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What’s the Difference Between Online and Virtualized Learning?

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May 28, 2021


In the world of distance education, there are plenty of unique ways to learn.

The Chang School offers two different formats for distance learning – online and virtualized. For both formats, students have access to D2L Brightspace, Toronto Metropolitan’s remote-learning portal. While both ways of learning are effective, they offer key differences in how you’ll interact with your course materials, instructors, and other students.

What is Online Learning?

One way to learn remotely at The Chang School is through online learning, which typically occurs in an asynchronous – or self-paced – environment.

When you log into your online learning course, you will see an overview of the course, a breakdown of the learning outcomes, and the different learning modules, all of which you can access at any time and anywhere. Your course may also include a simulation game to further your application of the knowledge and skills gained in the course.

Modules include readings and videos, interactive role play, simulations, games, self-assessment quizzes, and other multimedia materials. These are designed to actively engage you and to encourage problem solving, gathering and evaluation of evidence, and participation in collaborative activities that will allow you to reflect on what you’ve learned.

Discussion forums are also an important component of peer learning and feeling part of the online community. This also gives instructors a chance to engage with students, pose and answer questions, and moderate the discussions.

Rebecca Goldberg, who juggles work and part-time learning, completed two of our online courses last year, and she appreciated the flexibility of the format. “I find the flexibility of online learning to be helpful; you can learn at your own pace,” she notes. “As a part-time student, it helps me to be able to work on my course load on my own limited time.”

What is Virtualized Learning?

This type of learning was created when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and in-person classes could no longer be delivered. As a result, these Chang School courses closely resemble classroom learning, and they offer live video instruction, in-class discussions, and set schedules in a synchronous – or real-time – environment.

When you log into your virtualized learning course, you will see a link indicating the date and time of your next lecture. There may also be pre-recorded videos, downloadable readings, and activities and assessments available.

Robert Valela enjoyed his virtualized classroom experience when he recently completed one of our psychology courses. “My professor was excellent. Her class materials, including visuals and written copy, were high quality and integrated well with the textbook and readings,” he says. “The course layout and structure that she set up were easy to follow, which allowed me to focus on the content.”

How Do I Know Whether a Course is Online or Virtualized?

Need a reminder about the distinctions between these two different types of learning? Check out our quick reference guide.

infographic for online learning vs. virtualized learning

Infographic Transcript

Find out which online or virtualized course is right for you.