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Virtual Learning: What does it really mean to our students?

The power of Virtual Learning - TeacherCast Guest Blog

For parents and educators that have not grown up in a world with technology at the forefront, the idea of learning online in a virtual world can seem downright backward. Sitting alone in front of the computer screen doesn’t necessarily look like the type of place where children will develop social skills and build self-confidence. However, many professionals are finding that, with the right online guidance, students that typically struggle socially in traditional classrooms are excelling in virtual classrooms.

Maintaining Quality Education

Fears about the quality of education that will be provided in a virtual classroom are unfounded. In all actuality, these classes allow teachers to open their doors to a much more interactive educational platform. For instance, teachers giving a history lesson on the wild west can have students enter a custom-designed learning space and complete lesson plans. Educators can monitor individual student progress, find where they are struggling, and provide additional, targeted support.

Virtual classrooms have become so popular that many universities such as Ohio University, Boise State University, and Rutgers University have all adopted virtual platforms in their online education programs. Tracking student progress is extremely intuitive, and it enables online students from across the country to connect easily to share ideas in a classroom setting.

Freedom to Learn

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of offering virtual education platforms is that it offers students with various social fears the opportunity to interact in an environment free of the traditional restraints associated with a normal classroom. For example, students that are prone to a higher level of social anxiety or distractions when in a room full of their peers can enter a virtual classroom and participate equally from the comfort of a quiet library computer.

Furthermore, with the construction of their own personal Avatar that represents them on screen, students are not forced to create an exact physical replica. Rather, students are able to represent themselves as they want the world to see them, which can be a huge step in developing self-confidence. Because students are in a safe environment and free from the social pressure of their peers, many educators acknowledge that students that are typically reserved in the traditional classroom setting, are the most communicative ones online.

Real World Advantages

Students that have self-confidence are generally higher achieving and are willing to take on more and more difficult educational tasks. In general, these students are also more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, which can translate to great opportunities for college. In their social lives, self-confident children tend to interact more freely with their peers and are more likely to stand up to the negative impacts of bullying.

No matter where self-confidence is developed, it has some serious real-world benefits. Self-confidence is one of the first steps on the path to achieving a higher emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage emotions effectively. Virtual classrooms may not be the best fit for every student, but they are certainly a great benefit to many and will likely continue to grow in importance over the coming years.

Brittni Brown is a current masters candidate at the University of Idaho. In her free time, she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and camping.

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