As schools increasingly turn to online classes, a group tasked with investigating the impact on students with disabilities is raising some serious concerns.
In an open letter, officials with the federally-funded Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities say that there are a number of unknowns with this emerging technology. Specifically, they say that online learning is plagued with inconsistent policies, questionable teacher training requirements and accessibility problems, among other issues.
“Our preparatory investigations have already raised a number of concerns that we think are urgent enough to report even now,” reads the letter signed by officials from the Center for Research on Learning, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology.
Those behind the effort say they want stakeholders including parents, teachers and policymakers to be aware when they choose or recommend online learning for students with disabilities. What’s more, they are hoping to spur more research into online offerings.
“We believe that new technologies, including online learning technologies, have enormous promise for students with disabilities. Like any other tool or resources, however, these new learning environments will need to be carefully designed and knowledgeably implemented in order to be effective,” the letter says.