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Can virtual learning enhance attainment and the learning experience

Acknowledgements

I, ______, would like to thank my supervisor ________ from the bottom of my heart for providing me with guidance at each step of the study. I would also like to thank my leads for assisting me with the completion of the dissertation. I am heartily thankful to all individuals that have helped me to complete this study.

Summary

VL as the main learning method is becoming more and more common in western countries. Although some researchers have questioned the use of VL in middle school students, a large number of studies have shown that VL can help students improve their academic performance to some extent.

This study compares VL with traditional learning methods and finds that VL can improve students’ academic performance to a certain extent compared with traditional learning methods. In this study, the method of secondary research is used, and effective results are obtained by summarizing and analysing existing Research. Future researchers should consider these findings so that VL learning methods can be used to improve student achievement.

Key words:

Virtual leaning, traditional leaning, attainment, learning experience

Table of Contents

Introduction. 8

Background of the research. 8

Definition. 9

Aim and objectives 10

Rationale. 10

Reason of the research. 11

Group/individual who could benefit from the research. 12

Research methodology. 12

Research question. 12

Literature review. 12

Traditional teacher-led classroom and learning experience. 12

Pedagogy. 13

Environmental factor and Intellectual factor for a learning experience in secondary pupils 15

Virtual learning and attainment of the secondary pupil in the western context 17

Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Learning Classroom.. 19

Advantages 19

Disadvantages 20

Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Learning Classroom.. 21

Advantages 21

Disadvantages 21

Learning cycle of VL. 25

Literature gap. 27

Methodology. 28

Introduction. 28

Proposition of Research Method. 28

Research Onion. 29

Research Philosophy. 29

Research Approach. 30

Research Design. 30

Research Strategy. 31

Type of Research. 31

Sources of Data Collection. 32

Data Collection Method. 32

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria. 33

Data Analysis Technique. 34

Reliability and Validity. 34

Research process 35

Summary. 35

Discussion. 35

Theme 1: Identification of How the Traditional Teacher-led (TL) Classroom Affects the Learning Environment 36

Theme 2: Improvement of Student Management and Provision of Better Guidance. 37

Theme 3: Impact of Supplementing Traditional Learning with VL on the Learning Abilities and Experiences of Secondary Pupils 39

Theme 4: Evaluation of VL from the Perspective of Teachers in Countries where VL is Blended with Traditional Learning. 43

Conclusion and Recommendations 45

References 48

Introduction

Background of the research

 

The learning experience is mainly based on the interaction between teacher and student (Wallace, 2019). To achieve a good learning experience, the learning process has to be attentive, visually rich and interactive. Besides these, the learning programme or the content need to be engaging as it enriches the whole learning experience. In the modern context, there are various learning procedures that educational institutions adopt to contribute to the enhancement of student learning such as designing attractive and beneficial learning curriculums and tailored courses suitable in the context of job industries. However, majorly they are divided into methods such as virtual learning process and traditional method of learning (Halili et al. 2018). A few number of studies in the past have associated virtual learning to be better in terms of enhancing the achievement of competency-based skills among students compared to traditional learning (Mosalanejad et al. 2012). It has been observed that in western countries, the virtual learning process has been adopted by the students massively. According to a report, the market for global online courses will reach $325 billion by 2025 (Forbes, 2020). In western countries, virtual learning is more preferable because of its numerous benefits including improved recall and attainment of learning by students, mitigating limitations associated with traditional learning such as time and space, improved collaboration and communication among tutors and students and also peer-to-peer. By contrast,in traditional teacher-led classroom methods, students have to be physically present, virtual learning learners can gain knowledge by staying at home. For this purpose, virtual learning has become an emerging trend in the education industry. For these reasons, the current research study about the findings of the performance enhancement of the student due to virtual learning will be discussed in the context of western countries. Hence, in this study, the researcher has concentrated upon whether supplementing traditional learning with VL can enhance learning attainment and learning experience of secondary education pupils.

Definition

Virtual learning is a type of learning process which is provided to the learners by utilizing technology. Virtual learning process eliminates the needs of the physical presence of the teachers and students in a classroom (Lin, 2017). Teachers perform this process by using computer software, the internet and other technological advancements. In recent days, virtual learning method is adopted in most educational institutions because this learning method allows the teachers to provide knowledge to the students as per their flexible schedule and on the other side, students also can learn according to their time by staying in the place of their interest.

Secondary education is mainly the education following the primary education which covers two stages of international classification standard of the education scale. Therefore, secondary education can be characterized as the transition of the pupils from primary education to higher education. Secondary education, therefore, refers to the second stage found traditionally in formal education. Although the definition of secondary education may vary from country to country, secondary education typically begins while students are between 11 to 13 years of age and ends typically when students are between 17 to 18 years of age (Sunley and Locke, 2010). In the context of the UK, for instance, the Education Reform Act 1988 has established a regular assessment of performance and a national curriculum for pupils whereby students between 12 and 16 years old are required by legilsation to attend secondary education institutions at which stage, the compulsory education stage is referred to as lower secondary education.

Aim and objectives

The primary aim of this research is to find out the impact of virtual learning on the performance of students and the learning environment. Along with that, the researcher has strived to assess whether blending VL within traditional learning can lead to enhanced learning experience for secondary education pupils.

From the aim of this research study, the objectives of this research have been identified which will be followed to conduct this study precisely. They are as follows:

  • To identify how does the traditional teacher-led classroom context affects the learning environment
  • To demonstrate how western culture implemented virtual learning (VL)
  • To determine the impact VL has had on the learning abilities of secondary pupils
  • To know what the teacher-view on VL in countries is where it is established

Rationale

The main issue of this study is to analyse the virtual learning experience in detail as to whether it can enhance the performance of the students or not. Apart from this, another issue of this research is to compare the learning experience of the students of the virtual method with the students of the traditional method.

This research topic has been selected because virtual learning has become more and more popular in recent times. Therefore, it influences the learning environment of the students immensely and in their performance as well. Considering the importance of virtual learning, it has been chosen to signify the learning impacts of this on the youths. Most of the western countries have adopted virtual learning processes already to improve their students’ performance. It has been observed that most pupils of secondary education are active users of the internet. Therefore, using virtual learning for the pupil of secondary education will be effective to improve the performance of the student. The main findings of the research are the impact of virtual learning on the learning environment and the performance of the students. Apart from these other findings of this study is to investigate whether virtual learning can improve the performance of the student of secondary education or not and why virtual learning can provide a better learning experience to the students.

Reason of the research

Virtual learning is preferred by most of the students and in the educational organization as well because it can provide a learning experience to the students without presenting physically in the classroom. In traditional methods of teaching, a teacher provides knowledge and instructs the students in the classroom. The main characteristic of traditional teacher-led classroom method learners gains knowledge from the recitation techniques of the teachers. In this way, the critical thinking ability of the learners cannot be developed. That is why in most of the western countries providing knowledge by the virtual medium is an emerging trend.

Comparing the virtual learning method with the traditional method, it can be said that virtual learning is more convenient for the teachers and the students also. Virtual learning allows the teachers to provide knowledge in a flexible schedule and students also get the benefit as they can gain experience from their home or the place of their choice. Hence, this learning process can provide the ultimate benefit to the students as students can gain experience from their chosen education environment then improve performance of students. That is why this research has great importance as this study will emphasize the improvement of the student’s performance because of the virtual learning process.

Group/individual who could benefit from the research

This study takes western secondary school students as the research object. By comparing with traditional teaching methods, virtual learning can bring better learning environment for students and improve their academic performance. For researchers, they can further collect data on virtual learning to provide some useful information for future research. For students, virtual learning may be a way to improve their academic performance. For teachers, it can provide a freer teaching environment.

Research methodology

In this study, the research method of secondary research will be used to summarize and synthesize existing studies. The main reason for the use of secondary research in this study is that it is difficult to collect primary data due to the prevalence of COVID-19. Therefore, secondary research is adopted in order to obtain abundant data in a short time.

Research question

  1. Pedagogy – How do young people learn and how does the traditional teacher-led classroomcontext affect this?
  2. How western culture implemented virtual learning for secondary pupils?
  3. What impact has this VL had on the performance of young people?

Literature review

Traditional teacher-led classroom and learning experience

In the context of Schwarzenberg et al. (2018), the learning experience can be depicted as a process that enables a learner or student to gain their desired learning result by human-centred or goal-oriented way. The learning process is performed in many ways from ancient times. In the context of the research work of Dong et al. (2016), traditional teaching methods can be defined as the direct interaction between teacher and students. Generally, a traditional teaching method is performed in the classroom where the teacher instructs the students by recitation techniques and students memorize their learnings. In the learning process, the learning environment plays a vital role. In the traditional learning process, there is a pre-established learning environment for the students which is the classroom (Alves et al. 2017). Classrooms can be considered as learning spaces that provide uninterrupted study to the students by minimizing the outside destruction. The traditional method of learning is also known as conventional learning as it is widely used in most of the countries from the last century.

Data Analysis and Findings

Milenković et al. (2019) depicts that traditional teaching methods have great importance to provide a good learning experience to the students. As a traditional learning method is an active learning and direct participation process of the teachers and students, therefore, it is beneficial for both teachers and students. In this learning process, students can interact with the teachers in real-time, therefore it is helpful to memorize their learning and to improve their performance (Austin et al. 2010). Apart from this with the help of the traditional learning process, students can learn several additional things beyond their syllabus as this process is performed in the classroom.

Pedagogy

In the teaching and learning process, many theories are developed by the researchers regarding the way student learn. In the view of Baerheim et al., (2020), pedagogy learning theory is one of them which describes the process of teaching. Traditional teaching method is directed as behaviourist pedagogy because in this teaching method the teacher directs all the learning. Behaviourist pedagogy theory does not allow the individual knowledge, rather it emphasizes the teaching of the same thing to all the students at a time. In this pedagogy, the teacher is the only authority, leads the classroom, and the knowledge that the students learn and the way they learn depends on the teacher, in addition, this pedagogy focuses on how the learner responds to certain stimuli. When the teacher repeats the stimulus, they can observe and manipulate the behaviour of learners (Babateen, 2011). By contrast, constructivism pedagogy focuses on the role of psychological and cognitive processes in learning. This is the student-centred way of learning. The teacher’s primary role is to facilitate learning by establishing activities that encourage a process of learning and reflection. In contrast to behaviourist pedagogy, constructivism pedagogy focuses on the individual learning of students and encourages them to reflect and think themselves while build their understanding of knowledge.

Therefore, some researchers claim that Because in the traditional teaching method use the behaviourist pedagogy, the teacher is the dominant leader in class, students have some deficiencies in the training of critical thinking ability and innovation ability in class (Barbour and Wenmoth, 2013). Therefore, teachers who adopt pedagogical theory in the teaching process should consider understanding of student. Teachers develop their own actions, teaching processes based on interests and needs of students to provide the ultimate learning experience (Thomas, 2010). It turns out that the virtual learning approach is based on both behaviourist pedagogy and constructivism pedagogy.In adopting the virtual learning approach, behaviorism can be demonstrated through video tutorials, regular feedback, and tests.Constructivism pedagogy can be reflected by customizable Learning environments, Adaptive and Personalized learning Applications.

Environmental factor and Intellectual factor for a learning experience in secondary pupils

Achieving a good learning experience depends on many factors, but among them, environmental factors are the most significant, especially for the education of the secondary pupils. Awidi et al., (2019), pointed that Surroundings of the classroom is considered as the most important environmental factor because to provide a good learning experience to the secondary pupil it is necessary to have proper teaching surroundings, otherwise, students may lose their concentration. In the case of secondary pupils, it is essential because pupils of these ages are greatly influenced by environmental factors, therefore, inappropriate surroundings can decrease their mental efficiency. Leow et al., (2016), also revealed that the classroom environment affects the learning of students. The inappropriate temperature of the learning environment also affects the learning experience of the students. Insufficient light of the classroom diverts the concentration of the pupil of secondary education.

Apart from these inappropriate layouts of the classroom, misplaced blackboard, the noise of the outside, overcrowded classroom and many are the environmental factors which are considered as the confounding variables to distract the learning of the secondary pupils.The learning environment of a student in a secondary education system can play a major role in the process of learning for a student (Barker and Gossman, 2013). In traditional teaching method, the open space in a learning environment can create a significant level of noise and temperature unsuitable for learning. Therefore, noise and temperature in a classroom can create disturbance in learning. As per the research conducted by Bluyssen et al. (2018), it is found out that among 234 sudents who were surveyed in that research, around 42% students reported that sunlight and noise in the area disrupted their attention and theirby affected the learning process. Another research conducted by Park, et al., (2017), where 120 students were surveyed first and then 20 students from the selected sample were interviewed showed that almost 50% of those students feel that sunlight and noise affected their study. As both research results of Bluyssen and Park indicate that light and noise have a certain influence on academic performance of students when using traditional learning methods, this may be related to this study.

However, in research of Bluyssen, quantitative research method is only used. Only quantitative research cannot collect more profound thoughts and views of participants. Although quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in research of Park, the research objects were only 120 middle school students from a single school in the Netherlands. The students in a single school were limited in geography, and the universality of the research results was lacking. Furthermore, now most schools in order to solve the problem of classroom lighting with high capacity of light LED lights, however it will still impact on student learning. according to Morrow (2018) illustrated that in order to ensure that students have a bright learning environment in the classroom, the use of LED lights will lead to the excessive brightness of some area of students, which will affect learning of students.Therefore, it can be stated that LED lighting is not always comfortable in the classroom. In a traditional classroom, students tend to spend a large amount of time on their day in other activities including sports and time spending in the canteen. Therefore, students need to get a comfortable environment for continuous learning. According to Byers et al. (2018), the influence of classroom environment factors on students has affected learning of students, an unfavourable environment in the classroom maybe deteriorate the academic performance of students. Moreover,other researchers also shown that The discomfort affects the process of learning significantly as most of the students are unable to focus on the learning in the unfavourable environment(Walshet al., 2017). However, it is important to note that in case of home learning environment, students face issues similar proportion of issues like disrupted by family members, friends or cousins. Moreover, the noise created in the surroundings in a home environment is much more disturbing than in the classroom environment as in the classroom environment, control from the teacher plays an important role (Barrett Jr, 2011). However, it is also important to note that in a home environment, students are able to get privacy and isolation from other activities if proper control measures are taken from parents to reduce the disturbance a student get in a home environment.

Virtual learning and attainment of the secondary pupil in the western context

AS per the view of Avelino et al. (2017), in the recent era, Virtual learning process is used massively in most educational organizations of several countries to provide a better learning experience to the pupils. In the research work of Cavanaugh et al., (2019), it has been found that the virtual learning process is adopted as part of the wider educational spectrum where every school or college has their own virtual learning portal that helps students to acquainted with the lectures they missed and important information that may have missed (Chiang, 2019). For example, in Australia, almost all the leading universities now have their own education portal. In Australia, pupils of secondary education can gain learning experience through online. This online schooling process offers a different type of course which is equivalent to the teacher-led learning process.In the current era, a highly qualified virtual education program has a more positive impact rather than traditional learning. As per the recent data released from the We Forum (2020), it is found out that more students are possible to be retained in the online classroom as the online teaching method has become useful in providing educational services to almost 1.2 billion children across 111 countries. These courses provide a rigorous curriculum and helpful teaching courses.  In the research of Kurt et al., (2017), the acceptance of virtual learning by the United Kingdom has been observed. In the process of VL, the most important benefit is the wide range of options that are witnessed by the students. In a VL platform, students can learn at any time without the restriction of time or space. The process of VL education also ensures that learning improves in a social setting which helps in an enhanced learning environment (De Smet et al. 2012). In secondary learning, concentrating on learning is an important aspect for the students. In the process of VL, students can take a break at certain times. This, in turn, increased the ability to learn in the first place. As per Wijesooriya et al. (2019), attention and concentration are significantly important in achieving learning performance.

In the view of Andritoi et al., (2018), it can be said that virtual learning is very effective to improve the performance of the pupils. By adopting the virtual learning in their education process, western countries have improved the performance of the students because virtual learning allows the students for self-paced learning but obviously from the guidance from the teachers and supervisors. Even though online learning has become flexible for students to atten as they are not required to travel to schools, loss time for preparation for the school or loss time in between reaching the school, it has become difficult for many pupils to understand the study materials (Demian and Morrice, 2012). Many recent researchers are showing that whereas certain categories of students are able to adapt to the virtual learning environment, many students are finding it difficult to understand what the teachers are saying . There are many underlying factors though the common issues to be the inability to hear clearly what the professors saying, inability to let it clarified from the peers as no peers are sitting in their side, low internet connection and of course the home environment (Dhawan, 2020). There has been the opposite findings for the students who are finding virtual learning to be more precise than traditional classroom led education system as they are finding the home environment more calm than the school environment, have good internet connection, have the family members to help them out or clarify any doubts and especially the ability to use the interent to clarify any doubts using search engines (Palvia et al., 2018). Therefore, it can be said that both the virual learning environment and the traditional classroom led environment has their own benefits which depends on the adaptation process of the virtual learning environment as well as the traditional classroom lead environment. The students who are able to adapt to the requirement of the virtual learning environment are able to do good whereas those who are not able to adapt or are unable to get the favourable parameters are unable to learn properly in the virtual learning environment (Enriquez, 2014).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Learning Classroom

Advantages

In a traditional classroom setting, learning is a functioning method. Understudies adapt rapidly in class settings. The collaboration between the pupils and the instructors are one to one that encourages understudies to effectively get familiar with the exercises conveyed by the educator (Arkorful and Abaidoo, 2015). This is the most conspicuous component of the traditional learning method. Within the traditional classroom settings, educators can provide prompt and rapid responses to the queries or concerns raised by the students (Young et al. 2014). Furthermore, the traditional learning method creates a collaborative learning environment within the classroom setting. The students can pose inquiries to their peers, co-readers and friends if they have any issue with any lessons (Ghavifekr et al. 2016). Dynamic interest is fundamental for having away from of the speculations talked about in the class settings (Graves et al. 2010). There is a decent correspondence among understudies and educators and between understudies. This is extremely basic for boosting up the certainty level of understudies.

In a classroom setting that adapts and follows the traditional face-to-face teaching and learning method, understudies can communicate with their instructors and friends up close and personally. The conventional classroom instruction frequently has more prominent accessibility of cutting-edge study programs with hands-on preparing. As opined by Al‐Qahtani and Higgins (2013), within the traditional or conventional classroom settings, students can socialise as a group which, for example, can be compared with the capacity to join societies, sororities and clubs. School grounds have numerous day by day and end of the week exercises that are free for understudies to appreciate, for example, film screenings or visitor addresses. Within a conventional learning session, youthful understudies can pick up freedom and the opportunity to plan for the future with individual capacity (Hawkins et al. 2011).

Furthermore, within the traditional classroom settings, understudies or pupil can share feedback or their opinions of the learning methods and experiences with the tutors or educators, leading to an improvement of the educators’ confidence levels (Bacos et al. 2019; Herrera et al. 2017). It means that they are able to clarify their doubts easily from the educators as well as from the peers who have already understood a concept taught in the class. Moreover, a traditional classroom teaching enables students to ask questions right in the classroom and clarify or get detailed explanation of the concepts they are unable to understand. It is not only helpful for a single student, but also for the entire classroom. This also boost the learning attitude of the students.

Disadvantages

Within the conventional learning environment, understudies are consistently reliant upon their instructors in each learning-related issue. The excess reliance on educators restricts the ability of the students to grow as learners and makes them reliant on educators. Another disadvantage of the traditional classroom led learning is that they get little time for practicing the tasks given to them, especially due to the time they have to bear for going to physical schools and returning (Journell, 2010). According to Dumford and Miller (2018), a classroom is filled with pupils with different intellectual abilities and therefore, when a teacher teach in the class, it is based on a certain criteria keeping in mind all the pupils. Still, many pupils are unable to catch what the teacher is trying to teach as it is out of their capacity or they don’t give attention to the teachers instructions. In the same way, many pupils having advanced intellectuality grasp things at the beginning and they feel bore in the rest of the session. However, these things are common in every educational setting and cannot be attributed only to the traditional classroom teaching.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Learning Classroom

Advantages

As opined by Martin et al. (2012), taking an interest in instructive online opportunities bears understudies numerous advantages that incorporate adaptability, moderateness, and comfort. In the virtual learning classrooms, students are provided with the added flexibility of scheduling their classes and learning sessions. (Radović-Marković, 2010). Students can go to their classes from home, subsequently sparing travel time and saving the parents from bearing the expenses of paying for fuel, leaving or a transport pass (Iftakhar, 2016). It shows that virtual learning is beneficial for saving time for students and giving them flexibility fo scheduling their learning process, but of course as per the timeline set by the teachers for every course or subject each day (Kim et al. 2015).

Disadvantages

Without a doubt, there are numerous incredible motivations to start online instruction; there are likewise a couple of impediments to this technique for learning. With online instruction, there are fewer chances to form social groups, as well as attend physical or extracurricular activity sessions that are sorted out in the context of the conventional instructive establishment (Lai, 2010). Understudies who are looking for a dynamic grounds public activity may pass up the opportunities for creating a collaborative learning group with their peers that go on at understudy associations and recreational focuses (Herrera, 2017). For programs that necessitate the provision of complicated and direct training, for example, medical procedure specialities in a clinical school, online training cannot be placed as an optimal learning method (Lee, 2010). It means that virtual learning method restrict many activities including the practical lessons and recreational activities that students can do in physical school is not possible in a virtual learning environment.

In addition to that, it has also been argued by Sangrà and González-Sanmamed (2010) that the use of VLE results in little to almost no face-to-face interaction of the students with the instructors or classmates which can lead to increased rates of student isolation which can consequently prevent students from establishing relationships with the instructors and classmates. Furthermore, as there is very little opportunity in virtual learning for ensuring that the students obtain real-time information and have access to direct speech by tutors pointing out the key parts of lessons, online learning sessions may involve a greater amount of assignments and reading compared to traditional learning. As argued by Ryan and Poole (2019), students that participate only in virtual learning suffer from the lack of communicational skill development. As it is not feasible for students, classmates and tutors to communicate face-to-face in online settings, it may also lead to the lack of collaboration skills among the students.  

John and Wheeler (2015) mentioned that despite the added flexibility and comfort that virtual learning classrooms offer, it is inherently difficult for students to design the learning sessions and maintain a logical flow of learning due to the lack of experience in professional teaching. The same issue persists in the case of the parents or guardians of the students unless they have an education background. Furthermore, it could be stated that the psychological consequences of virtual classrooms may vary from student to student. Whereas for one student the virtual learning method may be inherently efficient due to actual constraints pulling them back from visiting physical classrooms, it may be difficult for another student to relate with the learning environment and consequently, feel distant with the notions of education, learning and future career progression (Matzat, 2013). Another key disadvantage of virtual learning is ensuring learning equality and presenting similar opportunities for all students. A crucial learning barrier associated with virtual learning is that it occurs through the internet and the abundant resources, assignments, lecture and other learning components shared by tutors on the VL platforms require high-speed internet which many students may lack (Xu et al. 2014). This issue is especially prevalent in rural areas where it is outside the expertise of ISPs to assess whether high-speed access might be more desperately needed.

Improvement of Student Performance in Blended Learning

For the instructors, the inspiration for VLE is restricted to intelligent learning modules, joined by appraisals (Lai, 2010). Instructors have been appeared to for the most part, esteem VLs as a method for conveying learning material, declarations and appraisals to understudies (Journell, 2010). By transferring learning material and additionally utilising outside connections, they attempted to conquer the troubles of constrained time and the degree of the understudies’ experience information. By perusing the online material, the understudies are presented with the window to invigorate their insight as well as explain their misinterpretations voluntarily and space (De Smet et al. 2012). Educators, in the modern context, focus on developmental appraisals and the electronic accommodation of administrative work and thereby, countless instructors accept that they allowed the understudies the chance to improve their experience information, while they could go without much of a stretch check understudies’ work for allotting grades (Hawkins et al. 2011). The necessities of the educators inside VLs are for the most part centred around understudies dealing with their learning, and they accepted that by utilising learning modules, evaluations and declarations they could cover their instructing needs.

Through communitarian learning and developmental appraisal strategies, understudies could be ‘incited’ to draw in themselves in a progression of useful intellectual exercises, for example, cooperation and correspondence with their friends, trading thoughts/information, discussing differences, disclosing troublesome ideas to each other, defining contentions lastly defeating their course challenges, for example, evaluation techniques, foundation information and individual input (Matzat, 2013). Even though the two educators and understudies referenced that the online courses could add to understudies’ self-inspiration, understudies gave an increasingly intelligent point of view to the online courses through dynamic investment and moral duty on conversations and evaluation techniques. Elective methods of evaluating the understudies’ experience information could be bolstered in online courses by allowing them the chance to survey their essential information and abilities, set themselves up for addresses/lab meetings as well as merge the hypothesis that they had been instructed (Austin et al. 2010). Then again, educators could give understudies another learning experience through VL evaluation and conversation instruments, covering their understudies’ learning styles. For instance, one potential action could be simply the understudies’ support appraisal. Understudies could get general input on each question concerning their reaction and take an interest in a conversation board to trade sees on every self-appraisal question (Ghavifekret al. 2016).

A research by Ryan and Poole (2019) tested the performance of a total of 40 students within teaching sessions designed with virtual learning environments to assess the satisfaction, recall, as well as, engagement levels of the students compared to traditional learning environments. Compared to the didactic group of students, the students that were taught under the VL achieved higher mean scores in terms of retention of learning, as well as, recall. Additionally, compared to didactic information-based learning, the use of VLs also achieved a higher score in terms of improving student satisfaction, as well as, engagement levels. Another study by Mogus et al. (2012) identified that with the use of VL and their implementation within the learning programs of students, it was possible for the universities in terms of signficantly developing the performance of the students. The findings of Mogus et al. (2012) suggest that about 224 students among 232 students who took part in the VL sessions designed by the authors demonstrated better learning attitudes along with expressing more satisfaction associated with learning. Furthermore, it was also possible for the teachers to measure student success more efficiency through accessing the data regarding students from the system logs maintained within the VL systems. Another study by Demian and Morrice (2012) demonstrated that the implementation of VLs within secondary level education institutes significantly improved the participation of students in the learning sessions.

Learning cycle of VL

To analyse the learning experience, Kolb’s experiential learning cycle theory is widely used. According to the view of Wallace, (2019), Kolb’s learning cycle theory depicts that learning is a process of generating knowledge which is created by the transformation of the people’s experience (Mogus et al. 2012). Experiential learning is the learner’s experience from different things and the achieved learnings from them. Therefore, Kolb’s learning cycle theory enables an individual to understand the experience and to modify his behaviour as per the experience (Neyland, 2011). Kolb’s learning cycle theory is involved with four stages of learning such as concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation.

The learning experience of the pupil of secondary education can be considered based on the learning stages of Kolb’s learning cycle. Chiu et al. (2019) revealed that concrete experience is the doing stage of the Kolb’s learning cycle because this stage allows a learner to experience new things and to immerse the person in the task. In the first stage of learning cycle theory, a pupil is allowed to carry out the task assigned. In this stage, the pupils of secondary education learn new experience from the virtual learning process. Reflective observation is the second phase of Kolb’s learning cycle which is a thinking stage. In this stage, the pupils reflect on the concrete experience. In the second stage, secondary education pupils reflect that they have learnt from the virtual method (Niemi et al. 2014). This stage allows the pupils to rethink and review what has been experienced. A learner’s values, beliefs and others influence highly on this stage. Botelho et al. (2016) stated that abstract conceptualisation is the planning stage because in this phrase a learner generates new ideas and modifies the existing abstract idea which is developed based on reflective observation stages. This phase of experimental theory enables the secondary education pupils to interpret the events and makes sense of them, and in this way, this stage depicts how the planning can be done differently (Peterson, 2010).

On the other hand, in the schools of Australia, in the VL program itself, there is a facility of individual learning programs. Southgate et al. (2019) argued that the individual learning programs in the schools of Australia are for the students that need additional help. In addition, the virtual schools in the UK also have virtual heads. These people are responsible for governing the process of virtual learning in a particular school. In the Virtual learning system of Australia, different methods of assessment are considered for providing better learning opportunities. As per Walsh et al. (2017), assessment methods such as visual presentation, individual projects are considered for VL. It is unfair to compare the VL infrastructure in western countries with other countries. As per Simsek (2016), the main issue in the eastern countries to establish VL is the lack of facilities. Most of the teachers in these countries are not trained to provide VL education. In developing countries, the standard of living is substantially low compared to western countries (Psycharis et al. 2013). Therefore, only a small portion of students in the higher income group are able to avail VL. However, in the current era, even the Eastern countries are attempting to build adequate infrastructure for providing VL facilities for the students. For example, the Malaysian Ministry of Education has invested in digitisation of the education system significantly (Awang et al. 2018). In Spite of incorporating Frog virtual learning environment, the use of these facilities is significantly low.  

Literature gap

The analysis of the present literature has shown that both virtual learning and classroom learning environment has been effective for students in their learning process though the main obscacle for virtual learning are the internet connect, inability to connect with peers or do practical acivities. For the traditional method, the inability of students to get their queries clarifieid or understand teacher instructions. It mean that the researches conducted till date focused on different parameters, favourable and unfavourable environment. However, there has been little research on whether in a fully favourable environment, can virtual learning come as a winner or can be an alternative or an aid to the existing classroom led teaching method. This research would try to address this research gap through further research on this area.

Methodology

Introduction

The aim of the current research is directed towards identifying the impacts of virtual learning on the performance and learning experience of secondary pupils in comparison with the traditional classroom settings in the western context. With the development of a structural research methodology, the researcher aims to lay out a fundamental framework that can assist in the evaluation and analysis of the research objectives and in addressing the research questions (Kumar, 2019). In this section, the different tools, techniques and methods that have been adopted by the researcher and implemented in the current study have been specified and their selection has been justified. The research methodology section would assist future researchers to replicate the process of the current research and obtain similar findings.

Proposition of Research Method

As opined by Fletcher (2017), the research methodology chapter, in the context of social or academic research, allows researchers to systematically plan the methods, tools and techniques to be used within the research to carry out the different objectives and to address the different research questions logically. The methodology chapter further clarifies how the outcomes of a research study have been obtained and assists in the extraction of the outcomes from the collected data. In the current study, the researcher has implemented the secondary research methodology. The secondary research methodology endorses the evaluation of student experiences and performance improvement within the notions of virtual learning and traditional classroom learning through the comparison of existing pieces of literature, conceptual models, as well as, theoretical underpinnings presented by past scholars. The establishment of a research paradigm is associated with the development of a research model that assists the unfolding of a study with logically designed, step-by-step processes or methods (Mohajan, 2018). Hence, the researcher has implemented and followed the different layers suggested by Saunders et al. (2015), in the research onion. The research paradigm, for the current study, is based on the positivism research philosophy, the deductive research approach and the descriptive research design. Some inclusion and exclusion criteria have been maintained throughout the process of data collection to ensure utmost relevance, authenticity and validity of the assembled data.

Research Onion

The research onion developed by Saunders et al. (2015) can be best explained as a diagrammatic depiction of the different stages involved within a research methodology. As opined by Saunders et al. (YEAR), to ensure a logical flow and reasonable integrity of research, it must be ensured by the researcher that the different steps of the research are pursued only after opening or uncovering the previous layer. The researcher, for the current study, has adopted the ideas of Saunders et al. (YEAR) to perform the study and has structurally designed the research methods to ensure that all of the research steps are uncovered in a systematic sequence.

Research Philosophy

Research philosophy refers to the beliefs and values of the researchers while carrying out a study or observation. As opined by Žukauskas et al. (2018), the beliefs and values held by researchers deeply influence the research outcomes along with the way the steps of investigating, analysing and concluding research outcomes are performed by researchers. In the context of social, as well as, academic research studies, the research philosophies that can be majorly observed include realism, interpretivism and positivism. As opined by Van den Berg and Struwig (2017), with the adoption of the positivism philosophy, researchers adhere to the perception that the knowledge or information to be collected in research must be based on factual data extracted from observation and measurement, Furthermore, only factual data is perceived as reliable. The aim of the current study entails the analysis of secondary pupil’s performance improvement and learning experience in virtual learning scenarios as compared to traditional classrooms and therefore, the role of the researcher is constrained to the collection and interpretation of data in an objective and unbiased manner. Therefore, the researcher has adopted the positivism research philosophy in this case.

Research Approach

A research approach refers to how a researcher approaches the extraction or deduction of the results. As opined by Van den Berg and Struwig (2017), the research approach is defined by the direction which research commences and thereafter, follows a logical step-by-step process to reach the outcomes. There are commonly two research approaches that social and academic researchers adopt including the bottom-up and the top-bottom approaches (AKA inductive and deductive respectively). The bottom-up approach pieces several systems or topics together to develop new hypotheses whereas, the top-bottom approach breaks down a topic or system systematically to explore its sub-topics or subsystems. Since the current study focuses on first observing the concepts and theories from the previous pieces of literature presented by past scholars and then study further insight to address the research aim, the deductive approach has been adopted in this case.

Research Design

The format of research is referred to as the research design which entails each method used within the research from its commencement to presenting the data outcomes. Descriptive, exploratory and explanatory designs are the ones typically adopted by academic and social researchers. As opined by Leavy (2017), the descriptive research design allows researchers to engage in critically analysing the issues or problems raised within a study from the identification of the gaps from the literature review. In this type of research, the role of the researchers is typically constrained to the observation and measurement of collected data and not manipulate the outcomes in any manner. The aim of the current study does not necessitate the development of a new hypothesis or hypotheses but is more directed towards analysing and evaluating the authenticity of the literature, theories and concepts presented by previous scholars and thereby, the descriptive design is adopted.

Research Strategy

Research strategy refers to the method that a researcher adopts while investigating the research issue. The type of research that is being carried out by a researcher significantly influences the selection of the research strategy. Based on whether research necessitates the collection of primary or secondary data, there can be a wide range of research strategies to choose from (Johnston, 2017). The nature of the current study necessitates the collection of secondary data and thereby, the strategy adopted by the researcher is literature review wherein the findings, hypotheses, theories and concepts presented by previous scholars and researchers have been critically analysed and evaluated with the help of a thematic analysis method.

Type of Research

As mentioned previously, there are two types of research one being primary while the other one is secondary. Primary research is suitable for researchers that engage in collecting data from a first-hand perspective i.e. surveys carried out by the researchers to collect information from human respondents or performing experiments to obtain first-hand test results (Blythe et al. 2016). Secondary research, on the other hand, is suitable for researchers that aim to use data collected by others for the analysis or evaluation of a research problem or issue. In this research, the researcher has adhered to the secondary research methodology.

Sources of Data Collection

Due to the nature of the current research being secondary, the sources that have been used for data collection are secondary in nature. The use of secondary sources for data collection has allowed the researcher to avoid two key issues. Firstly, due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, it would have been quite difficult for the researcher to gather respondents and collect data through surveys and interviews. Secondly, due to the complex research issue that compares between two types of teaching methods and their impact on the learning experiences and performance of secondary pupil, the current research would have needed a huge population if a primary quantitative strategy was employed which is not possible due to time and money-related constraints. The data sources used for the research, therefore, are articles from online and peer-reviewed academic journals and databases including Elsevier, Google Scholar and university library.

Data Collection Method

Secondary data, as opined by De Block and Vis (2019), refers to data that can be availed readily by a researcher as the data has already been gathered, as well as, interpreted by previous researchers, scholars, business or government institutions in addition to a wide range of other individual or institutional bodies. In this case, the researcher has used online databases to search for peer-reviewed journal articles from libraries such as Google Scholar, library and Elsevier. Although in secondary research, the secondary type of data can be both published or unpublished, in the current case, only published data have been used to ensure data reliability and validity. The secondary sources have been used to extract both qualitative information presented by previous scholars to contrast and compare within the two different learning/teaching scenarios and their impacts to enhance the reliability and validity of the research findings even further.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

The determination of the inclusion and exclusion criteria before the commencement of the data collection allowed the researcher to develop a fundamental parameter based on which the researcher has decided which sources to include in the current research and which sources to exclude. As postulated by De Block and Vis (2019), with the pre-determination of the inclusion and exclusion criteria for selecting appropriate and relevant data sources, in the case of secondary research studies, researchers can enjoy the bonus of facilitated and rapid data collection, quick decision-making regarding the selection of the sources and reject sources that are not appropriate and relevant in the context of a specific topic. For the current study, the inclusion criteria have been based on four primary factors. Firstly, the researcher collects the data from only peer-reviewed academic journals. Secondly, the researcher has only used articles that were published on or after 2010 to ensure that the collected data is up to date as the use of technology in learning is constantly changing due to technological advancements and digital developments. Thirdly, all of the articles that are used for the thematic analysis are in English and fourthly, pertain to the western context only. The exclusion criteria, on the other hand, have been used to disregard any sources that do not meet the aforementioned criteria.

Data Analysis Technique

In the case of secondary research studies, the primordial function of an academic or social researcher is to analyse the existing pieces of literature and information gathered by others. There is a wide range of data sources to select from and depending upon the type of data selected, the data analysis technique may also vary. The current study collects secondary qualitative information to facilitate the comparison between the different learning/teaching environments and their impacts on the learning experiences and performance of secondary education pupils. Hence, the thematic analysis technique has been implemented in the current study. With the help of the thematic analysis technique, the researcher has been able to identify codes and themes from the range of selected data through a logical set of texts. with the selection of thematic analysis, the collected data can be closely examined by the researchers to determine meaningful topics, patterns, concepts, as well as, ideas that have been mentioned commonly by previous researchers and scholars (Clarke et al. 2015). Finally, the codes and themes have been described and explored textually to draw a contrast and comparison between the aforementioned notions.

Reliability and Validity

Being secondary research, the data used in the current study have been extracted from secondary sources presented by previous researchers that have investigated areas similar to the current research topic previously. Given the nature of secondary data sources, it is integral for the researcher to ensure that the collected range of data is reliable and valid to ensure that the extracted outcomes can stay true to their nature and can address the research objectives and questions with efficacy. As opined by Anney (2014), the use of reliable and valid secondary research sources can enhance the outcomes of a research study since research studies published in peer-reviewed journals are thoroughly scrutinised and reviewed before the publication takes place. Furthermore, the sources of origin of the research studies published on such platforms i.e. the authors or researchers have a fair amount of credibility being associated with reputed universities and global research institutes. The current research does not involve human participants and uses any first-hand information mitigating the chances of researcher bias and response or observation ambiguity.

Research process

Starting from March 2020, after understanding the nature and scope of the research, researchers will formally start the research by reading a lot of previous research materials, comparing and summarizing them. The first draft of LR and Methodology was completed in 8 weeks respectively, and then the draft of the study was completed in 16 weeks by constantly reading articles and revising the research, and the draft was revised every week to complete this version.

Summary

The research methodology chapter efficiently represents all of the methods, tools and techniques that have been incorporated within the current research study. Being secondary research, the current study has followed a positivism philosophy, a descriptive design and a deductive research approach. The logical step-by-step unfolding of the research onion layers has allowed the researcher to maintain a reasonable and structural flow throughout the researcher. The next chapter is the discussion that, with the adoption of the thematic analysis technique, analyses and evaluates the findings and presents the final research outcomes.

Discussion

Theme 1: Identification of How the Traditional Teacher-led (TL) Classroom Affects the Learning Environment

As opined by Kubanyiova (2015), a teacher-lead classroom is designed in a way that makes the teacher the centre of attention delivering lectures and presentations to the students. In the context of TL classrooms, the directions come from teachers who provide teaching lessons by following a syllabus that students have to conform to in order to pass a course (Escobar Urmeneta and Evnitskaya, 2014). Researching the academic achievement of teacher versus student-led discussion groups, De Volder et al. (1985) identified that compared to teacher-led discussion groups, student-led discussion groups were less efficient indicated by the fact that the latter achieved significantly lower scores on the achievement test performed. Stoeger  et al. (2014) further identified that the difference in achievement scores between student-led groups consisting of high-achieving students and teacher-led groups consisting of average-achieving students were not much different indicating the high success of student achievement in the teacher-led discussion group context. One of the key strengths of classroom learning, as pointed out by Chavez (2006), involves the face-to-face interaction that pupil have with their tutors, as well as, the classmates. Muijs and Harris (2006), in this context, posited that using the richness of verbal communication, instructors can provide additional layers of learning content on top of the written material and textbooks accessed by students learning. Subsequently, institutions that emphasise teacher-led classroom settings can enliven study materials (Ligorio and Van Veen, 2006), enhance student understanding of core learning concepts and ideas (Ligorio and Van Veen, 2006) and encourage student participation and learning (Smarkola, 2007). According to Graves (2010), within traditional classroom settings, tutors can organise the course learnings and concepts in an advanced manner leading to learning improvement, as well as, learning retention of the students. Extending further on this notion, Gagne (1985) posited that traditional teacher-led classrooms allow tutors to improve student learning and retention capacitieis through reminding students of the meaningful context of the lessons that are already available in the memory of the students. Guk and Kellogg (2007) provided a further direction on the argument by theorising that in TL environments, instructors can effectively relay the objective of specific learning sessions and lessons to the pupils either by adjunct or direct questions. As discussed before, in TL environments, the tutors are the center of attention responsible for delivering lectures and presentations to the students. In this context, posits that classroom sessions are sources for high-value information as the presentation of stimulus is one of the significant contributors to supporting the learning process of pupils and the delivery of the lectures and presentations orally allow tutors to disntinctively emphasise specific attributes and features of the lessons (i.e. core concepts, supporting concepts etc.) by variations to delivery tone and speech.

On the other hand, as criticised by Guk and Kellogg (2007), TL classrooms are highly limited channels of teaching delivery based on the fact that such classrooms are bound in terms of time and place that optimise the risk of missed communication or interaction. Keiler (2018) shaded further light on this argument indicating that traditional TL environments deliver transient messages to the pupils in the form of lectures and presentations that need to be capture in a persistent for as notes by students and absorbed in real time. Fulmer (2018) further argued that the practice among students of taking notes during the tranmission of lectures and presentations can be considered a second generation and typically low-fidelity copy of the original learning messages which, by its very nature, can limit the extent to which the learners can capture the content buried in the rich verbal medium.  

Theme 2: Implementation of VL in the context of Different Western Countries

The manner in which different countries implement virtual learning depends upon the assessment of student needs, as well as, their access to the necessary resources and learning components to ensure that the transition to virtual learning is successful. The implementation of VLE differs significantly between developing and developed nations such as Asian economies like India and Western economies like the UK and the US. The United States of America is one of the countries that have significantly developed e-learning methods which has rivalled traditional learning mediums for many courses that are relatively hard to find in physical schools. The US has the broadest e-learning sector. As study estimates, as of now, there are almost 6 million students in the US that are studying through at least one online course. Several universities in the US such as Ucla, Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley have started offering many courses through the intergration of VLE. A study conducted by Liu et al. (2010) to identify the emerging cultural differences associated with virtual learning in the context of Eastern and Western economies showed that in the US, the use of VL is focused upon sustaining consistent student improvement through ongoing and process-oriented assignments and learning curriculums. In terms of interactions and instructions passed on between students and tutors, Swan and Shea (2005) showed that to reduce issues such as social isolation, lack of communication and collaboration development, the US education system emphasises on requiring students to interact regularly with the peers during the courses through different learning components such as forums or mutual constructive feedbacks. However, the US, being a culturally independent country, focuses on the individual developments of the students rather than collaborative development.

In the United Kingdom, the focus is more on creating blended learning opportunities and experiences for the students that is enriched with the advantages of both traditional learning and virtual learning. The use of e-Learning in secondary education, the UK policy and programmes emphasise utilising e-Learning as a means of delivering fast and efficient learning as a supplement to more traditional approaches for several reasons including improved access to learning materials and information and convenience of time and place. Similar to the US, the use of VLE within the educational institutions of the UK also rely on improving the learning performance of students consistently. A great significance is placed on facilitating peer-to-peer and tutor-studnet feedback to not only allow students to improve communication and collaborative development skills but also to ensure that the collective feedback-oriented learning process contributes to the betterment of the learning attainment and experience of the pupils (Deaney et al. 2006).

Theme 3: Impact of Supplementing Traditional Learning with VL on the Learning Abilities and Experiences of Secondary Pupils

According to Raporu (2015), the incorporation of a blended virtual and traditional learning environment greatly allows instructors to positively influence student performance as web-based systems have the capacitiy to provide students and instructors with access to lessons and learning sessions anytime and anywhere. Thus, the implementation of a blended learning method can mitigate the constraint of time and place associated with traditional TL environments identified in theme 1. Hill et al. (2013) conducted a field test that showed the providing a web-enabled replay system for students for the classroom sessions can improve the access of students to a high value learning component leading to considerably positive improvement in student performance. As opined by Arbaugh (2008), a blended learning method enables students to have access to the features of the live classroom environment and easily accessible VLE component to provide the best of both worlds to the students leading to the enhancement of student performance. Sitzmann et al. (2006) opined that the classroom encounter, in the context of student learning serves an integral purpose in learning attainment and enhancement being rifed with interactions, real in experiences and enriched in context. Nevertheless, as criticised by Piccoli et al. (2001), traditional classrooms can be high cost options considering the limitation of time and place. Arbaugh and Benbunan-Finch (2006) furthered this notion arguing that the content delivered by the instructors to the students verbally in traditional classrooms can disappear instantly without the application of transcription mechanisms such as videos of the lectures or notes taken by students. However, as identified in theme 1, taking notes is a low-impact/low-value option for students to access information as recording notes provides a second generation of the original copy and thereby, is low in fidelity and involves the risk of missing important learning components. On the other hand, as supported by Sitzmann et al. (2006), recordings of tutors delivering presentations or lectures can offer high-impact and high-value options for student access enabling pupils to access the original content provided in the lecture sessions including the questions can concerns raised by other students in class and the resolutions to such issues by the tutors leading to the enhancement of learning retention. In VLEs, students are also provided with the added benefit of key-word searches and random access that improves student focus on facilitatedly seek out information that may be unclear to them (Wu et al. 2010).

As per the finding of Donkor (2013), the use of VLE within secondary learning environments can encourage independent learning among students since the mode of learning is flexible. The increased learning flexibility motivates students to learn and promotes student-tutor communication, as well as, collaborative learning with the utilisation of email, chat and forums for discussion (Allen, 2007). According to Everett (2009), the feedback provided by the tutors through the VLE platforms on the assignments submitted by students can also motivate the pupils to pursue the learnings and lessons further. Everett (2009) further posited that integrating virtual learning within traditional learning to create a blended learning method can facilitate the opportunities for practice for the students. Extending further on this construct, Chowdhry et al. (2014) posited that a blended learning method, when compared to traditional classrooms, also improve the capability of students for learning recall through the accommodation of a wide range of learning formats and materials such as textual and multimedia content. Donkor (2013) opined that the integration of VLE to supplement traditional learning can improve the emotional intelligence of students along with the classroom ambience. Donkor (2013) conducted a survey on secondary education students and instructors which revealed that VLE boosts the confidence of students in terms of learning about the different course concepts and lessons by allowing students to self-regulate the learning sessions. Bogusevschi et al. (2020), on the other hand, opined that the use of videos of lectures and presentations delivered in classroom settings can improve the efficiency of communication and thereby, promotes collaborative student-centred learning leading to better comprehension among the students of course topics and better recall. In line with the views of Bergmann and Sams (2013), the utilisation of multimedia resources in learning and teaching can improve student engagement and highten student achievement. Uploading videos on the course topics that would be studied in later classes allows students to contribute to classroom dialogue by learning about the topics beforehand and hence, improves self-confidence (Simsek, 2016). Additionally, students have more time and the convenience of choosing places where they can go through the lectures and discussions in the physical classrooms to repeat the aspects that they did not initially understand leading to improved self-awareness and increased capability of students to be prepared and engage in subsequent classroom discussions (Lyndon and Hale, 2014).

Dale and Lane (2004) investigated the use of reflective learnings within blended VLE methods which revealed that the use of forums can allow students to support each other promote the self-esteem among students whereas, constructive feedback by peers, as well as, the educators can lead to improved learning resillience. The use of VLE forums in VLE can reinforce student learning and provide them additional support that is not usually possible in physical classrooms owing to the lack of time Al-Azawei (2020). The use of specific VLE tools such as Turnitin allow tutors to grade and review student performance. This tool also allows tutors to provide students with the opportunity to improve their scores by revising submitted assignments and also encourages students to perform better as the tutors are aware of their progress. According to Chowdhry et al. (2014), opportunity for personal learning improvement for students along with tutor guidance can lead to positive learning reinforcement and improve student ambition.

As noted by Mazer et al. (2007), the incorporation of a blended learning method also offers students with the opportunity to improve mutual collaboration among the student body thereby improving peer support. Cooper (2010) extended this notion further by revealing that VLEs can endorse positive interpersonal relationships between the pupils underpinned by the opportunities within VLEs to collaborate and share resources and information. The use of forums, for instance, allows students to respond to the queries and doubts posted by other students, as well as, seek help from other students. According to Mason (2011) and Nandi et al. (2012), the opportunities to engage in discussions about the lessons and teachings with others can reinforce what students have learned leading to improved attainment of learning outcomes. A systematic literature review performed by Underwood (2009) revealed that the use of digital tools and resources in learning, when coupled with appropriate instructions and information delivery from tutors in physical classroom settings, can lead to increased interest of students in both formal and non-formal learning, as well as, their confidence in practice a school. Higgins et al. (2011) further posited that blended learning methods are enriched with digital resources and tools coupled with rife face-to-face interaction and verbal information sharing that are specifically practical for those with special educational needs and lower ability learners as the integration of a blended learning method encourages such individuals to engage in more intensive and motivated learning practices. Brevik and Davies (2016) argued that among secondary school learners that have lower literacy relatively, can be assisted with the use of digital tools with VLEs providing them with the opportunity to use online dictionaries and thesaurus to improve their subject knowledge, as well as, comprehension of topics.

Theme 4: Evaluation of VL from the Perspective of Teachers in Countries where VL is Blended with Traditional Learning

As per the findings of Ligorio and Van Veen (2006), the integration of VLEs within traditional learning methods to create a blended learning environment leads to the enhancement of the educational setting which stimulates cognitive and social skills. Limniou and Smith (2010) aimed to evaluate the value of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE – Blackboard) from the perspective of both students and tutors in an UK academic institution. The results of the study revealead the VLE was highly valued among teachers in the contexts of making announcements, delivering learning materials and conducting student performance assessments. Another research conducted by (Fuller and Söderlund, 2002)revealed that teachers associate being able to upload the learning materials, as well as, external links on the course topics with striving to mitigate the hurdles of confined time along with the background knowledge levels of the students associated with the course topics. Another study conducted by Bisol et al. (2015) revealed that in the context of the UK-based academic institutions, tutors believed that being able to access and read the online material available to the students, it was possible for the students to refresh their knowledge, as well as, clear any doubts or concerns as per their own time and space. Alves et al. (2017) associated VLEs with the enhanced ability of instructors in terms of providing students with updated information via announcement based on a semi-structural interview session with several instructors. The examples of such annoucements included informing students of the deadline for their assignments and changes in the timetables of the courses.

However, there are several negative perceptions associated with the integration of VLE to supplement traditional learning as well among tutors. Under the Ministry of Education, the Frog VLE project was introduced in 351 secondary schools in Malaysia. Kaur and Hussein (2016) investigated the preparedness of secondary educators in terms of adapting to VLE within their teaching. The results of the study showed that among the schools where the Frog VLE project was initiated, only a small percentage of teachers perceived positively that they had the necessary capabilities in implementing the teaching methods. Other researchers suggested that there are some major possible setbacks associated with the incorporation of VLE within traditional learning including the dissatisfaction of tutors associated with the requirement to develop the necessary skills and competencies for VLE (Chou and Liu, 2005), slow or inefficient internet access in locations that are not fully developed (An et al. 2008) and the significant among of time that needs to be invested in to produce and upload additional teaching materials online (Limniou and Smith, 2010). According to Yim et al. (2019), a negative perception or attitude towards VLE programs can be noticed among tutors in institutions where VLE is being implemented due to the intensified workload of the tutors. Another study aiming to assess the preparedness of tutors in adapting to a blended learning method among Australian tutors revealed that the initial training provided to tutors is often perceived as inefficient in terms of providing the tutors with clear directions associated with the indication of the next course of action after they complete their training (Austin et al. 2010). Hence, it could be stated that the reaction to VLE among tutors in countries where it is employed is mixed involving both the positive improvements and the setbacks.

Conclusion and Recommendations

From the evaluation and analysis of the themes and subthemes, it has been understood that in the context of the convention or traditional classroom settings, the control of the learning environment or atmosphere depends entirely at the hands of the tutors or the educators. In this context, the findings of the research have identified that although the traditional learning environment is effective in terms of improving student performance and attainment of the learning objectives, how these are performed entirely lay upon the tutors or the educators and students or guardians have no influence over-designing the learning structures or sessions leading to reduced flexibility, comfort, as well as, affordability in some cases. The traditional learning classrooms, when compared to virtual learning classrooms in the western context are cost and time intensive. With the implementation of the virtual learning classrooms, several previous studies have identified improved student performance, confidence and engagement in the learning sessions and activities. The findings of the current study also support the hypothesis. The findings of the current study further conclude that the implementation of a virtual learning environment encourages student participation among secondary pupils through the use of not only flexible but also interactive lessons that allow young adolescents to be interested in the curriculums.thus,improving academic performance of students. It further contributes towards enhancing the decision-making skills of the students with guidance from the supervisors or educators that enhance their academic skills, qualities and talents contributing to positive future progression.

The secondary research methodology used within the current research, in conjunction with the implemented thematic analysis technique strengthened the outcomes of the study along with improving the reliability, as well as, the validity of data as the information collected was solely taken from peer-reviewed academic journals searched through online databases and the final selection of the sources was based on the predetermined exclusion and inclusion criteria. The research outcomes were further strengthened due to the exclusion and inclusion criteria being specifically designed towards maintaining utmost relevance and authenticity of the sources to the topic of the current research.

Despite the aforementioned strengths, there are a few limitations of this study that future researchers may consider while investigating similar research areas. Firstly, it could be stated that the environment of technology use in the context of classroom settings are frequently changing due to the rapid advancement and growth in digital technologies that are compatible with the requirements of the modern learning environment. The use of a primary quantitative or qualitative research method or a mixed research method would have further consolidated the research outcomes and could assist in the generalisation of the outcomes in the western context due to the first-hand participation of educators and students that have the first-hand experience of both traditional and virtual learning classrooms. Furthermore, the use of a quantitative methodology, in combination with the qualitative methodology, would have facilitated better data triangulation to further ensure the authenticity of the correlations between the different variables addressed within the research.

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