Home : Technical Terms : E-learning Definition


E-learning or "electronic learning" is an umbrella term that describes education using electronic devices and digital media. It encompasses everything from traditional classrooms that incorporate basic technology to online universities.

E-learning in a traditional setting may include educational films and PowerPoint presentations. These types of media can provide students with content that is more dynamic and engaging than textbooks and a whiteboard. Edutainment, or content that is designed to be educational and entertaining, may be used to keep students' attention while providing knowledge about a particular topic. A documentary film, for example, may be both engaging and informative.

While some classrooms incorporate digital technology, others are designed around it. A Classroom Performance System (CPS), for example, provides a completely digital learning environment. It includes a projector for displaying videos and web content and a digital chalkboard for the instructor. Students can complete quizzes and tests using digital response pads rather than handing in papers. The paperless environment provides an efficient way for students to learn and ensures teachers always have the latest instructional materials.

Online education is another common form of e-learning. Many colleges and universities now allow students to submit assignments and complete tests online. Some educational institutions are 100% online, meaning students never have to attend class inside a physical classroom. In order to maintain a sense of community, online universities often provide and even require students to participate in online discussions using Moodle or another virtual learning environment.

Online classes are typically administered by an accredited professor who may give live or recorded lectures that students can watch online. The professor also grades students' assignments and is available to answer individual questions. In most cases, credits earned online are equivalent to those earned in a traditional classroom setting.

Updated: November 5, 2015

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