Real Learning Can’t Happen Virtually…..or Can It?



Public schools are failing. Does anyone remember that rhetoric that started in the 1990s and continued into the 21st Century? Was public education really failing, or was it just perception and how it was presented?


Today, many believe that real learning can’t happen virtually. While many students learn best while in a face-to-face classroom, there are students who actually do better in a virtual classroom. Some would argue that just because students are doing better doesn’t mean that they are really learning. To those people, I pose this question: What are you using to measure real learning? What is your definition of “real” learning? What is “fake” learning?


As the CEO of a public cyber charter school and the mother of a child who excelled both in middle school and high school and in college in a virtual learning environment, I absolutely believe that real learning can happen virtually. I also believe that the virtual learning environment is not for every student, just as the face-to-face classroom is not the best solution for every student. In fact, I propose that the best learning environment is one that provides the ideal learning experience for each student as an individual. That environment could be in-person instruction, virtual instruction, and/or a blend of both!


Let’s think about some of the best instructional strategies being implemented in face-to-face classrooms today. The use of Google Classroom, implementing a flipped classroom, or an intervention program like IXL are all platforms for virtual learning. If “real” learning cannot happen virtually, why are strategies like these in face-to-face classrooms across the nation?

“Real” learning isn’t defined by the modality; it is defined by the teacher that truly facilitates learning.

To me, “real” learning isn’t defined by the modality; it is defined by the teacher that truly facilitates learning. Teachers are ESSENTIAL to the learning process, but teaching (the act of creating an environment that allows students to learn) can happen in various ways through various modalities. Real learning CAN happen virtually! Just ask the teachers and learners at the Central PA Digital Learning Foundation(www.cpdlf.org)! Awesome teachers in the classroom create excellent environments for quality learning, regardless of whether that classroom is face-to-face or virtual.

A passionate, dedicated educator with over 20 years of educational experience, Dr. Aiko Malynda Maurer has been transforming education as a school leader for the past 10 years. First as founder and former CEO/Principal of the HOPE for Hyndman Charter School and now as the Chief Executive Officer of the Central PA Digital Learning Foundation, Dr. Maurer is leading the organization on a journey to create the Ideal Virtual Learning Experience for every learner. With experience in traditional school districts, brick and mortar charter schools, and cyber schools as both a teacher and a school leader, Dr. Maurer also networks, guides, and coaches other school leaders through the process of transforming education in their schools as the Director of Innovation, Incubation, and Development of the Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8.

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