As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, more and more people are stepping outside of the traditional classroom in favor of learning online. Whether it’s K-12 students taking classes from home, college students obtaining online degrees, or employees completing professional development at their desks, educators from all levels are creating lessons specifically geared towards teaching students in a virtual environment.
So with so many online learning opportunities available these days, how do you know which option is right for you? The most important thing you should consider when choosing between online learning opportunities is to decide between on-demand learning or a virtual classroom.
With on-demand learning, also called asynchronous learning, the lectures are pre-recorded. Students are often given access to the entire catalog of videos, they complete all activities and assessments on their own, and they are expected to have all work completed at a predetermined date and time.
The major benefit of on-demand learning is that students can access the materials at any time, and they can complete work at their own pace. The major drawback of on-demand learning is that students do not have direct access to the teacher or other students while they are actively learning. Students of on-demand classes have to ask questions and seek additional information by messaging the teacher who will respond at a later time.
With a virtual classroom, also called synchronous learning, the teacher and students all interact with one another in real-time. Students actively participate in live discussions, work with their classmates to complete assignments and solve problems, and ask questions as they have them. The teachers are there to facilitate learning, perform formative assessments in the moment, and reteach information to students who need additional assistance.
The major benefit of virtual classrooms is that they are not a one size fits all approach. The teachers are actively working to make sure all students are receiving information and practicing new skills in a way that makes sense to them. The only drawback to a virtual classroom is that students must be present at the scheduled time in order to be engaged in the learning process.
So while on-demand learning is certainly good for students with busy schedules, deeper learning takes place in virtual classrooms where the teacher and students are all working together to create meaning as an engaged group of learners. And that is why virtual classrooms are the clear winner when it comes to online learning opportunities.