Virtual Classroom (VC) learning approaches have recently drawn considerable attention because they have the potential to encourage student engagement to ensure active and collaborative learning. Although research on online learning has gained visibility in recent times, VC learning has not received notable attention, especially in Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study examines students’ perception and experience of VC in a university in UAE during the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of its necessity and helpfulness. This research also examines the situational pressure of VC and aims to explain the reasons for its desirability and inevitability. As a current learning space beyond the conventional face-to-face classroom learning, VC learning is available in various forms and quality depending on creating opportunities for the learners’ participation. However, there are issues with VC practice too. Our analysis of survey data ( N = 334) leads to portraying autonomous learning freedom in different learning environments in VC. We argue that students may resort to VC not because of its proven effectiveness but because of the necessity to continue addressing their learning needs. This study contributes to the general understanding of the online and traditional in-person classroom learning and virtual learning resources in the teaching of English as a globally desired language.