Virtual Learning

Virtual learning is a wonderful technological development that has brought with it increased access to education and substantial growth in learning. Originally it was debated whether virtual learning could live up to the standards of traditional learning and whether it was an acceptable means of education. But today that debate has evolved and now the debate focuses on whether virtual learning can be absorbed in the same manner as traditional education and whether one is preferable to the other.

Virtual learning is learning within a virtual environment. It takes place inside of a virtual classroom setting. It can be something as informal as a simply email exchange or something as formal as a virtual classroom complete with a class website as well as virtual blackboard and communication. Virtual education ranges from official classes to the less official educational websites geared toward improving education for anyone who wants to learn. Some of the more popular websites today are designed to function in much the same way as a video game by supplying a point reward system for each new lesson learned or each new course which is completed. In the traditional virtual classroom environment the reward is of course completed class credit.

With the growth of virtual learning students are reading internet based books more than ever and reviewing course notes and presentations entirely online without ever having to open a tangible book. And herein lies the key debates as of late. But the brain is a unique muscle. The brain can remember details and content better if there is tactile learning involved. When students physically turn pages in a book and move their eyes to scan words on a page there is tactile learning involved. This helps to better commit the information to memory and to store it to the long term memory. It also makes recall easier. But when students read the same information on a technological device and rather than scan words with their eyes they move the words so that their eyes do not have to the information is not as easily committed to memory. Recall slows down and students no longer absorb as much.

Science also says that there is no emotional link when information is reviewed on an electronic source compared to that of a tangible source. The same news could be read on a tablet and in a tangible newspaper and the reader would internalize the information at different rates. There is less emotional attachment and more dissociation associated with reading things on a tablet based system. And today modern virtual education will have to find ways to combat this knowledge.