How does virtual learning compare to going to school at a brick-and-mortar location? Advantages and disadvantages certainly differ depending on level. In 2020, schools of all levels closed, and for the first time, large portions of our younger population were schooling at home, from preschoolers to college students.
While many parents have chosen to homeschool, with school closures many parents now working full-time from home were faced with the challenges of teaching their kids at home (with no prior experience in education), or managing their online learning schedule. The lack of socialization for young students meant a key part of their behavioral learning was lost. Middle and high school students likely adapted better to the switch to virtual learning than younger students, but they no longer had club or sport activities.
This post will review the benefits and downsides of online and virtual learning compared to traditional, in-person learning.
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash
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Ask the Expert: Online vs Classroom Learning from Christine Greenhow, associate professor of educational technology at Michigan State University.
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Online learning has been a well-advertised option for adults wanting to go back to school, whether full-time or part-time. But the online learning industry exploded with the COVID-19 pandemic as virtual learning replaced in-person learning for many across the world.
Benefits of online learning
Downsides of online learning
Virtual learning goes beyond online learning to try to provide more interactive experiences - but virtually. Live classes using teleconference and video technology, group exercises using breakout rooms, and other efforts to engage the student with the teacher, the material, and with other students, are made when virtual learning is used in place of in-person learning.
Many companies have offered virtual learning experiences for students who school from home but because virtual learning wasn't widespread until the school closures in 2020, traditional in-person learning institutions, like colleges and universities, had to scramble to try to adapt their in-person teaching systems to online learning. In addition to some growing pains, there are clear advantages and disadvantages of virtual learning and online learning compared to in-person learning.
The key with virtual learning is to combine the advantages of online learning, where students can go at their own pace and have time to think deeply about material, with advantages of in-person learning, where students can interact with other students, their teacher, and their content in a virtual space.
Studying at a brick-and-mortar building is the most traditional form of learning. Some learning methods have been well-tested and some are more experimental. The routine of going to class each day and the relative homogeneity of class structure (lectures, exercises, homework) gives consistency to the in-person learning experience. This consistency and structure helps develop routines, which help those in middle school, high school, and college learn how to manage their time and coursework.
Benefits of in-person learning
Downsides of in-person learning
Have I missed any advantages or disadvantages? What has been your experience with online, virtual, and in-person learning? Comment below.
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