The term eLearning enjoys wide currency, but is loosely employed. A lack of clarity as to its nature accompanies a lack of understanding as to its applications and appropriate use. These are important issues, as political, educational and commercial policy-makers need an informed frame of reference from which to make decisions regarding the employment of eLearning alongside or in the place of existing methods of education and training. There is also a need for accurate description of eLearning products for the clients who might use them. This paper seeks to provide contextual and internal analyses of eLearning as an initial stage in the process of creating such a frame of reference. Firstly, eLearning is located within a variety of education and training contexts so as to delineate its boundaries, and an overview is made of ways in which it is employed at higher education level within private, corporate and state-funded systems. Secondly, earlier conceptual models for eLearning are examined and a model is proposed comprising four dimensions of virtual space: course utility, study flexibility, delivery technology and learning paradigm. A graphical representation of the dimensional model is used to profile the different contexts for eLearning explored earlier; this method of visualisation affords ready comparison of the variety of ways in which eLearning is employed. Thirdly, a rationale is advanced for these dimensions, which are then discussed in relation to typical learning activities. Finally, consideration is given to how the dimensional model might be applied in the areas of learner appeal, course marketing, educational systems design and course quality evaluation.