11 Main Types Of Online Learning Methods You Need To Know

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Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have realized the potential online learning methods available and are increasingly opting for online modes of learning in favor of on-campus classes.

They are not just time-saving, efficient, and cost-effective, but also very educational

Although online learning, sometimes known as e-learning, has long existed, its use has skyrocketed recently. Consequently, the online mode of learning has drastically changed and developed over these years.

Online learning is not as mundane as most people would imagine and is actually based on a proper system. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the different types of online learning methods, keep on reading. 

1. Synchronous online learning 

Synchronous e-learning, as the name suggests, comprises students and teachers in complete sync with each other.

11 Main Types Of Online Learning Methods You Need To Know

This type of learning allows students to participate in different learning activities, mainly classes, together at the same time, from anywhere in the world.

This mode of online learning includes video chats, direct text message options, and other such tools that allow the students to get in contact with the teacher, or other students even during lectures, or learning activities. 

As a result, some common disadvantages of online learning like student isolation, or limited socialization and contact are eliminated. Students can easily contact both their teachers and their peers through easy-to-use online chats and social groups.

Thus, this type of e-learning is considered to be one of the most popular modes of online learning there is.  

2. Asynchronous online learning

Asynchronous e-learning works in the opposite way that synchronous e-learning does, where groups of students study the course material at different times, from anywhere in the world

While the students are not connected with their peers in this mode of online learning, they do have other advantages that many students do prefer over synchronous e-learning.

Real-time communication with the instructor and other students is not available in this mode of learning, but students can learn the course material at their own pace and time.

This not only gives them greater flexibility but also their own time frames for learning. This way, if a student is struggling with a particular topic, they won't have to worry about falling behind the rest of the students. 

3. Computer-Assisted instruction 

Computer-assisted instruction or computer-assisted learning is a mode of online learning which combines computer technology with traditional learning methods to further improve the quality of education.

This includes the use of interactive software and apps to enhance learning. The use of text, multimedia, and graphics is also included in this type of e-learning.

This mode of online learning allows students to be more receptive to the materials they study, and hence opt for the active learning route, instead of becoming passive learners.

Computer-assisted teaching methods and assessments are done to ensure maximum interaction among students. 

4. Computer managed learning 

Computer-managed learning is used to manage and access different learning processes. These systems are basically operating through various information databases that contain the learning material for a particular course.


Moreover, these systems are designed to keep track of the student’s progress by a predefined set of milestones used to indicate their progress.

This type of learning facilitates two-way communication between the computer and the student, and thus allows the student to keep track of their own progress throughout the course.

Furthermore, learning goals can be set, either by the student or by the instructor or creator of the course for the student to meet. 

If the student meets these goals, they can move on to the next level, otherwise, the exercises have to be repeated. This creates a robust system of educational excellence, which is needed for online learning. 

5. Blended online learning 

Blended e-learning or hybrid mode of online learning includes both online and offline modes of learning

One disadvantage of online learning is that students cannot get hands-on experience and laboratory sessions in courses that have these requirements. 

This is where blended learning comes in. It combines the convenience and ease of online classes, but also the experience of in-person lab work and hands-on experience

Particularly, students studying STEM topics can benefit from these blended classes, because of their scientific course requirements.

Plus, there is a lot of analysis software that needs to be understood in these classes. All of these require some hands-on instructions to get expertise in these courses.

6. Adaptive E-Learning 

Adaptive online learning is a modern mode of e-learning that makes it possible for students to have personalized courses that are specially designed according to their preferences and needs.

The class diagram itself redesigns or adjusts the course materials, and course learning objectives according to each student’s progress.

The system considers a number of parameters including student performance, skills, abilities, and goals in order to create the perfect level-based learning material most suitable for every individual student. 

This technology has allowed online learning to be extremely student-centered making it easy for struggling individuals to find the motivation to complete their learning processes. 

7. Linear E-Learning 

Linear e-learning is a more traditional mode of online learning, which although still prevalent, does have a few disadvantages when compared to the other forms of online learning.

Linear communication between the student and the computer allows for the information to pass from the sender to the receiver and vice versa. 

However, this becomes a very limiting factor when used in terms of online learning. Linear e-learning comprises directly sending the study materials to the students without them having any direct way to communicate with the instructor

For instance, educational programs broadcast through TV or radio programs use a linear e-learning approach. 

8. Collaborative online learning 

Collaborative online learning includes groups of students working together as one to achieve their goals. This type of e-learning is perfect for people who want to develop their team-working skills and boost their communication skills as well.


In this mode of online learning, the instructor sets learning objectives for the student group which have to be achieved by the whole group working together

This way, each individual has to identify their strengths and weaknesses and work in a way that their strengths are utilized to form a perfect team.

Thus, collaborative e-learning facilitates the idea that education is best developed within a group of interacting individuals willing to learn from each other. 

9. Interactive E-Learning 

Interactive e-learning is practically the opposite of the linear online mode of learning. In this mode of learning, a two-way communication channel is established between the participating parties i.e., the student and the teacher.

This way, the student can contact the instructor whenever they face a problem with, or become confused by, the course materials. And the teacher can consult the student in regards to their performance. 

For this reason, interactive e-learning is also one of the most common types of online learning methods employed these days. 

10. Individual online learning 

Individual online learning is much like asynchronous e-learning in the sense that it requires that students study the course material on their own and report to the instructor

Unlike asynchronous e-learning, individual e-learning does have a two-way communication channel between the student and the instructor.

However, in this model of e-learning, the student-centered approach has been ditched in favor of a more generic approach to learning. 

This type of learning has a few disadvantages, for instance, it is not the most suitable mode of learning if the students need to develop communication skills or learn how to work in teams

11. Open-scheduled E-Learning 

While open-schedule classes may seem similar to asynchronous online learning, there are actually a few differences that make the overall experience of the two quite different.

Open-scheduled E-Learning

Similar to asynchronous e-learning, open-scheduled e-learning also doesn't require students to log in at specific times and attend classes. Instead, it gives them the flexibility to learn from pre-recorded lectures whenever they have time to do so. 

However, unlike asynchronous e-learning, open-scheduled online learning doesn't even require students to upload their assignments and quizzes at a specific time but instead gives them the flexibility to do so at the end of the course period, or semester.

Moreover, this mode of learning can, in fact, cost less than other alternatives since you can decide how fast you want to complete the course and don't have to follow a set timeline

The only drawback to this mode of learning is that students may feel lonely or confused at times because they’re not able to communicate as much with their peers. Assignment calendar can help students manage their time and effort and achieve the best result. The students can use this simple tool and make completion of tasks more achievable.

Final words: 11 main types of online learning methods you need to know 

Online learning is a great alternative to on-campus classes, especially for people who do not have the time or funds to pursue an on-campus degree or course.

In this day and age, people are struggling to make ends meet, working two to three jobs a day, and thus do not have a lot of time on their plate, even if they do want to pursue a degree, or a simple course.

This is where online learning modes open up a lot of opportunities for them. Plus, the increasing demand for online learning created a whole new range of options to choose from

Today, a wide variety of options are available ranging from synchronous online learning to individual e-learning.

So, before you choose an online course, be sure you understand each mode of online learning to decide which one would work best for you. 

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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