As we explored in this previous post, there are a slew of Customer Education and eLearning-related acronyms that can be challenging to decode, even for the experienced Customer Training professional. 

In this post, we’re going to specifically decipher three education acronyms that relate to training delivery formats: WBT, CBT, and eLearning. Let’s dive in!

Web-Based Training (WBT)

What is WBT? Web-based training generally refers to any form of training that is delivered via an online environment. WBT content can be presented in a variety of formats – PDFs, videos, slideshows, etc. – and can be delivered either live, on-demand, or via a blended model. As Training Industry further explains, “Web-based training is often referred to as virtual training, or distance learning, and utilizes cloud-based computing tools for access, administration, delivery and analytics.” 

WBT can be further broken down into two types: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous training refers to coursework that is delivered live, in real-time (also known as Instructor-Led Training or ILT). This type of training might involve video conferencing or chats that enable instant student-instructor interaction and/or feedback. On the other hand, asynchronous learning is hosted on-demand, enabling students to access content anywhere, at any time, and is generally self-paced. In our experience, most Customer Education programs offer a blended learning approach – combining both synchronous and asynchronous experiences.

The greatest benefit of WBT is its accessibility and flexibility. Students do not need to be in the same location and little investment in on-premises technology or resources like classroom spaces is required. WBT is also commonly equated with the terms eLearning, e-instruction, or web-based instruction.

Computer-Based Training (CBT)

What is CBT? Similar to WBT, Training Industry notes that CBT “involves the use of a personal or networked computer for the delivery and access of training programs.” CBT is a blanket term that has been used for decades, emerging in the 1960s and growing in significance in the 1980s. In more recent history, CBT was primarily used in relation to learning via formats like CD-ROMs and floppy disks. In the 1990s, alongside the proliferation of the World Wide Web, the CBT terminology became less popular in favor of Web-Based Training.

Today, CBT is often used interchangeably with the terms WBT and eLearning and the same characteristics we noted above hold true for CBT examples.


Of the three terms we’re exploring in this post, eLearning (or electronic learning) is arguably the most commonly used today. Coined by education technology expert, Elliot Masie, the origins of the term eLearning refer to using electronic technologies to access training and education outside of a traditional classroom setting. Although frequently delivered via a computer, in today’s digital ecosystem, eLearning can also be delivered through mobile devices or tablets. As with WBT and CBT, eLearning can occur in either a synchronous or asynchronous manner, often including both instructor-led and on-demand components. 

At the end of the day, when it comes to the glossary of words we use to describe modern learning formats, the terms are fairly interchangeable, with eLearning and WBT more commonly used today. 

To learn more about common industry jargon and acronyms, check out our blog post: Five Common eLearning Acronyms (And What They Mean)