Educational Technology Practice

The extent to which e-learning assists or replaces other learning and teaching approaches is variable, ranging on a continuum from none to fully online distance learning. A variety of descriptive terms have been employed (somewhat inconsistently) to categorize the extent to which technology is used. For example, "hybrid learning" or "blended learning" may refer to classroom aids and laptops, or may refer to approaches in which traditional classroom time is reduced but not eliminated, and is replaced with some online learning. "Distributed learning" may describe either the e-learning component of a hybrid approach, or fully online distance learning environments.

Synchronous and asynchronous
E-learning may either be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous learning occurs in real-time, with all participants interacting at the same time, while asynchronous learning is self-paced and allows participants to engage in the exchange of ideas or information without the dependency of other participants′ involvement at the same time.

Synchronous learning refers to the exchange of ideas and information with one or more participants during the same period. Examples are face-to-face discussion, online real-time live teacher instruction and feedback, Skype conversations, and chat rooms or virtual classrooms where everyone is online and working collaboratively at the same time. Since students are working collaboratively, synchronized learning helps students become more open minded because they have to actively listen and learn from their peers. Synchronized learning fosters online awareness and improves many students' writing skills.

Asynchronous learning may use technologies such as learning management systems, email, blogs, wikis, and discussion boards, as well as web-supported textbooks, hypertext documents, audio video courses, and social networking using web 2.0. At the professional educational level, training may include virtual operating rooms. Asynchronous learning is beneficial for students who have health problems or who have child care responsibilities. They have the opportunity to complete their work in a low stress environment and within a more flexible time frame. In asynchronous online courses, students proceed at their own pace. If they need to listen to a lecture a second time, or think about a question for a while, they may do so without fearing that they will hold back the rest of the class. Through online courses, students can earn their diplomas more quickly, or repeat failed courses without the embarrassment of being in a class with younger students. Students have access to an incredible variety of enrichment courses in online learning, and can participate in college courses, internships, sports, or work and still graduate with their class.

Linear learning
Computer-based training (CBT) refers to self-paced learning activities delivered on a computer or handheld device such as a tablet or smartphone. CBT initially delivered content via CD-ROM, and typically presented content linearly, much like reading an online book or manual. For this reason, CBT is often used to teach static processes, such as using software or completing mathematical equations. Computer-based training is conceptually similar to web-based training (WBT) which are delivered via Internet using a web browser.

Assessing learning in a CBT is often by assessments that can be easily scored by a computer such as multiple choice questions, drag-and-drop, radio button, simulation or other interactive means. Assessments are easily scored and recorded via online software, providing immediate end-user feedback and completion status. Users are often able to print completion records in the form of certificates.

CBTs provide learning stimulus beyond traditional learning methodology from textbook, manual, or classroom-based instruction. CBTs can be a good alternative to printed learning materials since rich media, including videos or animations, can be embedded to enhance the learning.

Help, CBTs pose some learning challenges. Typically, the creation of effective CBTs requires enormous resources. The software for developing CBTs is often more complex than a subject matter expert or teacher is able to use. The lack of human interaction can limit both the type of content that can be presented and the type of assessment that can be performed, and may need supplementation with online discussion or other interactive elements.

Collaborative learning
Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) uses instructional methods designed to encourage or require students to work together on learning tasks, allowing social learning. CSCL is similar in concept to the terminology, "e-learning 2.0" and "networked collaborative learning" (NCL). With Web 2.0 advances, sharing information between multiple people in a network has become much easier and use has increased. One of the main reasons for its usage states that it is "a breeding ground for creative and engaging educational endeavors." Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded interaction about problems and actions. This collaborative learning differs from instruction in which the instructor is the principal source of knowledge and skills. The neologism "e-learning 1.0" refers to direct instruction used in early computer-based learning and training systems (CBL). In contrast to that linear delivery of content, often directly from the instructor's material, CSCL uses social software such as blogs, social media, wikis, podcasts, cloud-based document portals, and discussion groups and virtual worlds. This phenomenon has been referred to as Long Tail Learning. Advocates of social learning claim that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others. Social networks have been used to foster online learning communities around subjects as diverse as test preparation and language education. mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) is the use of handheld computers or cell phones to assist in language learning.

Collaborative apps allow students and teachers to interact while studying. Apps are designed after games, which provide a fun way to revise. When the experience is enjoyable the students become more engaged. Games also usually come with a sense of progression, which can help keep students motivated and consistent while trying to improve.

Classroom 2.0 refers to online multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) that connect schools across geographical frontiers. Known as "eTwinning", computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) allows learners in one school to communicate with learners in another that they would not get to know otherwise, enhancing educational outcomes and cultural integration.

Further, many researchers distinguish between collaborative and cooperative approaches to group learning. For example, Roschelle and Teasley (1995) argue that "cooperation is accomplished by the division of labour among participants, as an activity where each person is responsible for a portion of the problem solving", in contrast with collaboration that involves the "mutual engagement of participants in a coordinated effort to solve the problem together."

Flipped classroom
This is an instructional strategy in which computer-assisted teaching is integrated with classroom instruction. Students are given basic essential instruction, such as lectures, before class instead of during class. Instructional content is delivered outside of the classroom, often online. The out-of-class delivery includes streaming video, reading materials, online chats, and other resources. This frees up classroom time for teachers to more actively engage with learners.