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Infographic: Evolution of Virtual Education

The success of education is dependent on evolution and adaptation. While traditional environments have worked before, one type of education that has evolved with the digital age is virtual education, which has influenced efficiency in today’s learning environments.

While most people think of virtual education as online education, virtual education is defined as any educational instruction that does not require a formal classroom environment.

In today’s world, virtual online education has made an huge impact on education and its counterparts. shared a great timeline of the evolution of virtual education and its pioneers:


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  • 1968: Seeing the potential in virtual education, the University of Alberta (Canada) offered online courses to their Department of Medicine students.1
  • 1989: One of the early pioneers in online education programs was the University of Phoenix. The first online program was offered by Phoenix in 1989.1
  • 1996: Virtual education is introduced on a global scale when Duke University provides a Global Executive M.B.A program, which is a combination of online and on-campus courses, that is available at various locations throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America.1
  • 1999: In the world of academics, accreditations are everything. Jones University, a completely web-based university, became accredited that year.1
  • 2000: The advent of virtual education created a new industry: online education technology. In 2000, the University of Texas provided a number of online classes that were launched in conjunction with, a website that housed calendars, grades, quizzes, surveys and more.1
  • 2008: Virtual education not only made students’ lives easier, but it also opened the doors for universities to increase capacity for classes. Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island saw this as an opportunity and coined the term massive open online course(s), or MOOC for short.1
  • 2012: With the development of MOOCs, different softwares started to launch that supported MOOC environments. Examples include Coursera, Udacity and edX.1

The Current State of Virtual Education

Virtual education opens a lot of doors for students, educators and businesses. Here is the current state of virtual education:

  • Due to having more control over the learning process, students have a 60% faster learning curve with eLearning.2
  • According to Britain’s Open University study, virtual education consumes an average of 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer carbon dioxide emissions per student.2
  • By providing online courses, educational institutions can increase their retention rates by 25 – 60%.2
  • In 2013 – 2014, 25 states had virtual education schools operating in them, and 29 states plus Washington, DC had “statewide, full-time online schools” operating in them.1
  • There have been over 1 million K-12 enrollments in online courses.3
  • In the US alone, there are over 3 million online-only students currently enrolled in classes. 3
  • When educators were asked if “digital resources such as classroom technology and web-based programs help my students’ academic achievement,” 44% agreed strongly and 49% agreed somewhat strongly.4
  • The technology for virtual education is continually evolving and being supported. With the abundance of available mobile apps, 74% of people are using their phones, tablets and other mobile devices for eLearning and the “types of learning technologies have doubled in the last five years.5

The Future of Virtual Education

This industry is definitely not stagnant; the growth over just the past decade is astounding. Here are some predictions for the future of virtual education:

  • According to, “75% of public higher learning institutions have online learning in their long-term plans.3
  • 98% of organizations are predicted to use eLearning as a part of the learning or training process.4
  • As virtual education continues to grow, it is predicted that 50% of all classes will be offered as online courses by 2019.4

Why Virtual Education?

Some parents and educators are still wary of virtual education. Virtual education provides students and educators a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Enables flexible schedules. Virtual schools allow students to follow a flexible learning environment that helps balance other obligations, like work, extracurriculars and family time.
  • Offers personalized education. Currently, 30% of students in the U.S. fail out of high school.6 Instead of using the “one-size-fits-all” model, virtual education can make it easier for educators to personalize learning for students, leading to a higher success and graduation rate.
  • Promotes self-discipline. Every parent wants to see their child grow up and take care of themselves. Virtual education provides students with the perfect opportunity to manage their schedules, obligations and assignments, which can prepare them for the future.
  • Allows creativity to happen anymore. When confined to the classroom, sometimes, education can hinder creative thinking. By offering online courses, it allows the student to learn in a comfortable space, which encourages creative and innovative thinking outside of a formal classroom.

Virtual schools open new doors for students, educators and parents. Achieve Virtual Education Academy is dedicated to providing personalized virtual high school education. Learn more about us and consider enrolling in our virtual education program today:

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