Definitions of e-learning

Throughout the ages there have been different definitions of e-learning from various writers. Specifically 4 general categories of definitions were identified. These were:
  1. technology-driven
  2. delivery system-oriented
  3. communication-oriented
  4. educational paradigm oriented


1. Technology-driven

This category focus mainly on private companies and some academics that emphasize the technological aspects of e-learning while presenting the rest of its characteristics as secondary
  • “E-learning is to take a course online using a modem, wireless, or cable connection to access academic course material from a computer, phone, or handheld device” (Governors State University, 2008).

  • “E-learning is the use of technology to deliver learning and training programs” (E-learning portal, 2009).

  • “E-learning is distance education through remote resources” (Marquès, 2006).

2. Delivery system-oriented

This category presents e-learning as the accessibility of resources and not the results of any achievements


  • “E-learning is an on-line education defined as the self-paced or real-time delivery of training and education over the internet to an end-user device” (Lee & Lee, 2006).

  • “E-learning is the delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means” (Li, Lau, & Dharmendran, 2009).

  • “E-learning is defined as education delivered, or learning conducted, by Web techniques” (Liao & Lu, 2008).

3. Communication oriented

In this category e-learning is considered to be communication, interaction and collaboration tool and assigns secondary roles to its aspects and characterisitsc

  • “E-learning is learning based on information and communication technologies with pedagogical interaction between students and the content, students and the instructors or among students through the web” (González-Videgaray, 2007).

  • “E-learning is defined as learning facilitated by the use of digital tools and content that involves some form of interactivity, which may include online interaction between the learner and their teacher or peers” (Ministry of Communication and Technology of New Zealand, 2008).

4. Educational-paradigm oriented

In this category e-learning is defined as a new way of learning or as an improvement on an existing educational paradigm

  • E-learning is defined as information and communication technologies used to support students to improve their learning” (Ellis, Ginns, & Piggott, 2009).

  • “E-learning refers to educational processes that utilise information and communications technology to mediate synchronous as well as asynchronous learning and teaching activities” (Jereb & Šmitek, 2006).