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How Does Teaching Virtually Fit Into Today's Classroom?

Virtual teaching has been around for decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it a necessity and brought it into the mainstream. As schools were given the go-ahead to reopen, many offered a hybrid option that enabled in-person and online instruction. The rapid switch to remote teaching had many downsides; however, educators, psychologists, and parents have also seen benefits.

For example, some students found that remote learning allowed them to be more engaged in learning without the distractions and problems they faced in the classroom. In addition, the general challenges of remote learning and the pandemic brought mental health to the forefront of the classroom experience.

Now that most schools have returned to full-time in-person learning, is there any place for online teaching? Continue reading to hear how both models can coexist - and become even more robust - to ensure students receive the best education possible.

There will always be a place for traditional classrooms, and virtual learning is not for everyone, but for some students, virtual learning can be a powerful tool. In addition, virtual learning can be an option that improves educational experiences, offering excellent ways to supplement and enhance your curriculum and create a more equitable, productive environment for all students.


Benefits of Virtual Teaching

Increased Flexibility and Autonomy

Research suggests that when students have more choices about their materials and activities, they’re more motivated — which may translate to increased learning and academic success. In addition, educators noted that virtual teaching during the pandemic provided some students with the opportunity to learn at their own pace, which improved outcomes - especially for older students.

That benefit was confirmed by a 2020 survey of more than 600 parents, finding the second-most-valued benefit of distance learning was flexibility - in schedule and the method of learning.

More Opportunities for Special Needs Students

 Although some special needs students were challenged with remote learning, others - including those with IEPs and 504 plans - thrived in an at-home learning environment. For example, many students who struggle to grasp lessons on the first try benefit from the ability to watch videos over again to process them at their rate until they understand.
Researchers and educators say that reduced distractions may improve learning outcomes for some students with disabilities. For example, for some students with ADHD, anxiety, or autism, being in a quiet place alone without peers for part of the instructional day may allow for more focus.
Online learning platforms offer an easier way for students with social anxiety or shyness to participate. In person, the social pressures of being surrounded by peers make it hard to focus on academics.

Prioritizing Mental Health

Educators reported having more mental health conversations with students, families, and teachers since the pandemic began. The renewed focus on mental health has the potential to improve students’ well-being in profound ways - starting with helping them recover from the pandemic’s effects.

Mental health check-ins that took place virtually during the pandemic helped educators and families realize the importance of protecting students’ mental health more generally - not only for their health and safety but for their ability to learn.

One positive result is improved access to mental health resources in schools. Because of physical distancing guidelines, school leaders had to find ways to deliver mental health services remotely, including via online referrals and teletherapy with school psychologists and counselors.

Decreased Bullying

A recent study reported that students with neurodevelopmental disorders experienced less bullying than during pre-pandemic, in-person classes. Reductions in bullying and microaggressions aren’t just beneficial for students’ long-term mental health. Experts say less bullying at school reduces stress, improving students’ self-esteem and mood and impacting their learning ability.

Prepares Students for the Fast-Paced World of Global Competition

Virtual teaching environments can help prepare students for the fast-paced world of global competition. As a teacher, you may use virtual classrooms to work with students from around the globe. You can teach in English or another language and use modern technology such as Google Hangouts and Skype to interact with your international students.
In addition to helping your students learn about cultural differences, virtual teaching helps them become more independent learners - a valuable skill as they move on to college and beyond. With more autonomy over their learning experiences, young people are better equipped to take responsibility for their education, which will serve them well as they seek internships and jobs after graduation.

Allows Students Access To Teachers Who Specialize in Specific Subject Matter

For example, if a student wants to learn about the history of seafaring vessels and how they were used before airplanes were invented, they could hire someone with expertise on that topic. Students taking a course on a topic from someone specializing in it can benefit from more accurate and comprehensive information.

Moving Forward With Virtual Teaching

Although being thrust into virtual teaching due to the pandemic wasn’t ideal, it included valuable lessons. Educators can capitalize on the positive aspects of remote teaching to take education to the next level.

One of the many benefits of working with NMSI includes the excellent professional development resources and programs to support educators and administrators that produce better student outcomes.