The big debate – how do you spell elearning?

The elearning sector is growing rapidly, yet the more it grows, the more variations of spelling people use.

The word email began as e-mail, surely we’d expect the same to happen to elearning?

Email google search

Here’s our exploration of the word and why WE spell it this way.

Firstly, what is elearning?

Elearning refers to learning through a digital device. Whether that be through a computer, tablet, or phone; it’s anything away from your usual face-to-face classroom learning. Elearning today has advanced so much especially, during the pandemic. We’re now using huge technology such as VR, AI and AR. However, it can be as basic as watching videos or playing games. The industry has come on in leaps and bounds to what we have today and revolutionised the way we learn.

Why do we spell it the way we do?

We use the spelling elearning because of how the word email has adapted over time. As technology is evolving and the world is becoming more digitised, does it need to be pointed out that something is electronic because aren’t most things these days?

As Mark Ritson says: “It has become harder and harder to isolate exactly what isn’t digital any more.”

From newspapers to television and everything in between almost everything is delivered digitally these days – we’re almost a completely digital world. That’s why we recently decided to switch to just learning. No E, no hyphen, no capitals. At Near-Life™ we feel that it reflects learning today, it’s the new norm.

We’ve developed our technology to suit the ever-growing world of learning. Whether it’s elearning or just learning for you, we’ve made it easier to achieve better results with tools that make your learning interactive and therefore, more engaging.

We believe that over time elearning will lose the E and will be known as just learning. However, elearning itself is still a huge search term that has very clearly grown over the past 5 years.

5 year growth graph of the search term 'elearning'

So, to hyphen or not to hyphen?

According to the oxford dictionary, compound adjectives should be hyphenated. In more simple terms, compound adjectives are words that use an adjective (electronic) and a noun (learning). So, technically, e-learning is the correct spelling. However, as mentioned above, as email became more popular the hyphen eventually disappeared.

The ongoing debate

The elearning spelling debate is not new. The folks at wrote a piece on it back in 2016. Like us, they settled on elearning because it fit their house style, taking email as the basis and logic. In another online debate, over 5 years old, the general consensus was to simply pick a style and stick to it.

Interestingly, back then elearning without the hyphen was far behind e-learning in terms of searches. Perhaps, with the increase of mobile searches, switching to the symbols keyboard to insert a hyphen is one step too many: why switch keyboards for e-learning when elearning will do?

In spite of that, the debate could probably go on, so what do you think? How do you spell the word elearning and why?

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