Is Online Learning a Good Fit?
Taking an online course is sometimes an ideal solution for CTY students with disabilities as it may allow them to cater their learning experiences to their individual strengths. However, it is important to realize that while the structure of an online course may eliminate the need for many typical classroom accommodations, the environment may also create a unique set of needed accommodations. As you consider online courses, please think about the questions and potential stumbling points outlined below in order to best discuss your concerns with CTY Disability Services.
Potential Roadblocks in Online Courses:
- Extensive reading: Because online courses typically do not have "face time" with the instructor, students are usually expected to read an extensive amount of material to acquire the information needed to complete course assignments. While some courses also have video components, students should be prepared to do more reading than is generally expected in a brick and mortar classroom.
- No face-to-face time with instructor: Unlike a face-to-face classroom, online students often do not have a “live” instructor who is available to answer questions when the student is reading and completing assignments. While students are assigned instructors to answer questions and clarify information, students may need to wait for a response via email or may need to schedule a time to communicate by telephone or whiteboard. In addition, instructor feedback is often emailed or posted in online classrooms rather than delivered through the conversation that takes place in a face-to-face classroom.
- Timed exams: Most online courses have individually paced components that allow students to work on assignments on their own schedule. However, many courses do have timed exams in which the time limit is controlled by the computer or a written expectation. In addition, there are often deadlines to ensure a student is keeping pace to complete the course on time.
- Timing of any synchronous components: Occasionally courses may include student participation in a chat room or whiteboard discussion with the instructor and other students. Some students find it difficult to manage these synchronous communications.
- Integration of assistive technology with course management system: Students who use assistive technology often need to learn how to integrate this technology with any course management systems.
- Video/audio components and captions/transcripts: Students need to discuss their needs for captions or transcripts before a course begins. Most courses include transcripts for videos by default.
Questions for Parents
- How strong are the student’s time management skills?
- How does the student respond when clarification is needed and no one is immediately available to answer a question?
- What are the student’s organizational skills?
- How does the student feel about limited social interaction with instructors and other classmates?
- How much time does the student need to read and process written information?
- Is there someone “live” who will be available to help the student with content, organization, and/or time management when the online instructor is not available?
- Are there any accommodations or supports the student would benefit from to help overcome the barriers outlined in the previous section?
Questions for Students
- How well do I manage my time?
- Do I understand that online courses may take more rather than less time than courses given in brick and mortar classrooms with instructors present?
- Does my disability affect my ability to process and comprehend written information?
- Do I have access to and do I know how to use the assistive technology needed for me to complete the course successfully?
- How comfortable am I with computers and technology?
- Do I have realistic expectations of what is involved in online study?
- Are there any accommodations or supports I would benefit from to help overcome the barriers outlined in the previous section?