E-learning comprises all forms ofelectronically supported learning andteaching. The information andcommunication systems, whethernetworked learning or not, serve asspecific media to implement thelearning process.
The term will still most likely be utilized toreference out-of-classroom and in-classroom educational experiences viatechnology, even as advances continuein regard to devices and curriculum.
E-learning is essentially the computerand network-enabled transfer of skillsand knowledge. E-learning applicationsand processes include Web-basedlearning, computer-basedlearning, virtual education opportunitiesand digital collaboration.
Content is delivered via theInternet, intranet/extranet, audio orvideo tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM. Itcan be self-paced or instructor-led andincludes media in the form oftext, image, animation, streaming videoand audio.
Learning takes place throughconversations about content andgrounded interaction about problemsand actions. Advocates of sociallearning claim that one of the best waysto learn something is to teach it to others.
However, it should be noted that manyearly online courses, such as thosedeveloped by Murray Turoff and StarrRoxanne Hiltz in the 1970s and 80s at theNew Jersey Institute of Technology, coursesat the University of Guelph in Canada, theBritish Open University, and the onlinedistance courses at the University of BritishColumbia (where Web CT, nowincorporated into Blackboard Inc. was firstdeveloped), have always made heavy useof online discussion between students.
Also, from the start, practitioners such as Harasim(1995) have put heavy emphasis on the use oflearning networks for knowledge construction, longbefore the term e-learning, let alone e-learning, was even considered. There is also an increased use of virtual classrooms(online presentations delivered live) as an onlinelearning platform and classroom for a diverse set ofeducation providers such as Minnesota StateColleges and Universities and Sachem SchoolDistrict.
In addition to virtual classroomenvironments, social networks havebecome an important part of E-learning. Social networks have beenused to foster online learningcommunities around subjects asdiverse as test preparation andlanguage education.