How will the future of education look like? How do you imagine the future classrooms a hundred years from now? You often see technology portrayed in an interesting way, do not you? High school students with tablet computers which have holographic images coming off them. The teacher either a projection or a hologram or on a computer screen projected from somewhere far away. We have all these different ideas as to how technology can be used in the future. Why do not we take advantage of it? Online virtual school is the future of education.
Virtual Schools Worldwide
There are virtual schools in 49 states and 59 countries around the world. The rest of the world is catching up.
Mexico has had their content digitized for years and they have just provided laptops for all their teachers. Every teacher in Singapore is trained to teach online. They have e-learning weeks where they actually practice virtual studying. Turkey and Canada have online programs, they are digitizer their textbooks as I write. China has a hundred million students online. Four states in the U.S. now require that every student take an online course to graduate. Because all of them are going to have to take an online course in college or when they go out to be trained for their job. It is the way of the world.
What Is Virtual School?
What is the definition of virtual education? It is a brand-new concept of education which allows children to attend school from home by contacting with certified teachers and adhering a set curriculum.
It is opened 365 days a year and students can access their courses 24/7. The teachers of virtual school work year-round, they are available to students seven days a week from 8:00 in the morning until 8 p.m. It is important to understand they are available not tethered to their computer. It is like your physician is available when you need them after hours.
Virtual schools build the entire learning experience around the student. A certified teacher provides daily support to keep the student on task. Certified teachers regularly reach out to the student through phone calls and emails. Teachers work with a learning coacher to create a personalized learning plan that supports the student’s learning style, abilities, and needs. This teamwork helps ensure each student’s success.
You might ask “Are these kids incarcerated?”, “Have they been expelled?”, “What is wrong with these kids?”. These kids who are public, private and homeschooled students.
How Does Virtual School Work?
There are two-part live sessions and coursework. For each of class, you meet with other students once a week for live sessions. The teacher can talk to students through a microphone, they can show slides of information, a video or a virtual whiteboard. And the students can also use the chat to ask the teacher questions or to talk to each other. There are even different buttons to raise your hand or answer yes/ no/ a, b, c, d, make a confused face, applaud, etc.
Most of the time in virtual school you spend doing assignments giving to the students by a teacher. Usually, it is reading lessons from a computer or a textbook, but there are occasionally school essay, worksheets, virtual science labs, and discussions. The curriculum of virtual schools is developed by experts and complemented by texts from leading educational publishers. Daily instruction and study take place both online and offline. Working independently is balanced with attending virtual sessions where the teacher provides students with a real-time interactive classroom experience.
Clayton Christensen has written several books about innovations in education and “Disrupting class” is one of them. The author He actually uses Florida virtual school as one of his examples in the book. He describes it as a blip on the radar screen, as a school which is completely out of the mainstream and completely away from the status quo. There are a lot of great examples of virtual schools in the U.S.
Florida virtual school is a pioneer in an industry where the student actually has an opportunity to have a front-row seat all of the time with a personalized instructional model. It is a school that feels like an elementary school and is run like a private one. It is redesigning of the educational institution where the time and place no longer hold the student captive. In Florida, it is free of charge public education to all students in the state. Since 2012 Georgia virtual school and Illinois virtual school also have passed the legislation that has allowed students to be able to maximize their opportunity to take an online course as part of the regular school day.
Pros of Virtual School
Why this online alternative to traditional schools becoming more and more popular every year? There are a lot of reasons that the enrollment is rising at the virtual schools.
In a traditional school, you are stuck with the same amount of time for each class and then you are on your own for a little bit of homework. With virtual schools, it is the opposite. Very little of your time is blocked out for live sessions and most of the times up to you to figure out how to get the work done. You really are in control of managing your time. Moreover, the lessons do not start at 7:00 when the brain and the body are not attached.
You control the time whether you are sitting at home in your fuzzy bunny slippers doing the assignments at midnight or perhaps you are an early riser and you are giving it up at 4 or 5 to do your homework. Also, you can download lectures as mp3, put them on iPod and go listen to them while they are working out at the gym. You can “pause” the teacher when someone is calling on your cell phone, when you are falling behind on the notes or when you just want to take a break. It is a double dose of content.
Such type of college course is significantly different from face-to-face courses and have changed teaching and learning in a number of important ways. For example, online lectures can be shorter like the length of a YouTube clip. This will allow you to process information in ways that enhance learning as you won’t feel overwhelmed by having to sit there and watch an hour-long video.
Let’s say you are an aspiring tennis/ basketball/ soccer/ athlete pro who practice 4 to 5 hours every day. So, if you do not want to see your grades slip because of sport, virtual school enables you to excel it both without burning out.
In a virtual school, you are able to work at your own pace. When you are in traditional school and are ill for a week, usually it takes a month to catch up. In virtual one, you are never behind, you can just pick right up where you left off. If students need to take longer, they can. If students need to move faster, they can.
Variety of Courses
Virtual school offers a variety of course that you may not have offered at a traditional one. Illinois virtual school offers over 100 original credit courses including AP, core, electives and 6 world languages. The courses are taught by certified teachers who provide one-to-one support for students via feedback on assignments, live interaction in the virtual classroom and careful monitoring of a student’s progress.
In Florida virtual school there is a personal fitness course. 35 % of the standards in this course are physical exercises. The rest of it are physiology, lifestyle and learning about the people’s body. Students get to choose their exercise regime. Moreover, you can stay in the local school while exploring online learning.
Class for Shy People
So, while most of the students probably used to in-person class formats, online discussions can be great for students who are a little bit shy about participating in face-to-face classes. In a nutshell, face-to-face classes can have more spontaneity as you are there and things are happening in real time. But online activities can be more reflective as you actually have time to compose your responses to discussions or questions that your peers may have asked in the online forum.
So, let’s define key characteristics. Traditional education can often be categorized as familiar, scheduled, interactive, collaborative, instructor dependent. Virtual school is adventurous, flexible, anonymous and technology dependent.
Cons of Virtual School
It is the most important piece. If you are a student at a virtual school, it means you need to take more responsibility for your learning. Of course, you can watch the videos at four in the morning. The caveat is there are still a lot of assignments to do. The teachers still expect you to be prepared. Often it is harder for students because they have to be more self-motivated and self-disciplined to get the work done.
You need to have a computer or a place that you can get online. If your computer crashes at home, you are going to need to make sure that you have that backup plan. An individual that should probably stay away from virtual schools is someone who does not have a computer experience. They need to know at least the basics, how to get it, to maneuver throughout the online area.
In the table below, you are going to see all the key differences between traditional schools and virtual ones.
Lessons are scheduled and pre-decided
Flexible time for lessons
A set curriculum and the number of hours for each class do not include individual approach
Students can work at their own pace and never get behind.
Limited choice of courses, a standard program for every student
A variety of course for a student, which traditional schools can’t offer
Discipline & Self-motivation
Scheduled classes help students to keep on task
Virtual school requires a high motivation and time management
So, is virtual learning is going to replace traditional classrooms? Absolutely not. It is going to change them. Virtual school is all about students rather than the adult’s schedules. It proves that school should be a verb, not just a noun.