Two virtual students collaborating on a lesson

5 things you don’t know about K-12 virtual learning

Think online learning means boring content, poor teacher support, and low student success rates? Think again!

3. In the virtual world, it’s all about dynamic, engaging, and interesting experiences.

When virtual learning was still in its infancy, most courses were static. Course content was text-heavy and the interactive content that did exist was limited. Fast-forward to 2018 and the best online courses are dynamic and jam-packed with elements that keep students of all ages engaged and on task. Videos, quizzes, discussion boards, and other interactive elements not only accommodate diverse learning styles, but also inspire students to learn about the subject matter while fostering independent learning skills they can use to prepare them for college, careers, and life.

4. Personalized support rules online.

Early on, skeptics assumed that virtual classrooms would be filled to the brim, with little opportunity for teachers to interact with their students. This assumption is flawed; Virtual High School (VHS), for instance, has an average student-to-teacher ratio of 21:1 (the national average for physical classrooms), which allows for personal attention and quality feedback.

Online teachers are trained to be responsive and timely, and to facilitate thoughtful discussions in their online classrooms. Every student has a private, personal discussion thread to ask questions of their teacher 24/7, and their teacher responds within 24 hours Monday through Friday. Those relationships sometimes deepen into true friendships, as was the case with English teacher Mrs. Osierre who recently attended Boston Adventist D.R.E.A.M Academy’s graduation ceremony. “Our kids invited her,” says the school’s co-founder. “It was phenomenal for them to see the teacher who they had never met in person before, at their graduation.”

5. Students have a say in their own learning.

Whether they pick an asynchronous course or a self-paced option, e-learning options give students learning choices they might not have otherwise. But there also rules in place to keep youngsters on task. For example, even though a student can access his or her class anytime, VHS provides due dates and scheduled deadlines for assignments and activities. This helps give students the structure they need with the flexibility they desire. For students who need to complete credit-recovery courses at their own pace, many virtual programs offer self-paced flex courses.

Related: 3 ways new-to-online students can thrive with virtual learning

The good news is that the positives for many online learning programs far outweigh the negatives. Not all programs are created equally, so it is important to do your homework and be sure the program you choose provides the support and services you need to help your students succeed. As online learning continues to mature and as more K-12 schools use online courses as part of their curriculum, online learning myths will fade further into the background and e-learning will be seen as a valued option for all learners.

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Carol DeFuria
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