The Role of Virtual Learning Tools in an Academic Environment
Keeping up with virtual learning tools has been a challenge in the education system. The digital divide became clearer when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic happened during the first months of 2020. As governments announced the closure of academic institutions, teachers and students have to migrate their classrooms online to make learning possible despite a global crisis.
“Online learning became the foundation of the academic community as face-to-face instructions remain restricted.”
This places a lot of pressure on educators to look for the best ways to facilitate online learning while keeping the students engaged. For instance, schools in the Philippines began offering eLearning for senior high school, a full senior high school online learning program. It aims to replicate classroom interactions using distance learning with access to learning modules and virtual classrooms.
To lead a successful online learning program, teachers should adopt modern strategies to ensure effective learning and collaboration. In this age of digital technology, it is necessary to recognize educational resources to enhance educational productivity and utilize teaching time. That being said, this article will discuss the role of virtual learning and the use of digital tools to establish a learning culture.
What is Virtual Learning?
Virtual learning is the use of digital tools to enhance the learning process instead of relying on face-to-face interactions. In most cases, people use virtual learning as a form of distance education, where students from different locations participate in a lesson simultaneously. This is very helpful if you want all the students to access online lectures in real-time while allowing interaction between the teacher and learners.
Other forms of virtual learning allow students to choose the learning module, the schedule of their classes, and the type of learning approach. It becomes a form of self-determined learning, where students make their own choices about the progress of their academic development.
Virtual learning can be a mixture of different elements (e.g., video and audio) to make the learning process easier and effective. This approach enhances learning engagement with the instructor and the learners through interactive exercises, communication tools, and other immersive technologies (e.g., virtual reality). The availability of different educational resources provides teachers with tailored teaching opportunities that are enjoyable and effective. In turn, learners can take advantage of technology to attain development and learning goals.
Some virtual learning products serve as content platforms, where participants collate learning materials from different external sources. The platform itself also offers a wide selection of materials, but learners may require guidance to identify their usefulness and quality. Meanwhile, those who want long-term study programs may enroll in virtual courses to get online access to learning modules.
How to choose the best learning tool?
Considering the number of learning tools on the Internet, it’s necessary to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option. One of the most significant advantages of virtual learning tools is they are cost-effective. There’s no need to travel to gain access, and they reduce printing costs and ensure a large-scale learning approach. At the same time, it’s important to consider the initial spending on subscriptions and licenses to ensure long-term savings.
The main consideration for virtual learning all comes down to its effectiveness. You have to identify if it can offer the type of learning you require and its ability to address the learning needs of the students. When choosing a learning tool, consider the flexibility of your learning approach. Is it necessary to access the tools together in real-time, or would you allow access to learning at any time and place? Sometimes, educators want to direct students to learn specific subject areas or skills, while others allow a free rein approach.
Using virtual tools to facilitate learning culture
Besides choosing the right learning tool, educators should ensure a thriving learning culture that utilizes technology. Here are some ways to facilitate learning culture in your teaching approach:
Promote connections. Knowledge sharing and collaboration that uses digital technology ensure a broader impact on students’ learning.
Adopt other learning techniques. Young learners these days are considered digital natives who are up-to-date with emerging technologies. Use it to your advantage to involve the learners and gather feedback to know other virtual tools that promote further learning.
Encourage relevant experiences. The virtual classroom should establish a learning environment for self-determined students who want to focus on equipping themselves with the right skills and knowledge they find useful for everyday life.
In this age, it’s important to take advantage of the digital tools to ensure learning, instruction, assessment, and curriculum. Integrating virtual learning tools will allow more effective communication between teachers and students, which is vital to the success of the academic community. While there is no definite end to the COVID-19-pandemic, educators should take the opportunity to understand digital technology and use it effectively and creatively.