By Sean Alexander

Before 2020, you might not have had any experience with online learning, either as a student or a parent. The last few years have seen an explosion in remote learning across all grade levels, including both traditional school programs and extracurricular tutoring. Given its popularity and convenience, you have to wonder: Is virtual learning effective? Here’s some food for thought when it comes to online education versus the traditional classroom setting.


How Virtual Learning Is Changing the Educational Landscape

One thing that everyone can agree on is that virtual education is redefining the way that we think about learning and classrooms. The use of technology and online learning programs is making education more accessible than ever for students across all demographics. But since we know that learning styles span the spectrum, the effectiveness of online learning for all education may come into question.

Virtual Learning vs. Traditional Classroom Settings

As with many things, virtual learning has both positive and negative aspects. The same argument can be made for traditional classrooms, too. Let’s take a look at both scenarios so that you can consider which option works best for your child when considering their personality and learning style.

    Differences in Student Engagement

    Student engagement is a key aspect of education, no matter the classroom setting or size of the class. One point that can be made for online learning programs is that they provide students with a variety of ways to interact with the classroom.

    Tools like breakout rooms, clickers, chatboxes, and more allow online students to participate in just about every way that students in a traditional classroom can. What’s more is that teachers can easily share screens, videos, files, and games with students in real time to reinforce the lesson and increase interest in the material.

    When considering whether online learning is effective, one argument that comes up a lot is the absence of a social environment. As we all know, school teaches children more than just academic content. It also teaches them how to interact with others and how to be part of a community.

    One misconception about online learning platforms is that they're isolating and don’t encourage interaction. However, a well-planned lesson, paired with the right technological tools, ensures that this doesn’t happen. Teachers are still able to give students one-on-one time, organize pair or group work, and encourage collaboration on projects and assignments.

    When it comes to higher education, virtual learning gives teachers and professors the power to interact from locations around the globe, breaking the physical barriers of the traditional classroom setting.

    Learning Outcomes for Online Learners

    Learning outcomes are the skills and abilities that students can demonstrate after learning has taken place. These are measurable achievements that a teacher can assess after a lesson, unit, or longer period of time.

    Child On ComputerEffective online learning ensures that students are still hitting academic milestones just as they would in a traditional classroom setting. How? By tailoring education to fit different learning styles and maintaining a fun, welcoming learning atmosphere.

    Online programs work in different ways. Some follow a stricter schedule with a determined meeting time, just like a regular classroom. This works for students who need a little push to stay disciplined and keep up with their workload. Others have a more flexible schedule that allows students to work at their own pace as long as they hit important deadlines.

    Both options offer opportunities for the teacher to assess the student’s abilities and ensure that they're hitting target milestones when it comes to learning.

    Online learners generally have access to more resources during their lessons than students in traditional classrooms. The internet offers limitless information for students while putting together a group project or completing an assignment. The online classroom offers a wealth of resources to students at their fingertips that they can use to supplement traditional materials like textbooks and worksheets.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Remote Learning

    Online classes have both pros and cons. On the one hand, remote learning offers students flexibility when it comes to learning speeds and time management. Online learners can discover methods that work best for them and become more active in their own learning process.

    Students are encouraged to take charge of their learning by using tools and materials, being responsible for their schedule, and actively participating in lessons and discussions. Not only that, remote learning is often cost-effective, easy to use, and enjoyable when organized correctly.

    There are some downsides to virtual instruction as well. While teachers try their best to use engaging tools and materials in the classroom, some students may find it difficult to focus and stay on task. One reason is that they are in their home, which is a comfortable, familiar environment. Taking a lesson while laying in bed or on the sofa isn’t going to lead to effective learning.

    High-quality education can only happen when the student is alert and engaged. As a parent, make a separate study or class space in your home that’s just for learning and is free from distractions.

    Another downfall can be the lack of adequate equipment at home to engage in online learning. In today’s world, we take it for granted that every child has access to a tablet and an internet connection at home, but this isn’t always the case. Some homes may have several family members sharing a device, internet connection, or both, which can definitely slow things down when it comes to participating in an online lesson.

    What This Means for You

    As a parent, you want to offer your child every opportunity possible to help them succeed academically. Alexander Tutoring is an online tutoring service specializing in math and physics that uses a unique approach to help students around the world improve their performance. One-on-one instruction, personalized learning plans, and effective technology are just a few of the keys to our success.

    We meet every learner where they’re at, assess their needs, and work with them to create a plan to help them achieve their goals. Reach out to Alexander Tutoring today to discover the true potential of online learning when it comes to math and physics!


    • Sean Alexander

      COMMAND PILOT, OWNER Sean has been a professional educator for 15 years and has taught math, physics, and astronomy at all levels.  His experience ranges from working at a high school for severe learning differences to teaching advanced physics at Stanford.  After completing his graduate work in theoretical physics Sean founded Alexander Tutoring, with the mission of revealing the deep connections between math and nature to as many students as possible. 

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