Growth of Virtual Education:
The number of K-12 students enrolling in full-time virtual and blended learning schools continues to grow, despite research suggesting that students in these programs do not perform as well as their peers in traditional settings.
Russell (2005) has argued that the principal factors that account for the growth of virtual schools include globalization, technological change, availability of information technology (IT), economic rationalism, the model provided by higher education, perceptions about traditional schools, and the vested interests of those involved in them.
The first of these factors, globalization, refers to a process in which traditional geographic boundaries are bypassed by international businesses that use IT for globally oriented companies. It is now possible for curriculum to be delivered remotely from across state and national borders. Educational administrators can purchase online units of work for their school, and parents in developed countries can sometimes choose between a traditional school and its virtual counterpart.
As IT continues to develop, there is a correspondingly increased capacity to deliver relevant curricula online. As broadband connections become more common, students will be less likely to encounter prolonged delays while Web pages load or other information is downloaded. Advances in computers and software design have led to developments such as full-motion video clips, animations, desktop videoconferencing, and online music. Collectively, what is referred to as the Internet is already very different from the simple slow-loading Web pages of the early 1990s.
Economic rationalism also drives the spread of virtual schools, because the application of economic rationalism is associated with productivity. For education, as Rutherford (1993) suggested, the collective or government provision of goods and services is a disincentive to private provision, and that deregulation and commercialization should be encouraged. Consistent with this understanding is the idea that schools, as we know them, are inefficient and should be radically changed. Perelman (1992) argued that schools are remnants of an earlier industrial era that ought to be replaced with technology.
The ways in which higher education has adopted online teaching provide an example of how online education can be accepted as an alternative. The online courses provided by universities in recent years have proliferated (Russell & Russell, 2001). As increasing numbers of parents complete an online tertiary course, there is a corresponding growth in the conceptual understanding that virtual schooling may also be a viable alternative.
Demand for Virtual Education
The global virtual education market is projected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 10.26% to reach a total market size of US $286.62 billion by 2023, increasing from US$159.52 billion in 2017. Platforms that facilitate learning through gaming are gaining popularity. Improvements in IT security and implementation of cloud based solutions has increased the adoption rate of virtual education system. As of now, people can enjoy a smooth learning experience on safe online platforms. Advancements in the field of artificial intelligence are expected to further boost the growth rate of the virtual education market. Geographically, North America leads the way for the virtual education market, owing to the high adoption rate of such technologies in the region, closely followed by Asia-Pacific which is bound to become a major market in the upcoming years.
Future of Virtual Education
1. Hybrid model
1.There will be a convergence of online and offline education model. Online course providers will work actively on providing supplementary education, such as after-school coaching, e-tutorials, internships and live projects. They will also reach out to students at offline touch points like group discussions and labs. There will be virtual classrooms where traditional offline pedagogy will be aided by digital courses on practical knowledge and soft skills.
2. Addition of new and offbeat subjects
Apart from the popular subjects like data science, cloud computing and digital marketing, the e-learning curriculum will look to offer courses in unexpected subjects such as culinary management, forensic science, cyber law, etc.
In order to make learning more interesting, competitive and rewarding for academic students and professionals, the digital courses will incorporate features such as badges, discounts and leader boards. Corporates, educational institutions and e-learning platforms will come together to co-develop content.
4. Peer-to-peer learning and profile mapping
E-learning providers will develop peer-to-peer model to establish collaborative learning between students through notes and idea sharing on a common platform. Technology such as artificial intelligence, big data, data analytics, facial recognition, etc., will be used to offer profile-based customized courses