The academic world was moving slowly toward a future of online classes until recently. After the 2020 global pandemic, the majority of schools urgently implemented virtual learning. Teachers did their best to replicate the classroom atmosphere even as students all logged in from isolation.

The necessity of virtual classrooms ultimately led to a debate over whether online learning is helpful or harmful to students’ overall education. Schools across the country, including some of the very best Utah high schools, are weighing their options when it comes to virtual or in-person learning.

As the pandemic cautions become the ‘new normal’ for citizens worldwide, could online schooling become the future of education?

The Rise of Virtual Learning

The 2020 pandemic didn’t create online learning. Many colleges offered select virtual classes or online-only degrees. However, the infrastructure for widespread online learning wasn’t there and is still developing.

Video conferencing software was and still is, used for remote work and online learning. But there are still connection issues that can make it difficult for large groups to use the software at the same time.

Many classrooms around the country have returned to in-person classes. Looking toward the future, what are some of the pros and cons of online schooling?

Advantages of Remote Learning

Children and teenagers of all education levels had already used computers in the classroom for years before the pandemic. So, it wasn’t a huge leap for them to switch to virtual learning.

While in-person learning is once again the norm, schools could return to remote learning in the future. Some of the advantages of online learning include:

Miss Class? No Problem

It used to be impossible to catch up on a day’s schoolwork if you were absent from class. With online learning, most lessons are recorded or otherwise documented. Students who miss class are no longer left behind, making it easier to keep their grades up.

Log On From Anywhere

One of the best things about online learning – or working remotely – is that you can log on virtually anywhere. No matter how far you live from the school, online learning ensures students will get to class.

Learning Material Always Available

One of the most difficult parts of in-person learning is lugging all your books to each class for the whole day. Many schools are doing away with physical books in place of online documents. That means students can continue doing their work and will no longer have to worry about forgetting to bring their book home or to class.

Students Learn at Their Own Pace

In-person learning is fast-paced, and many students end up falling behind. Virtual learning allows students to complete the assignments and readings at their own pace while still meeting the set deadlines.

Disadvantages of Remote Learning

Remote learning has many positives and drawbacks that schools must resolve before going completely virtual.

Lack of Personal Interaction

The global pandemic was difficult for school-age children who didn’t get the social interaction that in-person schools provide. There are quite a few studies that not having the social interaction at school and being on the screen for long hours has negatively and inequitably affected children’s mental health.

Not Everyone Has Internet Access

Online learning allows people to log on from anywhere, but not everyone has a home computer or internet access. Online schools can’t become the future if all students don’t have access to the necessary equipment.

Difficulty Learning On Your Own

Not everyone learns best by reading information. Many people are auditory learners, meaning that they process and retain information better when they hear it.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that over 65% of teenagers prefer in-person learning over online schooling.

Virtual learning has its benefits, but it doesn’t appear that schools are ready to become solely online just yet.