Benefits and Drawback of Virtual Learning
-- What are the benefits and drawbacks of virtual &/or home schools? How can you tell what type of school your child should use?
Benefits of online learning
While little substantive research has been done concerning online learning in K-12 schools, a plethora of researchers have concentrated on the benefits and drawbacks of online learning in higher education. While the recipient of these benefits or drawbacks are students with slightly different learning styles and needs than those in K-12, the research conducted can give us valuable insight into how to utilize this medium in K-12 schools to its best advantage. Cicognani & Yu-Chaih (2000) verified that online educational environments stimulate learners to dig for information and practical examples thus more efficiently meeting educational objectives by making the learner the center of the educational experience . In addition, articulating one's opinions through a task of mutual understanding in an online environment creates community building, another factor that is necessary for success in the K-12 classroom. Cifuentes (2001) touts the benefits of online learning as authentic language learning and a transference of language skills. MacDonald (2001) points out that the online environment allows students to learn by observing another student's learning experience, relating it to their own, and progressing from novice to expert vicariously. Taylor (2002) reminds educators that the longer processing time in the online environment is a benefit for disabled students who need longer think time. In addition, more students get heard in an online environment than do in a face -to-face classroom. While there are many benefits to online learning, disadvantages and limitations do exist.
Cifuentes (2001) summarizes the major disadvantages of online learning as technical challenges such as technical failure, constraints of e-mail such as sending diagrams or pictures, and the time involved. In addition, dependence on an unresponsive partner can cause frustration in a learner, leading to a sense of detachment. Bell (2001) reminds educators that protecting students' privacy should be a priority in the online world making educators more cautious of using the technology.
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