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We’ve all seen it: A video of the somewhat haphazard teacher navigating a Zoom call with 15 students who aren’t invested in the conversation. Or the elementary students who are hanging upsidedown on a chair as a teacher tries to command her class.

From our perspective these videos are silly. We laugh thinking about how ridiculous students are.

The reality is that schools are trying to solve one of the most complicated problems in education’s history.

Last spring, students and educators everywhere were thrown into the eye of the storm of virtual learning and were required to redefine classroom instruction in the process.

All summer parents waited with bated breath to hear how school districts were going to handle the 2020-2021 school year and as many of the  

  school districts decided to begin the school year with virtual learning, parents have been left to navigate a range of emotions and questions about their child’s education. 

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As a parent to child myself, I experience that same range of feelings, questions, frustrations, and (sometimes) relief in my own house. One minute it’s, “how are we going to do this??” the next, “This gives us so much freedom to choose how to structure our days.” And then, “Why can’t my child have a normal childhood like I did.” And finally, “This is what’s safest.”

With all of these changes, it’s hard not to wonder if we are on the horizon for a shift in education. Will virtual learning be the standard in education post-pandemic? Can we leverage virtual learning to be more effective for teachers and students?

Virtual Learning Benefits

The list of benefits of virtual learning is endless, but there are some essential things to note. Here is a list of seven of the most significant benefits of virtual learning.

It Provides More Schedule Flexibility

Virtual learning has opened up opportunities for learning to be more personalized for each student. Here are a few scenarios that virtual learning benefits a student:

  • For parents who work outside of the home, virtual learning can be completed in the evenings when they get home from work.
  • Some students might find they are most productive at random hours of the day. Virtual learning allows students to jump into schoolwork early in the morning, late in the evening, or another time that is convenient for the student.
  • It allows families the freedom to explore. For individual families, they might find that virtual learnings allow them the chance to pack up their car and go adventuring while students are in school. With the social distancing requirements in place nationally, families are exploring national parks in higher volumes than ever before. Virtual learning allows students to complete schoolwork while getting outside and enjoying nature too. This is great for families who want to enrich their children’s lives with hands-on, real-life experiences.

It is More Accessible for Students

Virtual learning is an easier option for students who have unique needs in the classroom. Think about the high school student who works to support his/her family. They might have to work late into the night washing dishes.

In the traditional classroom, this student would be expected to be in their seat for their 1st period as early as 7:00 am.

This can create a negative learning environment because this student is fighting fatigue, personal stress, and might not want to be in school at all.

With virtual learning, this student could get a couple more hours of sleep before digging into their tasks for school. They would be able to structure their day in a way that would allow them to balance their responsibilities with their academic requirements. 

Virtual learning does not only benefit secondary learners, though. Students who require more time will find that virtual learning allows them more time to complete classroom tasks. Students who need translation services will enjoy the benefit of having translators at their fingertips. 

It Opens Up More Learning Opportunities

If a child is learning in a virtual classroom, they might find that they have more opportunities to explore their passions and interests as opposed to a traditional classroom setting. 

For example, in a 4th-grade classroom, there might be a unit learning about the water cycle. The classroom limits the demonstrations to simple experiments. These experiments will teach the concepts but will be brief and static. In a virtual classroom, a student might ask to visit a weather station to learn more or even observe the water cycle in their backyard.

Now learning is dynamic and individual. Students will get the opportunity to research the topics that excite them, create field trips that enrich their learning, and more. 

It Creates More Individualized Instruction

Virtual classrooms vary from district-to-district regarding how they’re structured. Many students will find that they have set times that they will be required to check-in with teachers and then have time to complete assignments outside of class.

Virtual learning benefits students in the sense that they will have more opportunities to reach out to teachers for clarification. In the traditional classroom, teachers are limited to before and after school and the occasional planning period for student support time. 

Virtual learning opens up more time for students to reach out and clarify questions before falling behind. 

Student’s Recieve More Immediate and Specific Feedback

When students are completing their work online, there is a better chance for them to receive immediate feedback on their work. This is thanks to plugins for multiple choice quizzes, essay graders, and more.

Teachers will be able to assess students and not spend time grading quizzes. This means that a teacher could teach a concept in their virtual classroom, give a quick assessment, and see if the student’s scores overall reflected understanding.

Students can know immediately how they did on a test, as opposed to waiting for a couple of weeks while their teachers graded it.

There are so many websites that teachers can use to engage students while learning. Many of these platforms, like  
 , will give teachers real-time feedback regarding student understanding. With virtual learning, students won’t leave class confused and unsure of how they’ll do that night’s homework. This is because teachers can address confusion immediately.

It Prepare’s Students for the Workplace

Virtual learning can help prepare students with some of the most common workplace skills in the 21st Century. These skills include collaboration, time management, and technology use. 

It’s clear that technology isn’t going anywhere, so the sooner that students can learn how to manage themselves online, the better.

Virtual learning challenges students to communicate often without the crutch of face-to-face interactions effectively. 

These soft skills are an everyday necessity in the professional world, and students who learn on virtual platforms begin refining their abilities earlier than those who do not.

The Problems with Virtual Learning

Parents are still worried about the value of virtual learning. It’s easy to understand; it’s new. Plus, with the added stress of COVID-19 and going back to work, parents now aren’t sure virtual learning is helping or hurting.

Some parents are worried that it will substantially  
  in students. 

Student engagement could diminish, meaning that they are no longer attending classtimes via Zoom.

There is also the concern of a student’s social wellbeing. With children contained in virtual classrooms, they lose valuable experience in face-to-face interactions. 

Finally, parents are wondering: if students can get away with so little instruction time in a virtual learning model, why have my kids been breaking their backs in a traditional classroom?

Where is the breakdown?

Could Virtual Learning Be the Classroom of the Future?

Virtual learning is not a new concept. Colleges have been using online courses for the past 10-15 years, and many public schools have offered online classes for students as well. Up until now, online school was an excellent option for students who needed a non-traditional classroom experience. It also is great for credit recapture and accommodating students who have jobs to juggle too.

Could this be the new standard? Many experts say yes… kind of. Virtual learning provides a new way to think about education. As a teacher, we often referred to a student’s time in the classroom as “seat time.” If you had a student who attended all of your classes in a semester but was still failing, you would try to give them the benefit of the doubt, “but they did the seat time.

Seat time doesn’t equal understanding. A student who is in class regularly but lacks engagement, are not growing and learning.

Virtual learning has the opportunity to change the game. Teachers can now provide direct instruction a few days per week and hold office hours for one-on-one conferencing as needed. They no longer have to fill their time, but can get the students the content they need and then turn them over to work on it.

Just like many of the work from home employees, teachers no longer have to go into the school to provide instruction. This will substantially reduce the costs of the supplies, classroom resources, and more.

For these reasons, a shift might occur where virtual learning is more common for students in public schools.


Whether virtual learning is a great American experiment during an unprecedented pandemic or the new approach to learning, students are unlikely to escape it for the near future. 

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Virtual learning affords student’s many benefits, but there are specific questions that remain unanswered. Questions like: What have time requirements changed? Before virtual learning students went to school for 8 hours each day. Now they are lucky if they spend 2 hours in a Zoom class. This question and many more need an answer if virtual learning wants to earn merit. 

Finally, High achieving students will most likely find success with virtual learning but ultimately might sacrifice “going to extra mile” and developing their learning further.

What are your thoughts? Is virtual learning a benefit or detriment to our students? Let us know in the comments below. 

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