Virtual Campuses: How School Has Gone Online

This post is from our series on Virtual students and how school has become more and more online.  See our other posts from the Virtual Student series here.

My freshman year at Emory was the first year of Facebook.  I also picked my roommate on a social network, selected my classes on my laptop and attended the virtual club fair before the actual club fair.  I think every year school is going more and more online. I wanted to write a post about virtual campus as it relates to middle school, high school and college students for parents to get a small view into how campus is changing.

1) Virtual Bulletin Board


Many schools are using online systems like Learnlink (see video) and OPUS.  These sites allow users to not only go to the website, or heaven forbid an actual bulletin board on campus for announcements, but can log into their desktop to get bulletins tailored for them.  Everything for the net-generation is personalized.  Most students are receiving virtual dashboards where they can message teachers, friends, see events and announcements on everything from clubs to student council initiatives.

2) Virtual Office Hours

More and more teachers are holding virtual office hours using Skype or iChat.  They tell their students they will be on webcam for certain hours of specific days of the week and students can call in to ask a question.  They can also use Skypes free screen sharing software so teachers can work on problems from their computer.  They can also use the virtual academic websites to ask questions and teach over the  web.

7 Academic Websites

3) Virtual Drop Box

Deadlines are now online.  I wrote a post about emailing teachers.


Deadlines are now 12am instead of ‘class on Thursday’ and we are seeing more classes going paperless.

5) Virtual Classroom [link]

Blackboard, Nings, Wikis and other social networks are being used inside and outside the classroom for teaching, teacher to student interaction and student to student interaction.  Can crowdsourcing (or maybe classourcing) be used to review sheets, homework and study guides—yes!

6) Virtual Recess [Link]

Not only are students hanging out online in class, for homework and to learn they are also hanging out online outside of class.  Club meetings are held via webcam, I surfed my potential roommates likes and dislikes before I ever met them and knew she went to an all-girls school, loved yogurt and hated sports without having to ask.

I hope this post can just start to shift the way adults, teachers and parents think about how students go to school.  This is ok, there are some downsides (less face to face, easier to plagiarize, more miscommunications) but there are many upsides (can learn in creative ways, have access to more learning portals and options and school can be more exciting.)

Challenge: Sit down with your kids and go through an average day at school.  Have them list all of the virtual things they do and then tell them what YOUR version of that activity was when you were in school.  You will learn about what it is like to go to school now, they will get some perspective on how things have changed and you will bond!

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