Virtual education is a controversial form of education growing in popularity in our society. It is exceedingly beneficial to students who do not have certain classes available at their school or to students who have learning disabilities. However, it also contributes greatly to the rise of competition and grade inflation in our schools.
Giving students the opportunity to take classes online rather than in school causes many teachers and parents to worry that students will do worse in academics and will lose the socialization aspect of school physical education classes.
Online courses may be all right for college-age students, but on the elementary and secondary level, we believe trained adults are important for guiding a child’s education. Computers should supplement students’ education, not take it over.
A very big part of learning for children in school is learning socialization and acceptable social behaviors. This socialization is especially important in elementary school. Kids need interaction with each other and with teachers to develop and stimulate their ideas and thoughts. Seeing a digital person or completing tasks on a computer is imperative to the learning process. Computers can be used in the classroom for a little bit of individual learning time, but having physical people and hands on activities working with other students is a crucial part of learning and education.
Virtual school teachers work with each student to modify lessons, and generally meet the student's unique needs and learning style. This personalized approach to education is a good option for students who may be far ahead of or behind their peers, for students who need a more flexible schedule, or for students who learn best outside the walls of a school, such as Jacob Martin.
Jacob is an eighth-grade student at WCA. Because of his autism, Jacob benefits from learning in a more personalized setting: his home...
For students with learning disabilities, virtual education can be a huge benefit. It can allow them to work at their own pace and in their own environment. School for people with learning disabilities can often be very frustrating, especially when it seems that everyone else is being so successful in their studies. Virtual education is a great opportunity for students to really focus on what they're passionate about and good at without getting disheartened from the environment around them.
From an educational point of view, virtual education environments are failing to meet the promises made, as they focus on: (a) the prevalence of technological and aesthetic criteria over educational criteria, which should be the goal of any educational action in a virtual context (eg, in the case of hypertexts that do not promote knowledge, but instead an erratic path for students); (b) the confusion between the mere supply of information and actual training processes (knowledge-building processes); and (c) a dominant superﬁcial attitude in many virtual education proposals, resulting from the two aforementioned factors, but not only from these.
In general, proponents of virtual schools believe that online learning empowers students to experience independence in learning and frees up the physical boundaries and time constraints that occur in face-to-face (F2F) schools. Further, virtual schools offer opportunities for credit recovery, accelerated learning, conflict avoidance, and the ability to take courses not offered at local F2F schools (Mills, 2003).
The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning environments performed "modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction."
One reason that online programs are so attractive to today’s students is that they make it possible to arrange classes beyond school-bell boundaries. With admission to colleges and universities becoming more competitive each year, students load up on Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate programs, honors credits, and college-level courses. Virtual schools offer them more options and the flexibility to fit the additional coursework into their schedules. Many online programs also allow students to complete classes at a pace suited to their own educational needs.
With rising competition and grade inflation, schools and universities are demanding more of students. Some high schools limit the amount of AP classes a student can take, so students evade this by also taking AP classes online. Other schools do not offer a huge number of honor or AP classes which students compensate for by taking online. Virtual education, although seemingly convenient for acquiring the necessary advanced classes, is very detrimental to grade inflation. Because an increasing number of students have the time and means to take high-level courses not just in class but online as well, they are raising the bar for what is considered the standard successful student. This rise in education levels leaves other students, who do not have the time and means for these courses, appearing to be below average.
Virtual universities have a mixed reputation in the world of higher education. Although their degrees are accepted by many employers, they are often looked down upon by traditional academics.
Virtual education is a teaching-learning process based on the principles of active pedagogy (the student should take the responsibility of a frequent and effective participation), with the characteristics of distance education (during all classes, or most of them, the students and the teacher will not meet personally, although this could happen in a virtual space), and with the possibility of synchronous or asynchronous interaction (for example, they can chat with each other in real time using internet services, but also by e-mail or participate in e-groups that are asynchronous technologies that don't require that both are on-line at the same time).