Benefits of a Virtual Learning Environment and How To Make it More Engaging

As technology continues to innovate, its applications also continue to advance. A virtual learning environment (VLE) is one example of this type of advancement. In a VLE, teachers and students can easily connect, facilitating online and hybrid learning programs that provide the flexibility some modern students need.

What Is a Virtual Learning Environment?

A virtual learning environment is an instructional platform that takes place over the internet. Students can view video-based instruction and talk to their fellow students on forums and through chat rooms. Today’s virtual learning environment often incorporates videos of the students as well, making it more interactive as teachers try to engage with their learners.


Pros and Cons to Virtual Learning

Virtual learning environments are surfacing in all types of education. Virtual learning schools are keeping school doors open when pandemics and other problems arise, and universities and colleges are embracing these virtual platforms to give students flexibility. Like all tools and technology in education, this one comes with pros and cons.

Benefits of Virtual Learning Environments

Virtual learning in schools carries several benefits, including:

  • Allowing students remote access to coursework – Students with disabilities, for example, can have an accessible education even if they can’t leave home.
  • Flexible but structured learning – With virtual learning schools, students can take some ownership over their learning, but they still benefit from having structure.
  • Health crises do not close schools – With the pandemic, educators learned how quickly a health crisis can close schools and curtail learning. Virtual learning platforms provide educators with a way to keep teaching, even if the school building is inaccessible.
  • Cost-effective learning – Parents and schools benefit from the cost value of virtual learning. They do not have to spend money on gas traveling to and from campus, and if the school is tuition-based, the tuition is often lower, not to mention the sustainability benefits virtual learning provides!
  • Immediate feedback – In an online learning environment, teachers can provide immediate feedback to students on many assignments, and this enhances the learning process.
  • Students increase their tech skills – Virtual learning in schools forces students to increase their tech skills, and those skills are important in the modern world.

With these benefits, it's no wonder so many schools are switching to remote learning or offering it alongside traditional learning. 

Potential Drawbacks of Virtual Learning Environments

Of course, any changes in education have the potential to create drawbacks. Some of the drawbacks of remote learning include:

  • Less traditional socialization
  • Easier cheating on tests
  • Limited access to technology for some families
  • Lower communication skills
  • Less motivation for some students

In spite of these potential challenges, virtual learning is here to stay, and those in leadership within education are continually striving to create virtual learning environments that are more accessible and more engaging to keep students learning.


How to Create a Virtual Learning Environment

Creating a virtual learning environment starts with finding the right platform. Many companies offer VLE platforms, but you should look for one with a measure of flexibility so your instructional team can customize the program to best meet their needs.

Some features schools will want in a VLE include:

  • Attendance and performance tracking
  • Video capabilities
  • Multiple learning platforms and formats including workshops, discussions, and video instruction
  • Ability to collect feedback from students
  • Positive reinforcement for students built into the program
  • Engagement tools to keep learners engaged in the instruction

Once you find a solution with these features, work with your solution vendor’s services team to build a unique environment for your use case. Then, invite your learners to join you on the platform, and you will be ready to start delivering instruction.


Tips for Increasing Engagement on Virtual Learning Platforms

One of the challenges of virtual learning schools is the challenge of keeping students engaged. Remote learning platforms make it easy for students to get distracted by their physical environment. Here are some tips to make your virtual learning environment more engaging for students.

1. Make It Active

Active learning engages students by facilitating interactions. You can do this virtually by holding group discussions, virtual open houses, working on case studies, quizzing students in the online environment, or solving problems together. Engaging virtual learners relies less on video lectures and more on active learning activities.

2. Use Multiple Types of Media

In a virtual learning environment, you can incorporate videos, images, 3D models, and more into your lessons. The more interactive types of media you use, the more engaged your students will be. Changing media types throughout the instructional period also prevents students from getting too distracted by their physical surroundings.

3. Use Live Instruction

Virtual learning doesn’t have to be pre-recorded. Use tools like Zoom to interact with students and provide lectures and discussions in real-time, with live responses. This also provides the opportunity for students and their friends to interact.

4. Incorporate Microlearning Modules

Attention spans will be shorter with virtual learning. Use microlearning modules to keep students engaged. These break instruction into smaller chunks that students can digest before they get distracted.

5. Reward Your Students

While you may not be able to give away candy or stickers in a virtual classroom, you still need to reward students for putting in the time and effort to do their work. Most virtual learning platforms have digital reward tags and stickers. You can also use ClassDojo to reward points that students redeem for larger prizes. Reward the entire class with a virtual field trip, or use an online game as a reward for time well spent. You can even give a student a shout-out on your school’s or classroom’s social media page for their parents to see.


Virtual Learning Environment Examples

There are many places where virtual learning environments can be beneficial. These include:

  • Online schooling for elementary and high school
  • Online college degree programs
  • Online training for businesses
  • Hybrid learning, which has some students in the classroom and some learning virtually

In each of these scenarios, having a solid platform that allows for engagement and back-and-forth interaction between the instructor and the students is vital.


Start Building Your Virtual Learning Environment Today

If you are interested in creating a virtual learning environment, consider the options with 6Connex. Our innovative training and education platform allows you to host all your educational activities, including commencement activities, in a structured online environment. 6Connex also offers virtual events platforms and hybrid event solutions, which can help schools and businesses connect more of their people to their events.

Schedule a demo today to learn more about how our online platform can help you develop online learning programs for your school, college, or business.

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