The origin and etymology of e-learning is contested, and the "e" does not necessarily mean electronic (as per e-mail or e-commerce). For example, Luskin, an educational technology pioneer, advocated that the "e" of e-learning should be interpreted to mean "exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational" in addition to "electronic." Parks suggested that the "e" should refer to "everything, everyone, engaging, easy". Coined between 1997 and 1999, e-learning became first attached to either a distance learning service or it was used for the first time at the CBT systems seminar. The term has been used extensively to describe the use of online, personalised, interactive, or virtual education.
E-learning includes information and communication technology (ICT) in education, EdTech, learning technology, multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer managed instruction, computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), flexible learning, web-based training (WBT), online education, online learning, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE; which are also called learning platforms), m-learning, and digital education. All of these terms appear in articles and reviews; the term "e-learning" is used frequently, but is variously and imprecisely defined and applied.
Moore et al found "significant variation in the understanding and usage of terms used in this field" and pointed to "implications for the referencing, sharing and collaboration of results." The various alternative terms are all linguistically more restrictive than "educational technology" in that they individually emphasize a particular digitization approach, component or delivery method. Accordingly, each conflates to the broad domain of educational technology. For example, m-learningemphasizes mobility, but is otherwise indistinguishable in principle from educational technology.
^ abcMoore, J. L.; Dickson-Deane, C.; Galyen, K. (2011). "e-Learning, online learning, and distance learning environments: Are they the same?". The Internet and Higher Education14 (2): 129–135. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.10.001.