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I am writing a course which incorporates some definitions of different types of learning. I am struggling to find concise definitions of both elearning and online learning. Are they the same? I can't seem to find a consistant answer.


Janis Reid.
Janis Reid

5 Responses

  1. Definitions.
    The word e-learning is used to mean learning with a computer and the Internet. This definition is from who are the founders of the only International Quality e-Learning Mark. Also check out

    Web Based Training (WBT), Online Learning/Training are from about 8 years ago when modem speeds began to improve and real online learning could be engaged with. The terms are used to mean the same as e-Learning, which today is a more generic term that many understand.

    Computer Based Training (CBT) is learning on a computer – either Instructor Led, CD-ROM based or through Simulations. The Internet is not present with these.

    I hope this has been of help to you.

    Tony Treacy.

  2. On and Off Line
    As I understand it, you are on-line when you are connected to the Web. You are off-line when you are not connected to the Web.

    ‘E-learning’ refers to the whole range of computer-based aids to learning, whether used on- or off-line. So e-learning would include tutorial or collaborative discussion via email (called a-synchronous e-learning, since the people involved do not have to be online together at the same time), as well as via instant messaging (called synchronous e-learning, where the people involved chat to each other whilst they are online at the same time).

    ‘Online learning’ refers to the subset of e-learning methods that can be only used by people while they are online, as in the case of collaborative discussion between a group of students using instant messaging, or as in the case of a presentation by a tutor using an online whiteboard.

    Students who are using interactive computer based training (CBT) that runs from a CDROM, on the other hand, are using an offline e-learning method.

    I hope this helps.

  3. e-learning guru
    Hi Janis,

    There’s an excellent glossary for all things e-learning on Kevin Kruse website

    There’s loads of useful stuff on that site generally – its one of the best resources I’ve come across

    Kind regards

  4. A Little Follow Up…..
    I put your question online to my academic colleagues yesterday and this definition has just arrived in my email.

    ”e-Learning is… the use of technologies to create, distribute and deliver valuable data, information, learning and knowledge to improve on-the-job and organizational performance, and individual development.

    We began to play with the ‘e’ and extend the definition even further. One of the definitions we like is: enabling, enhancing and extending learning through the use of technologies.”

    I pass it on to you.

    Tony Treacy.

  5. e-learning Definition
    “E-Learning is the delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means. E-learning involves the use of a computer or electronic device (e.g. a mobile phone) in some way to provide training, educational or learning material.”

    The confusion arises because many on-line learning companies and others have associated e-learning with on-line learning.

    The E stands for electronic. So if I phoned you up and taught you something you would have been taught via e-learning, likewise if I sent you a PDF file that taught you something and you use your computer to read it that would be e-learning.

    Depending on the method of delivery you will get a lot of definitions, I went through the same problems as you and found the above definition actually does fit and explain what e-learning is.

    You may differ, but I hope it helps.


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