Are you a parent attempting to decide if you should enroll your child in virtual school? Are you struggling in traditional school and looking for other options? If either of these holds true, you have come to the right place.
What is virtual school? The name “virtual school” primarily speaks for itself. It refers to what some may call e-learning, distance education, or online education. All of these names essentially mean the same thing, learning in a virtual environment. This virtual environment could mean several different things depending on what level of school you are working through.
We will help you understand just what some of the advantages of virtual school are and a number of questions that you should ask yourself when you are considering virtual learning. All you have to do is keep reading to find more helpful information for kick-starting you or your child’s virtual learning journey. What are you waiting for?
Why Choose a Virtual School?
You may be wondering why anyone would choose to go to school virtually voluntarily, but the reasons are endless. The list below will provide you with the top reasons why you should select virtual education as an option.
One benefit to virtual learning is that it is self-paced. This allows you to work at your speed rather than the speed of the most intelligent person in the class or a teacher’s lesson. This can be helpful when tackling subjects that you may not be as confident in. Being self-paced enabled students to spend more time on the items they need extra help with and spend less time on what they do not.
Depending on the stipulations surrounding the program that you choose, a virtual school can prove itself to be highly versatile and flexible for your needs. In most cases, aside from work being self-paced, students can also go in and complete work at any given time. There is no set class time for some virtual options and no set location that you must be in. This means that students can work from almost anywhere, within any time zone.
For some individuals, a virtual school may prove to provide a healthier environment that is far more conducive to learning. Students who may be bullied or have social anxiety when in large classroom settings can significantly benefit from choosing the virtual school option. This means that they are able to focus on their studies without the worry of being made fun of or even beat up.
What is Virtual Learning?
There are several different variations of virtual learning. However, in a nutshell, virtual learning is an educational experience that is categorized by the use of computers via online networks for learning. It is important to remember that there can be several versions of virtual learning. For some students, this may mean interacting with an online system like Google Classroom or some lab component like web assign to receive the training you would typically receive in class at your own pace. Virtual learning can also happen via live web conferencing, where interactions can still occur between students and teachers. These two methods are known as asynchronous and synchronous.
You may also find that some institutions take a hybrid approach to virtual learning. This means that some forms of the course are virtual, whereas others are not. This could mean that lectures can happen online, whereas lab can potentially occur in person.
How Much Does Virtual School Cost?
Like most educational options, virtual learning can vary depending on the level you are looking for, and the range of materials offered to you. Several different popular online systems can utilize for virtual learning; each of their prices can vary.
Some online systems will opt to charge users on a per-class basis, whereas others may charge for an entire curriculum. Single classes can generally start at a few hundred dollars, depending on the stipulations surrounding the course.
There are several options which can go into the cost of a course. This can include the location the course is offered, the system it is being provided through, and its amenities. This can range anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand. However, some public schools offer virtual learning to make it much more cost-effective for students by keeping the price point the same as regular education.
What are the Pros and Cons of Virtual School?
Virtual learning can be a great option. However, it’s essential to make sure that you weigh the virtual school’s pros and cons before committing to the undertaking. Use the list below to help you understand the good and the bad sides of virtual school to determine if it is suitable for your family.
Pros of Virtual School
One central positive point related to virtual learning is its level of flexibility. Students who are a part of virtual courses often have the ability to work from any location and quickly adapt to any schedule changes they might be experiencing. If you are someone who knows they can not wake up early, taking virtual classes means that you do not have a set time to wake up and be in class. You are able to work at your own pace and seek help as needed.
Promotes technical literacy
The virtual school also promotes technical literacy and the ability to handle new forms of technology. Outside of learning how to operate a laptop or tablet, students will also be able to pick up on things quickly and even troubleshoot potentially connectivity issues and beyond.
One area that many students use virtual learning for is credit recovery. This allows students to take classes that they may have failed during the school year and still receive credit at their respective schools. It’s essential that before taking and paying for a course that you ensure that the credits you are looking to recover are transferable back to your educational institution.
More course variety
Being remote offers an extreme amount of flexibility regarding what courses can be provided and what lessons cannot. With e-learning, you no longer need a teacher to come into the classroom and teach these courses. Since everything is done online, this offers much more leeway in terms of what electives you can take and when they will be available to you. This provides more variety when you are making your schedule.
Prevention of bullying
Going to school virtually can be a great way to get some students out of a bad situation. Going to school virtually can prevent students from forming cliques, making fun of other students, and ultimately bulling them in person.
Cons of Virtual School
Though there are several great things about going to school virtually, it is not something that is meant for every student. There are a number of drawbacks that must be considered before you decide to give virtual learning a try. The list below will provide you with a list of cons to keep in the back of your mind.
Missed social interactions
One of the biggest concerns about virtual schooling is the missed human interaction. Though attending school remotely can be far less time-consuming and provide several positive aspects, it can not provide human interaction. If you are working through virtual schooling, it is imperative to get this face-to-face time elsewhere. A school is often a place where soft skills are developed, and students interact with each other. That is not something that they should miss out on.
Inability to escape from an environment
Unfortunately, not all of us are living lives that we don’t need a break from. Attending school virtually entails you being in one location for an extended period of time. If your home is not someplace that is conducive to learning, or there is constant commotion around you, you may want to re-evaluate the need to continue with online education.
Some students also use school as a time to have a hot meal. If this is a reason for attending school, this should not be taken away until a contingency plan is made.
Lack of creative courses or activities
Though most courses can be successfully done online, students will often lose the more creative classes like art, painting, or choir. These courses can not be given virtually and take a small piece of creativity from the students who can no longer utilize them.
No access to athletics
Another important piece that is missing from virtual learning is sports. Online schools do not offer a course like gym or anything physical. Therefore, it is up to the individual or the individual’s family to ensure that they are being active and actually getting out and moving.
Another primary concern is internet outages. Though the internet may be reliable a good portion of the time, it is safe to say that you will wake up with days where there are internet outages in your area, and there is nothing you can do about it but wait it out. In cases like these, it’s imperative to have a backup plan. This can be a tablet with cellular reception or even a hotspot.
Students are self-disciplined
One thing that can be a good or a bad thing depending on the child is their level of self-discipline. Virtual courses are not for students who are easily distracted. Students who are responsible will have no problem keeping up with the course load; however, that may not be the case for students who are not as disciplined.
Students are not as challenged
One thing that may be hard to regulate is how the students are being challenged. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, students can easily take shortcuts on their work and find answers and aid online. This means that students may be passing assignments, but they are not retaining any information.
15 Questions to Ask When Considering a Virtual School
If you are thinking about enrolling your child in virtual school or taking virtual school yourself, use the list below to gain more insight into your program. These questions are meant to aid you in evaluating if this is the proper method of study for you and your family. Use this list of questions in conjunction with your list of virtual schools to ensure you are getting everything you need.
- How is progress tracked?
- Are items graded automatically?
- What does a typical day look like?
- Will I need to purchase outside resources?
- How will students and teachers interact?
- How will students provide feedback on assignments and work?
- Are tests and homework all open book?
- Are their tutoring options available?
- Is the course self-paced?
- Will this hurt my child’s chances of going to college?
- Is the school accredited?
- What is the graduation rate if it is a high school?
- Are you able to accommodate children with disabilities?
- Does the program follow a traditional school schedule, or is it all year round?
- What materials are included with my/my child’s admission?
9 Tips for Students Who are New to Virtual Learning
You must make sure that you take breaks during your school day not to get fatigued. Staying in one spot for an extended period of time can make individuals feel lazy and unmotivated. This is a terrible combination for getting school work done. Taking a break can help you come back energized and able to focus.
Create a workspace
Creating a workspace is essential to keeping you focused and on track. You don’t want to do your work everywhere. You want to ensure that you are not working from a couch or on a bed as it could cause fatigue to seep in as well. Having a dedicated workspace allows you to stay organized and deliberate when working.
Get dressed as if you were going to class
It is vital to make yourself feel as if you are going to class. Staying inside in your pajamas all day can make you lazy and unmotivated. Getting dressed before you begin your studies can re-energize your mind and your spirit.
Take time away from the screen
Being that virtual classes are all online, it is crucial that you take breaks away from your computer screen. Constantly looking at a screen can cause your eyes to strain, and consistent typing on the keyboard can cause problems in your hands and fingers.
Limit your distractions
Limiting your distractions is one thing that can make or break your educational time. Find someplace silent where you can work and think without the voices and noise from other people. Limiting your distractions will be specifically critical when doing things like taking exams, listening to instructions, or even working on projects.
Don’t forget your snack
Though it may seem counterproductive, snacks are an essential part of your day. Having healthy snacks will keep you alert and vibrate. You do not want to eat a heavy meal at the middle or beginning of your day. This could leave you sleepy and feeling heavy.
Check your equipment
Your equipment is one pivotal piece of your virtual learning experience. Before your class’s start date, make sure that you have the right equipment and that your computer works with the technology you have. You should also be logging in ahead of any meetings or virtual sessions to ensure that everything is working as expected.
It is okay to use the mute button. If you happen to have to get on a call-in real-time, don’t forget that you can use your mute button. Excessive noise is something that no one wants to hear. Be courteous of your instructor and classmates but keeping your noise to a minimum and muting when needed.
Pay attention to your background
If you are on a virtual session or working with groups, you will want to be aware of your background. It may be beneficial to sit in front of a plain wall or an area where no one can walk behind you. This ensures that you do not have family members or friends walking through your video and being a distraction for you and others.
Regardless of your class is virtual or in-person, make sure that you are asking for help. It is far more important that you ask for help when working virtually. It can be easy to get lost in doing the work rather than understanding it.
Wrapping Things Up: What is Virtual School?
So, what does virtual school mean? Virtual school is the act of doing your classes or full course load online. They provide students and parents with the flexibility to learn and flexibility of where they do their learning. There are several advantages of virtual schools and several reasons why individuals would want to learn virtually.
There are several virtual school pros and cons, with one of the biggest concerns being the lack of human connection. Though this is something that many parents are concerned about, it can easily be eradicated by ensuring that you take time away from the computer.
Balancing your lifestyle is essential for doing well. Now, all you have to do is start.