Virtual classrooms may well be the wave of the future. Virtual education, sometimes called distance learning, has the potential to provide students with a richer and more engaging educational experience than do traditional brick and mortar schools. But the same issues of quality and effectiveness that have always been present in the classroom are also present in online learning.
Distance education has existed since before the advent of the Internet, but the Internet is allowing it to come into its own; it is simply one more application of the technology that has revolutionized so many areas of modern life in the last two decades. Distance or online learning is not confined to primary and secondary schools. It is also used in higher education, in corporate training, and in continuing and professional training. Internet technologies are proving to be an ideal way of providing information and training to people who are either geographically dispersed, or who for some reason are unable to take advantage of in-person learning opportunities.
Virtual education is generally defined as that which takes place regardless of location, and which uses the Internet to deliver educational materials to the student. The definition is a little fuzzy and susceptible to more than one interpretation by different groups and in different contexts.
To Gareth Pooleon, it is the online education provided to students through the Oregon Connections Academy, or ORCA. He has been the K-12 Lead Principal at ORCA since 2014, where he manages the implementation of the school’s proven and challenging curriculum, which features instruction from state-certified teachers who have experience in online education.