Two decades ago, virtual learning was seen as a pipe dream. Most education stakeholders couldn’t imagine a world where students could learn without having to step into a physical classroom. After successful experimentation, however, it is now clear to everyone that virtual learning will soon be an integral part of the education sector. E-Learning has already brought in a fresh outlook on knowledge, making learning convenient, easier, and interesting.
New technology has made communication effortless. Educators all over the world now use e-Learning tools to communicate with their students and improve the traditional classroom. Budgetary and bureaucratic considerations aside, everyone now has benefited from at least one virtual learning tool, either as an educator or as a learner. Virtual and augmented reality now forms a fundamental base for academic growth, right from early childhood development all the way to the college and university levels. Indeed, this technology is poised to keep making a great impact on the traditional school system – in a positive way.
So, how does e-virtual learning fit into this paradigm? Is there a possibility of virtual tools replacing the traditional class altogether? Let’s look into these possibilities:
The Emergence of Virtual Learning
Modern-day students are experiencing virtual learning on many platforms and in many forms and nature. One way this is happening is through tools such as chatbots and online messaging boards. Students now are able to interact with other students from all over the world through Facebook groups and videoconferencing. Chatbots are now helping students do their homework, and they are able to give them the feeling of being in a classroom and talking with real people.
The question, however, is: Do these online platforms satisfy the need for being in a class alongside your peers and having a real teacher with real expectations? That could be a bit of a stretch for now. Students cannot fully depend on virtual learning tools to excel academically. They still need the help of one another as well as face-to-face interaction with a teacher, something that virtual tools are yet to imitate satisfactorily.
That being said, how can traditional teaching be substituted (or at least be improved) with virtual learning?
1. Better student assessment
From the perspective of an educator, virtual learning will improve the quality of education as we know it now by making it easier to collect clear-cut feedback on how well or insufficiently a particular student responded to a given topic. Educators who use e-learning tools confirm that these tools give them precise assessment on how students interact with different learning materials, so they are able to help the few who get lost within a lesson. Going into the future, by the click of a button, virtual learning will be helping students conduct self-assessments on their academic performances and improve on their weaknesses.
2. More student engagement
Teachers can leverage virtual educators and instead of spending hours grading students and teaching, they can use that time to engage students on an individual level. Virtual learning will enable teachers to customize content and resourced depending on an individual student’s abilities. Mike Terranova, a 5th-grade teacher from San Diego said for Generation Genius (platform for science videos for K-5 students), “The kids LOVE the videos, and they are closely aligned with the new standards and expectations, as they include engaging and interactive video lessons, prior to/during/after lesson prompts/questions and vocabulary, as well as culminating assessment options including questions and exit-slip assignments for the students. I am happy this is available to help support my science instruction, and the kids really do love it!”
In a nutshell, human teachers will still be needed in future classrooms, but their roles (and workload) will be completely different from how we know them now.
3. The flexibility factor
Virtual learning will become more and more relevant as people continue prioritizing flexibility in everything they do in life. We are living in a fast-paced world that doesn’t allow us to stagnate or be fixated on one thing for longer than necessary. Parents will welcome the idea of their kids attending classes from the comfort of their homes. That way, it will be easier for parents to take their kids everywhere they go without worrying that they will miss school. On the other hand, students will be happy not to have to wake up early, brave the weather, follow a fixed timetable, or rush to catch the school bus like is the case with the current educational dispensation.
4. Introduction of social media tailored content
Social media is big now and it certainly will get bigger in the future. That is why students need to learn what information to or not to share online. They need to learn the strategies of responding to cyberbullying, racism, sexism, ethnicity, and religious bias online. Future kids will find it easier to understand what media balance is, how to make healthy media choices, and how to handle digital content in a healthy and beneficial manner. Virtual learning will also get kids off the TV and smartphones.
Virtual learning will not primarily replace traditional classrooms, but it will improve the quality of learning resources and reduce the teachers as well as students’ workload. Students will learn more, engage more, and find more value in learning at their own pace.
Nora Price is a pre-elementary school teacher and a writer, she has been teaching kids for seven years now. She also works with kids that have problem speaking and she helps people to speak with confidence in their public speeches. The reason why she decided to become a teacher is that she believes that knowledge is power and she gives her best to educate her pupils.