e-Learning and Digital Interactive Training. What’s the Difference?

PaleBlue CorporateBlog

Image Credit: PaleBlue

Enterprises across the globe are interested in training, development, and upskilling their workforce. A number of methods are widely used, from training in the classroom to training on-the-job. In addition to practical training, there is an increasing array of digital training methods.

One of the most widely used digital training methods is e-Learning. Almost everyone has faced e-Learning courses in one form or another. But this is not the only digital training tool. Digital Interactive Training is gaining a lot of popularity lately. This review compares e-Learning and Digital Interactive Training, looking at the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and more.

We will look at the following:

  1. Which Type of Digital Learning to Choose?
  2. e-Learning vs. Digital Interactive Training
  3. Differences
  4. Benefits and Weaknesses

Let’s get started.

Which Type of Digital Learning to Choose?

With a large selection of online courses, training programs, reading material, YouTube videos, and learning applications available across many channels, choosing one can be a problem.

Image Credit: PaleBlue

When it comes to acquiring professional knowledge, e-Learning courses and Digital Interactive Training products are two digital learning tools that are most commonly used by organizations across industries and value chains today. 

Since the difference between the two is not always clear for most people, especially those of us who are not experts in the field of online education, we at PaleBlue thought it might be useful to share our perspective and shed some light on the subject. This article seeks to provide some clarifications on how e-Learning materials and Digital Interactive Training offers are different from each other and why you might want to select one or another to provide training, learning and development to your company’s employees.


e-Learning vs. Digital Interactive Training

Let’s begin by providing clear definitions for each of these concepts.

What is e-Learning?

e-Learning uses slides and narration for training and assessment of the workforce. Delivery of educational materials happens digitally, through laptops and PCs.

Image Credit: Unsplash

The majority of e-Learning offers are standalone courses, without direct interactions with coaches or trainers. e-Learning often uses pictures, photos or illustrations for the educational part, and voice over for reading the text from the screen. In many industries, it is the go-to tool for corporate training. However, this status quo is now challenged by more modern digital training tools.

What is Digital Interactive Training?

Unlike e-Learning courses, Digital Interactive Training has always been a way to provide training and assessment in an interactive format, meaning that the slides are replaced with games, puzzles, quizzes, and other forms of interactive content.

Image Credit: Unsplash

The delivery can happen through PCs and laptops, as well as mobile phones. Take DuoLingo for example. While at the core it is serving the same educational materials as language e-Learning, it is interactive, focused on user engagement, progression, streaks, and leveling up. With over 500 millions users around the world, DuoLingo is an example of Digital Interactive Training that has taking the world by storm.



Let’s review the biggest distinctions between E-Learning and digital interactive training in more detail.


e-Learning: theory and general knowledge.

e-Learning courses are mostly designed to provide learning materials about general knowledge fields and subjects, focusing on theoretical information that should be consumed and digested by users on their own. 

Interactive Digital Training: specific skills and subjects.

Interactive training solutions, on the other hand, are most typically conducted in order to teach users practical skills and to-the-point specific knowledge on a certain subject. Interactive training may still include theoretical information as part of them, at the same time the theory is normally accompanied with a lot of practical activities and tasks a user needs to complete in the right order as part of the training. This is often conducted in a form of a game, when the user controls a character carrying out tasks in the line of work.

Example of interactive training, where the trainee controls a character with a flashlight examining valves in a virtual facility. The learning goals are clearly presented on the left and are cleared one by one. Image Credit: PaleBlue

Good-looking 2D and even 3D graphics often accompany interactive training. The more hands-on or real-world the interactive training is, the more effective it is, and the higher the rates of engagement, completion, and knowledge retention.


e-Learning: little to none.

The majority of e-Learning courses either come in a single version available to all types of users regardless of their age, level of knowledge on the matter and other potential differences, or provide several basic versions slightly customized to better attend to the different types of audience.The main driver behind e-learning is scalability–the objective is to build content that can be leveraged by as large an audience as possible, without the need for additional instructors.

Digital Interactive Training: personalized and customized. 

With interactive training solutions, the goal is effectiveness. Digital interactive learning allows the teaching and evaluation of theoretical, factual and practical knowledge. Most practical skills are highly specific. Therefore, the training can be customized. The training platform becomes much more customizable than a typical e-Learning course or platform. Interactive training needs to be adjusted to fit the needs and requirements of the specific audience. The majority of interactive training courses and VR training simulators leverage a flexible technology platform such that this customization can be done efficiently.

Support and Structure

e-Learning: no support, linear structure.

e-Learning courses typically don’t provide much of an informational support to the knowledge materials that comprise the content of the course. Users get a rating, but are not able to ask questions based on the part of the course material they have just learned or participate in discussions with peers or the trainer, unless these opportunities are provided in addition to the core e-Learning. e-Learning is almost always linear in structure: one path with correct and incorrect responses.

Digital Interactive Training: higher degrees of support and exploratory structures.

Digital interactive training solutions lend themselves to a higher degree of support. Interactive training gets higher ratings from participants, especially when it’s self-guided. The fact that this training was likely customized or specifically chosen for the participants is an important factor. The exploratory nature of good interactive training also plays a key role. Students can explore different paths or try different responses, effectively getting feedback from the application. In many cases, users are also able to ask questions, interact with the trainer or their peers, and verify that their understanding is correct.

Effectiveness and Engagement

e-Learning: unengaging.

e-Learning frames assessment as text-based questions. Image Credit: Unsplash

Even though some e-Learning courses do provide some features for user input while answering questions, in the majority of cases they are not able to provide any ways of boosting engagement for learners, which makes their effectiveness considerably lower compared to digital interactive training solutions.

Digital Interactive Training: high engagement and boosted effectiveness.

Interactive gaming dialogs make assessment more fun. Image credit: PaleBlue

Digital interactive training is able to drive a much greater level of engagement compared to e-Learning courses. In workplaces, the adoption of game-based learning has  a compound annual growth rate of 53.4%. A research conducted in 2020 has shown that microlearning improved learners’ performance by 17% and added 50% or more to their engagement rate. Additionally, 82% of companies that have implemented digital immersive training say that benefits are meeting or exceeding their expectations.


e-Learning: long-session.

The duration of an e-Learning course would heavily depend on the field of study, the kind of information presented, the delivery channel, and multiple other factors. However, in most cases, e-Learning courses are long-form and designed for a steady, multi-day learning process. 

Digital Interactive Training: short-session.

Digital interactive training courses, by comparison, much more often are shorter engagements, ranging between 5 and 20 minutes per session. This is what is called a bite-sized experience: playing a mini game to achieve a certain understanding, and parking the application for a while, to come back to it later. This engages the user, and prompts them to use the application more often, resulting in overall greater exposure of the training content. The shorter cycle can help make these experiences “re-playable”, improving outcomes through effective repetition of skills and tasks.

Assessment Formats

e-Learning: multiple-choice questions.

Assessment in interactive training is often visual, allowing user to make mistakes and re-approach a learning experience.

e-Learning courses most frequently are assessed with a list of multiple-choice questions as the main method of assessment.

Digital Interactive Training: game format for interactive assessment.

Digital interactive training offers can include multiple advanced methods of assessment, including visual games, puzzles, quizzes, or even VR interactions.


Benefits and Weaknesses

Naturally, both e-Learning courses and digital interactive training solutions have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. Let’s briefly list both:

Benefits of e-learning

  • Availability. Learners can access the content at any time in any place.
  • Reuse. A user can retake the same course, or parts of it, any number of times.
  • Length. Longer format, meaning a lot of material can be presented.
  • Consistency. The majority of e-Learning courses are centrally managed by their authors, ensuring the same type of learning materials are delivered to all the course users.

Weaknesses of e-Learning

  • Strong self-discipline and time management skills are required. Since most e-Learning courses are self-paced, users who are attending them need to possess strong self-discipline, as well as good time management skills, in order to be able to finish the course and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge from it. 
  • Low user satisfaction compared to Digital Interactive Training solutions. The need for strong self-discipline is often because many users find e-Learning courses boring and unengaging. Properly designed and managed digital interactive training solutions have higher much higher satisfaction ratings from participants. 
  • Limited support and feedback. Since e-Learning courses are not interactive, they do not provide learners with the ability to receive feedback or support from the course author or trainers. 
  • Difficult to monitor the learning process and assessment. Another big disadvantage is that e-Learning courses don’t provide a mode for monitoring both the process of learning and examination, making it easier for dishonest students to cheat.

Benefits of Digital Interactive Training

VR practice is a very powerful tool used in interactive training, allowing trainees to have hands-on experience on the theoretical material. Image Credit: Unsplash
  • Engagement through personal interactions in a virtual digital environment. Immersive digital experiences are much more stimulating than simply reading and answering questions.Digital interactive training activities involve the application of knowledge and skills in a simulated real-world environment. Interactive training can also be  conducted in groups and/or with a trainer, providing learners with additional engagement and entertainment achieved through communication and social interactions.
  • The ability to have a character exploring an environment and the fact that a participant is engaging in a practical skill training gives so much more room for gamification than e-Learning. This includes random discovery, skill based scoring/rewards, easter eggs (hidden objects, side quests, dialogs, etc.), mixed up order of operations, pathing choices, test and learn opportunities, etc. The ability to incorporate gamification elements as part of the interactive training conducted in a virtual reality environment makes the learning process even more fun and engaging.
  • Real-time feedback. As digital interactive training activities are typically conducted with a trainer/teacher, students are able to receive feedback in real time, as well as to ask additional questions to clarify what they did not understand from the main part of the training course.
  • Gamification to increase fun and engagement. Digital interactive training offers considerably more room and capacity for gamification than e-learning. Gamification can have a powerful impact on engagement – and VR/AR training environments can be a great sandbox to implement gamification features.
  • Consistent attention. Interactive elements that comprise a large portion of a typical interactive training serve as an attention-retaining tool, helping learners not to lose their focus and pay attention to the learning materials.
  • Flexibility. Interactive training programs also tend to be a lot more flexible, allowing trainers and/or the training authors to make multiple changes in the course to adapt it to the audience or augment it with newly available knowledge.
  • VR for training. For some of the advanced training courses, VR versions can be available for even richer, hands-on experiences.

Weaknesses of Digital Interactive Training

  • Gamification. Some people that have not played mobile or online games, may require time to adapt to this method of learning. 
  • Experience of the training authors. The qualification and experience of the training authors can play a significant role in overall effectiveness of a digital interactive training.

PaleBlue Courses

Learn About PaleBlue Interactive Training

Find out more

PaleBlue is a Trusted Guide in the World of Interactive Training 

For years, the adoption of digital interactive training technologies has been gaining momentum all around the globe. Companies of all sizes are engaging interactive training and gamified learning solutions for workforce training, personnel training and development, and upskilling of the employees.  

We at PaleBlue see the increasing adoption rate of interactive training solutions by companies across many industries. As the knowledge about the benefits of interactive training spreads, business leadership and HR managers see interactive learning platforms as a way to save costs, improve the quality of learning work-related skills, reduce the amount of time spent on employee training, and replace e-Learning with more engaging training tools. This is especially true in the deskless workforce environment and is quite important in the high consequence industries.

Some of the work types relevant for interactive training include: subsea, space, energy, construction, maintenance and manufacturing. Courses might cover narrow and wide topics in the wide range from working at heights and confined spaces to hot work and working with electricity.

The adoption of engaging and safe digital training and gamified learning is an accelerating trend. This adoption is fueled by measurable results and levels of satisfaction. We observe this when conducting digital training with our clients and partners, across industries and markets. 

Want to learn first-hand how interactive training can enhance the learning experience in your company?


Get in touch with us at PaleBlue to get started

Get in touch