Virtual school

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An online school (virtual school or e-school or cyber-school) teaches students entirely or primarily online or through the Internet. It has been defined as "education that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students. [1] Online education exists all around the world and is used for all levels of education (K-12 High school/secondary school, college, or graduate school). This type of learning enables the individuals to earn transferable credits, take recognized examinations, or advance to the next level of education over the Internet.


Number of Students Taking Distance Courses by Level (2012-2015) Number of Students Taking Distance Courses by Level (2012-2015).png
Number of Students Taking Distance Courses by Level (2012-2015)

Virtual education is most commonly used at the high school or college level. Students who are of the age 30 or older, tend to study online programs at higher rates. This group represents 41% of the online education population, while 35.5% of students ages 24–29 and 24.5% of students ages 15–23 participate in virtual education.

Percentage of Students Taking Distance Courses (2012-2015) Percentage of Students Taking Distance Course (2012-2015).png
Percentage of Students Taking Distance Courses (2012-2015)

Virtual education is becoming increasingly used worldwide. There are currently more than 4,700 colleges and universities that provide online courses to their students. [2] In 2015, more than 6 million students were taking at least one course online, this number grew by 3.9% from the previous year. 29.7% of all higher education students are taking at least one distance course. The total number of students studying on campus exclusively dropped by 931,317 people between the years 2012 and 2015. [1] Experts say that because the number of students studying at the college level is growing, there will also be an increase in the number of students enrolled in distance learning. [3]

Instructional models vary, ranging from distance learning types which provide study materials for independent self-paced study, to live, interactive classes where students communicate with a teacher in a class group lesson. Class sizes range widely from a small group of 6 pupils or students to hundreds in a virtual school.

The courses that are independent and self-paced are called asynchronous courses. Typically for this type of learning, the students are given the assignments and information and are expected to complete the assignments by the due date. This is done on their own time. There is no scheduled time when the class meets. Usually, the only interactions that take place are through discussion boards, blogs, and wikis.

On the other hand, synchronous online courses happen in real-time. The instructor and students all interact online at the same time. This is done either through text, video, or audio chat. Therefore these lessons are socially constructed. In addition to the scheduled class time, there are usually additional assignments to complete. A key to keeping Kindergartners engaged in distance learning can be challenging. Individualizing lessons and giving mini breaks can help students stay engaged during short synchronous sessions. As an educator you have to find creative ways to keep children attention on the screen especially since they're in the comfort of their home with all their toys and all the other luxury's within the house they desire. It is hard to keep their attention in the classroom so virtual learning now becomes extremely harder.

Secondary school age students have to be extremely disciplined and focused in order to be successful in virtual learning. Just like being at an actual school, these pre-teens and teenagers have to make sure they are presentable/looking good before logging onto their classes and have to greet all of their friends and turn off their cellphones before the lesson begins because that will be a big distraction for them just as it would in the classroom. Some of the same problems that exist at school have the potential of existing at home with virtual school.

Hybrid, sometimes also called blended, courses are when students learn and interact both in-person and online. Theses classes meet in person during the semester in addition to computer-based communication. [4]

Virtual school technology

Virtual classrooms are made possible through the use of educational technology with the help of the internet. [5] The internet itself can be credited on what enabled modern distance learning to be developed. [5] The internet can allow the virtual student to have access to resources such as virtual test taking functions, systems that aide coursework to include electronic reading materials, podcasts to allow the student to have easy access to the lectures and chatrooms. [5] During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States began to encourage social distancing in the education system. [6] One use of technology that was found to be resourceful in the collaboration of students and teachers in virtual learning was the use of video conferencing. [6] The utilization of web videoconferencing allows a student to communicate virtually with their teacher or any other mentor through the use of the apps Zoom and Cisco WebEx. [6] Zoom is a web video conferencing app that is free of download on a mobile device, laptop, or desktop. Through the use of zoom, one on one or group meetings can occur between the students and teachers virtually. [6] This app allows the teacher to share their screen to show exactly what they are teaching and even gives the option to screen record their lectures to make it accessible to the student for future use as a resource. [6] Cisco Webex offers a lot of the same features as Zoom such as multiple users being on at once, video connection, and screen-sharing. [6] To engage virtual students even further, a process known as gamification can be used to teach a student learning material in a form of a game to bring more enjoyment in a student’s learning experience. [7] Secondlife, an online virtual world, is a type of gamification system that is used for online educational purposes. [8] Secondlife can be used as a substitute for face to face learning. It has qualities that resembles an in person curriculum such as class discussions, participation in lectures, and completing assignments. [8] Gamification can also serve as an aide to increase a student's intrinsic motivation. [9] The use of rewarding points while a student is using a gamification system can enhance internal motivation and motivate the student to accomplish learning goals from the game's objective. [10] During the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools turned to virtual learning.[ citation needed ]

Costs and accessibility

Where online methods are integrated with State provision, costs follow state school standards. Otherwise, fees must be met by the student or parents. Many US school districts are now creating their own online services to avoid paying external providers. Such students can graduate from their home district without ever leaving home. In most of these cases, students are given computers, books, and even Internet service to complete coursework from home.

With the resources of the Internet as a library, and the ease of making online study materials, there is usually a comparatively small requirement for textbooks. Most courses will provide electronic materials free of cost, or included in the course fee. Textbooks are most often required for an exam syllabus course.

Advantages and disadvantages of online education

Potential advantages:

Potential disadvantages:


Online Education providers in the United Kingdom are not currently eligible for accreditation by the Department for Education and therefore it is difficult to measure quality of providers. Following a consultation process that began in 2019, The DFE and Ofsted are currently working towards a pilot online education provider accreditation scheme using a variation of the Independent School Inspectorate Inspection framework. [16]

As claimed in a study done by Eric Bettinger and Susanna Loeb, on average, online students "do substantially worse than students in the same face-to-face course". [13] Furthermore, students who attend K-12 online consistently perform worse on state tests than their peers in brick and mortar environments, even when taking into account prior achievement. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Distance education Mode of delivering education to students who are not physically present

Distance education, also called distance learning, is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school. Traditionally, this usually involved correspondence courses wherein the student corresponded with the school via mail. Today, it usually involves online education. A distance learning program can be completely distance learning, or a combination of distance learning and traditional classroom instruction. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), offering large-scale interactive participation and open access through the World Wide Web or other network technologies, are recent educational modes in distance education. A number of other terms are used roughly synonymously with distance education.

Educational software is a term used for any computer software which is made for an educational purpose. It encompasses different ranges from language learning software to classroom management software to reference software, etc. The purpose of all this software is to make some part of education more effective and efficient.

Blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace. While students still attend "brick-and-mortar" schools with a teacher present, face-to-face classroom practices are combined with computer-mediated activities regarding content and delivery. Blended learning is also used in professional development and training settings.

Lesson Structured period of time where learning is intended to occur

A lesson or class is a structured period of time where learning is intended to occur. It involves one or more students being taught by a teacher or instructor. A lesson may be either one section of a textbook or, more frequently, a short period of time during which learners are taught about a particular subject or taught how to perform a particular activity. Lessons are generally taught in a classroom but may instead take place in a situated learning environment.

Asynchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. It uses resources that facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people. In many instances, well-constructed asynchronous learning is based on constructivist theory, a student-centered approach that emphasizes the importance of peer-to-peer interactions. This approach combines self-study with asynchronous interactions to promote learning, and it can be used to facilitate learning in traditional on-campus education, distance education, and continuing education. This combined network of learners and the electronic network in which they communicate are referred to as an asynchronous learning network.

Educational technology is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. When referred to with its abbreviation, EdTech, it is often referring to the industry of companies that create educational technology.

A virtual campus or e campus, refers to the online offerings of a college or university where college work is completed either partially or wholly online, often with the assistance of the teacher, professor, or teaching assistant. Many colleges and universities now offer such courses either partially or wholly online. There are an estimated 4,500 such institutions with total enrollments approaching perhaps 2 million.

A virtual university provides higher education programs through electronic media, typically the Internet. Some are bricks-and-mortar institutions that provide online learning as part of their extended university courses while others solely offer online courses. They are regarded as a form of distance education. The goal of virtual universities is to provide access to the part of the population who would not be able to attend a physical campus, for reasons such as distance—in which students live too far from a physical campus to attend regular classes; and the need for flexibility—some students need the flexibility to study at home whenever it is convenient for them to do so.

Synchronous learning refers to a learning event in which a group of students are engaging in learning at the same time. Before learning technology allowed for synchronous learning environments, most online education took place through asynchronous learning methods. Since synchronous tools that can be used for education have become available, many people are turning to them as a way to help decrease the challenges associated with transactional distance that occurs in online education. Several case studies that found that students are able to develop a sense of community over online synchronous communication platforms.

Synchronous conferencing is the formal term used in computing, in particular in computer-mediated communication, collaboration and learning, to describe technologies informally known as online chat. It is sometimes extended to include audio/video conferencing or instant messaging systems that provide a text-based multi-user chat function. The word synchronous is used to qualify the conferencing as real-time, as distinct from a system such as e-mail, where messages are left and answered later.

Distributed learning is an instructional model that allows instructor, students, and content to be located in different, noncentralized locations so that instruction and learning can occur independent of time and place. The distributed learning model can be used in combination with traditional classroom-based courses and traditional distance education courses

Social learning tools are tools used for pedagogical and andragogical purposes that utilize social software and/or social media in order to facilitate learning through interactions between individuals and systems. The idea of setting up "social learning tools" is to make education more convenient and widespread. It also allows an interaction between users and/or the software which can bring a different aspect to learning. People can acquire knowledge by distance learning tools, for instance, Facebook, Twitter, Khan Academy and so on. Social learning tools may mediate in formal or informal learning environments to help create connections between learners, instructors and information. These connections form dynamic knowledge networks. Social learning tools are used in schools for teaching/learning and in businesses for training. Within a school environment, the use of social learning tools can affect not only the user (student) but his/her caretaker as well as his/her instructor. It brings a different approach to the traditional way of learning which affects the student and his/her support circle. Companies also use social learning tools. They used them to improve knowledge transfer within departments and across teams. Businesses use a variety of these tools to create a social learning environment. They are also used in company settings to help improve team work, problem solving, and performance in stressful situations.

Online communication between home and school is the use of digital telecommunication to convey information and ideas between teachers, students, parents, and school administrators. As the use of e-mail and the internet becomes even more widespread, these tools become more valuable and useful in education for the purposes of increasing learning for students, and facilitating conversations between students, parents, and schools.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) in educational technology is a web-based platform for the digital aspects of courses of study, usually within educational institutions. They present resources, activities, and interactions within a course structure and provide for the different stages of assessment. VLEs also usually report on participation; and have some level of integration with other institutional systems.

Flipped classroom instructional strategy delivering instructional content outside of the classroom and other reated activities into the classroom

A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning, which aims to increase student engagement and learning by having students complete readings at their home and work on live problem-solving during class time.

Gamification of learning

The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments. The goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning. Gamification, broadly defined, is the process of defining the elements which comprise games that make those games fun and motivate players to continue playing, and using those same elements in a non-game context to influence behaviour. In other words, gamification is the introduction of game elements into a traditionally non-game situation.

Social media in education refers to the practice of using social media platforms as a way to enhance the education of students. Social media is defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content".

Online learning in higher education Development in distance education that began in the mid-1990s

Online learning involves courses offered by postsecondary institutions that are 100% virtual, excluding massively open online courses (MOOCs). Online learning, or virtual classes offered over the internet, is contrasted with traditional courses taken in a brick-and-mortar school building. It is the newest development in distance education that began in the mid-1990s with the spread of the internet and the World Wide Web. Learner experience is typically asynchronous, but may also incorporate synchronous elements. The vast majority of institutions utilize a Learning Management System for the administration of online courses. As theories of distance education evolve, digital technologies to support learning and pedagogy continue to transform as well.

Digital pedagogy

Digital pedagogy is the study and use of contemporary digital technologies in teaching and learning. Digital pedagogy may be applied to online, hybrid, and face-to-face learning environments. Digital pedagogy also has roots in the theory of constructivism.

Virtual exchange is an instructional approach or practice for language learning. It broadly refers to the "notion of 'connecting' language learners in pedagogically structured interaction and collaboration" through computer-mediated communication for the purpose of improving their language skills, intercultural communicative competence, and digital literacies. Although it proliferated with the advance of the internet and web 2.0 technologies in the 1990s, its roots can be traced to learning networks pioneered by Célestin Freinet in 1920s and, according to Dooly, even earlier in Jardine's work with collaborative writing at the University of Glasglow at the end of the 17th to the early 18th century.


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