E-learning is a subcategory within the training and teaching professions, in which instruction occurs through Web-based protocols. All e-learning jobs depend on virtual technologies that enable instruction to occur between instructor and student. Virtual conferencing, podcasts, videos, interactive Web-based sessions, or Web-based and software programs that offer self-paced instruction are found in e-learning jobs. E-learning jobs span many professions.
One type of e-learning job is that of an e-learning college or school instructor. Another type of e-learning career may be found within a business or government setting. Such a career would involve a very different path to obtaining credentials than that of an e-learning job teaching within an academic setting. The latter would share much of the same career preparation as a traditional academician, while the former may not require a professional degree at all. For example, an e-learning job in an insurance agency could consist of teaching adjusters technical details involving the adjustment of insurance claims.
Another type of e-learning career may involve preparing the materials to be delivered via the e-learning format. For example, a textbook was designed as a teaching medium for a classroom. A person who designs instructional materials for the e-learning environment would more likely want to present the materials in a more interactive way. Unlike a textbook, an e-book may contain links or other interactive features that would aid the student in the learning process. Those who prepare instructional e-books also work in the e-learning field.
Instructional e-learning jobs are those in which teachers prepare or teach the material to students in a virtual environment. Instruction may be self-paced, with the trainer supervising the process and answering questions. Commercial training jobs span every field; this teaching method is an attractive one because it offers users reduced training costs, flexibility, and customized instruction.
Development of the e-learning instructional material generally involves the expertise of a teaching professional, either within industry or within academia. An example of e-learning training in a teaching job might be a corporate trainer who instructs employees using a live or prerecorded presentation, or a Web developer who programs an e-learning interface to meet a specific training requirement. Another example is a college professor who teaches an online course. E-learning jobs are increasing in number, as the practice offers many benefits. These may include cost-savings in infrastructure, travel, time spent in transit, and access to expertise that was formerly limited by geographical location.
The creation and maintenance of the mechanisms needed to provide a virtual interface for the instruction is also an e-learning job. E-learning instructors may use visual communication technology to supplement what is often lost in face-to-face instructional modalities. For example, a college professor may use video presentations in e-learning instruction. Two-way conferencing may be used by companies in one-to-one training sessions. E-learning professors in particular generally have a more difficult task than their in-class colleagues, because online venues do not offer the rich face-to-face communication and interpersonal interactions that occur in a classroom-interactive setting.