It would be a lost opportunity to overlook hybrid ways to incorporate technology into the classroom for special education students

Improving in-class special education with positives from online learning

It would be a lost opportunity to overlook hybrid ways to incorporate technology into the classroom for special education students

As schools, parents, and students across the country prepare for school re-entry, many are celebrating a return to the classroom. There is no shortage of studies and expert opinions stating that the majority of students learn better in-person. But, for the many students who are looking forward with hope to a September where class happens in a room rather than through a screen, there are also a significant number of students who thrived in online instruction and are nervous about losing the confidence they found in a new modality of learning.

Special education teams know this because they have always been focused on ensuring that schools find the best ways to serve and support all students, not just those in the majority or who fit the norm. For many of the students who need special accommodations, introducing technology into learning has been nothing short of revolutionary.

Many students have thrived

As the months of the pandemic progressed, school leaders started to notice that, despite the drawbacks of remote learning, there was a subset of students for whom the modality allowed them to thrive in ways they hadn’t in an in-person school setting. “Remote learning has been a disaster for many students. But some kids have thrived,” declared one article, positing that “special education students, in particular, could benefit from schools taking lessons from distance learning back into the classroom.”

Students with anxiety have been particularly called out as benefitting from remote instruction, which reduces the social variables and allows them to focus exclusively on the learning. Similarly, some students with autism have discovered benefits from online learning this year. Andrea Parrish, director of development and learning systems at the IDEALS Institute, posited that remote learning simplified the learning process for some students with autism. “They can just focus on the content or just focus on the instructions at hand,” she said. “And so they don’t have to navigate all of those other social experiences while they’re learning.”

Kate Eberle Walker

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