Evolution of e-Learning

E-learning is the interactive form of learning, where the learning materials and content are relayed online and the feedback is automated to the learner’s activities. The idea of e-learning has existed for decades and has since its inception evolved into a normal phenomenon. Sangra et al., (2012) indicates that e-learning is a likely progression of distance learning and it generally utilizes modern technological equipment to create and adjust to the context of educational tools to shape the learning process. Many research studies indicate that it originated from the mail-learning method via correspondence courses. For instance, the email courses offered by Sir Isaac Pitman in the 1840s (Bezovski, & Poorani, 2016). The concept utilized did not change throughout history, though the advancement in technology caused the multiplication of the medium. By the 1920s, the idea of teaching machines by Sidney Pressey emerged, but it was until in the 1950s that it was extensively promoted by the discoveries of Skimmer. This development allowed schools to relay programmed learning instructions and materials to the learners. By the 1980s, the existence of personal computers led to an advanced form of e-learning-the Computer-based training (CBT). According to Bezovski, & Poorani (2016), the development of CBT transformed the programmed computer-assisted instructions (offered via teaching machines) into computer bases learning (CBL), which utilized the Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations (PLATO). This incorporated graphic elements, chat rooms, and graphical texts into e-learning, and thus, enhancing the systems as practical pedagogy became more operative and the teacher-student ratio could be maintained at 1:1. E-learning further evolved to include CD-based training by the 1990s. The utilization of CD-ROM based training allowed for occasional workshops to be held through websites, where chat boards were created to allow for an e-learning process that was known as “mentoring”. This never lasted as the web later (1998) offered learning materials and instructions as well as a personalized learning experience through the web-based interactive content, newsletters, chat rooms, and study groups. The availability of personal computers and the internet became phenomenal by the 21st century, allowing the concept of e-learning to take form. Cecil (Web-based learning management system) was created in the late 20th century and enabled for the organization, documentation, and delivery of e-courses. It was more advanced and allowed for the incorporation of advanced learning and interactive features like the web-conferencing, learning games, grading, testing, and audio and video (Daniel, 2014).

Types of e-Learning

Shahabadi, & Uplane, (2015) notes that e-learning encompasses two main types. These include;

  1. The Asynchronous e-learning
  2. Synchronous e-learning

Synchronous E-Learning

            Synchronous type of e-learning tool is offered in real-time and involves online learning through technological aspects such as videoconferencing and chats. It can be compared to a virtual classroom, where learners can ask and the teachers can instantly respond through messaging applications. Synchronous e-learning students can easily interact among themselves and the teachers or the faculty during the course.

Asynchronous E-Learning

            Asynchronous e-learning, on the other hand, can be offered even when learners are offline. It generally does not involve the real-time restrictions since the coursework and other learning material are delivered through email, the web, or even via message boards, and therefore, allowing the learners to ideally complete the course at their speed. Hence, it merely uses the internet as a support tool. 


Bezovski, Z., & Poorani, S. (2016, March). The evolution of e-learning and new trends. In Information and Knowledge Management (Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 50-57). IISTE.

Daniel, S. J. (2014). Open, Distance and Online Learning: A Brief History. International Conference onEmerging Technologies in Education and Computer Science.

Sangra, A., Vlachopoulos, D., & Cabrera, N. (2012). Building an Inclusive Definition of E-Learning: An Approach to the Conceptual Framework. IRRODL.

Shahabadi, M. M., & Uplane, M. (2015). Synchronous and asynchronous e-learning styles and academic performance of e-learners. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 176, 129-138.