As the popularity of online/virtual learning increases, where does that leave the brick and mortar classroom?
Even though e-learning has become a viable option for certain students, it can not be considered a replacement for the current classroom environment. The number one benefit of the physical classroom is the social energy that online education is not able to mimic. The actual presence of a teacher or professor is crucial to the learning process. There is a feeling of encouragement and validation that comes from face-to-face time with the instructor and peer. While problem solving and working collaboratively, students naturally learn from each other and acquire social skills that can be later applied in an actual work environment, such as leadership, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking.
Other benefits of today’s learning include the familiarity and flexibility of a classroom setting. Most students complete primary and secondary school in this manner and have worked hard to understand the learning process involved in their usual classroom atmosphere. It also offers flexibility to students with busy schedules. Because of nighttime, summertime, and the choice of other classes at varied intervals, students can avoid the stress of finding time for their classes.
Most importantly, we have already seen the effects of online education versus traditional education. A review of over 400 full-time virtual schools spanning 34 states revealed that these virtual schools produce low graduation rates and a relatively poor performance when compared to public schools. Source