As technology continues to evolve, it introduces new ways of learning that reshape classical education. While the traditional approach to studying via real-life interaction with the teacher in the classroom has been implemented since the emergence of education, recently, it has been modified to follow digital communication trends. Virtual classrooms have been largely used in the last years as a suitable alternative to real-life education, which allows for performing learning activities while the teacher and the students remain in different locations (Benade, 2017). However, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, which should be thoroughly analyzed prior to introducing these strategies in the educational facilities. The present paper focuses on the comparison between real-life and virtual classrooms, contrasting their main features.
With the rapid growth of digital technologies and opportunities for communicating through the internet, virtual classrooms have become a beneficial addition to the classic learning options. In comparison with real-teaching, digital education can be significantly more efficient due to the simplified access to the necessary resources. While in the real classroom, students typically use books and notepads to find and record information, during virtual learning, they can use laptops to search and write information faster (Southgate et al., 2019). The variety of online resources and the multitude of navigation options available through electronic devices considerably simplify the process of locating knowledge, which increases the amount of time spent on practical activities.
Another benefit of virtual education in contrast with real-life learning is the opportunity to use interactive teaching tools to improve the students’ experience. Studies suggest that interactive learning is much more productive when integrated into the curriculum, as learners can implement more practical approaches and actively study the information rather than passively consuming it (Southgate et al., 2019). For instance, in the digital classroom, the teacher can use digital tools for the pattern blocks exercise, making it easier to create the needed pieces and increase the variety of available shapes. Other instruments that can be incorporated into the lesson are interactive writing boards, videos, presentations, and gamification tools (Benade, 2017). In the real-life classroom, however, such opportunities are much more scarce due to the need for necessary equipment and the time required to incorporate it into the lesson.
Nevertheless, there are some aspects of the real-life classroom that cannot be surpassed by its digital alternative. Given that students engaged in real-life learning constantly communicate with each other, exchanging ideas and collaborating, they receive the knowledge necessary for enhancing their social experiences and becoming proficient in peer-to-peer communication (Blume et al., 2019). By freely interacting with each other and studying other peoples’ reactions to particular events, the learners acquire the skills essential for successfully communicating with society’s members. Contrastingly, during digital learning, such opportunities are greatly decreased due to the absence of real-life interactions and the aspects of virtual communication, which makes it challenging to read and understand others’ emotions (Blume et al., 2019). Therefore, social learning becomes nearly impossible in the digital classroom, while real-life classrooms facilitate this activity.
In addition, a crucial characteristic of the real-life teaching approach that is absent in the virtual classroom is the control over the students’ behavior during the lessons. In the real-life class environment, the learners are forced to follow a set of rules that embraces discipline and teaches the individuals to comply with the requirements presented by the institution (Blume et al., 2019). Typically, the teacher manages the pupils’ behavior and can penalize the students who refuse to adapt to these demands. Nevertheless, in the digital classroom, it is extremely strenuous for the teacher to ensure that all requirements are met, as the learner may disconnect their video camera or microphone voluntarily or due to technical difficulties (Southgate et al., 2019). From this perspective, the teacher’s influence over the pupils is substantially diminished, meaning that the student’s behavior can become too challenging to manage to maintain discipline.
Nonetheless, despite the discussed contrasts between the real-life and virtual methods of learning, each of these approaches has similar aspects. As strategies aimed at educating the learners, whether young or adult, these techniques can be equally efficient at introducing new information if utilized appropriately. While both of these methods have valuable advantages and disadvantages, the limitations can be mitigated when approached strategically. As such, real-life and virtual classrooms can be extremely beneficial for the students when relevant teaching methods are used by professional teachers (Benade, 2017). Although these approaches might not be interchangeable, they could be implemented together, therefore accounting for the potential drawbacks and providing the pupils with the necessary learning experience.
To conclude, the real-life and virtual classrooms were discussed in this paper, comparing and contrasting their main characteristics. It is evident that each strategy is a unique approach to learning which can be beneficial under specific circumstances. Even though real-life classrooms might not be as efficient and interactive as digital classrooms, the latter’s lack of communication and teacher’s influence significantly undermines their potential. Therefore, each of these methods can be advantageous when implemented according to the learning environment and the students’ needs.
Benade, L. (2017). Is the classroom obsolete in the twenty-first century? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(8), 796–807. Web.
Blume, F., Göllner, R., Moeller, K., Dresler, T., Ehlis, A.-C., & Gawrilow, C. (2019). Do students learn better when seated close to the teacher? A virtual classroom study considering individual levels of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Learning and Instruction, 61, 138–147. Web.
Southgate, E., Smith, S. P., Cividino, C., Saxby, S., Kilham, J., Eather, G., Scevak, J., Summerville, D., Buchanan, R., & Bergin, C. (2019). Embedding immersive virtual reality in classrooms: Ethical, organisational and educational lessons in bridging research and practice. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 19, 19–29. Web.