Although for many the virtual learning world will be new, for most young people the use of technology in daily life is a familiar one. There are significant advantages to the online world when applied correctly to a learning context, and here are a few of them.
Clearly, flexibility is the most obvious advantage. Without the physical restrictions of a traditional classroom the opportunities to expand learning, research and note-taking in your own time and in your own style are evident. Being able to keep notes on a cloud or thread work through platforms such as Google Docs gives learners scope to track and follow information in a way they are most comfortable with; in a time-frame they can set, to an extent.
Working from a house or set study area at home can boost focus as the environment is often more familiar or more comfortable for the learner. Frequent breaks that can’t be afforded to learners in a physical classroom, and that have been proven to increase the retention and recall of knowledge, are much more realistically possible.
The individual learner has greater autonomy. They must be self-motivated, where required, and this promotes greater personal responsibility while nurturing self-reliance: all valuable skills outside of the classroom and with real-world application.
Learners can get instant access to materials, homework, answer keys, classwork and portfolio work. In many cases where work was submitted as hard copy both sides of the virtual classroom can track changes through soft copies and see progress more clearly.
Remote learning allows greater scope for all learning styles and preferences. Shier, more reticent learners have time to formulate responses and often find their voice. Everyone has more time to understand
and respond to questions and queries as it’s easier to revisit what has been asked or set.
Teachers and learners have far greater opportunities to bring their personality in to the classroom. The online space allows for the inclusion of blogs, video conferencing (a useful tool in the modern business world), animation, social media, storyboards, forums and other innovative technology. The freedom in a virtual classroom allows for more creativity and broader, global perspectives to be woven into lessons.
There is and has to be, wider scope for assessment. New possibilities are opened for formative assessment and assessments of factual understanding can be automated. This all frees up time for more meaningful interactions between learners and instructors.
The virtual learning environment is an inclusive one. Not just for the student body but for the campus. Campus resources can be integrated as academic and student support services are directly integrated in to the design of the virtual lesson. Students and faculty have limitless options for diverse and enriching learning activities and opportunities.