E-Learning or Electronic Learning

“Electronic learning is a general term used to refer to a form of learning in which the instructor and student are separated by space or time where the gap between the two is bridged through the use of online technologies”.

E-learning is used interchangeably in a wide variety of contexts. In companies it is referred to the strategies that use the company network to deliver training courses to employees. In distance education Universities like Open University in UK or Penn State World Campus in the USA, it is defined as a planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies mainly Internet to reach learners at a distance. Lately in most Universities, e-learning is used to define a specific mode to attend a course or programmers of study where the students rarely, if ever, attend face-to-face or for on-campus access to educational facilities, because they study on-line.

“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 is commonly used”.


By 2006, nearly 3.5 million students were participating in on-line learning at institutions of higher education in the United States. Many higher educations, 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, says 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 must be able to not only understand the content area, but also be highly trained in the use of the computer and Internet. Online education is rapidly increasing, and online doctoral programs have even developed at leading research universities.


E-Learning lessons are generally designed to guide students through information or to help students perform in specific tasks. Information based e-Learning content communicates information to the student. Examples include content that distributes the history or facts related to a service, company, or product. In information-based content, there is no specific skill to be learned. In performance-based content, the lessons build off of a procedural skill in which the student is expected to increase proficiency.

Communication technologies are generally categorized as asynchronous or synchronous. Asynchronous activities use technologies such as blogs, wikis, and discussion boards. The idea here is that participants may engage in the exchange of ideas or information without the dependency of other participant’s involvement at the same time. Electronic mail (Email) is also asynchronous in that mail can be sent or received without having both the participants’ involvement at the same time.
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. 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.
In many models, the writing community and the communication channels relate with the E-learning and the M-learning 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.

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, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes. The concept is generally seen as being distinct from the use of computers in ways where learning is at least a peripheral element of the experience (e.g. computer games and web browsing).

• Any time. A participant can access the learning programme at any time that is convenient -not just during the specific 1-3-hour period that is set for a conventional course. The episodes can be quick snatches at odd times or long late-night sessions. Cross-time-zone communication, difficult to arrange in real time, is as easy as talking to someone across town when using the Internet.
• Any place. The participants do not have to meet. That means they can be anywhere. International sharing is feasible. Individuals can log on at work, home, the library, in a community learning centre or from their hotel when travelling.
• Asynchronous interaction. Unlike face-to-face or telephone conversations, electronic mail does not require participants to respond immediately. As a result, interactions can be more succinct and to-the-point, discussion can stay more on-track, and people can get a chance to craft their responses. This can lead to more thoughtful and creative conversations.
• Group collaboration. Electronic messaging creates new opportunities for groups to work together, creating shared electronic conversations that can be thoughtful and more permanent than voice conversations. Sometimes aided by on-line moderators, these net seminars can be powerful for learning and problem-solving.
• New educational approaches. Many new options and learning strategies become economically feasible through online courses. For instance, the technology makes it feasible to utilize faculty anywhere in the world and to put together faculty teams that include master teachers, researchers, scientists, and experienced professional developers. Online courses also can provide unique opportunities for teachers to share innovations in their own work with the immediate support of electronic groups and expert faculty.
• Integration of computers. The online learner has access to a computer, so computer applications can be used without excluding some participants. This means, for instance, that a mathematical model implemented in a spreadsheet can easily be incorporated into a lesson and downloaded so all participants can run, explore, and refine the model and then share their findings and improvements.

• Learners with low motivation or bad study habits may fall behind
• Without the routine structures of a traditional class, students may get lost or confused about course activities and deadlines
• Students may feel isolated from the instructor and classmates
• Instructor may not always be available when students are studying or need help
• Slow Internet connections or older computers may make accessing course materials frustrating
• Managing computer files and online learning software can sometimes seem complex for students with beginner-level computer skills
• Hands-on or lab work is difficult to simulate in a virtual classroom