The validity of the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” was on full display during the COVID-19 outbreak. People quickly had to learn to adapt to a new way of life, including an educational system that was transformed dramatically by social distancing guidelines.
More than 76 million students are enrolled in United States schools, per the latest Census Bureau information. In 2018, 2.12 million students were in Canadian postsecondary institutions alone. In a matter of days, millions of students who once attended classes in-person were forced to transition to virtual learning instruction. The process showed just how flexible learning systems can be, and how virtual instruction may become more than an emergency protocol in the future. Schools utilized systems like Google Classroom, Canvas and virtual meeting apps to connect and learn. While in-class lessons provide the socialization and one-on-one interaction that can be vital for students’ academic success, there are many different reasons why virtual instruction can be a key component of learning models as well. When virtual learning is used in conjunction with traditional teaching, students may have a more well-rounded experience. Here are some potential benefits that may unfold as more data is collected:
• Pace: Virtual learning affords students the chance to work on lessons at a pace that fits their individual needs. Students can go back and re-read or re-work problems until they’re satisfied they have learned their lesson. Lessons can be slowed down or sped up depending on proficiency, creating a customized educational experience.
• No more weather days. Many school districts include snow or extreme weather days into their calendars, adding on extra days at the end of school year to meet the specified number of educational days. Remote learning can take over in these times and keep school districts from having to pad calendars.
• Convenience: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to provide students the best chance to get the amount of sleep they need. Still, most adolescents currently start school before 8:30 a.m. Remote learning enables students to complete their assignments when it works best for them. This may help them get more sleep, too.
• Apps: Learning apps are a new wave of educational tools that have helped buoy virtual instruction. Primary school students or those with individual education plans may benefit the most from reinforced app skills that match their learning pace in fun ways.
Virtual home instruction may become a large part of the educational landscape even after it’s no longer a social distancing necessity.