If you work in e-learning or training, you’ve probably heard people refer to the “levels” of e-learning before. But what do they mean? Well, in the e-learning industry, there are three generally accepted types (aka “levels”) of e-learning that will, in turn, affect the learning experience, cost, and development time of your project.

Today, I want to give you a high-level look of the three types:

Level 1 (Basic)

Some refer to level 1 e-learning as the “click next” style of e-learning. It has very low amounts of interactivity (i.e., clicking the Next button is as interactive as it typically gets) and there is a lot of static text and images. Level 1 quizzes are usually basic multiple-choice and true-or-false questions. Level 1 e-learning, while basic, does have its place: it can be a quick and inexpensive way to cover simple rules or procedures.

Level 1 example.

Level 2 (Intermediate)

At level 2, e-learning courses start to have richer multimedia. Courses at this level typically contain some audio and video, as well as some basic animations and transitions. This level of content is also often accompanied by narration and activities such as “click and reveal” interactions. Typical level 2 quizzes are drag-and-drops and matching activities. Level 2 e-learning is often used because it’s a nice middle ground that offers a richer experience for the learner without too much development expense (comparatively) for the designer.

Level 2 example.

Level 3 (Complex)

When you get to level 3, the courses become quite sophisticated, creating a more complex and interactive learning experience. Level 3 can include extensive use of audio, video, transitions, animations, simulations, and more. Quizzing could involve branched, scenario-based questions that allow a learner to explore multiple paths and feedback levels. Level 3 e-learning is often developed for more advanced training, such as flight simulation or medical training.

Level 3 example

Why do you need to know about these levels of e-learning? When you’re taking on a new course design, it’ll help you identify which level of e-learning the new project falls under so you can appropriately estimate the time and assets needed to create the course. As you can probably guess, creating a level 1 e-learning course is much quicker and more affordable than creating a level 3 course. It’s important to understand this to be able to communicate with your boss or client about realistic expectations.

I’d like to know from community members, what level of e-learning do you create the most? Let me know in the comments below.

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Nicole Legault
Daniel Mitchell
Carmelo Moschella
Diane Wilkerson
Daniel Mitchell
Daniel Mitchell