E-Learning definition

Training and development delivered via electronic methods – e-learning offers the chance to deliver training at far reduced cost than traditional methods which require physical space and provisions, such as equipment and refreshments. One of the biggest challenges of e-learning is ensuring the way the training is delivered is effective and that employees retain key information.

There are number of ways that e-learning can be delivered, such as email, smartphone apps, video streams, VoIP technologies like Skype and social media channels.

E-learning is typically split between asynchronous learning and synchronous learning. Asynchronous learning is paced by the needs and abilities of the individual and is therefore more suited to their needs – they are free to go back, take a few weeks off due to unexpected events, etc. A related term is just-in-time training, which delivers relevant training to an individual just before they need to perform a specific task.

Synchronous training is that which is delivered in real-time to multiple participants and therefore reflects the traditional learning environment. It is often referred to as a 'virtual classroom.' Participants cannot delay their own training without delaying the other participants.

Other key terms include computer-based learning or training (CBT), or asynchonous training delivered via a personal computer, tablet or smartphone. Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) refers to new methods of learning that encourage students to work together to solve problems and gain knowledge – it differs from traditional education in that the lecturer is replaced by collaboration as the main source of information.

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