Terminology for Online Learning & the Subtle Differences

Blended Learning Involves Various Teaching TechniquesIndeed, there are plenty of terms that are used interchangeably when researching internet schools and online learning platforms. Basically, anything offered through the internet seems to be classified in the same vein by many individuals.

Still, there are differences, if only subtle, but factors that may impact a potential student’s choice of proper education. That is not to say that one is better than the other, just that it might not serve the needs or intentions of one person versus another looking at the same program.

To help you determine whether you have chosen the right course or class to achieve your end goals, I have identified seven terms and briefly explained them so that you can get the best out of your schooling.

#1 Online Learning

This is probably the most used phrase as it does refer to the whole group of terms collectively. In other words, if you plan to take one course or a degree program through the internet, it is online learning. The programs or classes might be free or they could be tuition or fee based.

They may be offered by accredited schools, ivy league universities, charitable organizations, or even individuals experienced in a field wishing to help others with their knowledge. In fact, a simple YouTube video could be considered online learning if it demonstrates or teaches someone how to do a specific task.

#2 E-Learning

This is another generic term for the internet which means electronic learning. But, it can be used in an on-site classroom setting, as well. For example, young children, today, participate in programs which are hooked up to other classes in the world. They might see other students and cultures through televised scenarios.

Likewise, experts talk to various classes around the world about subjects such as learning about wild animals and their habitats. Electronic does not always refer to internet classes. It can be a special means of learning within a classroom environment. The technology enhances the class and exposes children to concrete examples, allowing them to understand in greater depth.

#3 Virtual Learning Environment

Commonly referred to as VLE, this is a web based application. It can be used in conjunction with brick and mortar classroom studies or it can be a self-contained unit accessed online. Again, to provide students with a variety of learning methods and tools, and, in order to better prepare them for university and the job market, both secondary and primary school boards are now committed to the virtual learning environment and thus, are spending a sizeable chunk of the budget on the development of online software.

Often, this system is also used to distribute information to parents about their child’s academic progress. Teachers might send updates about future events or issues in the classroom that parents should be aware of. It is considered a shared learning atmosphere and does not only mean teaching to the students, but is a system of imparting information and encouraging communication.

#4 MOOC

Massive Open Online Courses are generally free classes, yet the concept is a form of distance learning, offered through various online universities and colleges. One of the best known is the collaboration between Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Boston University, and others. It is called edX. As you can see, prestigious schools will provide their course material to outside students.

And to be sure, these are not only personal interest courses. On the contrary, they consist of business, computer science, programming, Excel, cyber security, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and a whole host of subjects that would be beneficial to thousands of individuals.

In fact, some employers are requesting or mandating employees to take courses in order to broaden their knowledge in a particular field. Further, existing students from any college might take one of these courses in order to improve their grades by doing extra work and understanding course materials from another perspective.

And then, there is a large group of individuals that would just like access to information to learn a new topic. This group might also include students from poorer nations that cannot afford to go to school.

#5 Blended Learning

As already mentioned, schools at all levels of training are attempting to find new ways to challenge and encourage students. As a result, they might develop programs which include many ways to teach a subject. In doing so, all these techniques are referred to as blended learning, since not one method is used. For example, VLE might supplement classroom teaching.

#6 M-Learning

With the advent of smaller laptops, tablets and smart phones, mobile learning has become quite prevalent in recent years. Although many refer to m-learning as taking their courses online toward a certificate or diploma, this system of education might also refer to small children learning how to use a laptop or tablet in the classroom. Further, the teacher may create a video for them to watch, and expect the students to complete the associated homework with the assigned device.

#7 Online Education

Again, another generic term that encompasses all types of education or instruction through the internet.

Video Content
This is a pretty extensive video telling us all about the virtual learning environment. To learn more, why not have a watch?

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