Virtual Learning

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Virtual Learning

Virtual learning has become an integral part of our educational system. Virtual learning can aid in

  • Increasing student engagement and choice,
  • Supporting personalized learning experiences for students, and
  • Increasing equity in access to high quality learning experiences.

Virtual learning programs offer flexibility to students while providing instruction aligned with the Standards of Learning. A number of Virginia school divisions provide opportunities for their students to take online courses as a part of their regular course offerings.

Virtual Teaching & Learning Hub

Virtual Virginia

Virtual Virginia website screenshotAs a program of the Virginia Department of Education, Virtual Virginia (VVA) offers online Advanced Placement (AP), world language, core academic, and elective courses to students throughout the Commonwealth. Virtual Virginia is designed to meet the needs of students who otherwise would be unable to take these courses due to a lack of availability or scheduling conflicts within their school. Eligible students enroll in Virtual Virginia through their local schools. Visit Virtual Virginia for details about the program, including the course catalog, school registration information and more.

Multi-Division Online Provider Program (MOP)

Youth hand using a computer mouseThe 2010 General Assembly directed the Board of Education to establish criteria for the approval of virtual school programs that provide instruction to students in multiple school divisions. The criteria and processes approved by the board in November 2010 provide flexibility for diverse learners and ensure that instruction provided by multi-division online providers is aligned with state standards and provided by highly qualified teachers. More about the Multi-division Online Provider Program.

Virtual Learning Advisory Committee

Four adults meeting at a tableThe 2014 General Assembly directed VDOE to establish the Virtual Learning Advisory Committee (VLAC).


Digital Devices in the Classroom: Health and Safety Guidelines

Smiling elementary student working on laptop in classroomIn January 2020, Virginia legislators passed House Bill 817 requiring the Department of Education (VDOE), in collaboration with the Department of Health and medical professional societies, to develop health and safety guidelines related to the use of digital devices in the classroom. The VDOE convened a Digital Devices in the Classroom Workgroup to develop guidelines.

The Digital Devices in the Classroom: Health and Safety Guidelines document (Word) address digital device use for different age ranges and developmental levels, the amount of time spent on digital devices in the classroom and for homework, appropriate break frequency from the use of digital devices, physical positioning of digital devices in the classroom, and recommended training to ensure best practices.

The Digital Devices in the Classroom: Health and Safety Guidelines infographic (PDF) includes three major focus areas to help support teaching and learning within these online models and include recommended training for school personnel.

  • Devices and use of in the PreK-12 classroom
  • Screen time, frequency and breaks
  • Ergonomics and posture

Virtual Education in Virginia: A Collection of Supports & Resources

Virtual Education SupportsThe Virtual Education in Virginia: A Collection of Supports & Resources (PDF) provides support for Virginia school divisions with implementation and administration of successful virtual education programs. Virtual education is an instructional practice that uses digital technology to strengthen students' learning experience and improve educational outcomes. While virtual education utilizes digital technology, it relies on teacher facilitation to help students apply their learning in meaningful ways. The teacher uses various digital tools and practices, including instructional content, rich media, interactions (discussion boards, messaging, video communication, etc.), data and assessment systems, and feedback systems to receive timely and rich data used to guide learning tailored to individual student needs.

The Virginia Department of Education holds the following core beliefs about Virtual Education:

  • Virtual education involves a partnership between schools and families to make learning achievable for all students.
  • Best practices for virtual education include a balance of virtual education with other offline opportunities for learning and feedback. It is not simply hours of screen time for teachers, parents, and students every day.
  • Divisions should collaborate to implement a few high-quality, intuitive solutions for communication lines, teaching and learning, and student support.
  • A daily routine of learning is valuable for overall success.
  • Virtual education may not replicate a traditional “school day” at home but instead allows for alternative and innovative instructional strategies.
  • Equity of resources should continue to be a significant priority for divisions.
  • Critical factors for consideration are flexibility and providing information/instruction in a variety of ways.
  • When implemented thoughtfully, technology can open doors and break down barriers for students and adults of all needs.
  • Student privacy is a top priority.
  • Maintaining effective communication between teachers, students, and families is a priority.