Typically, back to school means a sprint to get school supplies, manage calendars, and plan after school activities. However, with campus closures nationwide, academics were forced to shift their focus to online learning. Many parents saw the benefits of flexible online schedules, but it’s safe to say that many felt the pressure of having to keep their kids on-task.
As we approach a new school year, things are starting to feel normal(ish). Now the question of the year is, should we send kids back to school? Or do the benefits of online learning outweigh those of in-person classes?
In this post, we explore the benefits of each, along with the drawbacks.
Virtual learning comes in a few different models. These include fully online courses, asynchronous models, and rotation models. Fully online courses are ones where your child or student does not need to attend any in-person class sessions. The online sessions are typically at a scheduled time and broadcast live.
An asynchronous model allows students to review and attend classes at any time. The lessons are pre-recorded, and students are offered the most flexibility with this type of learning. Lastly, the rotation model offers a half online half in-person version of learning. This allows students the flexibility of virtual classrooms, but still offers the socialization found in traditional classes.
One of the most difficult parts of online learning is planning enough activities to keep kids focused throughout the day. Resources such as virtual museums have been a saving grace during these turbulent times.
Even prior to the pandemic, many classrooms were choosing to offer online versions of courses. For many students, this allowed them to attend school, where they otherwise might not have gotten the opportunity.
- Cost-friendly: Virtual classes are often more cost-effective than its in-person alternative because of the lack of physical costs to run a traditional classroom.
- Teaches self-discipline and motivation: Because there isn’t a traditional schedule to follow, online students have to learn self-motivation to complete the courses.
- Scheduling flexibility: You can set your own schedule with an online course.
- Accommodation for special education needs: Classes can more closely group those with special education needs to build a course more suited to their learning style.
- Lack of socialization: Without face-to-face interaction, some students may find it challenging to make connections with their peers.
- Potential security threats: There are no security measures on a home network and things like Zoom bombing become more prevalent in these systems.
- Unrealistic simulations: Although gamification has become widely popular in the classroom, it’s often unrealistic for real-world applications.
- Technology issues: Purely online classrooms must have up-to-date technology and a quality internet connection on all sides to function properly.
Keeping kids occupied at school for the day is an undeniable benefit for busy or working parents. While that time along can be a saving grace, being able to have hands-on involvement in their education can make the cons of classroom learning more apparent.
Consider the type of classroom your student is in. Public, private, or charter schools can make a significant difference in the benefits of these classes. The size is a considerable factor to look at. Less individualized learning is a con of in-person classrooms if your child needs more specialized attention.
At the end of the day, there are plenty of benefits and drawbacks when it comes to in-person classes, and sitting down to think about each will be a necessity in the coming months.
- Improves social skills: Face-to-face interactions make building a community at an early age easier.
- Removes outside distractions: Classroom removes common distractions that are more apparent when learning from home.
- Teaches structure: Consistent schedules help plan and manage time more efficiently.
- Enhances critical thinking: Listening to an in-person lecture and engaging in discussion helps develop more critical discussions and opinions.
- Lack of individual instruction: Class sizes have been notorious for increasing in the past few years, especially right now with the hybrid learning models. Individual instruction is harder when you need to manage more students at different learning levels.
- Safety: Can we for sure know that our kids are going to be safe? We know that our schools are taking the best measures in trying to prevent illness but its not 100%.
- Restrictive schedules: Committing to traditional learning can be restrictive to outside obligations, whether that be after school activities or work. The classroom will not look anything like it has in the past.
- Costly: Books, backpacks, and course fees can quickly add up with an in-person learning model. Also, if your school districts are doing a hybrid model, then you will need to find daycare 3 days a week.
- No coverage of real-world topics: Standard courses don’t allow students to grasp real-world topics before they approach them outside of school.
So which is best? It really depends on your needs, your schedule, and your goals. Talk to your child about their preferences. Take a look at past grades and notes from teachers to find out how they learn the best. Read more considerations and best practices in this Parents’ Guide to Virutal Learning.
Oftentimes, parents will choose to do a rotation model. This is when the student splits his or her time with in-person and online learning. That way, they can get the best of both worlds (and mom and dad can get some rest!).
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