One of the many ways in which digital technology is revolutionizing the world is by enabling efficient ways of acquiring new knowledge and skills. Virtual learning is the most prominent example of this. Virtual learning focuses on finding ingenious ways to transfer knowledge and remove the barriers of traditional education. This blog highlights how Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) boost knowledge exchange and are the most effective way for professionals to tackle future market insecurities.
Benefits of Virtual Learning
The various elements of VLEs can enrich online degree programs as well as traditional offline classes. Here’s how professionals benefit from virtual classes:
1. Time Management Boon
Adult learners come with a lot of responsibilities on their plate. While most of them are working professionals, some also balance familial responsibilities. Due to a lack of time, professionals are on the lookout for quick, highly retentive lessons that are easily shareable. Moreover, their busy schedules make it difficult for professionals to participate consistently in fixed online classes. Therefore, virtual classrooms become a time management boon for mature learners in the following ways:
- Introduce a balanced combination of structure and autonomy
- Generate digital collaboration as the primary means of education
- Use a digital-based curriculum that is easy to share and navigate
- Save on commute time to physical classes
2. Experiential Knowledge
Virtual learning is a central aspect of the Immersive Learning Theory—a practice to train students and professionals with digitally created simulations of real-life scenarios. For instance, there are gamified MBA programs available today that teach you all about balance sheets, accounting, and other operational facets. Such programs help learners in the following ways:
- Invite learners to an engaging, immersive experience and promote interactivity
- Encourage professionals to gain experiential knowledge by solving problems in a corresponding virtual world
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3. Broadened Worldview
Just like online learning, virtual classes also help expand professionals’ worldviews to their highest potential. Imagine the following scenario: a university course in User Experience (UX) design is held in a virtual classroom. Furthermore, apart from university students, professionals from all parts of the world are attending this course. The intellectual enrichment of such a classroom will benefit every stakeholder:
- Professionals can share deep industrial insights with young learners
- Young learners, in turn, can share their knowledge on the latest tech evolution to streamline the professionals’ knowledge base
- Active communication among peers while facing course challenges can boost interpersonal skills
- Finally, cultural diversity has the potential to breed empathy
4. Asynchronous Discussions
Professionals can access a comprehensive VLE anytime and anywhere, including digitized teacher notes, faculty presentations, and student discussions. All that is required is a virtual learning app equipped to handle the course being applied for. This essentially erases the concept of ‘missing classes’. Even more important is virtual classes promoting asynchronous learning—learners accessing course materials at different times and from different geographic regions within a period of a week or two. This is heavily beneficial for working professionals as they won’t feel productivity anxiety to participate in class discussions in real time. They can contribute to the course and collaborate according to their convenience.
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Challenges of Virtual Learning
Nothing comes without its downsides, and the same goes for virtual learning too. Here are some major challenges that professionals can face in this new learning environment:
- Technical Issues: According to a 2022 Forbes report, over 42 million Americans still lack access to the internet. So, despite immense technological evolution, virtual learning often suffers from this drawback because, unlike offline colleges, there isn’t any governing IT infrastructure ready to offer instant help.
- Demands High Self-Motivation: Mature learners belong to the traditional mold of schooling. Therefore, highly digitized environments without the physical presence of teachers can steer them away from academic deadlines. This can eventually cause them to lose motivation and hinder their progress.
- Distractions: A TeamStage report mentions that 50% of Americans feel smartphones are a major source of distraction at work. In other words, we live in a world of notifications, and virtual learning has to contend with that.
Future of Virtual Learning
A World Economic Forum report states that virtual learning will become the mainstream form of education. Furthermore, all VLE developments point toward Virtual Reality (VR). The report credits experiential learning as a driving factor for VR dominance, primarily in the corporate education sector. Moreover, personalized digital learning experiences are a dominant characteristic of alternate learning models. Thus, combining hands-on training in artificial environments with customized lessons defines the future of virtual learning.
Virtual Learning and the Job Market
Virtual learning enables futuristic education, which also influences the future of the job market. For example, virtual learning will facilitate the adoption of much-needed digital tech skills, thus shaping the future of work itself. Moreover, some experts address the concern over automation taking over human jobs with the perspective that it will reduce tasks and not replace jobs. Rather than spending time on repetitive tasks, human skills can be used to streamline the more complex operations of business environments.
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Overcoming the Skills Divide
As mentioned earlier, virtual learning will shape the future of the job market. The ongoing decade will witness massive technological deployment across industries. The requirements of the job market will evolve, leading to the increasing importance of virtual classes teaching the skills required to handle new technologies. This is a potential answer to the growing digital skills divide.
Simply put, the skills divide is the widening gap between the in-demand skills of the contemporary market and what the majority of employees can offer. Virtual learning readily offers the infrastructure to help professionals successfully adopt new technologies. Moreover, if the future of work expertise depends on how fast people develop their skills, inclusive VLEs and other blended forms of learning will play a bigger role than what they do today.
Embark on a Virtual Learning Journey with Emeritus
As is evident, virtual learning success is a two-way street. While educators should have an efficient technical support infrastructure to guide learners, professionals must also embrace new technologies. Furthermore, futuristic immersive technology will be the prime architect of a highly collaborative space for continuous learning and innovation. Therefore, to stay upskilled in the digital age, embark on a virtual learning journey with these online courses from Emeritus.
By Bishwadeep Mitra
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