Back in 2012, it seemed like big news when Dr David Guralnick, president of the International E-Learning Association (IELA) claimed that e-learning could be more engaging and effective than more traditional classroom-based learning.
The suggestion that social media, click-through pages and virtual science experiments could all combine to create a successful form of learning seemed pretty radical, but e-learning is now the norm for many schools, universities and employers.
Six years ago, Dr Guralnick proclaimed that e-learning should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a burden, and this has certainly been embraced, with more than three million people embarking on e-learning courses with Virtual College.
So, how exactly is e-learning better than traditional education?
One of the main advantages of e-learning is that it can be done anytime and anywhere, as long as you have access to a computer and, in some cases, a smartphone. This means you can be learning on your commute, in your lunch break or on a rainy Saturday afternoon when you still want to feel like you've achieved something.It also means you can study for courses that might not have been available to you if they'd been classroom-based due to your location, working hours or childcare needs.
E-learning lets you study in your own time, taking as long as you need to absorb course material without holding anyone else back, as might happen in a more traditional classroom situation.
Similarly, this is ideal if you're a fast learner, as it means you can progress with your course without wasting time waiting for others to catch up.
Fear of failure or embarrassment at being the oldest person in the room can hold people back from attending night school, which is a real shame if you've got a thirst for knowledge, want to take the first steps to setting up your own business or simply want to live your life as if every day was a school day.
The huge variety of e-learning courses on offer at Virtual College covering everything from food hygiene to getting started with social media to child protection allows you to dip in and out of courses to suit your interests or work requirements, and it doesn't matter how many different areas you want to sample.
It'd be enormously costly in terms of travel, childcare and your productivity at work if you were physically attending so many classroom-based courses, but the beauty of e-learning is that you can do them from your own home, with just the cost of the teaching to cover.
A big advantage of e-learning with Virtual College is that every time you leave your course to go back to work, pick up the kids or you simply get distracted, your progress will be automatically saved by our Learning Management System, Enable.
With classroom-based learning, you have to stay for the whole session, so if an emergency arises, you'll miss out, but e-learning allows you to be much more flexible. Life can get in the way of adult education, but Enable lets you fit in your education in around your life.
In some cases, practical, classroom-based learning still needs to form part of a training course. Take the manufacturing sector, for example; learners can study the theory of a new process online, but they will need to learn how to use machinery in person too.
This is where blended learning comes in, allowing trainers to create a learning programme that incorporates the best of e-learning with the best of traditional learning. View the range of courses on offer at Virtual College and see how they could complement classroom training for you here.