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.
• 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.
• 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. 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.