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How Does Virtual School Work? 

 August 4, 2021

By  James Brauer

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Virtual education is a hot topic in the United States and around the world. It’s a subject that many parents are interested in but might not know what it entails. Many people have questions about how virtual schools work, what they can offer their children, and if they’re right for them. The following article will explore those topics and help answer “how does virtual school work” so you can understand more about this educational option. 

What is Virtual School?

Virtual school is an educational program that provides students with quality education via the internet.

Virtual school is snowballing in popularity, and it’s a choice that more parents are considering.

These programs aren’t for every student. Virtual learning may be more suited to those with strong self-discipline and time management skills. Many of the courses will require you to be self-motivated and responsible for how you spend your time. You must also have access to a computer or other technology devices, such as a tablet or smartphone since many classes are only available online.

Many schools offer multiple ways to connect. Some students may prefer an app for their phone or iPad to take class notes. They could also communicate with teachers from anywhere using an app. Still, others might like simply sitting in front of their desktop computer each day for instruction. Virtual learning may be a great option to help students who struggle with consistency, motivation, or their ability to keep up with homework and other assignments in a traditional classroom setting. 

What are the Types of Virtual Schools?

There are three different types of virtual schools: 

  • Full-time online programs, 
  • Blended models (some in-person learning and online interactions), and 
  • Independent study programs. 

Full-time online is just how it sounds, with students completing their entire education from the comfort of their own home without stepping foot into a traditional classroom. This can be an ideal program for those who are constantly on the go or don’t have much free time to sit down and focus solely on homework. This may not work well if you’re used to receiving regular feedback from your teachers – the way you do your best work might need to change since there’s no specific deadline for when you must finish your work. 

Blended learning combines virtual courses that are completed online with some classes that are taught in person. In this way, you can experience how an instructor teaches in person, receive direct feedback, and interact with other students in a hands-on manner. There’s also less pressure to get everything done right away, since assignments are completed online at your own pace. The only drawback is that some parents may want their children to spend more time learning how they interact with others.  

Independent study programs are similar to how their name sounds — you’re responsible for how you complete your education on your own. This may appeal to those who have a great deal of willpower and time management skills because completing work without any deadlines can be difficult if you don’t know how to find motivation for yourself. These programs are usually not affiliated with an accredited public or private school. Most often, they are part of homeschool associations.

How Does Virtual School Differ From Traditional School?

A key difference is the lack of face-to-face contact with teachers. 

Instruction and communication are generally delivered online or by phone. Some courses may ask students to upload assignments online. Others might require email communication between a student and teacher. Sometimes, video conferences will be used instead of traditional discussions. 

Another significant difference is how much time each day will be spent learning versus doing “homework.” With virtual school programs, there’s no scheduled homework time. Assignments can be completed online at a convenient time for the student based on their schedules. This is great for parents who want more of a “hands-off” approach to how their child learns. 

How Does Virtual School Work?

Is it just like regular school? 

For the most part, yes — virtual schools all require students to take courses designed for their grade level (kindergarten through high school). Online courses contain much of the same components you’d expect from the traditional classroom experience. Assignments might include an anticipatory set or activity to activate thinking. Students will be able to read and learn content from text, video, and audio. They will also be able to apply their new learning and be assessed on their overall proficiency. 

Each class has a licensed teacher who facilitates student learning. They monitor student performance and proficiency on learning standards, provide feedback and grade assignments or assessments, and provide academic supports to students in need of intervention or remediation.

One of the most significant benefits of how virtual school works is to help keep family life a little more relaxing. This can be great for families with limited schedules, particularly with no need to commute to and from a school building. 

Because students can complete their courses “any time, any place, anywhere,” there aren’t always deadlines on each assignment. This provides a student with more flexibility to complete courses at their pace.

More Personal Learning

With virtual learning, students can have access to an individualized curriculum. Students of varying academic and ability levels can complete courses at their specific readiness level. Additionally, supplemental supports can be tailored to a student based on their learning needs.

Virtual school staff can also shift approaches to match a student’s learning preference. Information can be delivered through auditory, visual, and sometimes even tactile methods. Virtual teaching practices can often increase student engagement.

Deeper Relationships And Learning

As opposed to what many people believe, virtual schools are an effective way for students to develop teamwork skills and maintain relationships.

In addition to the collaborative learning experiences, students can also participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. In some cases, other students in these clubs might reside in another part of their state or country.

Virtual schooling is a topic that many parents are interested in but are not sure how it works or if it’s right for them. It’s essential to know how virtual schools differ from traditional schools, how they work, and how they can help your family. 

To learn more about virtual schooling, visit my YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPYTKUxn-PN5eaTBlB7Wrrw

James Brauer


James Brauer, Ed.D., MBA is currently a virtual school administrator of a public online school serving students throughout the state of Iowa. Previously, Brauer served as an assistant principal and special education teacher. He is passionate about leadership and management, health and wellness, and personal development.

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