​Technology continues to advance at a fast pace, including the evolution of eLearning, which is constantly adapting to the market demands. Gone are the days of rigid training outlets with tight schedules and unnecessary travel. If you are just starting your eLearning journey, you may face a few challenges as you try to navigate into your preferred mode of study. To help you out, here are some types of eLearning that you will come across, alongside their definitions, as well as pros and cons.

Types of eLearning

1. Fixed eLearning

Fixed eLearning is one of the older versions of online learning. It refers to a learning process that uses a traditional structure of passing down information to students. All learners receive the same type of information as determined by the instructors. Since the learning materials rely on the instructors, fixed eLearning is rigid and does not adapt to the students’ preferences. Such a type is best suited to environments where learners have similar schedules and skills. Traditional grade school classes in need of eLearning can, for instance, adapt this type of structure. 


  • Fixed eLearning works well when the learning depends on a time-sensitive completion schedule involving fixed curriculums.
  • It may be easier and more time sensitive for trainers to implement a one-sized-fits-all strategy, with less variation.


  • Due to its rigidity, it would be hard to adapt to the current diverse eLearning needs.
  • Its traditional training approach also lacks real-world elements.
  • It is a generalized form of learning that fails to consider each student’s individual learning abilities.

2. Adaptive eLearning

Adaptive eLearning is another type of online learning. Unlike the first outlet, adaptive eLearning has the learner's flexibility as its focal point. Here, all learning materials are designed to fit your learning preferences. This pays attention to aspects such as skills, abilities, and individual performance. Using such factors to tailor your learning needs means that you can switch things up whenever you feel like you are lagging behind, or change based on your course completion goals. Adaptive eLearning works well where learners prefer to study at their own pace. You, however, need to be highly disciplined to stick to your pace in adaptive eLearning.


Adaptive learning is flexible, allowing you to take courses based on your individual needs.


Since adaptive eLearning is tailor-made for each student, instructors planning it face setbacks trying to meet the enormous number of eLearning schedules on a wide-scale level.


3. Asynchronous eLearning

In asynchronous eLearning, students study independently from different locations. Here, learners can study on their own time, depending on their schedule. If done in an engaging way, this could include user generated content. For example, instead of multiple choice exams, learners could submit video of themselves proving their newly-learned skills. 


This type of eLearning takes into account the need for flexible individual schedules, allowing personalized and individualized learning time frames.

Learners at different geographical areas also benefit from the same learning tools available to their peers.


  • Asynchronous eLearning can lead to isolation, creating a ripple effect in complacency while studying. Some learners require constant evaluation and interaction with their peers to keep pace, which lacks here.


4. Interactive eLearning

In interactive eLearning, both teachers and students can communicate freely, allowing both parties to make changes to the learning materials as they see fit. An open line of communication also allows for better interaction, resulting in a better learning process should any queries arise. Interactive eLearning works well in a limited and close-knit group environment that allows for flexibility.


The open form of communication gives rise to a seamless process of learning, for both learners and teachers.

Open communication also strengthens independence in learning for students, since you have a say in the learning process.


  • Not suited for large numbers of online learners, as it leads to confusion (mainly for the instructors).


5. Individual eLearning

Individual eLearning is all about students learning on their own without any peer communication. 


Individual eLearning helps students learn based on personal attributes such as goal achievements rather than relying on their teachers' and peers' standards.


  • It restricts all forms of communication, resulting in isolation. Here, you are required to learn solely on your own and complete your goals by yourself. Due to the lack of follow-up, individual eLearning can only work in highly specialized situations where learners are highly motivated and skilled.


6. Collaborative eLearning

Collaborative eLearning focuses on teamwork, allowing students to work together. Learning materials and goals rely on combined effort from all students for completion of the course. If you prefer this type of learning, you have to factor in your strengths and weaknesses, as well as that of your peers. 


Promotes communication and teamwork among the students, an aspect that is often lacking in online learning.

It also develops critical thinking that is needed to accommodate different students' views during the learning process. Due to its collaborative design, it can work well with learners from different backgrounds and cultures. It is an effective learning process that helps to build awareness and harmony among people from diverse groups.


  • Collaborative eLearning can give rise to over-dependence by some students. Due to reliance on combined effort, some learners can opt to take a back seat and let others do the work for them. This can seem unfair to some learners, dependent on the work load of each student.

Each eLearning process is suited to different environments and personal preferences. Before settling for any option, understand what works well for you and your goals. 

Sign up to receive industry tips, trends, & insights