Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard
Students who have special needs may wonder whether distance learning is for them. Will it make their learning easier or make it more difficult? For some special needs students, distance learning courses may have some factors built in which are beneficial for them.
1. Distance learning courses give access to classes from around the world from the studentís own home. This can be a real advantage to students with limited mobility.
2. Those who find it stressful to spend a whole day in a classroom every day, can instead access the learning materials at their own pace in the comfort of their home.
3. Students who have difficulty concentrating in a busy environment can learn in a much less distracting area in their home. However, this needs to be well planned. Sometimes home environments can be more distracting because of a lack of space or the presence of family members.
4. Sometimes students with visual disabilities already have programs set up on their own computer to enlarge text or for the text to be converted into speech. This can make it easier for them to study by distance using that computer.
5. Gifted students are able to take more courses than are offered at their regular school. They are self-motivated students and can then work at their own pace to study the subjects that interest them sometimes in addition to regular subjects and sometimes instead of regular courses in their classroom.
6. In distance learning all the materials are available for you to review as many times as necessary for you and whenever it is most convenient for you.
These factors can be advantages for some students who have special needs. However, for others with special needs these may be disadvantages. All students need to consider the advantages and the disadvantages of distance learning to determine if online programs or courses are right for them. One still needs to be a well organized person and able to manage time well. Distance learning students will not have the same amount of social contact with others as they would in a bricks and mortar classroom. That may be a huge problem for those who look forward to their school day so that they can see and interact with others.
Other problems that can arise in distance learning classes for special needs students can be handled by communicating their needs to the instructor. Therefore they do need to be able to ask for what they need. This may be a right that they have. In other cases it may be something that instructors will gladly provide when they realize it is a problem for a student.
As with any other student, someone with special needs must research carefully to determine the course or program that will best help them to reach their goals.