Last updated: 03.12.18

What is the purpose of E-learning?

E-learning isn’t a new concept; it’s something that has been around for a couple of decades now, but it’s still not as widespread as you might think. Courses taught at school and in the workplace are still predominantly undertaken in person, and led by a tutor or teacher. Being taught in person by a tutor does of course has its own benefits, but e-learning is an option that businesses are increasingly recognising as one that brings lots of upsides. In this article, we’re going to consider the purpose of e-learning and why businesses and other organisations choose to use it.

Pace of learning

Perhaps the most important element of e-learning, and one of the major reasons that it’s used, is that it allows a different pace of learning for every user. Consider the fact that in a classroom or seminar, there is likely to be a wide range of learning abilities, and it becomes clear that allowing people to work through content at their own speed can be a real bonus. Those quicker at learning won’t be held back, and those that need more time will be able to have the space they need to absorb the course material. E-learning often involves a combination of both education and tests, so it’s important to note that tests usually need to be completed within a time limit, and sometimes do need to be done under some supervision. This will depend on the course type, and whether an accreditation body has strict standards.


The flexibility of e-learning is one of the reasons that businesses often prefer it over more traditional teaching methods. Sending out team members for training can sometimes take several days, which can be a significant loss of productivity to the business. The nature of e-learning courses usually means that anyone can sit down and tackle a chunk at a time. This is perfect for those who want to spread out their learning, particularly when they want to learn during work time, but when the normal demands of the job are lower. Also on the subject of flexibility is the breadth of courses on offer - many training providers offer dozens of courses from lots of different accreditation bodies, which means that e-learning technology can be used for nearly any subject, and bespoke e-learning can be put together by request too.


When e-learning was first popularised back in the early 90s, one of its biggest attractions was the interactivity it brought, compared with pouring over books and paperwork. This was especially attractive for children, because education material could be made more fun and enjoyable, and in many ways gamified. Now, this is a standard part of many e-learning courses. Learners can study vibrant and interesting material supported with images, animations and more, much of which can be interacted with, particularly when it comes to quizzes and assessing knowledge. The idea of this interactivity is that it keeps people engaged, ultimately ensuring that they learn more effectively.

Reducing cost

Many of the above points contribute to one factor that businesses in particular will like. And that’s that e-learning is often a very cost-effective option, versus other types of course delivery. We’ve already mentioned the fact that e-learning can be done in-office during periods of downtime, and this avoids the costly expense of having members of staff out on training courses, both in terms of travel and lost productivity. The course fees themselves are often lower too, with e-learning providers not having the same outlay on staff. It is of course always important to compare options however.

Gathering data

Paperwork is both a hassle to manage, and not particularly effective when it comes to understanding data. Fortunately, e-learning goes a long way in remedying this. In most cases, an e-learning course will be delivered through a learning management system, or LMS, which is the e-learning software that enables the course to run. These usually come with the ability to thoroughly track information pertaining to learners and courses, which means that business leaders can very easily see how all users are progressing with course material, who has completed what, and who might need to retake lapsed certifications. Rather than having to sift through unconnected documents, all relevant information can be housed in one place.

To conclude, e-learning is all about helping businesses and other organisations to have more control over how their learners take and complete courses and certifications. It’s a flexible, cost-effective way of learning, and when utilized properly, it can be a very powerful business tool too.

Find out more about the different types of software and solutions Virtual College can help your business with here.

Related resources