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Virtual classrooms coming soon to a computer near you consult your local teacher for instructions John Wallins article Web-Based Education Coming of Age refers primarily to the prospect of on-line astronomy courses but the pitfalls and advantages he discusses can be applied to on-line classes of every discipline Wallin likens the current technology revolution and the changes it will bring about to the world as it was in the 15th century when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type and education became possible for a wider population The major change now he claims is that information is so readily available that people are going to become directors of their own learning Wallin mentions details that should be considered however before a person decides to pursue knowledge by the on-line method The problems he enumerates range from identifying learning styles to technical problems with the computer and compatibility Each of the issues he raises is a valid consideration for any educator hoping to integrate technology into the classroom One of the factors Wallin describes is student motivation He believes student motivation to be most important as the student will need to drive him or her self to connect with the class Some students tend to feel very isolated in online classes Students also tend to put off assignments and therefore fall behind without a human instructor to face after missing a deadline When the technology itself presents problems a students willingness to solve those problems is also a factor An unmotivated student could simply give up when the network goes down software crashes or the hard drive fails Teachers of the future must keep these factors in mind as they begin to reconceptualize their classrooms Creating virtual classrooms which will challenge students maintain their interest and allow for flexible scheduling is the wave of the future Having the time and the creativity to put these classrooms together is the challenge that lies before us Wallins article raises
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