Imagine a world where remote learning is considered conventional learning. Kids, teenagers, and even adults don’t attend classes in person inside large buildings, but rather, connect to the internet for virtual lessons.
This scenario sounded far-fetched not too long ago, but today it’s becoming common. Virtual learning, or e-learning, has been around in various forms for decades. Even before the internet, colleges would broadcast classes over public television stations and send students home with VHS tapes to learn from.
Once everyone had access to the internet, colleges began offering distance learning courses. Students would get assignments from a website and email their finished work to their teachers. Although e-learning is cost-effective for schools, in those times, it was an option and not a requirement. Today, it’s quickly becoming a requirement.
The COVID-19 pandemic is ushering in a new era of e-learning
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, students in 2020 are officially the first generation to experience virtual learning as their daily norm. Beginning in 2020, many students started the school year with virtual classes, including kindergarteners entering school for the first time. As restrictions loosened, some kids went back to the classroom, but many chose to continue learning from home.
Health experts have announced that things won’t be going back to normal for quite some time. Although virtual learning seemed like a temporary solution at first, it’s becoming clear that it’s on par to become a standard.
E-learning has been popular for a while
It’s no shock that e-learning is set to replace traditional learning. It’s already popular. For years, millions of internet users have thrived on DIY instructional videos, tutorials, and websites offering virtual courses on every topic imaginable. Statistics published by techjury project the worldwide e-learning market will reach $325 billion by 2025.
Not all kids thrive with virtual learning
Parents of struggling kids are shocked to see their kids thriving in a virtual learning environment. For these kids, getting away from the daily distractions in the classroom makes a huge difference. However, it’s not that easy for everyone.
Unfortunately, virtual learning doesn’t work for everyone. Students with special needs are struggling along with many (former) A/B students who need a social environment to thrive. Some kids have a choice between going to school in person or learning from home, but some school districts won’t allow students to attend in person full-time when their school can’t meet the social distancing requirements at lunchtime.
Many students prefer e-learning, but not combined with a lockdown
The kids who thrive on remote learning may not be the majority, but even they can’t handle the social isolation. Many kids who would prefer virtual learning are choosing to attend school in person just to see their friends.
If virtual learning is going to become the standard, it will only be fully embraced when the lockdowns are over.
E-learning benefits parents and educational organizations
Despite the drawbacks for students who don’t thrive on virtual learning, there are many benefits for their parents. For parents with older children, e-learning eliminates the need to transport their kids to and from school. Parents can go to work while their kids manage their own remote learning sessions.
For parents with younger kids, remote learning is a little harder because they can’t be left alone and need help accessing their classes. However, many employers have started allowing their teams to work from home, which has been a huge help to parents who need to stay home with their kids.
Although many students do better with self-paced learning, it’s not just students who benefit from remote learning. The institutions producing the learning material benefit as well. It’s cheaper to run a virtual school, although the exact cost savings is up for debate. Some claim a 35% savings, but others say it’s closer to 17%.
Virtual classes eliminate the need to even have a building. Technically, future schools could use two or three classrooms to record all lessons, which would drastically reduce the cost of rent, electricity, maintenance, and garbage services.
Virtual learning will need to include in-person activities to be entirely successful
Although virtual learning is popular and provides many benefits, it’s already failing a large number of kids. If virtual learning is going to replace traditional learning, it should include in-person activities and the option of attending classes as they’re being recorded.
Virtual learning has significant potential if implemented strategically to maximize everyone’s experience, especially the kids who struggle to make it work. Regardless of the benefits and cost savings, no child deserves to be left behind.