are used, the term M-learning
The term M-Learning, or "mobile learning", has different meanings for different communities. Although related to e-learning and distance education, it is distinct in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices...

 has become more common. E-learning, however, also has implications beyond just the technology and refers to the actual learning that takes place using these systems.

E-learning is naturally suited to distance learning and flexible learning, but can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, in which case the term Blended learning
Blended learning
Blended learning refers to a mixing of different learning environments. It combines traditional face-to-face classroom methods with more modern computer-mediated activities. According to its proponents, the strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and learners. Formerly,...

 is commonly used. E-Learning pioneer Bernard Luskin argues that the "E" must be understood to have broad meaning if e-Learning is to be effective. Luskin says that the "e" should be interpreted to mean exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational in addition to "electronic" that is a traditional national interpretation. This broader interpretation allows for 21st century applications and brings learning and media psychology
Media Psychology
Media Psychology seeks an understanding of how people perceive, interpret, use, and respond to a media-rich world. In doing so, media psychologists can identify potential benefits and problems and promote the development of positive media ....

 into the equation.

In higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 especially, the increasing tendency is to create a Virtual Learning Environment
Virtual learning environment
Defined largely by usage, the term virtual learning environment has most, if not all, of the following salient properties:* It is Web-based* It uses Web 2.0 tools for rich 2-way interaction* It includes a content management system...

 (VLE) (which is sometimes combined with a Management Information System (MIS)
Management information system
A management information system provides information needed to manage organizations efficiently and effectively. Management information systems involve three primary resources: people, technology, and information. Management information systems are distinct from other information systems in that...

 to create a Managed Learning Environment) in which all aspects of a course are handled through a consistent user interface standard throughout the institution. A growing number of physical universities, as well as newer online-only colleges, have begun to offer a select set of academic degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 and certificate programs via the Internet at a wide range of levels and in a wide range of disciplines. While some programs require students to attend some campus
A campus is traditionally the land on which a college or university and related institutional buildings are situated. Usually a campus includes libraries, lecture halls, residence halls and park-like settings...

 classes or orientations, many are delivered completely online. In addition, several universities offer online student support services, such as online advising and registration, e-counseling, online textbook purchase, student governments and student newspapers.

E-Learning can also refer to educational web sites such as those offering learning scenarios, worksheets and interactive exercises for children. The term is also used extensively in the business sector where it generally refers to cost-effective online training.

The recent trend in the E-Learning sector is screencast
A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration. The term screencast compares with the related term screenshot; whereas screenshot is a picture of a computer screen, a screencast is essentially a movie of the...

ing. There are many screencasting tools available but the latest buzz is all about the web based screencasting tools which allow the users to create screencasts directly from their browser and make the video available online so that the viewers can stream the video directly. The advantage of such tools is that it gives the presenter the ability to show his ideas and flow of thoughts rather than simply explain them, which may be more confusing when delivered via simple text instructions. With the combination of video and audio, the expert can mimic the one on one experience of the classroom and deliver clear, complete instructions. From the learner's point of view this provides the ability to pause and rewind and gives the learner the advantage of moving at their own pace, something a classroom cannot always offer.

Research on the use of video in lessons is preliminary, but early results show an increased retention and better results when video is used in a lesson. Creating a systematic video development method holds promise for creating video models that positively impact student learning.

Communication technologies used in E-learning

Communication technologies are generally categorized as asynchronous or synchronous. Asynchronous activities use technologies such as blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

s, wiki
A wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include...

s, and discussion boards. The idea here is that participants may engage in the exchange of ideas or information without the dependency of other participants involvement at the same time. Electronic mail (Email) is also asynchronous
Asynchronous learning
Asynchronous learning is a student-centered teaching method that uses online learning resources to facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people. Asynchronous learning is based on constructivist theory, a student-centered approach that...

 in that mail can be sent or received without having both the participants’ involvement at the same time. Asynchronous learning also gives students the ability to work at their own pace. This is particularly beneficial for students who have health problems. They have the opportunity to complete their work in a low stress environment.

Synchronous activities involve the exchange of ideas and information with one or more participants during the same period of time. A face to face discussion is an example of synchronous communications. In an "E" learning environment, an example of synchronous communications would be a skype conversation or a chat room where everyone is online and working collaborativelly at the same time. Synchronous activities occur with all participants joining in at once, as with an online chat session or a virtual classroom or meeting.

Virtual classrooms and meetings can often use a mix of communication technologies. Participants in a virtual classroom use icons called emoticons to communicate feelings and responses to questions or statements. Students are able to 'write on the board' and even share their desktop, when given rights by the teacher. Other communication technologies available in a virtual classroom include text notes, microphone rights, and breakout sessions. Breakout sessions allow the participants to work collaboratively in a small group setting to accomplish a task as well as allow the teacher to have private conversations with his or her students.

The virtual classroom also provides the opportunity for students to receive direct instruction from a qualified teacher in an interactive environment. Students have direct and immediate access to their instructor for instant feedback and direction. The virtual classroom also provides a structured schedule of classes, which can be helpful for students who may find the freedom of asynchronous learning to be overwhelming. The virtual classroom also provides a social learning environment that closely replicates the traditional "brick and mortar" classroom. Most virtual classroom applications provide a recording feature. Each class is recorded and stored on a server, which allows for instant playback of any class over the course of the school year. This can be extremely useful for students to review material and concepts for an upcoming exam. This also provides students with the opportunity to watch any class that they may have missed, so that they never have to fall behind. It also gives parents the ability to monitor any classroom to insure that they are satisfied with the education their child is receiving.

In asynchronous online courses, students proceed at their own pace. If they need to listen to a lecture a second time, or think about a question for awhile, they may do so without fearing that they will hold back the rest of the class. Through online courses, students can earn their diplomas more quickly, or repeat failed courses without the embarrassment of being in a class with younger students. Students also have access to an incredible variety of enrichment courses in online learning, and can participate in college courses, internships, sports, or work and still graduate with their class.

In many models, the writing community and the communication channels relate with the E-learning and the M-learning
The term M-Learning, or "mobile learning", has different meanings for different communities. Although related to e-learning and distance education, it is distinct in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices...

 communities. Both the communities provide a general overview of the basic learning models and the activities required for the participants to join the learning sessions across the virtual classroom or even across standard classrooms enabled by technology. Many activities, essential for the learners in these environments, require frequent chat sessions in the form of virtual classrooms and/or blog meetings.

Learning management system (LMS) and Learning content management system (LCMS)

A learning management system
Learning management system
A learning management system is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training programs, classroom and online events, e-learning programs, and training content...

 (LMS) is software used for delivering, tracking and managing training/education. LMSs range from systems for managing training/educational records to software for distributing courses over the Internet and offering features for online collaboration.

A learning content management system (LCMS) is software for authontent (courses, reusable content objects). An LCMS may be solely dedicated to producing and publishing content that is hosted on an LMS, or it can host the content itself. The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) specification provides support for content that is hosted separately from the LMS.

A LMS allows for teachers and administrators to track attendance, time on task, and student progress. LMS also allows for not only teachers and administrators to track these variables but parents and students as well. Parents can log on to the LMS to track grades. Students log on to the LMS to submit homework and to access the course syllabus and lessons.

Computer-aided assessment

Computer-aided Assessment
Computer aided assessment
Computer aided assessment is a term that covers all forms of assessment, whether Summative or Formative , delivered with the help of computers...

 (also but less commonly referred to as E-assessment
In its broadest sense, e-assessment is the use of information technology for any assessment-related activity. This definition embraces a wide range of student activity ranging from the use of a word processor to on-screen testing...

), ranging from automated multiple-choice tests to more sophisticated systems is becoming increasingly common. With some systems, feedback can be geared towards a student's specific mistakes or the computer can navigate the student through a series of questions adapting to what the student appears to have learned or not learned.

The best examples follow a Formative Assessment
Formative Assessment
Formative assessment is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures employed by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment. It typically involves qualitative feedback for both student and teacher that focuses on...

 structure and are called "Online Formative Assessment". This involves making an initial formative assessment by sifting out the incorrect answers. The author/teacher will then explain what the pupil should have done with each question. It will then give the pupil at least one practice at each slight variation of sifted out questions. This is the formative learning stage. The next stage is to make a Summative Assessment
Summative Assessment
Summative assessment refers to the assessment of the learning and summarizes the development of learners at a particular time. After a period of work, e.g. a unit for two weeks, the learner sits for a test and then the teacher marks the test and assigns a score. The test aims to summarize learning...

 by a new set of questions only covering the topics previously taught. Some will take this even further and repeat the cycle such as BOFA which is aimed at the Eleven plus exam set in the UK.

The term learning design has sometimes come to refer to the type of activity enabled by software such as the open-source system LAMS which supports sequences of activities that can be both adaptive and collaborative. The IMS Learning Design
IMS Learning Design
IMS Learning Design is a specification for a metalanguage which enables the modelling of learning processes. The specification is maintained by IMS Global Learning Consortium.-Background:...

 specification is intended as a standard format for learning designs, and IMS LD Level A is supported in LAMS V2.elearning has been replacing the traditional settings due to its cost effectiveness.

Electronic performance support systems (EPSS)

Electronic performance support systems
Electronic performance support systems
An Electronic Performance Support System is any computer software program or component that improves user performance.Electronic Performance Support Systems is also the name of a book, published in 1991, by Gloria Gery.- Uses :...

 (EPSS) is a "computer-based system that improves worker productivity by providing on-the-job access to integrated information, advice, and learning experiences". 1991, Barry Raybould

Content issues

Content is a core component of E-learning and includes issues such as pedagogy and learning object re-use.

Pedagogical elements

Pedagogical elements are an attempt to define structures or units of educational material. For example, this could be a lesson, an assignment, a multiple choice question, a quiz, a discussion group or a case study. These units should be format independent, so although it may be in any of the following methods, pedagogical structures would not include a textbook, a web page, a video conference
Videoconferencing is the conduct of a videoconference by a set of telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously...

 or Podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...


When beginning to create E-Learning content, the pedagogical approaches need to be evaluated. Simple pedagogical approaches make it easy to create content, but lack flexibility, richness and downstream functionality. On the other hand, complex pedagogical approaches can be difficult to set up and slow to develop, though they have the potential to provide more engaging learning experiences for students. Somewhere between these extremes is an ideal pedagogy that allows a particular educator to effectively create educational materials while simultaneously providing the most engaging educational experiences for students.

Pedagogical approaches or perspectives

It is possible to use various pedagogical approaches for eLearning which include:
  • social-constructivist
    Constructivism (learning theory)
    Constructivism is a theory of knowledge that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. During infancy, it was an interaction between human experiences and their reflexes or behavior-patterns. Piaget called these systems of...

    – this pedagogy is particularly well afforded by the use of discussion forums, blogs, wiki and on-line collaborative activities. It is a collaborative approach that opens educational content creation to a wider group including the students themselves. The One Laptop Per Child Foundation attempted to use a constructivist approach in its project

  • Laurillard's Conversational Model is also particularly relevant to eLearning, and Gilly Salmon
    Gilly Salmon
    Gilly Salmon accepted a senior position at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. This was in November 2011. She was the Executive Director and Professor at the Australian Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia. She took on this role...

    's Five-Stage Model is a pedagogical approach to the use of discussion boards.

  • Cognitive perspective focuses on the cognitive processes involved in learning as well as how the brain works.

  • Emotional perspective focuses on the emotional aspects of learning, like motivation, engagement, fun, etc.

  • Behavioural perspective focuses on the skills and behavioural outcomes of the learning process. Role-playing and application to on-the-job settings.

  • Contextual perspective focuses on the environmental and social aspects which can stimulate learning. Interaction with other people, collaborative discovery and the importance of peer support as well as pressure.

  • Mode Neutral Convergence or promotion of ‘transmodal’ learning where online and classroom learners can coexist within one learning environment thus encouraging interconnectivity and the harnessing of collective intelligence.

Reusability, standards and learning objects

Much effort has been put into the technical reuse of electronically-based teaching materials and in particular creating or re-using Learning Objects. These are self contained units that are properly tagged with keywords, or other metadata, and often stored in an XML
Extensible Markup Language is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by the W3C, and several other related specifications, all gratis open standards....

 file format. Creating a course requires putting together a sequence of learning objects. There are both proprietary and open, non-commercial and commercial, peer-reviewed repositories of learning objects such as the Merlot repository.

A common standard format for e-learning content is SCORM
Sharable Content Object Reference Model is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning. It defines communications between client side content and a host system called the run-time environment, which is commonly supported by a learning management system...

 whilst other specifications allow for the transporting of "learning object
Learning object
A learning object is "a collection of content items, practice items, and assessment items that are combined based on a single learning objective". The term is credited to Wayne Hogins when he created a working group in 1994 bearing the name though the concept was first described by Gerard in 1967...

s" (Schools Framework) or categorizing metadata (LOM
Learning object metadata
Learning Object Metadata is a data model, usually encoded in XML, used to describe a learning object and similar digital resources used to support learning...


These standards themselves are early in the maturity process with the oldest being 8 years old. They are also relatively vertical specific: SIF is primarily pK-12, LOM is primarily Corp, Military and Higher Ed, and SCORM is primarily Military and Corp with some Higher Ed. PESC- the Post-Secondary Education Standards Council- is also making headway in developing standards and learning objects for the Higher Ed space, while SIF is beginning to seriously turn towards Instructional and Curriculum learning objects.

In the US pK12 space there are a host of content standards that are critical as well- the NCES data standards are a prime example. Each state government's content standards and achievement benchmarks are critical metadata for linking e-learning objects in that space.

An excellent example of e-learning that relates to knowledge management and reusability is Navy E-Learning, which is available to Active Duty, Retired, or Disable Military members. This on-line tool provides certificate courses to enrich the user in various subjects related to military training and civilian skill sets. The e-learning system not only provides learning objectives, but also evaluates the progress of the student and credit can be earned toward higher learning institutions. This reuse is an excellent example of knowledge retention and the cyclical process of knowledge transfer and use of data and records.

See also

  • Adult education
    Adult education
    Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. Adult education takes place in the workplace, through 'extension' school or 'school of continuing education' . Other learning places include folk high schools, community colleges, and lifelong learning centers...

  • Andragogical learning theory
    Andragogical learning theory
    Andragogical learning theoryBeginning in the 1950s Malcolm Knowles developed a new theory - which he called "Andragogy" - in the context of adult learners. This is often contrasted with the child's learning methods - pedagogical learning....

  • Andragogy
    Andragogy consists of learning strategies focused on adults. It is often interpreted as the process of engaging adult learners with the structure of learning experience. The term ‘andragogy’ has been used in different times and countries with various connotations. Nowadays there exist mainly three...

  • Blended learning
    Blended learning
    Blended learning refers to a mixing of different learning environments. It combines traditional face-to-face classroom methods with more modern computer-mediated activities. According to its proponents, the strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and learners. Formerly,...

  • Computer-based testing
    Computer-based testing
    A Computer-Based Assessment , also known as Computer-Based Testing , e-assessment, computerized testing and computer-administered testing, is a method of administering tests in which the responses are electronically recorded, assessed, or both. As the name implies, Computer-Based Assessment makes...

  • Distance education
    Distance education
    Distance education or distance learning is a field of education that focuses on teaching methods and technology with the aim of delivering teaching, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting such as a classroom...

  • E-assessment
    In its broadest sense, e-assessment is the use of information technology for any assessment-related activity. This definition embraces a wide range of student activity ranging from the use of a word processor to on-screen testing...

  • E-learning Maturity Model
    E-learning Maturity Model
    The E-Learning Maturity Model in software engineering is a model to assess the capability of e-learning processes.- Overview :eMM is a quality improvement framework based on the ideas of the Capability Maturity Model and Software Process Improvement and Capability dEtermination methodologies...

  • Educational technology
    Educational technology
    Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and...

  • Flexible Learning
    Flexible Learning
    Flexible Learning is a set of educational philosophies and systems, concerned with providing learners with increased choice, convenience, and personalisation to suit the learner. In particular, flexible learning provides learners with choices about where, when, and how learning occurs. Sometimes...

  • Heutagogy
    In education, heutagogy, a concept coined by Stewart Hase of Southern Cross University in Australia, is the study of self-determined learning. The notion is an expansion and reinterpretation of andragogy, and it is possible to mistake it for the same...

  • Hybrid course
    Hybrid Course
    -Definition:Hybrid courses blend face-to-face interaction such as in-class discussions, active group work, and live lectures with typically web-based educational technologies such as online course cartridges, assignments, discussion boards, and other web-assisted learning tools...

  • Lifelong Learning
    Lifelong learning
    Lifelong learning is the continuous building of skills and knowledge throughout the life of an individual. It occurs through experiences encountered in the course of a lifetime...

  • Massive open online course
    Massive open online course
    In the field of open education, one of the latest trends is that of open courses, called MOOCs . Such courses are founded on the theory of connectivism and an open pedagogy based on networked learning. Typically, participation in a MOOC is free; however, some MOOCs may charge a fee in the form of...

  • Media psychology
    Media Psychology
    Media Psychology seeks an understanding of how people perceive, interpret, use, and respond to a media-rich world. In doing so, media psychologists can identify potential benefits and problems and promote the development of positive media ....

  • Microlearning
    Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. Generally, the term "microlearning" refers to micro-perspectives in the context of learning, education and training...

  • Microlecture
    The term microlecture is used not to refer to microcontent for microlearning, but to actual instructional content that is formatted for online and mobile learning using a constructivist approach. More specifically, as described in the Chronicle of Higher Education, these are approximately 60 second...

  • Online course syllabus
    Online course syllabus
    Research emphasizes that an online course syllabus should function as a:* contract* communication tool* learning aid-Contract:Slattery & Carlson describe the syllabus as a "contract between faculty members and their students, designed to answer student's questions about a course, as well as inform...

  • Online learning community
    Online learning community
    An online learning community is a public or private destination on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members by facilitating peer-to-peer learning. Through social networking and computer-mediated communication, people work as a community to achieve a shared learning objective...

  • Online music education
    Online music education
    Online music education is a recent development in the field of music education consisting of the application of new technologies associated with distance learning and online education for the purpose of teaching and learning music in an online environment mediated by computers and the internet.The...

  • Remedial education
    Remedial education
    Postsecondary remedial education is a large and growing segment of higher education in the United States...

  • Ubiquitous learning
    Ubiquitous learning
    For some, ubiquitous learning is equivalent to some form of simple mobile learning, e.g. that learning environments can be accessed in various contexts and situations. The ubiquitous learning environment may detect more context data than elearning...

  • Video study guide
    Video study guide
    A "video study guide" offers the content of traditional printed educational supplements in video format.Such "video-centric" educational materials are, increasingly, taking hold in the classroom, both in response to cultural preferences and research....

  • Virtual education
    Virtual education
    Virtual education refers to instruction in a learning environment where teacher and student are separated by time or space, or both, and the teacher provides course content through the use of methods such as course management applications, multimedia resources, the internet, and videoconferencing...

  • Virtual learning environment
    Virtual learning environment
    Defined largely by usage, the term virtual learning environment has most, if not all, of the following salient properties:* It is Web-based* It uses Web 2.0 tools for rich 2-way interaction* It includes a content management system...

  • Virtual World Language Learning
    Virtual world language learning
    Virtual worlds are playing an increasingly important role in education, especially in language learning. By March 2007 it was estimated that over 200 universities or academic institutions were involved in Second Life...

  • Web-based simulation

Learning services
  • Florida Virtual School
    Florida Virtual School
    Founded in 1997 by President and CEO Julie Young, the Florida Virtual School is an American online middle and high school with a new full time elementary school program through Connections Academy. In 2009...

  • Giant Campus
  • Internet Academy
    Internet Academy
    The Internet Academy is a public virtual school a part of Federal Way Public Schools, approved by the Northwest Accreditation Commission and open to all students in grades K-12....

  • K12 Inc.
    K12 Inc.
    K12 Inc. is a technology-based education company that offers curriculum and educational services for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.- History :...

  • Khan Academy
    Khan Academy
    The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization, created in 2006 by Bangladeshi American educator Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT. With the stated mission of "providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere", the website supplies a free online collection of more than 2,700 micro...

  • Alphastudy
    Alphastudy is a private Australian company that enables users to create their own web based learning and knowledge portals. The company's office is located in Sydney, Australia and was founded in 2008 by David Dinh.- History :The idea started in 2008...

  • Apex Learning
    Apex Learning
    Apex Learning, Inc. is a privately-held provider of e-Learning solutions for K-12 education, offering online courses in mathematics, science, English studies, social studies, Romance languages, the fine arts, health and physical education, and Advanced Placement.-History:Apex Learning was started...

  • Atutor
    ATutor is an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System .ATutor is used in various contexts, including online course management, continuing professional development for teachers, career development, and academic research...

  • Blackboard Learning System
    Blackboard Learning System
    The Blackboard Learning System is a virtual learning environment and course management system developed by Blackboard Inc. Features include course management, a customizable open architecture, and a scalable design that allows for integration with student information systems and authentication...

  • Brainshark
    Brainshark is a privately held technology company based in Waltham, Massachusetts that provides online presentation technology.- Products :The Brainshark product is a Web-based application, delivered via Software as a Service , that enables users to turn PowerPoint slides and other business...

  • Chamilo
    Chamilo is an open-source e-learning and content management system, aimed at improving access to education and knowledge globally...

  • Claroline
    Claroline is a collaborative eLearning and eWorking platform released under the GPL Open Source license. It allows hundreds of organizations worldwide ranging from universities to schools and from companies to associations to create and administer courses and collaboration spaces over the web...

  • Cornerstone OnDemand
    Cornerstone OnDemand
    Cornerstone OnDemand is a software company based in Santa Monica, California, with regional headquarters in London, Paris, Munich, Mumbai and Tel Aviv.-Products:Cornerstone OnDemand's software product consists of five integrated platforms:...

  • Desire2Learn
    Desire2Learn Incorporated is a provider of enterprise eLearning solutions and develops online Learning Management Systems used at more than 450 institutions around the world...

  • DoceboLMS
    -About the platform:DoceboLMS is an open-source software package for e-learning , entirely created and developed by Docebo Srl. The program, which is released under a GPL V...

  • Dokeos
    Dokeos is a company dedicated to open source Learning Management Systems. Its main product is a SCORM-compliant open source learning suite used by multinational companies, federal administrations and universities....

  • eFront
    EFront (eLearning software)
    eFront is an open source eLearning platform ....

  • HotChalk
    HotChalk is an education technology company with several divisions. Founded in 2004 by Edward M. Fields, HotChalk, Inc. is based in Campbell, California, with regional offices in Bethesda, Maryland, Chicago, Illinois and New York, New York....

    ILIAS is an open source web-based learning management system . It supports learning content management and tools for collaboration, communication, evaluation and assessment...

  • iQpakk
    iQpakk is a learning management system that is designed for a mobile device. Created in 2001 by Björn Stansvik, it uses Bloom's Taxonomy as the foundation for its learning system, so the student is encouraged to climb to the higher level of thought...

  • LearnForce
    LearnForce is an online hosted Learning Management System developed and maintained by Australian company e3Learning. The system was first created in 2001 and is now in revision 7...

  • Meridian Knowledge Solutions
    Meridian Knowledge Solutions
    Founded in 1997, Meridian Knowledge Solutions is a software company based in Herndon, Va., that provides a learning management system, also known as a LMS, for delivering and tracking training via the Internet...

  • Moodle
    Moodle is a free source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment...

  • Metacoon
    metacoon is a Open Source platform that can be used for online learning, cooperative work and for the creation of learning material. The system offers the functionality of a Learning Management System. The developer team also offers a range of authoring tools for the creation of learning material...

  • RCampus
    RCampus is an innovative web-based Education Management System with collaborative learning community built by Reazon Systems Inc....

  • Saba Software
    Saba Software
    Saba enables organizations to build a transformative workplace that leverages the advent of social networking in business and the ubiquity of mobile to empower an organization’s most mission-critical assets – its people...

  • Sakai
    Sakai Project
    This page is about the software project, for other meanings, see Sakai.Sakai is a community of academic institutions, commercial organizations and individuals who work together to develop a common Collaboration and Learning Environment...

  • SpicyNodes
    In concept mapping and information visualization, SpicyNodes is a method for displaying hierarchical data in which a focus node displays rich information, and the surrounding nodes display related information .- Main idea :...

     - Create and share radial maps
    Radial tree
    A radial tree, or "radial map", is a method of displaying a tree structure in a way that expands outwards, radially. It is one of many ways to visually display a tree., with examples extending back to the early 20th century...

     (related to concept maps and mind maps)
  • Studywiz
    Studywiz Learning Environment also known simply as Studywiz is an Virtual Learning Environment and shares many characteristics with Learning Management Systems....

  • Zoologic
    SS&C Technologies
    SS&C Technologies Inc. is a specialized software provider to the global financial services industry. SS&C began in Windsor, Connecticut, 1986 and now has more than 1,400 employees worldwide, operating throughout North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Australia.SS&C has a particular focus on fund...

  • WebCT
    WebCT or Blackboard Learning System, now owned by Blackboard, is an online proprietary virtual learning environment system that is sold to colleges and other institutions and used in many campuses for e-learning...

Further reading

  • Lipsitz, Lawrence, (Editor); Reisner, Trudi, The Computer and Education, Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Educational Technology Publications, January 1973. Articles selected from Educational Technology magazine.
  • Wolfe, C., & Wolfe, C. R. (2001). Learning and teaching on the world wide web. San Diego, Calif. ; London: Academic.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.