Utah educators view online learning as the future of education, providing their students an alternative to the traditional school experience. One district even launched an elementary and middle school solely using virtual education methods.
Educators agree that virtual schools provide students with an ideal learning environment and connect them with teachers in a way that suits them personally while teaching skills they will use later in life.
What is Virtual Learning?
Virtual learning environments (VLEs) are digital platforms that equip students and professors to engage in online instruction. Such venues usually host educational content while offering interactive features like whiteboards and video chat, enabling real-time interaction among learners.
Virtual Learning Environments, or VLEs, are increasingly popular with colleges, universities, and high schools. VLEs provide greater flexibility than traditional classrooms by enabling learners to explore their areas of strength or interest at their own pace, connecting learners across communities or locations, and increasing inclusion while decreasing social isolation.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) provide another form of virtual learning. MOOCs typically consist of short, free courses covering an array of subjects. MOOCs can serve academics who wish to share their research with the public and individuals seeking new skill sets without spending time sitting in physical classrooms.
To create a practical virtual learning experience, educators must first grasp what it means to teach in a virtual classroom – including how best to utilize virtual learning platforms and develop effective communication strategies with students and caregivers.
The Benefits of Virtual Learning
Virtual learning offers an ideal solution to those looking to continue their education without spending much time in a classroom setting. Students can take classes from their homes, saving both money and time spent commuting and housing expenses; additionally, they gain access to all necessary school materials through various online platforms.
Virtual learning offers another advantage in that it can be tailored specifically to meet the needs of each student. Teachers can utilize interactive tools like whiteboards and multimedia presentations to amplify students’ learning experiences while offering extra help through chat rooms and email notifications.
Virtual learning gives students more control over their education, enabling them to focus on areas that most need attention at their own pace and at home without distractions like TV or the internet, preventing their focus from shifting away from academic studies. This flexibility of virtual learning makes virtual education particularly advantageous for special needs students who may find traditional classroom settings hard to follow. Studying at home also allows students to avoid interruptions such as television and the internet and remain more focused.
However, virtual learning requires some self-discipline since having a dedicated space and schedule for studying can be challenging when studying from home amid many distractions like family members or the Internet.
The Challenges of Virtual Learning
Virtual learning presents numerous educational advantages but also offers some difficulties. These obstacles include a lack of personal interaction between teachers and students and technical problems that arise; these issues can disrupt classes or make keeping up with the curriculum more challenging.
Technical difficulties are one of the most significant barriers to online learning, from internet connection issues and computer crashes to malfunctioning monitors and broken lecture notes. Unfortunately, these problems remain prevalent today – though technological advancement has reduced their frequency significantly.
Other challenges associated with online learning platforms and software include a lack of student-teacher interactions and distractions. Students often spend a lot of time staring at screens, making it hard for them to focus on lessons or assignments; this may result in fatigue, poor posture, and headaches for some learners. Luckily, many platforms and software come equipped with tools designed to keep them engaged.
Social issues may also impede students in an online learning environment. While some may feel more at ease interacting with their instructors in person, others may find expressing themselves via video chats or text messages more challenging.
The Future of Virtual Learning
With most schools opening this fall and many kids opting to stay online even after COVID-19, virtual learning appears poised for growth. Yet what lies in its future, and why have so many children turned to this form of instruction in the first place?
Chambers believes the secret lies in the customizable nature of online learning. She asserts that anxious students benefit from taking lessons at home where they can sit comfortably with a blanket or stuffed animal and focus without distraction; faster learners can leap ahead, while those needing additional time can move slowly through the curriculum.
As for the future of virtual learning, Chambers remains optimistic that kids will continue to embrace it as they become more comfortable and understand the benefits. She points to an online learning company, OptimaEd’s survey, which indicated that virtual students could retain more information than students attending traditional classrooms.
At home, Gibson enjoys doing her language arts and U.S. history studies via online learning platforms from her family room. She’s delighted that this year, the district will launch virtual elementary and middle schools that allow children K-6 to enroll for full online school experiences.