Understanding Virtual Classroom and the eLearning Experience

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1.Introduction

The processes by which learners learn and teachers teach are about as ever-changing as the seasons. Throughout time, pedagogical researchers have developed new methods for the educational process, but none have been quite as revolutionary or as controversial as e-learning. E-learning, often referred to as distance learning or online learning provides a platform that facilitates learning through communication without requiring a face-to-face contact in the same space and time. Optimistic commentators see a new world of an educational process: “Every learner can, at his or her own choice of time and place, access a world of multimedia material…immediately the learner is unlocked from the shackles of fixed and rigid schedules, from physical limitations…and is released into an information world which reacts to his or her own pace of learning.”[5] E-learning has, indeed, redefined education, but it has not replaced class-based learning. Teachers and schools cannot simply ignore this new technology. Rather, e-learning can be used as an interactive enhancement to the established classroom. E-Learning introduces a new term to education, as Virtual Classroom, where students will be present with their teachers and co-learners in classroom virtually. This type of physically separated but logically connected education system can be termed as “Virtual Education” where the education is independent of the time and space of the learners.

2.What is Virtual Education
Virtual education refers to instruction in a learning environment where teacher and student are separated by time or space, or both, and the teacher provides course content through the use of methods such as course management applications, multimedia resources, the Internet, and videoconferencing. Students receive the content and communicate with the teacher via the same technologies. Characteristics of virtual education:

Virtual education is a term describing online education using the Internet. This term is used in K-12 schooling, often to refer to cyber schools, and in higher education, where so-called Virtual Universities have been established. A virtual program (or a virtual course of studies) is a study program in which all courses, or at least a significant portion of the courses, are virtual courses, whether in synchronous (i.e. real time) or asynchronous (i.e. self-paced) formats. Virtual courses – a synonym is online courses – are courses delivered on the Internet. "Virtual" is used here to characterize the fact that the course is not taught in a classroom face-to-face but through some substitute mode that can be associated with classroom teaching. That means people do not have to go to the real class to learn. Both the asynchronous and synchronous methods rely heavily on self-motivation, self-discipline, and ability for effective written communication.

Although there is a long and varied history of distance education, the current intersection of technology as a means to facilitate real-time communication with community-centered interaction, and the increasing acceptance and employment of those developments in the broader culture, have positioned virtual class in a position of significant innovation and responsibility. In an educational environment in which school choice for families and students is valued, “cyber charter schools, as an outgrowth of the charter movement and the virtual school movement, represent a unique group of schools characterized by both their administrative model and their course delivery technology.” Instruction modes for virtual education:

Many virtual study programs are mainly text based, using HTML, PowerPoint, or PDF documents. Any attempt to personalize the educational experience is essential in that students respond to personal attention and feedback. Today a wide spectrum of instruction modes is available, including the following: •Virtual Classroom: Live teacher instruction and...
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