What Are Disadvantages of Virtual Learning Environments?

Limited access to quality technology, poor computer literacy, social isolation and the need for self-discipline are all disadvantages or potential problems with virtual learning environments. As online courses are driven by computer technology and Internet access, a person without these capabilities has a challenge to effective learning.

While flexible scheduling is a key benefit of online learning, inability to self-schedule and regulate performance are disadvantages for some. Students who lack motivation and self-discipline typically struggle more in a virtual learning environment than in a traditional classroom. There are no teachers and peers in a position to offer regular reminders about assignments, projects and tests. Students must pace themselves and set aside ample time to complete class activities and out-of-class assignments.

Limited instructor interaction and isolation from a learning group are also disadvantages. Instructors typically attempt to communicate through email or the virtual learning tool. However, it is more difficult to ensure proper listening and understanding from a distance. Also, it takes longer for interaction and feedback through virtual tools than in a traditional face-to-face exchange. Social isolation can be challenging for students who thrive on daily interaction with peers and the informal comfort that comes with a traditional classroom setting.