What is e-Learning?

e is for enhancing

e-Learning is a method of delivery using digital tools. It is not just about presenting a piece of learning electronically, it is about using technology as widely as possible to create learning opportunities, to enhance the learning experience and to support learning.  With the right level of support and pedagogical design, e-Learning is effective on its own for an individual learning experience or as part of class based teaching using blended learning.

e-Learning should not be seen as something tagged onto conventional face-to-face delivery.  e-Learning can enhance traditional training, using existing resources and methods of delivery as part of blended learning.  It can be seen as introducing IT into existing good practice.  Some simple examples would be:

  • Adding audio and video excerpts to slide presentations
  • Inserting photos, cartoons and diagrams in handouts
  • The use of electronic white boards to allow interactive participation and downloading items from the Internet
  • The use of quizzes by text and remote voting
  • Using digital cameras to record events and use in feedback or reports
  • Discussion boards following on from classroom sessions
  • Questionnaires using software, such as Survey Monkey, instead of paper based surveys

Many of the methods of delivery in e-Learning are around staff in the workplace already.  Make sure that you have really explored the full depth of the tools you have access to.  Can you really use presentation software, like PowerPoint, to its full capability?  Have you explored in detail the options presented to you through the learning platform your organisation has?

e is for exciting, energising and enabling

For the learner the materials and resources they have access to become more interesting and varied. They are more interactive and can adapt to the learner’s pace and learning style.  However you must know your learners and adapt the methods of delivery to suit.  The resulting experiences are more exciting, energising and enabling for both learners and those facilitating learning.

Although written to support learners the book e-Learning Skills, by Alan Clarke provides a comprehensive summary of the possibilities and use of e-Learning as part of the learning process.

Theory of e-Learning

As the use of e-Learning has increased as a method so too has the development of supporting theories. A detailed study of the various theories can be accessed by visiting the Joint Information and Systems Committee (JISC) webpage (see Tangible benefits of e-Learning in resources below).

In order to improve your understanding of e-Learning and how to deliver it, find out about training courses on offer locally and nationally and also join local networks which will promote good practice and resources.

Also to help your understanding of e-Learning, you could look at the following category in the e-Learning Readiness tool:
Supporting those involved in learning and development

e-Learning and administration, recording and reporting

Back to the Trainer readiness page

Related Resources

    Popular Learning Models

    Some of the more popular learning theories and models used by education practitioners and those with an interest in developing people. The models and theories inform and underpin many modern learning approaches and come out of learner centred and constructivist theories.

    Geoff Petty website

    Website of Geoff Petty, guru for improving teaching, including downloads, self assessments and guidance.

    Tangible benefits of e-Learning

    A series of case studieson the JISC InfoNet web site which looked at the range of e-Learning taking place in the Higher Education Sector

    How e-Learning works

    Article on the 'How Stuff Works' website on e-Learning, including what it is, the psychology, the benefits and planning your e-Learning course.

    e-Learning Guild

    The e-Learning Guild is an online information center and community of practice for anyone involved in the design, development, and management of web-based educational or instructional content (e-Learning). A US based site requiring membership although there is free access to a number of sources and guidance.