The Disadvantages of a Virtual Classroom

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A virtual classroom allows learning through the use of technology. "Virtual classroom" is the term often given to online or correspondence learning, because though no physical classroom exists, classroom-like teaching and learning still take place. With digital technology, virtual classrooms are popular for several reasons. However, they also have several disadvantages.

1 Lack of Socialization

An important part of physically attending school is the socialization that comes with spending time with peers, regardless of your age. Just as a drawback to home schooling is the lack of socialization for the student, learning through a virtual classroom has the same disadvantage. You may be able to learn a great deal at home and on your own schedule, but your educational experience may suffer if you're not around your fellow students.

2 Technology Issues

Technology problems are always frustrating, but if they take place when you’re in the middle of attending a virtual class, they can be extremely disruptive. A virtual classroom is only as good as the technology behind it. If the learning software doesn’t work well with your computer, or your Internet connection fails in the midst of a lesson, you may end up spending more time working with the software or repairing your connection than learning the material.

3 Lack of Structure

Though not everyone enjoys rising early and physically attending school, the structure of traditional education can be a benefit. Taking online courses through a virtual classroom requires a significant amount of self-discipline. If you can easily motivate yourself, this may not be an issue for you. But if you’re prone to procrastination and the traditional school structure works for you, you may struggle in a virtual setting.

4 No Hands-On Learning

Though some subjects are theoretical and can be taught effectively online, others require hands-on learning. Students can read about science experiments, for example, but they might not get the full experience until they conduct the experiment themselves. Many subjects do not lend themselves well to virtual classrooms because they’re best learned through physically experiencing something.

5 Difficult Interaction

Though virtual classrooms can allow students to chat with instructors and other students online, it’s not the same as standing face to face with a teacher and having her clarify a problem for you. Likewise, many people learn most effectively in a group, which is partly why group assignments are common at all levels of education. An online chat with a classmate may not be as helpful to you as discussing the subject matter around a table at lunch.

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.