What is e-learning?


What is e-learning? A broad term, which you probably already have some ideas about. Read this blog to find out exactly what we mean by it!

What is e-learning?

Great question! E-learning simply means electronic learning. You've probably already come across the term somewhere. But what do we really mean by it? In this blog, we'll give you the answer to this question. We also take a dive back in time and tell you something about the origin of e-learning.

First, let's formulate a definition. This gives us a clear starting point.

E-learning meaning

E-learning (electronic learning) is the acquisition of knowledge electronically, namely by means of a computer, tablet or telephone.

The term e-learning has many variations, which actually mean the same thing. Think about: online training, online program, online course, digicursus whether distance learning. The arrival of e-learning has meant a lot in terms of learning and development. Indeed, by combining learning with internet technology, it became possible to automate learning. This brought an awful lot of benefits. Suddenly, information could reach many more people, saving a lot of time, money and effort.

But, where did that actually start? For that, we go back to the year 1920...

The history of e-learning

A few years ago, education had a number of weaknesses, such as that learn was often impersonal, inefficient, and inflexible. Since 1920, scientists have been looking for ways to automate learning. One of the pioneers who combined learning with technology was psychologist B.F. Skinner. Indeed, in the year 1950, he came up with the 'teaching machine'.

Een afbeelding van de teaching machine, ontwikkeld door Skinner.
Teaching machine

What you can imagine here is a wooden box with small windows in it, and paper discs. The idea was that a question about a specific topic appeared behind such a window. The student wrote the answer on a paper disc and put it in the box. After that, the correct answer appeared behind the window. But the answer given could no longer be changed. This is what the first forms of automated learning so look, how cool?!

Over the years, this has further developed. Better and better automated learning methods were springing up. This development only really gained momentum when the internet was introduced. Many trainers were eager to take advantage of the benefits that this brought.

It was fast. Very fast.

It is not for nothing that this era is called the digital age. Suddenly, large groups of students were able to access the same knowledge from any possible location.

And this enthusiasm wasn't just limited to the trainers. No, companies also saw opportunities. They were able to provide their entire workforce with relevant information at a relatively low cost.

“We want to make more training courses, for more staff, in a shorter period of time,” it sounded.

What forms of e-learning are there?

If you decide to give a digital training, you can therefore speak of e-learning. However, there are many variations of e-learning, depending on the purpose of the learning intervention. We make a distinction between the following.

E-learning vs. blended learning

Online training can be synchronous and asynchronous. Under one synchronous e-learning we understand that a group of students is learning the same material at the same time. The advantage of this is that the students can interact socially with each other. Since technology can ensure that students isolate themselves, this form of e-learning is perfect for preventing students from being isolated. See below for a number of examples of synchronous forms of e-learning.

  • Webinar
  • Chat conversation
  • Online meeting

Under one asynchronous e-learning it is understood that a group of students can decide for themselves when to learn. The advantage of this is that students are much more flexible. And nowadays, we know what that does for learning outcomes. After all, flexibility contributes enormously to the intrinsic motivation. See below for a few examples of asynchronous forms of e-learning.

  • Take an online test
  • Watch a recorded webinar
  • Listen to the podcast

In addition, you can also combine both with each other. We then call this process a blended learning. The name actually says it all. This is because a combination is made with synchronous learning forms, asynchronous learning forms or offline learning interventions. Consider, for example, a classroom lesson, which students must prepare online in advance. Only the preparation phase then consists of e-learning!

“The Best of Both Worlds”

Curious? We have much more to say about blended learning.

What e-learning content is available?

E-learning can also stand out in terms of content that is offered. We were just talking about the history of e-learning. At the beginning, of course, extremely simple ones appeared. forms of e-learning, such as the teachine machine. However, technology has now reached the point where the way in which information is offered online can take various forms. Below we give a number of examples.

  • Video
  • Web texts
  • Infographic
  • Animation
  • Podcast
  • Case study
  • Discussion forum
When writing texts for your e-learning, it is important to keep in mind that people read an online text differently than a text from a book. To delve further into this, you can read this blog about writing web texts!

Often, these different forms of learning are combined and offered in a online learning environment, such as Pluvo. This software is ideal for supporting e-learning. This is because, among other things, it includes opportunities to monitor students' progress as a trainer.

Learn more about how to offer online training in e-learning software?

E-learning only really becomes a useful application if it consists of different forms of content. The fact that it is easier digitally to let students choose how they want to learn means that e-learning can be more effective than offline learning.

What are the e-learning benefits?

As mentioned earlier, e-learning really isn't just popular in education anymore. This is because it is used as a solution to every issue about information and knowledge sharing that you can imagine. This is because it also has various advantages for different users. Below, we outline the reasons why coaches, trainers and companies use e-learning.

Trainers & coaches

Trainers and coaches benefit enormously from the possibilities of e-learning. After all, they can have their valuable sharing knowledge online with the whole world, instead of just in the village where their practice is located. And this is also made extremely easy for them! All they have to do is translate their offline course into an online version, and that's it! The internet and the associated social media channels can be used to draw attention to the training.

And then it's just a matter of waiting for the 'passive' income to come in ;-)

Of course, it is more personal, and often more effective, if a training program matches the student's situation. And blended learning, on the other hand, is very suitable for that.

Education & trainers

You can't have missed it: many classroom courses and courses are now provided digitally. Fortunately, today, e-learning is able to translate (almost) all facets of an offline lesson into the online version.

In fact, the digital options often only make it more fun for students/students!

For example, consider Kahoot. Of course, this interactive tool managed to stimulate the combativeness in almost every student. And what do you think about Mentimeter? Before the digital tools came around, we lost a lot of time printing out and distributing feedback forms. Now, with just one click on the button, a clear view of all classroom input appears.

Organizations & nonprofits

Digital learning is the way to provide (future) employees with relevant knowledge. For example, online training courses are often used as an onboarding program when a new employee joins the company. This way, the HR employee no longer has to personally tell each newcomer how the systems that are used work. E-learnings can be developed for various functions, so that each new employee only has to be invited to the right training. The fun stuff, such as a tour of the business premises and a round of proposals, will remain a physical opportunity.

In addition, e-learning is also a great tool for teaching existing staff how to deal with the new AVG legislation.

Or, how do you use e-learning during offboarding? In this blog, we give you the necessary offboarding tips.

So, what is e-learning?

There is therefore a fairly simple answer to the question what e-learning is: sharing knowledge via digital learning tools. Over the years, e-learning has developed as a full-fledged alternative to offline learning interventions. In fact, it even contributes to students' motivation. Due to the many benefits, there are now many coaches, trainers and companies who gratefully make use of online academies. We hope you have got a good idea of what e-learning is, why it is used and how it is mainly used.

Do you still have questions? Then take contact join us!

Want to make your own e-learning?

Now that you know what e-learning is, you might be excited to get started yourself!

Then read this blog about a create an online course.

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