Four key benefits of offering virtual college classes
In March of 2020, the global health crisis closed the doors of many in-person learning institutions and paralyzed the educational environment for a short time. As a result, many institutions quickly transitioned to virtual classrooms for remote learning.
For many, moving from a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom to a virtual classroom was a big adjustment. However, after nearly two years, we as educators have seen many benefits to remote learning. The key benefits virtual classrooms offer are numerous. In this article, we’ll explore some of the benefits of virtual learning, and their impacts on both educators and students.
1. Ease of learning
The global pandemic launched a trend of the work-from-home employee out of the necessity to protect the health and well-being of staff. As a result, improved technology to aid in working, as well as learning, has become much more commonplace. New learning technologies that enable participation, discussion and engagement can be integrated into virtual courses to improve learning outcomes. A secondary benefit to online education is that it also gives students the ability to master many of the programs and virtual communication systems that will be used in their future careers. Students can use Zoom to attend classes with a live instructor and Google Classroom to submit papers and assignments. These assignments can then be reviewed, edited and graded by the professor in a streamlined manner.
In addition, virtual learning can enable a more inclusive classroom. For example, certain technologies used in online learning can meet the needs of students with disabilities by allowing closed captions for lectures, as well as other helpful resources. Additionally, with online instruction, educators have increased flexibility in setting office hours so that they can easily plan one on one meetings with students and ensure understanding of subject material.
2. Improve students’ school-life balance
“If you’re like most people, you’d probably rather avoid traffic or crowded public transportation. And [the time you save by not commuting] will free up time you can spend working, exercising, having fun, or connecting with loved ones.”1 Virtual classrooms offer students the flexibility to complete homework assignments around other commitments, such as part time jobs, while also allowing students to customize their learning environments. For example, students who find it difficult to concentrate in a traditional classroom setting might find the virtual learning environment more distraction free. And the flexible nature of virtual classrooms means students can learn at their own pace, often at a time that works best for them.
3. Virtual classrooms make location irrelevant
The success of virtual learning has proven that you don’t need to relocate to attend the college of your choice, which is especially helpful for students in other countries or remote areas. As a result, virtual courses allow for a wider and more diverse pool of students, and make learning more accessible. At Becker, CPA candidates from all over the globe are able to virtually prepare for the CPA Exam. Additionally, because of the ability to offer asynchronous assignments along with video lectures, time zone differences don’t impact students’ opportunities to learn.1
4. Reduce carbon footprint
The virtual classroom environment reduces paper waste and environmental waste related to commuting to school, as well as the utilities needed to run school buildings. Many textbooks are available in a digital format, giving students the benefits of paper books — for instance, the ability to highlight passages and take notes — without the paper waste, along with no classroom overhead costs.
The pandemic has demonstrated that online learning is a sustainable and beneficial model for students and educators alike. As the trend of virtual learning continues, educators will need to continue to perfect the way they connect with and engage students. Although the pandemic forced both students and teachers to embrace virtual learning for a short time, many professors plan to continue offering at least some of their classes virtually, even after the pandemic has ended. As there are numerous clear benefits of providing online courses, professors should continue to offer at least some component of their course virtually, to meet the needs of students and improve the learning and teaching experience for all.
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- University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. “Benefits of online learning – 16 advantages to online learning.” USA.edu, June 2020. https://www.usa.edu/blog/benefits-of-online-learning/.
- Roberts, Sarah. “Online learning trends that will continue to shape education in 2022.” Verbit, 14 Dec 2021. https://verbit.ai/online-learning-trends-that-will-continue-to-shape-education-in-2022/.