Virtual Learning and Student Achievement

Schools are offering more virtual learning options for a number of reasons. First, virtual learning can meet the needs of students who struggle to succeed in the conventional classroom setting. Second, virtual classes let students access courses and programs that might not be available to them in their local school. Third, virtual learning provides flexibility: Students do not need to adhere to a traditional school schedule to complete their work and earn a diploma.

Virtual learning may not be for every student. Some students don’t have the time-management skills, personal motivation or adult support to succeed in a virtual environment. Others may simply prefer the traditional approach. Nevertheless, virtual learning has become feasible for a growing number of students because of technological innovations and sophisticated instructional delivery programs.

This is promising, since the most recent research suggests that online and blended learning can actually boost student achievement. The U.S. Department of Education in 2009 released the findings from a meta-analysis of empirical research on online learning conducted between 1996 and 2008. This meta-analysis screened more than 1,100 studies on the topic and reviewed studies of both blended learning and full-time online courses. Based on the studies that met their rigorous methodological criteria, they concluded, “[O]n average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” Read more..


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