Why virtual learning works
COVID-19 closed schools this past spring, forcing students and teachers to quickly adapt to a new normal. It’s been a very steep, stressful learning curve for many.
And yet, virtual learning does have its benefits. It lets students acquire important new skills and access instruction no matter where they are.
Learning New Skills
Virtual learning teaches and sharpens digital skills. For instance, having students record video presentations requires them to use several skills, from setting up a camera to framing a shot. They learn how to edit files -- maybe adding music or slides -- and upload those to shared spaces. And they learn how to present their work to their peers in a videoconferencing platform.
Virtual learning teaches research skills. Students learn how to find sources, vet them for credibility and use them properly in their work. They can create a toolbox for creating future content.
Virtual learning also teaches students to adapt and figure things out for themselves. They learn how to become nimble and more resourceful as they muscle through challenges.
But these are the must-have skills students need today -- the ones they will use throughout their education and build on as they enter the workforce.
Education can now be delivered to vulnerable students who may not be physically able to attend school regularly. Their difficult situation does not have to impede their learning. They can receive instruction without compromising their situation or causing stress to themselves or their families.
Virtual learning lets struggling learners spend more time on difficult material. No more unnecessary pressure; now they can take the time they need to review lessons and master content. This is especially helpful if a student is working on an assignment or studying for a test and they need to reference a particular lesson.
The Way Forward
Ultimately, virtual learning can positively change the structure of our education systems. Students can learn new and relevant technological skills, discover digital resources to further their learning, and access instruction, regardless of their circumstances. Best of all, it removes the stress of trying to cram everything into 50-minute classes.
COVID-19 forced students and educators into virtual learning. It will likely continue as schools reopen this fall. This is a good thing. Because virtual learning works, wherever you are. Let’s share our successful strategies, merge them together and make a new, more fulfilling and effective educational experience for everyone.
Free Virtual Learning Resources
Need some resources to support your virtual classroom? Give these a test drive.
- Free resources for schools during COVID-19 outbreak from THE Journal
- Resources for learning at home, including activities from various federal agencies including NASA and the Smithsonian, from the US Department of Education
- Free resources for educators during the coronavirus pandemic from SmartBrief Education
Mark Siegel is the assistant headmaster at the Delphian School in Sheridan, Oregon.
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