The pandemic has necessitated the widespread adoption of virtual learning, but if it’s going to be a primary and effective learning tool for the foreseeable future, we have some serious work to do.
McKinsey reports that studies of current virtual classrooms show that only about 60 percent of low-income students regularly participate, compared to 90 percent of high-income students. Similarly, only between 60 percent and 70 percent of students in schools that serve predominantly Black and Hispanic students log into online instruction regularly.
The evidence is clear: Virtual classrooms are failing huge populations of students and exacerbating inequalities.
With no end to the pandemic in sight, virtual learning will continue into the spring semester — and likely become a permanent fixture in education. If we can’t create more inclusive and impactful strategies for virtual learning soon, we’ll be dooming students at all levels to an objectively lesser learning experience. In the present moment, we must consider improving virtual learning as an imperative task.
Why virtual classrooms fail — and how to fix them
Most virtual classrooms utilize some form of asynchronous learning: where students complete most of their work independently and face-to-face video calls are reserved for lectures and instruction.