When the educational process takes place in an environment other than a live classroom, it is known as virtual learning. The overall concept of virtual learning can be traced to the advent of the printing press.
A Brief History Of Virtual Learning
From the very earliest days of printing, it became possible to develop a learning method whereby the student learned at his own pace and without the aid of an instructor. The self-help manual is one of the earliest examples of virtual education.
It was the introduction of computers and the widespread growth of the Internet that brought us to the current golden age of virtual learning.
Online learning actually began with the introduction of the "Computer Assisted Learning Center" (CALC) in 1982 in Rindge, New Hampshire.
This was the first actual online school in the United States although a similar program was being tested in Norway at around the same time.
It was not until 1994-1995 when the internet became more widespread and available to the public from small and local internet service providers that online education really began to explode.
Pros And Cons
The student is exposed to blogs, Flash videos, music, animated text, and a wealth of other virtual classroom aides. The virtual classroom, however, does not eradicate the obstacles that are forever present in the traditional classroom environment.
Teachers in this kind of learning environment have to fully understand the orchestration of the classroom floor, the importance of vocal intonation, the detection of loss of interest, the relevance of material, the factorization of "meaty" topics, and most importantly the individual learner.
The virtual learning environment presents challenges such as the absence of human contact. You are not afforded the ability to detect confusion by the dropped jaw or raised eyebrows.
The student is disallowed one-on-one interaction. Students express satisfaction when they receive that directed response. Virtual classrooms, if not humanized, may tend to radiate isolation.
How Virtual Education Affects The Student
The Internet has dynamic influences on students on the way they interact and respond with each other these days. With the increasing demand for online learning, it has become a concept that is now considered as part of the norm.
An increase in student engagement, assisting inexpressive learners to make a move with learner-generated podcasts, video podcasts, are some of the effects on students.
Online classes enable a carefully planned scope of improvement within the spheres of cognitive learning, leading to better critical thinking.
Social networking has taken virtual education a step further as well -- by collaborating online and taking control of their writing.
Students can easily access course materials on the web and in taking care of their course requirements online. In fact, there are plenty of scopes for informal and group learning, which has made virtual education even stronger.
What Does This Mean For Teachers
School leaders face many challenges in today's education environment. Meanwhile, the realities of improving student achievement remain as prevalent and underfunded as before.
School superintendents and school principals do admirable jobs pursuing school reform and keeping up with the needs of their teachers and students through virtual learning, and this challenge can appear overwhelming.
One component of effective school improvement and reform is teacher professional development through virtual learning. Oftentimes schools need to completely overhaul a curriculum based on declines in student achievement necessitating costly and time-consuming training.
Other times, curriculum directors are forced to train and retrain on the existing curriculum due to the inconsistency of its application in the classroom.
And each year, many teachers are new to the profession and need significant training above and beyond what they receive in their teacher college programs.
Campus Life And Activities - What Will It Look Like On Your College Application
Thanks to the Internet, many schools are offering certificates, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and challenging online consultations offered by admissions consulting companies.
These virtual education programs are often taught by the same instructors who teach on campus, use the same textbooks and resources, and offer personal feedback and interaction with fellow students.
Many technical schools that require hands-on training-such as an auto mechanic, HVAC, or computer repair schools offer a split program.
In this case, students complete part of their studies online and then attend class on campus for the second half of their training.
Although the physical aspects of campus activities are absent in online courses, this is expected in virtual education. This doesn’t entirely discount the fact that the student has had legitimate education all throughout the semester. All this and other sources from the university are often included in one’s college application.
Accessibility And Cost
- Content in virtual education is becoming increasingly easy to generate bringing development costs down significantly. With technology advances, the cost of engaging content is accessible to all schools even for internally generated course content.
- Living on campus can be expensive, with room and board fees often costing nearly as much as tuition. For adult students with families, moving away from home for months every year may not be an option.
- Virtual classes costs have also become more affordable. And with the economies of scale afforded by the ability of more students to participate, the investments are significantly minimized and optimized compared to traditional learning.
- The cost savings do not at all affect the quality of learning. In fact, online learning companies add value by offering almost unlimited and sometimes free access to content and to expert instructors.
Today’s shift in virtual learning is great for students and trainees because it just costs so much less than conventional classes. This is because the materials necessary for this is just one: the computer you probably already have anyway.
The industry does not need to pay all those teachers and their salaries, there is no need for building classrooms, and there is no need for books either in online learning solutions. All one needs is software, video creation, and creativity in using pictures.