23 Jun 2018


The term ‘e-learning’ has only been in existence since 1999. When the word was first utilized, other terms – such as ‘online learning’ and ‘virtual learning’ – also began to spring up in search of an accurate description of exactly was e-learning was. However, the principles behind e-learning have been well documented throughout history, and there is even evidence that suggests that early forms of e-learning existed as far back as the 19th century.

The 1980s

With the introduction of the computer and internet in the late 20th century, e-learning tools and delivery methods expanded. The first MAC in the 1980s enabled individuals to have computers in their homes, making it easier for them to learn about particular subjects and develop certain skillsets. Then, in the following decade, virtual learning environments began to truly thrive, with people gaining access to a wealth of online information and e-learning opportunities.

The early 1990s

By the early 90s, several schools had been set up to deliver courses online, making the most of the internet and bringing education to people unable to attend a college due to geographical or time constraints. Technological advancements also helped educational establishments reduce the costs of distance learning – a saving that could then be passed on to the students, helping bring education to a wider audience.

The late 1990s

At the end of the 90s the learning management systems (LMS) spread widely. Some universities preferred to design and develop their own systems, but most of the educational institutions started with systems from the market.

The dawn of the LMS allowed students and teachers to:

  • Exchange learning materials
  • Do tests
  • Communicate with each other in many ways
  • Track and trace their progress

The environment was able to facilitate learning in quite an easy way: the product was simple to use, and for teachers it didn’t represent a steep learning curve.

The 2000s

In the 2000s, businesses began using e-learning to train their employees. New and experienced workers alike now had the opportunity to improve upon their industry knowledge base and expand their skillsets. At home, individuals were granted access to programs that offered them the ability to earn online degrees and enrich their lives through expanded knowledge. Pretty advanced stuff.  The use of the term E-learning has historically had wider connotations that embrace a diverse range of practices, technologies, and theoretical positions. It is not only focused on online contexts, and includes the full range of computer-based learning platforms and delivery methods, genres, formats and media such as multimedia, educational programming, simulations, games and the use of new media on fixed and mobile platforms across all discipline areas. E-learning in business and training can be characterized as being driven by notions of improved productivity and cost reduction, especially in an increasingly globalized business environment, with a focus on content delivery and online course management.


Article by: Blessing Bassey

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