Virtual learning environments don’t work for every student

Virtual learning is on the rise for higher education. Many colleges, including Austin Community College and St. Edward’s University conduct courses online, and some classes are a mixture of traditional classrooms and online learning.

State senators are currently holding a hearing on virtual learning, and analyzing it from successful to not-so-successful programs. The acting chairwoman for the hearing is Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio.

Virtual learning classes are effective, but they cannot totally replace the traditional classroom for many subjects. English, science, and history cannot be taught through a virtual classroom as these subjects require a more hands-on approach.

Science cannot be taught online, rather, students need a lab to see what science can do through experiments. Science is a subject that must be experienced, not shown on a computer.

Some subjects that could be taught online are math and computer sciences. These subjects do not necessarily need to be taught in a classroom. They are subjects that a students could easily learn from the comfort of their homes.

That being said, not all students learn this way. Some require a more hands-on approach than just watching a professor teach over the Internet. For these students, a traditional classroom is needed.

The middle ground between a completely virtual and traditional classroom is a blended course. This is course in which traditional teaching and online teaching converge.

For the Spring 2013 semester, St. Edward’s has seven blended courses listed in the undergraduate course listings. These blended courses include business, marketing and chemistry courses, but the majority undergraduate classes are traditional courses, held in a traditional classroom.

St. Edward’s offers considerably more blended courses for graduate students and New College students. Graduate students and New College students can take blended courses in almost every subject area offered to them.

Blended courses are the best option for students who want a modern approach to learning while also not giving up a classroom experience. These courses give students a professor that can be seen and talked to face-to-face while also giving them the chance to experience the emerging idea of an virtual classroom.

Virtual learning is not the future for every single student, but neither is traditional learning. Students must make their own decision on how they want to learn.

For some it may be more convenient to take an online course, but there will still be those who want and need a traditional setting.

Regardless of what the senators decide, they cannot require all schools to have virtual learning. In some schools there are set values that would be lost in translation from a physical class to an online one.

Ultimately the choice is up to the students whether or not virtual learning is a good fit for them. They must decide for themselves; the school or state cannot make the decision.

Virtual learning will not replace the traditional classroom. Instead, it can be used as a supplement to it. The more ways students have to learn, the more successful they will be at learning.