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Levels of E-Learning

E-learning falls into four categories, from the very basic to the very advanced. The categories are:

  • Knowledge Databases : While not necessarily seen as actual training, these databases are the most basic form of e-learning. You've probably seen knowledge databases on software sites offering indexed explanations and guidance for software questions, along with step-by-step instructions for performing specific tasks. These are usually moderately interactive, meaning that you can either type in a key word or phrase to search the database, or make a selection from an alphabetical list.
  • Online Support : Online support is also a form of e-learning and functions in a similar manner to knowledge databases. Online support comes in the form of forums, chat rooms, online bulletin boards, e-mail, or live instant-messaging support. Slightly more interactive than knowledge databases, online support offers the opportunity for more specific questions and answers, as well as more immediate answers.
  • Asynchronous Training : This is e-learning in the more traditional sense of the word. It involves self-paced learning, either CD-ROM-based, Network-based, Intranet-based or Internet-based. It may include access to instructors through online bulletin boards, online discussion groups and e-mail. Or, it may be totally self-contained with links to reference materials in place of a live instructor.
  • Synchronous Training : Synchronous training is done in real-time with a live instructor facilitating the training. Everyone logs in at a set time and can communicate directly with the instructor and with each other. You can raise your cyber hand and even view the cyber whiteboard. It lasts for a set amount of time -- from a single session to several weeks, months or even years. This type of training usually takes place via Internet Web sites, audio- or video-conferencing, Internet telephony, or even two-way live broadcasts to students in a classroom.

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