Online College and Learning Disabilities

Online College and Learning Disabilities

Students of all ages with learning disabilities have been taking advantage of advances in technology for years. Traditional education isn’t always able to afford the attention needed for learning-challenged students on an individual basis; class sizes can be large, with an inadequate student-to-teacher ratio.

It’s difficult enough for students with special needs to get through their primary education, but even more challenges are posed when the time comes to enroll in a college. College classes are even more likely to be large in size, meaning the personalized approach and individual attention is even harder to come by.

The good news is, many accredited online colleges are developing distance learning courses with learning-disabled students in mind. While some people may imagine online college as an all-or-nothing solution, quite the opposite is true; more and more students are embracing a hybrid approach: they take some classes in the “traditional” college setting, while they attend certain classes remotely, thanks to online college courses. More and more of the nation’s top-ranked colleges are offering extensive selections of online courses, which is giving students more options than ever when it comes to personalizing their education.

Common Challenges (and Solutions) for Students with Learning Disabilities

There are a great many potential challenges for learning-challenged students, but thankfully very few of them are insurmountable barriers.

Some learning disabilities are more common than others. For example, dysgraphia is a disorder where students have a difficult time with the physical process of writing by hand. In college courses that require class assignments to be handwritten – such as in-class essays and exams, or even math courses where it’s necessary to show one’s work – this can make things exceptionally difficult.

Online courses are a great fit for students who suffer from dysgraphia. There are many computer programs designed to help students organize their thoughts. Word processing programs can aid in composing their written assignments, with other programs available to help with mathematics.

Another common challenge among students with learning disabilities is visual processing disorder. Students with this condition frequently exhibit difficulty distinguishing between different characters on a page. As a result, they will have difficulty reading certain class texts and even reading back their own notes.

Again, the computer interface can ease this burden. Class materials delivered electronically can be scaled appropriately for the student with more specific visual requirements. More and more textbooks are available as electronic books, most of which offer the ability to tailor-fit the letter spacing, margin measurements, and text size.

Online Classes Offer a More Personalized Experience

One of the most exciting aspects of online education, where learning disabilities are concerned, is the ability to complete coursework at a personalized pace. Students who have had difficulty keeping up in the surroundings of “traditional” education will find that the top online schools are better able to accommodate different paces of learning for their students.

If you or someone you know has been considering a continued education at the college level, but have been hesitant because of the challenges associated with learning disabilities, now is the perfect time to take a look at the many advantages of online learning. Offering competitive pricing, a personalized experience, and more individual attention than most brick-and-mortar colleges can offer, online courses are a more attractive option than ever.


Photo Courtesy of Rodrigo Philipps via Flickr