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What specifically is e-learning good for?

E-learning, in its many and varied forms, is suitable for any learning activity which does not have to be conducted face-to-face.

You can't generalise about e-learning because it comes in so many forms. Computers and networks provide so many opportunities to enhance learning in the workplace, but the opportunities are dependent on the use you are making of these tools.

Type of e-learning

Some possible applications

Interactive self-study tutorials

Short lessons which help the learner to acquire knowledge against specific objectives, typically as a precursor to using this knowledge to perform tasks in the workplace or to engage in other, more practical, learning activities such as workshops.

Tutorials which develop problem-solving and decision-making skills, using case studies, scenarios and other forms of interactivity.

Live online events using web conferencing tools

Formal instructional sessions, similar to those conducted in a physical classroom.

As a component in a formal blended solution, e.g. to introduce a new course, to explore key topics, to review progress. 

As an informal developmental activity, e.g. webinars including presentations and discussions.

As a tool to allow groups of learners to collaborate on projects and assignments.

As a means for learners to present the outcomes of projects and assignments.

Games and simulations

As a form of guided discovery learning, allowing learners to gain insights into problem-solving and decision-making principles, e.g. project management, business strategy, marketing.

As a way for learners to explore complex principles and processes, e.g. economics, physics.  

As a safe way for learners to practise complex psychomotor skills, e.g. driving a car, flying a plane.

In a multi-player context, as a life-like and immersive way for learners to practise collaborative tasks such as handling emergencies.

Digital online content, including web articles, videos, screencasts, podcasts, slide shows

Performance support material for access on-demand.

As a component in a formal blended solution, e.g. to stimulate a discussion or in preparation for a workshop.

As a developmental activity initiated by the learner.

As an output of learning activities carried out by learners working individually or in groups.

Social media tools, including forums, wikis, blogs, social networks

To facilitate group collaboration within a formal blended solution.

As performance support tools, i.e. making it easier to seek out and provide expertise.

As tools for sharing best practice, links and information.

As tools for problem-solving and reflection.


To check knowledge, understanding and, to a more limited extent, problem-solving and decision-making skills, against specific objectives. Of limited reliability when the assessment takes place immediately after the delivery of learning content. E-assessments are not capable of assessing all types of learning objectives.