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Nine Types of Online Learning You Should Know About

Over 40% of fortune 500 companies are using online learning for the learning and development of their employees. Since COVID-19, the preference for eLearning has increased considerably. Even though there is an increase in online learning methods, only a few people know that online learning or eLearning is an umbrella term that houses a few online learning models. Do you know the nine types of online learning models? Keep reading to understand the various kinds of online learning models. 

Understanding these models will help you understand which type of online learning will work best for your employees. You can even blend a few models to develop a solution that suits your business and employee requirements. 

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Synchronous eLearning 

You are probably familiar with synchronous learning. What is synchronous learning? It is the learning method used in all schools, colleges, and universities. This approach requires all learners to learn at the same time, with the instructor leading the class. 

Synchronous eLearning is the digitized version of synchronous learning. Your employees will get the training online but with the entire batch. Different modes used for synchronous learning are video conferencing, webinars, and virtual classrooms.

The classroom-style learning environment had shortcomings, which are beautifully answered by digitalizing the same environment. 

It gives more flexibility to the learners and costs less, but it retains the human touch in training. 

Asynchronous eLearning

Often used in online courses- asynchronous learning allows learners to learn at their own time and pace. It can include on-demand pre-recorded video lessons and assessments. You can get the best out of the asynchronous learning model using a Learning Management System. 

It is learner-centric, flexible, and one of the best-suited models for busy employees. Your employees can train whenever they are free and reduce their workload. Moreover, you will only have to pay for the instructor sometimes. 

Computer-Managed Online Learning 

Computer Managed Instruction, or CMI, is a strategy where the computer manages the learner’s journey. It decides the learner’s objective, suggests training material, and assesses progress using various tests. CMI works using data. It needs a lot of data to monitor and continuously analyze the learner’s performance. 

You can gather all the training material in one place, so your employee can refer to it easily whenever required. This reduces the amount of work an instructor has to do. It allows your employees to train at their own pace. 

A learning management system is an example of computer-managed learning.  

Computer-Assisted Online Learning

Computer-assisted learning, also known as CAL, is a teaching strategy in which the instructor uses a computer to supplement traditional teaching techniques. Your instructor can provide videos, podcasts, and other interactive elements to the learners while teaching in a webinar or video conference. You could also use an LMS for interactiveness, and the instructor can hold regular sessions. You could also use simulations for an interactive experience along with the regular sessions. This way, we get the best of both worlds. 

Fixed eLearning 

Fixed eLearning is a very rigid approach to learning. It refuses to change the training material and the learning objective considering the changing needs of the employees.

This is a typical learning model used in a school; however, it doesn’t suit the eLearning environment. Moreover, It is not a learner-centric learning model. Nowadays, you must develop training courses that your employees would love to attend. Training is no more about just educating the employees. You have to think about their experience while training with you. 

Fixed eLearning doesn’t have many perks for the learners, but it is an easy to use model for the HR and L&D managers. Once you finalize the training objective, material, and way of assessing, there isn’t much that the managers have to do. 

Adaptive eLearning 

The opposite of fixed eLearning is the adaptive model. This model considers each employee’s unique learning behaviors and requirements and adjusts itself based on the data it collects. 

It collects a lot of information on the learner’s pre-existing knowledge, learning speed, interests, performance, and more. 

Creating an Adaptive eLearning course is fairly difficult and time-consuming, but the outcomes that it gives are unmatched. Since the model is very learner-centric, it can generate a good return on investment. 

Interactive Online Learning 

Interactive eLearning allows two-way communication between the learners and the instructors. This way, they can exchange feedback and make the whole course more meaningful and effective. 

Individual Online Learning 

Individual online learning demands a lot of effort from the learner’s side. The learners are expected to complete their courses and assignments and achieve their learning goals independently. Although it is a common online learning model, it is certainly not the best. 

Your training program is a good way to increase employee engagement and interaction. Your employees can form good teams if they are allowed to learn in an interactive and collaborative environment. 

For example, you use this method for the onboarding program. All the new hires are unfamiliar with the rest of the company’s members. Now they have to start building relationships from zero. It will take a lot of time until your employees start working together to achieve your organizational goals. 

Collaborative Online Learning 

Collaborative online learning is what you should be using. This method allows all learners to work together in groups. Interaction and social learning during collaboration are essential to form better relationships. Moreover, your employees will learn to share ideas and make decisions as a group. All of these skills are essential to have in a workforce. 

Bottom Line 

In the article, we saw the nine types of learning models and learned about their advantages and disadvantages in brief. Course designers often use these learning models based on their objectives, budget, audience size, and many other factors. You can either stick to one model or mix a few to reap the benefits of them all. Some models are prominently used in traditional learning environments. However, they may not be appropriate for the online learning culture. We urge you to do a considerable amount of research on your employees’ learning requirements and the latest trends before you plan your course. I hope this helped build your upcoming online training program. offers its own acclaimed courses, which can be found here:

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By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

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