A Guide to Virtual Schools

Virtual schools are schools that do not need the use of a physical space or infrastructure to carry out teaching and learning activities. The learning is done primarily through the use of technology. Virtual schools have all the features of a physical school. They have rules and guidelines that must be obeyed and followed. They also have a teaching staff, organized field trips, and parent-teacher conferences. 

Though virtual schools emerged in the 90s, they have become increasingly popular, and this is proven by the fact that half of all states in America now offer some form of virtual learning program. Almost 750,000 students add some form of online learning into their education. As a matter of fact, because of the demand for the current generation to be online literates, Michigan recently made it mandatory for students to include some type of online learning as part of their education.

One of the most important features of virtual schools is that they provide students with specialized programs that aren’t usually offered at conventional high schools. Another central characteristic of virtual schools is that they can be accessed 24/7, a feature that students have embraced because it gives them control over their time and more freedom to schedule their day in a favorable way. 

There are no specific times for classes to hold. Virtual classrooms are curated to suit the students’ individual needs, wants and interests when it comes to their education. This makes it easier for students to participate in learning activities since they can take part in online classes at any time they want, anywhere in the world.

The initial goal behind the creation of virtual high schools was to support conventional high school programs. However, the many benefits and unique features that were introduced with virtual learning formats caused them to develop into fully functioning high schools. From the point of view of personnel, the virtual school can help solve the problem of teacher shortages. This is likely the biggest advantage that virtual high schools provide. This model has introduced new possibilities for specific student groups who are disadvantaged. Some examples of individuals in this group are students who have disabilities, students who were homeschooled, and students who attended schools that did not have the capacity to provide specialized courses.

Though virtual high schools are widely praised and beloved, the model has its own fair share of criticism. Skeptics believe that the virtual model is not considerate of the students. They believe that students need the social interaction that usually goes hand in hand with education, an interaction which unfortunately cannot be fully replicated in a virtual setting.

Jennifer Alex

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