Careers & Education

What is an online classroom?

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online classroom
An example of an virtual classroom lecture conducted via laptop video conferencing.
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Beyond traditional school: what is an online classroom?

The growth of the Internet has given rise to a new form of education, that was unheard of just a decade ago. 

Distance learning programs, also known as online classrooms or virtual classrooms have been hailed as the future of education.

What is an Online Classroom and How Do Virtual Classrooms Differ from Traditional Classrooms?

What is an online classroom?  An online classroom is a virtual classroom that allows a student to log into classes via a computer.  Although online classes will typically cover the same educational material and information as traditional classes, the format and medium for class participation is entirely unique.

What is an online classroom like?  In virtual classes, students will still have lectures, but the lectures may be conducted via internet video or web cam.  Students will still be responsible for submitting assignments, but the assignments will be typed and uploaded as web documents, and not handed to a professor in person.  Students will still take exams... just not with a pencil and paper.

Online classes will still begin and end at a certain time, the difference is, students won't need to live on campus or even travel to a university lecture hall.  Instead, students will be able to communicate with an instructor through e-mail, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and instant messenger, Skype, video conferencing, streaming audio, or other interactive technology programs for education.

In 2009, a major study on online education was conducted by SRI International on Behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.  Researchers found many advantages to online education, and concluded that “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

Today, some of the most popular and widely publicized online classrooms include virtual test prep classes for the SAT, ACT, GRE, and other college or graduate school admissions tests.   Professional certification courses have also been popular virtual classes for professionals who seek to improve their qualifications without having to travel to a classroom or take time off from their day jobs.  Thousands of colleges, universities, trade schools and even high schools offer students the option of high caliber distance learning courses.  

One tremendous advantage of the online classroom is its ability to span the globe.  International students can join courses in different colleges and universities around the world.  The internet can truly help to break cultural and geographic barriers, linking students who may not have the financial resources for travel.

Today, over two-million students are enrolled in online classes, and this number is only expected to rise.  The easy accessibility, flexibility and diversity of high tech virtual education programs is truly the wave of the future. 

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