A virtual campus is an online educational environment in which students can complete coursework through an established educational institution. Some schools offer students the option of attending classes on both a virtual campus or a traditional, physical campus, while other schools that offer online education operate entirely online. The features available through an online campus vary by school as well as the educational software they use to facilitate instruction. Schools that offer both classroom and online courses typically do not distinguish between virtual campus students and physical campus students in terms of academic records or the awarding of degrees and diplomas. A virtual campus may include course environments in which instructors and students can interact and submit assignments and students can pay fees and check on their accounts as well as complete other necessary administrative tasks.
Many students or those who wish to complete an educational program find that online education is a convenient and efficient way of getting the education and training that they need. A significant advantage to a virtual campus is that it is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to any student who has access to a computer and the Internet. As a result, working students or students who have significant family obligations have the ability to complete their school work as well as more mundane business with school almost entirely online.
In many cases, a virtual campus includes virtual classrooms in which students can learn directly from their instructors along with their fellow students. Depending on the software used, these virtual classrooms may offer discussion boards as well as areas in which instructors can post course materials and information about assignments. Instructors may hold live chats or web-based video seminars within the virtual classroom. In some cases, the virtual classroom may also hold various documents, including textbooks, that students need to refer to during their course.
Outside the virtual classroom, the virtual campus may offer additional services, including an online library in which students can view and possibly download books and other learning materials or request that library books and articles be sent to them through the school's library services department. The registrar may also maintain a presence on the virtual campus that can allow students to view and request their transcripts. Other offerings may include the ability to apply online to different programs as well as financial management resources, including the ability to view one's tuition bill, apply for financial aid, and even make payments using a credit card.