November 4th, 2013 Course Creation

threeFor years, many people thought that creating an elearning course was just the matter of taking an old PowerPoint presentation and publishing it in a fancy player. Over time though, elearning began to evolve into something far more effective (although we still haven’t shaken the PowerPoint past completely).

Truth is, different contexts drive different requirements for elearning. Some situations may just need a basic course, while others need nothing less than an advanced, interactive module presenting the content in a variety of ways.

While elearning varies across a large spectrum, in general your elearning course is likely to fall into one of the following three types:

1. Text Driven

In this level, the content is simple and includes text, graphics, some audio, and simple test questions. Compliance courses are a good example of text driven elearning that usually has one purpose or goal: present the learning and quickly test on the content.

The text driven course rarely has any interactive components, no gamification, and images used sparingly. PowerPoint files converted to elearning often fall into this category.

2. Interactive

An interactive elearning course is very similar to a text driven one, with the exception that there has been more consideration placed on interactive components to enhance the learning. There is also a greater use of visuals in general (graphics, charts, diagrams), all of which are likely to have an interactive aspect.

Unlike the text driven course, interactive courses also take advantage of additional media types, include videos.

3. Simulation

Simulation elearning is highly interactive and relies heavily upon graphics, video, audio and some level of gamification. Importantly, there are often custom simulations to aid in learning acquisition, which could very well include 3D components. New software training is an example of a course that often includes a high degree of interactivity and simulations. It isn’t uncommon for these simulations to also be accompanied with some sort of controlled “test” environment.

Elearning that is simulation heavy puts an emphasis on portraying concepts through various mediums, usually starting with text and graphics, with audio, and video examples. Afterwards, there is often a “try-it” mode where users can practice the new skills, potentially earning achievements or points along the way.



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About Justin Ferriman

Justin started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. He is currently founder & CEO of GapScout. Justin's Homepage | GapScout | Twitter

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15 responses

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In general, I agree with your 3 types of e-learning. I don’t agree, however that simulation has to have some level of gamification.

Thanks for the comment Mike. I find gamification to be highly situational, so you are correct in saying that the 3rd type may not include it.

what of adjoint, blended, online. are they not types of e learning?

Avatar saidu abubakar

I had never come to think that the elearning I’m providing my students with could be classified as one of the three categories you mention in your article.
Thank you for your article, Justin.

Thanks Maribel for the comment. It’s very possible that your elearning falls into another category as well, but there will still likely resemble one of these three.

I like how you categorized eLearning into three distinct yet somewhat collapsing categories. Personally, I am in the Text Driven section, but I am willing to extend it to become more Interactive. Simulation would be a dream come true for me! I believe the earning points system can be added to Interactive form as well. Thanks and I am looking forward to read more!

Avatar Ellie

Hi Ellie-
Thanks for the note. I think you’ll find that simulations generally have their place in training developed for software (i.e. SAP, SalesForce, etc.) – it’s always nice when there are sims, but only if the content calls for it 🙂

@Justin Ferriman,Thanks for sharing this great information among us which is very useful for e-learning . According to me E-Learning program should be very interactive.


Thanks for the post. What are some differences between e-Learning and distance learning?

Thanks for the post . it is simple and clear.
What is the difference between e-learning and instructions. When we say elearning, is it media or instruction?

Avatar shume

ELearning encompasses all aspect of instructional design, which includes both content and media.

what can you say about synchronous, asynchronous and traditional E-learning

Justin are there any plugins that you know of that allow gamification with Learndash? I’d really like to add some interactive questions and answers like the ones offer. The problem with Ispring is that it uses flash which I’m not too keen on.

Avatar Simon

I really don’t comprehend your types of relearning but you’d be great with your elucidation, don’t we have anything like synchronous, asynchronous and traditional elearning as types of relearning?

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