Over the last decade or so, virtual learning has exploded thanks to the advent of the internet, widespread access to digital technologies, and our need to learn in innovative ways. More recently, COVID-19 meant that many students moved to virtual learning environments to continue their studies despite the pandemic. This massive shift to virtual learning environments to bridge the learning gap during COVID has re-sparked conversations regarding the advantages of virtual learning.
What are the advantages of virtual learning?
Virtual learning is an education model that uses online resources to communicate lessons to students rather than the typical classroom learning environment. Some of the advantages of virtual learning include increased accessibility, affordability, and flexibility versus traditional academic settings, learning time management and digital literacy skills, and the emphasis on inclusivity and community in virtual learning.
As we move through the 21st century, digital technologies are everywhere. The increased accessibility to the internet and devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, has allowed virtual learning to thrive and become the excellent teaching environment it is today. Moreover, virtual learning is an affordable option since many students will already possess the necessary tools for learning, and there is no need to commute, spend money on gas, or hire someone to come to your home. As a result, virtual learning saves time and money and has become widely accessible and convenient for students looking to learn in more flexible ways.
The success of virtual learning relies on a unique combination of structure and freedom. Many students will utilize virtual learning for the flexibility it allows in their daily schedules. For example, virtual learning options can be ideal for young athletes who need the flexibility to train when required and then complete their education at their own pace. Or it could be as simple as being able to utilize virtual learning tools such as tutoring while visiting relatives. The flexibility that virtual learning provides means that all students can do what works for them, depending on their needs and goals.
Due to the flexibility that virtual learning offers, many students learn the value of time management skills. Since students in virtual learning environments will not always have a ‘set’ time to learn, it can be easy to mismanage time and become behind. Therefore, virtual learning, more so than traditional settings, compels students to learn to manage their time by making their own schedule and being motivated to follow through. When students create their schedules and learn how to manage their time, they also become better independent learners.
Along with learning about time management, students in virtual learning settings will also become more comfortable using new technologies, thereby increasing their digital literacy skills. Being digitally literate, or having the ability to actively and fluently participate in the digital landscape of the 21st century, is an increasingly critical skill found in all aspects of modern life, including school, work, and home. Cultivating these digital literacy skills can offer students future opportunities. For example, suppose the skills that a student learns while doing virtual learning means they are able to land a job in a sector that they may have otherwise been unqualified for with just their previous work experience. Virtual learning settings increase digital literacy skills by allowing all students flexible access to online learning tools.
In virtual learning environments, all are welcome. For example, suppose a student is nervous or shy in the traditional classroom setting; virtual learning could be an excellent opportunity to make new connections without the pressure of face-to-face interactions. On the other hand, virtual learning could also be ideal for a single mom who works during the day and only has time to study at night. A unique thing about virtual learning is it’s inclusivity since it can be customized for each person depending on their situation, goals, and approach. Of course, for many students during the pandemic, virtual learning was a critical way of staying safe while still learning. Overall, many students appreciate the sense of community that virtual learning environments can provide while still allowing for more flexibility and less social pressures than traditional classroom settings.
The clear advantage that virtual learning holds over traditional methods is that students can access affordable learning tools from anywhere at any time with only a device and an internet connection and without the need for face-to-face interactions. This accessibility, inclusivity, and flexibility are revolutionary aspects of virtual learning that students can utilize to increase their knowledge as well as things like their time management and digital literacy skills. The structure and freedom that virtual learning allows means that all students, no matter their situation, can be tutored, mentored, and instructed through virtual learning environments at a pace that works for them. Nowadays, virtual learning tools are available at increasingly affordable prices and include test prep assistance, online tutoring, essay help, and even editing services for everyone from kindergartners to undergraduate students.