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How E-Learning Can Help Students With Disabilities

By Roz, March 21, 2016
eLearning for disability

Imagine working through years of school despite a learning disability and without any additional assistance or attention compared to the rest of the class. Many people have had this experience, especially before learning disorders started becoming more visible and openly discussed.

These days, most schools have resource programs that are designed to provide support to kids who don’t absorb information on the same level or in more traditional ways. While online education software can benefit everyone for a litany of reasons, people with learning disabilities may be enabled by the technology in new ways.

 

Learning-centered benefits. 

Because people learn in different ways and at varying levels, there are naturally children who need alternative instruction. Some adjustments that can be made using online classes are the amount of time kids have to complete assignments, the depth of explanations and the degree of attention students receive. Faculty Focus highlighted some of the most striking benefits of online education such as more compassionate working relationships, the ability for instructors to adjust instruction based on the students’ needs, increase one-on-one interactions and having an open channel of communication.

Learning management systems can be used on its own or as a supplementary tool. According to the Heartland Institute, some schools have decided to create online courses for speech and language therapy. This was inspired by the lack of specialists in schools which can prevent students who struggle with comprehension or communication from working up to speed. Instruction is provided using video conferences and online student assessments. The source said assessing children with learning disabilities is time-consuming for brick-and-mortar schools. With online education assistance, students and their ability to learn aren’t restricted by the availability of local resources.

 

Social benefits. 

Education Week discussed the social implications of learning disorders that eLearning can improve. Some kids who have difficulty learning are distracted further by concerns of embarrassment. Other students might tease them if they need extra help, take longer to complete assignments or read at a lower level. The source also mentioned online education’s positive side effect of boosted self-esteem. Students can answer questions without the feeling of social pressure or risk of announcing an incorrect answer. Participation can be less stressful when the answers are only shared with a teacher.

Creating effective videos including considerations such as video length and titles, assessment methods and content versatility are other benefits on eLearning. Lectures can be broken down into short, digestible segments that students can jump to directly for reference. Practical interaction with the  material and assessment for understanding are achieved using a combination of platforms. Discussion boards, online quizzes and Dropbox for file sharing all played a part in making classes more feasible.

When the eLearning software was being developed, professionals debated several potential issues with the design. Some of the questions they asked themselves included if any of the technological aspects were too dynamic, thus distracting from the message, and if multimedia aspects would be accessible to the students with a variety of computers and Internet bandwidths. This particular program has closed captions on video scenes for improved comprehension and made graphics available at different bandwidths.

 

Final thoughts. 

The most important element of using eLearning to help students with learning disabilities is finding the right tools for the right students. Every learning disability is different and every student has different strengths and weaknesses. The benefit of using eLearning tools, whether its mobile apps or computer programs or learning management systems, is that it can be easily adapted to suit different students needs. Not only does eLearning provide more adaptability, it is appealing because it allows students with health problems, who are unable to travel to and from school, to receive an education. It allows students who do not have a specialized training instructor close to their living area to still receive their specific schooling.

The biggest challenge now is transforming traditional classroom methods to more updated and progressive approaches that in the long-term benefit not just students with learning disabilities but all students.


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