Every now and again I joke with my friends online or via phone texts about Virtual Hugs. Virtual has become a word that we comfortably use across media because of the fact that technology unites us from wherever we are. I remember at one point in my life having a virtual date for the news bulletins I read on radio. This person had never seen me, but liked what I wrote and got to be interested in what I do. So for a while there, they listened to me read my news bulletin, sometimes with my knowledge, sometimes with out. And it felt great, really. So, from hugs to dates, friends and everything else that can afford to be virtual comes the virtual schools.
Virtual schools: Is this one of those new trends that we are going to have to embrace? I ask myself.
Today as you log into any website you will have advert of online courses: APPLY NOW. Some of them are flash adverts, others are very annoying Pop-Ups, but the reality is: they are there. They exist. You can actually study a full two year course on line without ever interacting with your lectures or fellow classmates face to face.
There is a growing demand for the next generation students and people to want to study online. That is why these schools have been created. Today’s technology convenience is a major reason why people especially the young cones have become comfortable and are very reliant on it’s availability to get information and entertainment.
This meaning that a lot of the times Wikipedia and Google become the main information sources. Twitter becomes the main news source, apps for daily tasks and platforms range from Facebook to iTunes for interactive lessons and sometimes course material. Very strange I know, but true. Yesterday I met a virtual friend for the first time. I met them on Twitter and we have been sharing tweets back and forth for a while. As we were talking, they highlighted the fact that they had never bought a television set because they got all their news from Twitter. So, he/she had to go shopping for one when the family that had been away for a while came home to visit. Yes the whole world is going Virtual.
Using virtual sources allows for greater flexibility in the day. You are able to stay at home, but still go to school, do your homework, visit the library and work as well. There is also the ambience that one may not be able to achieve while at school but also while at the work place.
Virtual Schools can help students who are homebound, disabled or who have been withdrawn from school due to bullying. It is easier to stay home and study without necessarily meeting physically with your bullies. For the disabled , they have the luxury of being taken care of at home, something that would not be achieved while in schools. This is subject to a lot of debate if the child has to go to a public school., the care received at home could be better than that received at home. Families that live far from their homes (read abroad ) are able to get an education like that at home without hustle, through Virtual studying online as well. Not very common, because of the availability of International Schools in various cities across the world, but reason enough as well.
However it poses many challenges as well:
School ceases to be about learning, it becomes mainly about passing exams. There is always the added advantage of learning of social skills in traditional schools. Public speaking, learning how to make eye contact, learning how to interact with people from all different walks and backgrounds in life. Those are social and communication skills that computers do not teach.
Parents and Guardians lack the assurance that the content offered online is of great quality as is what is offered in traditional schools. Because the material is not as restricted, there may be cases of further fragmentation in learning environments. Teachers are paid to supervise pupils in the traditional schools but at home, there is no much supervision. Parents can do the supervision, but it is minimal. Between work, household chores, there is barely time for school supervision.
Presence of High Internet: Now that may not be an issue outside Africa but in Africa, it still is. That may be an added expense, considering with Traditional schools, internet is not so much a necessity.
Online studying and Virtual Schools are becoming a thing that we can identify with. It provides an alternative learning system, and like everything that is new, adaption is key.Hits:1993