In our technological age, when information and education can be easily disseminated to the masses via the internet, we must not forget those that may be left behind. The question is, do the advantages in online education for the average person also extend to those with special needs?
There is mounting evidence that the advantages do indeed carry over. Many eager students have various disabilities that complicate the learning process but do not prevent it altogether. Online education can help to reach those that need just a little extra guidance or a slightly different approach. One such example is the Achieve Degree from Sage Colleges in Albany, New York.
The Achieve Degree is a fully online bachelor’s degree program suited specifically for those with autism and it is the first such program to be designed with that goal in mind. The degree is a bachelor of liberal arts with a special focus on computer science, and all of the fundamental course requirements and academic standards are identical to its offline counterpart.
The degree sets out to achieve its aims by using the inherent advantages of online coursework along with some special modifications to traditional coursework. Here are some of the principles involved:
- Learning is not required to take place through a variety of means such as audio, visual, hands-on, or team-based work. Instead, students may choose one such learning method that works well for them and then stick with it.
- Individualized attention is emphasized, implying that the ratio of instructors to students is higher than usual, thus allowing a better means of focusing student work and ferreting out problems.
- Students will have a choice regarding the formats of their tests, such as multiple choice questions instead of short answer formats.
- The degree is based on a year-round schedule, thus avoiding any awkward summer gaps in learning while lightening the course load per day.
- Students may avoid social situations with which they are uncomfortable that arise normally during traditional offline college classes.
- Those with special dietary, behavior, or medical issues may study from anywhere, ensuring that the needs of their own lives do not hamper their progress.
The benefits of such a degree are enormous to those with learning disabilities or autism. Many aspects of the degree can be altered to fit the needs of the students, while others are just naturally pleasant advantages of an online education. Education obtained online allows for the differentiation and individualization necessary to make issues with learning disappear.
The future for online education continues to look bright. There is no longer any good reason why many learning disabilities should keep people from their goals—we have the technology and the methods for anyone to learn!