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What is Distance Learning?

If you aren’t familiar with distance learning, then the idea of attending classes online can be daunting. What you should know is that virtual classrooms are relatively easy to navigate and contain all of the resources you need to complete your degree on time and efficiently.

A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that contains all course materials. Virtual classrooms usually include email and chat rooms, so you can talk to your classmates and instructor just like you would in a real classroom. Virtual classrooms are an easier and more convenient way to attend classes, you can choose when to attend and you can complete the course from the comfort of your own home.

When you log in, you are taken to a landing page where your instructor can post announcements for all students to see. There is usually a section containing links to all the different pages of the virtual classroom, including lectures, assignments, tests, links, and contact information. It is a good idea to go through the virtual classroom tutorial before starting a course to get a feel for how the technology works.

A virtual classroom is part of a learning management system, or LMS. The LMS is the software that delivers and maintains the virtual classroom. Some of the most common LMS’s that colleges use are Blackboard, Moodle, and WebCT. These software programs are essential to the existence of online classes.

The LMS is designed to be easy to use and has many features that weren’t available before. The instructor can create a dynamic course without having to learn web design skills. This technology has opened up the number of courses available to students over the internet and revolutionized the education industry.

There are many arguments for and against the use of virtual classrooms for instruction. Some of the benefits include:

  • Completion of the course at your own pace
  • You can attend classes from anywhere; all you need is an internet connection
  • You can have a full-time job and still have time to attend classes
  • You will have more time to enjoy the things you like to do

The arguments against online classes generally involve the asynchronous communication between the class and instructor. This means that there is no simultaneous interaction between the instructor and students, instead communication is through the posting of messages, which take time to reply to. However, almost all LMS programs have the chat room feature, which allows students to interact with each other and the instructor as if they were all physically in the same room. Some instructors require that the class get together in the chat room of their course at a specific time once a week to discuss lesson materials. This provides the same kind of interaction that the students would get in a typical classroom session of the course.

The advantages of online education are so numerous that it is impossible to list them all. The most important thing to remember is that distance learning can open up many opportunities that weren’t available to you before. You can earn your degree and advance your career all from the comfort of your own home in less time than ever before.

Related Distance Learning Articles from eLearnPortal
Distance Learning Replaces Travel Time with Family Time
How Technology Makes All the Difference in Distance Learning

Article References for “How Do Virtual Classrooms Work?”
Google Definition: “Virtual Classroom.” http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=cW2&defl=en&q=define:Virtual+Classroom&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title
Wikipedia. Keyword: “Virtual Education”
Wang, Alvin Y., Newlin, Michael H. “Online Lectures: Benefits for the Virtual Classroom.” T.H.E. Journal. http://www.thejournal.com/articles/15513

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