Teaching and learning based on knowledge transfer via electronic or digital media are subsumed under e-learning. E-learning is characterized by the fact that this method is multimedia, multimodal and interactive. Today, e-learning is used at all levels of education. The bandwidth ranges from paid distance learning to free webinars. E-learning can also be used as a post-conversion marketing campaign.


The idea of learning with the help of machines is very old. As early as the 16th century, scientists developed their own mechanical instruments to help people learn. The development of e-learning eventually evolved with the proliferation of electrically powered machines and had its breakthrough in the 20th century.


With digitization, which was driven by the spread of the Internet, e-learning also experienced a new upswing and is already an integral part of didactic teaching at universities. In some countries, such as Australia, where geographical conditions also require new forms of learning, e-learning has been common practice since the 1950s.

New federal government initiatives also assign a special role to e-learning. Numerous initiatives are trying to ensure that e-learning is also used in everyday school life. This form of learning is included in the large complex “New Media”. Away from state educational institutions, e-learning is also used in corporations, by academies or adult education centers in order to reach a large number of students or audiences cost-effectively and efficiently.

Types of e-learning

E-learning can take many different forms. The common types are briefly outlined here:

  • Learning via web-based learning platforms or learning management systems: a large part of e-learning takes place via the web. So-called learning platforms are the contact point for users, who can use them to work on new tasks or acquire additional information. Distance learning universities, for example, use the functionalities of learning platforms in a complex form.
  • Learning with digital software: This includes, for example, learning DVDs or complete learning programs that can be downloaded from the Internet
  • Authoring systems: So-called authoring systems offer teachers the opportunity to manage and save course content or exams from a central location. Course participants can then access the content via CD-ROM or via a learning platform.
  • Learning via simulations: This form of e-learning is probably best illustrated with the flight simulators of large airlines, which are used to train pilots.
  • Teleteaching via video conferences: This is taught directly via an electronic medium. The learners can communicate live with the teacher.

Forms of Learning

The learning and teaching forms of e-learning are diverse and result from the types of knowledge transfer.

  • Whiteboards: Here, a network is used to work on a whiteboard and facts are explained and made accessible to a broad community. A special whiteboard is used, for example, every Friday at Moz’s Whiteboard Friday, where SEO issues are clearly explained on a whiteboard.
  • Blended learning: Here e-learning is combined with face-to-face events. This form of e-learning is practiced, for example, by many universities that offer correspondence courses.
  • Virtual teaching: This is when courses and lectures are held over the internet. Webinars, for example, also fall into this category.
  • Learning communities: Groups or communities can come together on the web to learn together. A list from the Washington Center in the USA shows what this looks like in concrete terms.
  • Virtual classroom: The method of the “virtual classroom” allows the synchronous transfer of knowledge over large distances.
  • Microlearning: This special form of learning allows learners to gain knowledge in very small steps. The learning content can be conveyed via SMS, for example.
  • Podcasts: This form of e-learning is very popular, where learning content can be called up again and again.
  • TV broadcasts: Knowledge can also be conveyed in a targeted manner via TV broadcasts. A famous version of e-learning via TV stations is the “Telekolleg” of the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation.

Areas of Application

E-learning is a generic term for various learning methods and forms of teaching, which are mostly digital and web-based today. E-learning is used both by companies for employee training and by universities for teaching. Learning via digital media is therefore not limited to specific sectors or areas, but is conceivable for all age groups, educational levels, professional groups and areas of interest.


E-learning has many advantages, which are briefly outlined here:

  • Knowledge transfer can take place independently of place and time
  • easier adjustment to the individual learning pace
  • various multimedia possibilities
  • Participants do not have to overcome any inhibitions when helping to shape the event, since there is no need for direct contact with other participants
  • ideal for further training alongside your job
  • flexible dissemination of knowledge via networks
  • often relatively unbureaucratic access to e-learning offers
  • often a cost-effective alternative to stationary learning


Despite the frequently postulated advantages of e-learning, the disadvantages of this type of knowledge transfer should not be ignored:

  • partly requires a high level of technical understanding
  • Learners must have the necessary infrastructure (e.g. PC, internet connection)
  • is highly dependent on technology
  • Learners usually have to be more disciplined
  • there is no direct social contact
  • learning is often tied to working on the screen
  • in online exams, participants cannot be identified 100 percent

e-learning and Marketing

In online marketing, e-learning is very widespread today. Not only do agencies offer their customers “tutoring” in the areas of SEO or SEA, but also search engine providers such as Google rely on e-learning for certification for AdWords, for example. The so-called webinars are a very popular form in the advertising industry. On the one hand, they serve to convey knowledge and, on the other hand, to underline the competence of the company in order to receive recommendations.


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