e-Learning Always Needs a Partner

(Microsoft, 2014)

One of the things that drives learning professionals, including myself, crazy is understanding what is meant by the term e-Learning.   I have found over time that the term e-Learning, just as with ballroom dancers, is no good on its own.  This term always needs a partner.

In order to truly capture all things that eLearning encompasses, the definition must be broad:   

“e-learning is the delivery of education (all activities relevant to instructing, teaching, and learning) through various electronic media” (Koohang & Harman, 2005, p. 78).

“e-Learning … refers to education that uses the Internet” (Moore & Kearsley, 2012, p. 2).

“E-learning (or eLearning) refers to the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education” (Wikipedia, 2014, para. 1).

I was talking with a colleague a few weeks ago.  She was telling me about a live (i.e., synchronous) learning event that was held and recorded using a virtual learning environment.  My practice has primarily been with creating asynchronous courses that are delivered via a Learning Management System.  A few minutes into the conversation, we were both confused. 

Why?  It was due to the fact that we were both using the term e-Learning to describe two different types of learning events.  Yes, we were both using the correct term.  But we were confused because it was two different types of e-Learning events under discussion.

I am guilty as the next person of saying e-Learning when I actually mean e-Learning course. Consider taking the challenge, along with me, to ensure that the term e-Learning is always used with at least one partner, if not more. 


Koohang, A., & Harman, K. (2005). Open source: A metaphor for e-learning. Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, 8, 75-86. Retrieved from http://inform.nu/Articles/Vol8/v8p075-086Kooh.pdf

Microsoft. (2014). Couple ballroom dancing [Digital Image]. Used with permission from Microsoft. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=computer&ex=1&AxInstalled=copy&Download=MP900422409&ext=JPG&c=0#ai:MP900422409|mt:2|

Moore, M.G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). The distance education student. In Distance education: A systems view of online learning (3rd ed., pp. 150-174). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth CengageLearning.

Wikipedia. (2014). E-Learning [Web Pag. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-learning


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