Virtual Learning: conceptualization, modalities and challenges

in #steemiteducation3 years ago


Background Image Source: Pixabay

We live in a society that is transformed daily into a constant and natural search for global evolution, each advance in the different areas of knowledge represents the need of the human being to improve their quality of life and the conditions of existence on the planet. The technological field is one of the fields that is reinvented at rates of greater acceleration, occupying an important role in the daily life of people, who every day are more integrated with them, to the point of considering them a necessity, as long as they help to be in tune with the dynamic interrelationships and activities of the global society.

As you can see, technology has become a transversal axis of the daily life of human beings in different environments of action, adapting and responding to them depending on the characteristics and needs of each one. In the educational case, we have observed as little by little the computer (in principle as a pioneer device among other artifacts) began to be part of the different activities of the educational actors, as support in the aspects of work, research and communications. In this sense, the existence of the internet articulated with these devices has allowed both educators and students to have access to their peers from other latitudes, as well as a great amount of information that has strengthened the academic processes and educational research fundamentally.

Gradually, as these devices evolve with better features in terms of processing and storage, while others in different formats such as Tablets and Smartphones come to the fore. the interaction and forms of integration between teachers and students is transformed and evolves to more advanced forms of mediation of educational processes, of course, this is not only done by the devices, while we have also observed how forms of online interaction have been reinvented giving a great leap from the field of emails to new and more interactive and accelerated scenarios represented by social networks and smart or hybrid platforms, which have significantly changed the way individuals relate.


Source: Pixabay

Now, it is difficult at present to deny the great utility that technology has in the teaching and learning scenarios, to such an extent that it is already commonplace to talk about concepts such as Virtual Education, of which it is said that

It is not a modality better or worse than face-to-face education, it is a different way of assuming the learning process, even both are modalities that can be complemented Source in spanish

However, despite clarifying that it is not an educational way that seeks to displace direct human interaction, but rather as a form of support, integration and complementarity of processes, there is a population that despite recognizing the role of technology does not give relevance to his work, dismissing the seriousness and credibility of it, affirming in some cases that the only thing that can be weighted to the student is what he does in person because he considers it "real" compared to the activities that they are done in virtual environments. These arguments, among others, are nothing more than the clear manifestation of the resistance to change of many that could be called in the process of transition towards digital immigration, even a few that can be called digital immigrants as such. Before some of these arguments are raised in response concepts such as: Virtual Reality, Virtual Presence, in the search to reaffirm that the fact that two people or more who are in different places, connect and interact by devices electronic, does not mean that they are not present, while human beings are connected.


Source: Pixabay

Both in the educational field and in the rest, it can be perceived that the technological issue is highly critical with people in favor and some against, debates that focus on the advantages, disadvantages, humanistic utility and even concerning the deontological aspect (ethical). However, while the discussions progress (very necessary to achieve a scenario of global acceptance) so do the forms and modalities through which educational mediation can be made with these innovations, mainly pointing towards three great perspectives that are not mutually exclusive, which they constitute the present and probably the immediate future of Virtual Learning: **e-learning, b-learning and m-learning **. Below is a summary of each of them.

  • E-learning: Distance Learning

This modality of virtual learning is based on the articulation between the computer and the web, integrating the most optimal characteristics in order to guarantee quality training for students, regardless of the place and time in which they connect. The meetings between professors and apprentices can be given synchronously (in real time) or asynchronously, in the second case the connection is more flexible for the period of time established by the teacher. The facilitators make use of different resources and activities that can be housed in integrated or hybrid platforms depending on the choice and planned educational planning. To guarantee the success of this modality, there must be a high commitment of the learning partners, on the one hand, on the other, the parties must have a computer with Internet access, which must be stable to guarantee the correct execution of the program. the educational routines that are presented. There is the possibility that access to computer labs can be accessed either in educational centers or in the communities in which the educational actors live.

  • B-learning: Mixed Learning

Also known as Blended Learning or Bimodal or Mixed Education, this learning modality integrates the alternatives of face-to-face and distance learning through educational planning that is generally based on the facilitation of theories in the virtual field (reading and reflection materials) / virtual educational materials designed by educators) and tutorials or practices in face-to-face scenarios, although it is flexible and depending on the area of knowledge other alternatives can be proposed according to the teachers' experience. The virtual meetings have the characteristics of e-learning while the face-to-face meetings will be given according to the selection of learning strategies that are considered appropriate and suitable. At present, there is a diversity of virtual platforms that facilitate the interaction of educational processes adapting to the needs of those involved and that effectively support what will eventually be reinforced in face-to-face moments. They have the most outstanding characteristics of flexibility, ease of integration with other platforms or networks and above all, are intuitive and easy to use for those users who do not have much experience in the referred environments, that is, they have a minimalist interface which guarantees easy access to different options, action buttons and menus, among others. For the educative population that shows some resistance to the technology but at the same time knows that it can not obviate them from their practices at present, this modality has had a lot of acceptance.

  • M-learning: Mobile Learning

One of the main opportunities that the current context has has to do with the fact that computers are no longer the only device for interaction on the web, and despite the fact that it has not stopped evolving, being on the market PCs with potential features, you must now share the scenario of the devices with Smartphones and Tablets. These media have occupied a great importance in the technological world, since they allow access to the internet and the contents that are shared practically in real time as long as there is a permanent connection. On these abound online information, the interesting thing is that with your arrival it is no longer enough to think about applications only so that they can be visualized in computers, but you should think about accessing them through those devices categorized as mobile


Source: Pixabay

In the educational field, these possibilities represent a great opportunity for interconnection between teachers and students in real time, so we see how, for example, an educator uploads a content to the educational environment and at the same moment the students receive the notification to be visualized in that moment or when it deems convenient. The communication through applications known as multiplatform (due to the possibility of accessing them through any device) is greatly strengthened, which generates a powerful attraction in view of the constant need for teachers and students to be in contact. The devices and mobile platforms have in a certain way allowed to increase the degree of acceptance that could have the actors that could eventually still resist the change. They support learning either remotely or mixed, as they approach and even make daily the reception of the different contents and knowledge shared in virtual environments.

In general, given the possibilities of enhancing educational processes in the global society, they are assumed in the scenarios of ONU y la UNESCO to promote with greater zeal the use of technologies in educational scenarios, in this sense, in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, specifically in SDG 4: Quality Education and in subsequent documents emanating from it, strategic political, economic and social lines are considered in order to guarantee such an incursion effectively. Of course, it is known that there are many weaknesses and threats that would be generating impediments, especially in regard to the economic, because effective implementation of a Quality Virtual Learning implies that different actors can have access in the first place to the high-level operational devices required for this purpose and secondly, stable internet connectivity and fast navigation, especially in relation to the loading and unloading of audiovisual content. As I pointed out earlier, in order to achieve these goals, a great commitment is needed, not only from teachers and students, but also from the governments of the world.


“Technology and social networks have brought power to people” - Marcos McKinnon

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of taking children to work together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important” - Bill Gates

“The human spirit must dominate before technology” - Albert Einstein


Sources consulted

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Sources of Thoughts

All the separators and banners in this article are self-created, designed in the Microsoft Powerpoint 2013 presentation editor, adjusted and cut in Paint. The academic support images are taken from Pixabay (Public Domain), the cover image is edited in the Microsoft Powerpoint 2013 presentation editor, adjusted and cropped in Paint by @reinaseq.


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