Virtual Learning is Here to Stay
By. Meredith Biesinger
Title 1, Small district, Rural/Town district, K-12
The 2020 mass shift to virtual learning altered the landscape for K–12 education, and that shift is likely permanent. There have been many changes, adaptations, and in many cases, improvements over the last 18 months. Educators are now beginning to wonder if virtual learning and its accompanying ed-tech devices should be a continued option.
Of course, there was an overwhelming response for schools to return to in-person learning last year, and even more so this year. However, many students and their families opt to continue with virtual school when given a chance. From a survey of 1,000 parents of K–12 students, 45 percent would opt to keep their children entirely online (given the opportunity), and 22 percent would choose a hybrid model for their children.
For some, safety is a top concern.
Safety isn’t limited to fears of Covid. Parents are also concerned about other hot topics, such as bullying and school violence, and virtual learning has provided families with additional options to combat their concerns.
Many parents have discovered their children enjoy the freedom of remote classes and are performing better academically online.
A 2021 survey of district leaders found that 1 in 5 schools have already adopted or planned to adopt virtual schooling after the pandemic.
Districts see several students who were once struggling in the traditional face-to-face model, now successfully navigating virtual learning. Virtual learning has provided students the ability to personalize their instruction.
Personalized instruction can also benefit students’ schedules by allowing them to fit schoolwork around their personal lives and, for older students, part-time jobs.
There’s a remarkable parallel between adults who realized they could perform their job from home during the pandemic to families and students who realized they could learn from home as well. There’s flexibility there that is desired by many.
Virtual learning doesn’t conform to time constraints. Students can log in to their devices and complete work on their schedules, and they can take classes they may never have had access to before. Online platforms broaden students’ access to Advanced Placement classes, language classes, electives, and more!
School districts across the country are seeing a demand from parents and students for the opportunity to continue virtual learning post-pandemic.
The flip side of virtual instruction is, while many students thrived in an online learning environment, there are just as many, if not more, who have fallen behind.
Educators have been striving to bridge the gap of lost instruction time over the last year. While virtual learning is likely here to stay, in-school instruction is too.
Parents, students, and educators need and appreciate options. In terms of learning methods and classroom management, there’s simply not a one-size-fits-all K-12 learning model anymore; however, there never really was, to begin with, and the ed-tech space provides the options needed and desired by everyone.