4 Basic Learning Methods [eLearning]

There are different learning styles that are accepted for formal learning delivered in schools. This article contains information on how basic techniques– such as workbooks, tours, repetition, and note-taking–delivered in schools can be incorporated in a completely different learning process (eLearning) for adults.

How to Apply The 4 Basic Learning Methods in eLearning

The difference between learning children and learning adults is quite much. Andragogy – the methods or techniques used to teach adults; adult education – reveals principles of building competencies that are difficult to implement in schools, such as goal orientation, self-motivation, ability to share experiences, and many others. Below are methods on how you can apply learning methods that are considered natural for formal learning in an eLearning environment.


Workbook refers to a space where activities are organized to aid practicing or learning. Each workbook contains structured materials designed to improve knowledge or master a subject; it is structured to guide you gradually from easy to difficult exercises intentionally to influence your competencies. A workbook is an interactive tool designed with all golden rules of information architecture (flow, contrast, unity, hierarchy, proximity, whitespace, and so on) to help you practice knowledge through different task or exercise; its aim is not to transfer knowledge. The kinesthetic way of learning is employed in workbooks; you draw, fill in the blanks, cut and paste, erase, place stickers, etc.

Tips to help transfer workbook idea to eLearning courses designed for adults:

  • Develop an eLearning course focused on exercises (plain knowledge transfer should be limited to minimum).
  • Incremental learning. Exercise should be designed from easy-to-difficult based on sequential steps to build competency.
  • Propose exercises that are highly interactive, well explained and easy to use.
  • Ensure it is attractive and fun
  • As an option – step outside the eLearning environment:
    • Include printable exercises to your eLearning course,
    • Ask trainees to finish these exercises in a “pencil-and-paper” fashion,
    • Make self-evaluation tools available to them, since you won’t be able to check results instantly.


Taking tours makes it easy for children to build context around facts and information they learn. Historical sites (battlefields, castles), biosphere sites (gardens, mountains, forests), museums, etc. are examples of places that can be visited. These trips can be great experiences when combined with social learning (learn with and from colleagues), multisensory learning, storytelling (by teacher or guide) and also learning. These kids usually summarize such tours or write essays based on finding. Also, tours can break daily routines; this will increase motivation and bring more energy into the learning process.

Here are possible ways the best features of tours can be transferred to an adult-eLearning environment:

  • Design a virtual tour around recommended places on the internet, make extra material about the subject available. Great example here.
  • Instruct trainee to do something related to the subject. For example, ask eLearners to carry out a mystery shopper task while learning customer care routines: visit the customer care desk with complaints or play the role of a customer and call a customer service line; after, ask them to reflect on this activity.
  • Tell trainees a story and instruct them to find a place where this story will be contextualized – ask them to go offline (away from the computer and eLearning course), and think of something based on observation.
  • Ask eLearners to share a summary of their findings or reflections on the activities mentioned above with their supervisor or colleagues

eLearners can be asked to recommend destination and plans of such tours; this will support the learning/training process. Learning goals can be reinforced by reflecting on such activities; this can be a great intellectual task.


Repetition is another essential learning method used mostly when teaching children. This includes popular techniques such as repeating math formulas, how to write letters or manual routines. According to Hermann Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve theory, “all people have to repeat in order to remember things and routines.” You will lose the vast majority of new information within the first 24 hours of the learning process. The effects of repetition can be reinforced by ensuring that more “boosting events” are available after the training process to help maximize long-term retrieval of information.

The following approach can help stimulate the process of repetition in eLearning courses for adults:

  • Group eLearning courses into different parts and create breaks between them; for every part, develop booster quizzes that repeat essential information from all previous parts.
  • Repeat key information all through the eLearning course by using several methods: Storytelling, summary, exercises, and quizzes; provide a test at the end to assess if eLearners have developed new competencies, but also give them another opportunity to repeat.
  • Send eLearners important information that influences learning goals through text messages or email regularly or after completion of the eLearning course.
  • Make available alternative learning media to trainees. Let them print out check-lists, cheat-sheets, mind-maps, visuals, etc.; any additional material that can improve retention.


By taking notes, you can remember key thoughts, insights, and information obtained from other learning methods such as presentation or lectures easily. This learning method is often practiced in formal learning processes employed in schools. While taking notes, we usually transform information into our personal context by rewriting it or paraphrasing, arranging these words in our own structure or experience. Taking notes is a kinesthetic process that reinforces memory. They are various forms of note-taking; as stand-alone texts, as marking the most important parts of a material, such as notes on a margin on a publication, etc. Visual note-taking is also becoming popular; the subjects are represented by pictograms placed in visual structures.

Tips to incorporate note-taking in eLearning course:

  • Include options for note-taking or marking fragments of the material
  • Ask eLearners to create a note at the end of your eLearning course and forward to their mentor or trainer; notes can be in any form (text, visual note, mind-map).
  • Create a summary of every module of your eLearning course with a note for eLearners to print out.
  • Prepare a summary in the form of a non-completed visual note and instruct eLearners to print this note out and fill in the missing parts.
  • Instruct eLearners to write an email with key messages for each module and forward to their mentor or trainer.

From the above tips, you now know it is possible to incorporate basic learning methods into your eLearning courses. Lots of this knowledge are available outside of a course; therefore, they need to be incorporated into it. In addition, it is crucial you engage them with mentors, trainers or managers to help create a successful learning technique in an eLearning environment.

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