E-learning, or electronic learning, encompasses all forms of learning that use technology or the Internet as the medium for teaching. It allows students to learn anywhere at any time through tech devices. E-learning is synonymous to distance education, virtual learning or web-based training.
The basic levels of e-learning involve knowledge databases and online support, whereas advanced levels are associated with either asynchronous or synchronous training. Depending on the purpose, e-learning can also be categorized as informal, corporate or academic. Informal e-learning includes online course materials that impart knowledge and skill for free. In businesses, corporate e-learning grooms professionals to become successful in the industry. Academic e-learning programs are educational opportunities that grant accredited online degrees.
Participating in e-learning allows a student to study and learn at his own pace and convenience. E-learning also delivers content more interactively than traditional classroom settings, keeping the engagement level high and preventing students from becoming bored. In many cases, e-learning is more cost-effective than other learning methods. On the other hand, e-learning may not be compatible with students who prefer a physical learning environment and direct communication with instructors.
Examples of e-learning include attending webinars, taking online exams and attending a class whose teacher is telecommuting. As of 2014, the MIT OpenCourseWare, edX, Udacity and Codecademy are some popular e-learning sites that offer online open courses.