e-learning is an umbrella term that encompasses all kinds of learning done through a computer or a mobile device which is referred to as mLearning, usually connected to a network. Other terms which are frequently interchanged with eLearning included: online learning, online education, technology enabled learning, web based learning or computer based learning (usually associated with learning from CD-ROM).

It is widely accepted that e-Learning can be as rich and valuable as classroom learning or even better.

Instructional Design for e-Learning has evolved and now achieved new heights of perfection using established teaching principles, with many benefits to students. As a result universities, businesses, and organizations worldwide now offer their students fully accredited online degree, vocational courses, and continuing educational programs in abundance.

Types of e-Learning?

E- Learning comes in many variations and often is a combination of the following:

Self Paced Learning: Means learning at your own pace. Lessons can be delivered by HTML pages, PDF pages or Web Based Training (WBT) as defined below:

Synchronous: means Live or learning at the same time e.g. Live Virtual classroom (defined below) or Chat.

Asynchronous: Means not live or offline e.g. Discussion board.

Virtual Lab or Simulation: Means digital reproduction of essential features of any product or process or machine for the purpose of training or demo.

Definitions of Important Terms:

Learning Management System (LMS): An LMS provides administrative tools like Course management, Student Management (like UID/PWD, Profile Management etc) and Faculty Management. It also facilities course delivery, tracking and assessment. It also provides host of other features like Billboard (for announcement etc) collaborative learning platform like Discussion board etc.

Live Virtual Classroom (LVC): LVC mimics physical classroom but is delivered over the internet. It has features like Multi way Audio and Video, hand raising. Yes/no remark, Live assessments, Web safari (live tour of any web site during the class), Break out session, Software application sharing (for training on software or for demonstration purpose) etc. In most cases, the facility of viewing archived classes is also available.

Web based Training (WBT): WBT is a course delivered through the Internet and may use one or more multimedia features like Audio, Image, Flow charts, Illustrations, Animations, Video etc. A WBT course is plugged into the Learning Management System (LMS).

Simulation: Simulation is the digital reproduction of a product or process or machine for the purpose of training or demo. Everyone is aware about aircraft simulation. These days even surgery training is provided through simulation. Simulation helps training in the following ways –

1. Show me-how it is done
2. Let me-do on my own
3. Allow me to make mistake
4. Allow me to make mistake, because we learn from mistakes.

E-learning Simulation permits the learner to go through the above steps. Ultimately the instructor may decide to give a practical training after the students perform the intended or desired actions required without any mistake. In case of aircraft simulation it is absolutely ‘No errors’ for the pilot designate before flying the aircraft with an instructor and there after ‘solo’ and complete stipulated hours of flying before he is granted a commercial pilot license.

In case of other e-learning activities certain minimum specified errors may be permitted and a certificate is issued, It is up to the student to impress potential employers, get into a regular job and perform more accurately with the help of seniors or superiors.

It is now a known fact that to keep abreast in the present scenario and shine through tough competition, it is inevitable for any individual to make sure he/she gets the best education and also masters oneself with the best of skills. Once you are ready, the world is all yours to capture.

Experts say that there will be an ongoing need for new skills for employees and aspirants. The coming years will see a growth of various job profiles. Though the old skills will still be of prime importance to aspirations and employees, they say that it will become imperative for them to be well versed with various other skills too and that is possible through e-learning.