E-learning: an overview of platforms and methods

  • What is E-Learning?
  • Advantages and disadvantages versus analog learning
  • Internet connection, technical equipment & Co: You need this
  • Platforms and Methods at a glance
  • This is how you recognize good offers

We learn all our lives – and society learns too. New learning content and learning methods keep popping up. A trend that continues to grow due to digitization and the corona crisis is that of e-learning. What’s it all about? Find out more here.

E-Learning: Definition

E-learning is that Abbreviation of the English term Electronic Learning. He describes according to the Federal Agency for Civic Education the “Learning or further training using electronic media”. This definition is initially very general and can be interpreted in different ways: In a broad sense, this also includes self-taught activities such as googling everyday questions – however, some universities limit e-learning to institutional educational offers.

mediathat are used during such learning processes are, for example Computers, tablets and smartphones, but also TVs and radios. the Learning content are electronically available and often multimedial.

Other features represents bpb in one Video before: Beside (digital) interaction between teachers and students count too Location and time independence the learning process to characteristic properties of electronic learning.

Advantages and disadvantages of e-learning

Some characteristics of e-learning are at the same time as well advantages – like that Flexibility in terms of time and space. If there are no fixed course times, you have the freedom to study anytime and anywhere – whether in the morning, at noon, in the evening, at home, in the office or in the caf. Linked to this is the Opportunity to train yourself together with people from all over the world. Also the different media formats ensure a lot of variety and that everyone The learning type can be addressed.

Many of these benefits require one high degree of independence and self-discipline. This may benefit some, but it is a great challenge for others. To make sure no one is left by the wayside, some e-learning offerings have built-in ones Questions or small tasks that can be used to check whether the content has actually been internalized.

There is already a first one here disadvantage of digital learning: Such control options can be a physically present teacher do not replace. Even the immediate, There is no analog exchange with other learners. The big role such supposedly small contacts play is probably known to everyone who worked from home or homeschooling during the corona crisis. Another difficulty is the fact that some technical requirements must be fulfilled.

What you need for e-learning

As is well known, e-learning does not work without aids. If you want to use a digital learning offer, you need one next to one stable internet connection also a corresponding one technical device. Usually it is an ordinary one Office computer or tablet however sufficient.

Additional aspects like a calm environment, a Workplace where you feel comfortable as well as the Ability to organize yourself, help to create the ideal conditions for digital learning.

Incidentally, a so-called has existed since 2020 E-Learning-Indexdetermined by the Preply language learning platform. It describes the quality of a country’s digital educational structure and is measured, among other things, on criteria such as accessibility to computers, network speed or educational expenditure. In a global comparison of 32 countries Germany in 2021 with an e-learning index of 43.3 in 18th place; The front runners are Denmark, the USA and Hungary.

Methods at a glance

Anyone who takes a closer look at electronic learning quickly realizes that there is no such thing as “one” form of e-learning. Rather, there is one wide range of platforms and methods, the interlinked to varying degrees with analog learning opportunities are:

  • At the Blended Learning it is a mixture of digital and analogue forms of teaching that are coordinated with one another and take place alternately.
  • Webinars or online lectures usually run in a similar way to lectures or seminars in person – the only difference is that the participants are in a digital room.
  • In MOOCs, so-called Massive Open Online Courses, up to hundreds of thousands of people can join for free and without admission restrictions.
  • Webbased Collaboration, i.e. web-based collaboration, is a format with which several learners can work on tasks together.
  • A comparable, related principle is the so-called Content Sharing – a method that enables schoolchildren or students, for example, to share learning materials with one another and to exchange ideas.
  • Digital learning content such as video tutorials, interviews, explanatory videos, podcasts, texts available online or apps have become indispensable in today’s world. They provide variety in virtual or analog educational events and also offer the opportunity to acquire knowledge on your own.

Of course, this list is only a small selection. The variety of e-learning techniques is so pronounced that it is hardly possible is, catalog all methods in full.

Platforms in comparison

The methods are just as broad as the methods Platformswhich make e-learning possible. Often these are Aimed at a specific audience and / or content:

  • Udemy is one of the largest e-learning platforms worldwide. She comes from the USA and mainly offers videos or presentations that deal with professional topics such as programming, IT, marketing and design.
  • Blinkist provides a large collection of non-fiction books and podcasts on various types of content in such a way that the relevant information is provided in little time.
  • Studysmarter supports schoolchildren in particular in setting up an individual, independent learning routine. With the help of the app, index cards, learning plans and summaries can be created and shared with others. A big advantage of this offer is that there are no usage fees.
  • Duolingo or chat are platforms that are exclusively dedicated to the acquisition of foreign language skills.
  • LinkedIn Learning (Lynda) is suitable for people who want to continue their professional development – for example because they are planning the next step in their careers. The focus is therefore mainly on business and management topics, which are conveyed using MOOCs, among other things.
  • Fr die Target group of students Numerous e-learning offers have developed during the pandemic. There are now platforms for almost every age group and subject that can be used to learn in a playful and motivating manner.

Also a virtual study is possible nowadays without any problems. Some courses exist in purely digital form (you can find an overview in the Alumniportal Germany) – other places Courses on cross-university learning platforms available. An example of such an offer is the Virtual University of Bavaria (vhb), which connects lecturers and students from 32 universities.

Recognize good offers – this checklist makes it possible

The large selection of e-learning offers can be very enriching for learners and teachers. With so many options available, it is sometimes not that easy to find the right platforms and methods. If you are unsure whether an offer is suitable for you, you can ask yourself the following questions, for example:

  • Is the platform clear and user-friendly?
  • Is it an offer for my target group (or mine state of knowledge)?
  • Awaken that Design a positive impression?
  • Is there the option to be interactive tasks?
  • Can the learners communicate with one another Contact step?

The more questions you can answer with “yes”, the better! One You can find a selection of different platforms in training databases such as in that of Recommended by Stiftung Warentest Further education information system. If you want to find out whether e-learning is right for you at all, you might find it helpful to have one Work Checklist. It definitely makes sense to yourself enough time to make a decision to to take – because once you have found the right offer, you will particularly enjoy learning.


That Concept of e-learning is very multifaceted and can be interpreted differently. In a broad definition, it includes any type of learning that takes place using electronic media. Narrower understandings relate the term only to offers at educational institutions.

Benefits of e-learning are next to Time and place independence also a low cost as well as a wide and creative range of learning methods. disadvantage are among other things that the physical contact to teachers and other learners barely available is or that certain technical requirements how to have a stable internet connection. That too independent work is a common hurdle. However, you can overcome these by consciously dealing with learning strategies and motivational techniques – for example with the help of ours Lecture tips *.

If all the requirements are met, the broad field of E-Learnings open: open Platforms how Udemy, Blinkist, Studysmarter, LinkedIn, Duolingo or Babbel you can do a lot different Methods try out. The better you know your individual goals, competencies and needs, the faster you will find out which offer is right for you.

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