What exactly is E- Learning? 


E-learning is a term that we hear bandied about today. But

  • What actually is e-learning?
  • What are the benefits of e-learning?
  • What should we consider when designing e-learning courses?

What is E-learning?

Simply put e-learning is electronic learning.

It is a method of giving and receiving education using electronic devices, such as tablets, smart phones, laptops and desk top computers.

An e-learning content provider will provide the course and content electronically and the student accesses the course electronically.

E-learning can be offered online and offline.

The student will access the course using a username and password or on a device, such as a USB.

They can then download the course materials to work on them offline if they wish.

E-learning is also self-paced. The student can study at their own pace, at a time to suit them.

E-learning courses are usually provided by a learning management system (LMS). So, the e-learning course is the actual course, but it is offered on a learning platform (the LMS).


Types of E-Learning

There are many different types of e-learning.

For example –

  • Active learning – Students are encouraged to participate in their own learning, to be more active. For example, taking part in discussions, conducting experiments and research.
  • Blended learning – Some education providers offer blended learning, where students might attend the educational establishment, but also study online as well. So, they have two or more types of learning.
  • Distance learning – Students study their course from a distance. This can be through correspondence or online.
  • Online learning – The student will access their course through a website. Using a username and password, they can access the course materials they need to study.
  • Microcourses or bite-size learning -Small chunks of learning are becoming increasing popular for many students. These may be short courses of 5 – 10 minutes or longer, such as 2 – 3 hours.

The Benefits of E-Learning

E-learning can be beneficial to the student and the e-learning course provider.

E-Learning Can Cut Costs

E-learning can cut costs for the student and the course provider.

The student does not have to pay for –

  • Travel costs
  • Buying books
  • Printing course materials
  • Postage costs etc

The E-learning course provider also benefits from –

  • Reduced or no printing costs
  • Reduced or no postage costs
  • Textbooks can be provided online as eBooks
  • Travel costs for tutors and staff are reduced
  • There is also reduced need for a physical training space, again reducing costs in terms of rent or other maintenance costs
  • As students are studying by e-learning, they do not attend the premises, so there is also a reduced cost for insurance and staff to be present at the training premises.

E-Learning can save time

Travelling to a location to train can take up time for the student and the education provider. There is no need to travel for e-learning, so this saves time for the student and education provider.

Printing and posting course materials can also take time. E-learning reduces the need for printing and posting.

E-Learning can increase productivity

As the student and course provider are not required to travel to attend training, instead of travelling, they can use that time to complete other tasks, making them more productive.


There are no geographical limitations to e-learning, meaning that students can study from anywhere in the world.

This makes the course more accessible to a wide range of students.

For example,

  • Students who may have mobility issues are able to access the course.
  • Students who live in remote locations do not have extended travel time.
  • Students can study from anywhere in the world, which means that students have access to courses that they may not have access to in their own location.

Study Anywhere, Study Anytime

E-learning means that the student can study anywhere and at any time. They can work at a time and location to suit them, accessing their course on their computer, laptop, smart phone or tablet.

This also benefits tutors and administrative staff who can also access the courses at a time and location to fit in with their needs and job requirements.

Monitoring Progress

As mentioned, e-learning is often offered via an LMS, which makes it easier to monitor and manage student progress.

The education provider can see what the student is doing, how well they are doing in the course, their grades etc. This makes it easier for the course provider to see how students are doing.


Designing  E-Learning Courses

When designing e-learning courses, we also have to consider –

E-Learning engagement

Learner engagement is the willingness of the learning to interact with the training provided consistently to meet their learning goal.

So, the learner chooses to do their training to achieve what they want from the training.

Their willingness to engage in their training can be related to a range of reasons. For example –

  • Their desire to gain knowledge
  • Interest in the subject
  • Perceived value – what are the benefits of doing the course to the student?
  • Reward – what is the reward for completing the course? For example, they are more likely to get a new job or promotion.

Learners can be –

  • Students – training on an educational course to achieve a specific goal
  • Employees – on the job training required as part of their job role or to update their knowledge, for example, of a new product
  • Customers – some organisations offer training to their customers. In particular, technology and software companies may offer training to their customers on how to use their products.

There are two types of training –

  • Mandatory – a student must complete the course for some reason. For example, they must complete a course on legislation to fulfil their job role.
  • Optional – a student chooses to complete a course, for their own interest, job, promotion, goals, aims and wishes.

With mandatory courses, learning engagement is not often considered as a student has to do the training. But when a student is training because they want to and it is not optional, not every student will continue with the course.


E-learning can help with student engagement.


Student engagement is important. Engaged students –

  • Study more often
  • Retain more information

This changes things for the education provider. Instead of chasing students to complete the course, they need to ensure that the student is engaged and interested in their learning.

To ensure learner engagement, the e-learning provider should ensure that students know –

  • How to access the course via the LMS
  • How the LMS works
  • The course objectives
  • The benefits of completing the course
  • Timelines – Is the course self-paced or are their deadlines?
  • When is the course available or is it available at any time to suit the student?
  • Who is their tutor?
  • How quickly should questions be answered?
  • How quickly should assignments be marked?
  • Who do they contact if there is a problem?
  • What is the reward for completing the course? Such as a certificate.

Some of this information may seem obvious, but it may not always be obvious to the student, particularly those who have not studied by e-learning before, so make sure instructions are clear and precise.

The Value of E-Learning

When studying a course, a student will often wonder if it is worth them spending time on it. Do they have the time? Do they want to spend that time on this course?

The answer is hopefully yes, but life can have a habit of getting in the way of studying. A student may have other priorities and interests that start to get in the way.

This is why it is important that the course is –

  • Engaging
  • Interesting
  • Worthwhile

The main reasons for a person to take a course are –

  • to expand their knowledge
  • to retrain
  • to get a promotion
  • for interest

Whatever their reasons, a course needs to have value for the student to want to take and complete the course.

Explain to the student the value of taking the course.

For example –

  • Taking this course in recognising Plant Varieties will increase your knowledge of plants and plant types, which will increase the likelihood that you will get a job in a plant nursery or garden centre.

Amount of information

If there is too much information available to the student, they may think that it is too much.  Jacob decided to study a course at home. Two massive folders arrived. He immediately felt panicked and decided it was too much. He sent the course back.  Learning can feel like that. A student can suddenly be presented with lots and lots of information all at once. With e-learning, the course creator has the opportunity to break down the learning into smaller chunks. For example, they might break down the course into lessons, multichoice tests, assignments, additional resources etc.  So, the student can work through the course in smaller chunks.  This doesn’t feel as overwhelming to the student.


The course/lesson should have a specific aim and stick to it. For example, the aim of a lesson is to define social psychology and give examples of how social psychology theories are applied in the real world. If the lesson then starts talking about psychology in a broader sense, it is not sticking to the given aim, which can mean students can start to feel overloaded with irrelevant information.


Consider how much text there is in a course. Could information be provided in another way, such as videos, diagrams, flow charts, images?


Quizzes and assignments can be another way to engage students. Multichoice questions can be useful, particularly when the student

  • knows how they have scored in seconds
  • knows what they answered correctly and what they didn’t.

They can then review their learning if necessary.

Assessments can also be useful.

Well designed assessments and assignments can ensure that the student can see how they are progressing in their course.


E-learning provides the student with learner autonomy.

They can study –

  • when they want to
  • where they want to
  • what they want to

This means that they have control over their learning in a way that suits them and fits in with their lifestyle and training needs.


The Popularity of E-Learning

E-learning is the area of education with the most growth in recent years. The way that adults are training and learning is changing .

Some researchers estimate that it has grown by 900% since 2000. That is not a typo – 900% is correct!

Since 2000, we have seen many changes –

  • The internet has grown and developed
  • WiFi is available to far more people
  • More and more people have electronic devices to study
  • People are recognising the need for lifelong learning and training to retrain, be promoted, to upskill etc.
  • COVID-19 also brought about rapid changes in the education industry, resulting in a massive increased need for e-learning.

If you would like to be part of this growth in e-learning, why not consider selling ACS DE courses?

  • We offer over 700 e-learning and online courses.
  • We are updating our courses all of the time.
  • We add new courses to our stable of courses frequently.

Be part of a growth industry!

Be part of the e-learning industry!

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What our clients say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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