Students in the US are learning to take computer classes online as part of a pilot program designed to make online education more accessible for students with disabilities.
The Department of Education and the National Association of School and Community College Personnel (NASSCP) are seeking input from the community and businesses on how to best integrate online instruction into school settings.
Under the pilot program, students in online classes are not required to sign up for courses or attend a formal orientation.
The government is hoping that the pilot will help students who might be struggling with disabilities to find better online learning options and more opportunities to make a meaningful difference in their lives.
The pilot program is called “Connections,” and it’s led by the NASSCP and the Center for Advanced Learning and Learning Technologies (CLEAT).
The NASSCP is the leading association of school administrators, and CLEAT is the national organization for school teachers.
The goal of the pilot is to make it easier for students who have limited English proficiency to get online instruction, said NASSP Executive Director Julie Jaffe.
She noted that online classes can help students improve their communication skills and make connections with others who are also able to communicate with students.
In addition to helping students with limited English skills, the pilot project is also designed to give students with autism a better learning experience.
CLEAT CEO Brian O’Neill said that students with ASD often struggle with learning about the world, and they may be intimidated by online learning.
O’Neil said that online courses offer a way for students to meet with others in a more collaborative setting.
“The idea here is that students have access to resources that are open and accessible, and so they are able to really engage with each other,” he said.
Students in online courses are encouraged to make connections by listening to recordings and talking with others on a computer, according to CLEAT.
The goal is to give people who may struggle with communication the opportunity to have more confidence in their own abilities, he said, adding that online learning is a valuable tool for students.
“We know there are kids who are at risk of social isolation or anxiety, who may have difficulty with social and academic functioning,” O’Neill said.
“So it’s really important for them to have a place where they can have the opportunity.”
The pilot is still in the planning stage, but it’s already been accepted for participation.
Jaffe said that CLEAT plans to use the pilot to train teachers and students who are interested in participating in the pilot.
The NASSIP said that the program will have a number of benefits.
The pilot will allow students who may be struggling to learn more easily and to gain the knowledge they need to graduate from college, and will help them gain valuable exposure to technology and how it can help them achieve their goals.
CLEAAT also plans to expand the program to schools in other states.