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For the use of all types of technology, including electronic technologies, in learning and education, see Educational technology. For a list of articles on learning theory, see Learning theory (disambiguation). For the statistical modeling methodology for online data, see Online machine learning.

E-learning (eLearning or e-Learning) is the use of electronic educational technology in teaching and learning.

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,[1] virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE; which are also called learning platforms), m-learning, and digital education.[2] In usage, all of these terms appear in articles and reviews; the term "e-learning" is used frequently, but is variously and imprecisely defined and applied.[3][4][5]

These alternative terms are all linguistically more restrictive than "educational technology" in that they refer to the use of modern tools such as computers, digital technology, electronic media, networked digital devices, and associated software and "courseware" with learning scenarios, worksheets, and interactive exercises that facilitate learning. However, these alternative names individually emphasize a particular digitization approach, component or delivery method. Accordingly, each conflates to the broad domain of educational technology. For example, m-learning emphasizes mobility, but is otherwise indistinguishable in principle from educational technology.

History, theory, and media[edit]

The origin or etymology of e-learning is contested, with the e- part not necessarily meaning electronic as per e-mail or e-commerce. Coined between 1997 and 1999, e-learning became first attached to either a distance learning service[6] or it was used for the first time at the CBT systems seminar.[7] Since then the term has been used extensively to describe the use of online, personalised, interactive, or virtual education.

Bernard 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." [4] Eric Parks suggested that the "e" should refer to "everything, everyone, engaging, easy".[5] These broad interpretations focus on new applications and developments, as well as learning theory and media psychology.

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."[3] In usage, e-learning is an extremely significant (but incomplete) subset of educational technology. As such, various aspects of e-learning are discussed in that article.

Classroom Technology[edit]

According to Clive Thompson in his book Smarter Than You Think,computers have become increasingly common in the classroom.[8] Thompson states "the ratio of computers to kids has shifted from 1:12 in 1998, to less than 1:4 today".[8] The increasing access to computers is also changing the way classes are taught. Thomson documents this effect, claiming that "[teachers] assign videos to be watched at home, then have students do the homework in class, flipping their instruction inside out". Not only is the popularity of technology increasing because of its increasing availability, but because of the capabilities of technologies that traditional classroom materials do not provide.


  1. ^ Major, Claire (2015). Teaching online: A guide to theory, research, and practice. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 
  2. ^ Educational technology entry at Wikidata
  3. ^ a b Moore, J. L.; Dickson-Deane, C.; Galyen, K. (2011). "e-Learning, online learning, and distance learning environments: Are they the same?". The Internet and Higher Education 14 (2): 129–135. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.10.001. 
  4. ^ a b Bernard Luskin. "Think "Exciting": E-Learning and the Big "E"". 
  5. ^ a b Eric Parks. "What's the "e" in e-Learning?". Askinternational.com. 
  6. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20130518215954/http://connectedplanetonline.com/mag/telecom_bright_future_distance
  7. ^ http://www.talentlms.com/elearning/history_of_elearning
  8. ^ a b Thompson, Clive. "Digital School." Smarter than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better. New York: Penguin, 2013. 175-208. Print.

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