Teaching with digital tools for children with special needs

How can teaching with digital tools be more inclusive?
Martina works as a teacher in a special education school. Her students with autism or dyslexia need individualized instruction.
The school is now working with the Swiss Online School. The Swiss Online School is completely built with Moodle according to curriculum 21. This means that Martina can now organize her lessons in a more inclusive way as follows:
1. the Swiss Online School allows students to have choices in the learning process. The subjects are structured according to the topics of Curriculum 21 and so each student can choose which topic he or she would like to tackle first. Of course, there is also the option of simply going in order. But above all, everyone can work at the pace that suits them. Special tools in Moodle give the student the choice for the next step and ultimately lead to the same learning goal. Martina stays in the background as a learning coach and helps individually.
2. many tasks can be solved alone, in pairs or in groups, depending on the learning type of the student. Martina can thus use the cognitive potential of the class and the students* can learn in their peer group. Those who prefer to solve the task alone can do so as well.
3. each task and topic offers different types of resources. For each video there is a text. For each text there is an audio. With Moodle there is the possibility to present the same task on with different media. Here, too, the individual needs of a particular type of learner are taken into account. There is also the possibility to print texts, if this is desired and serves the learning success.
4. audio feedback on tasks or tasks help especially students with dyslexia.
5. individual feedback can be given to each student. Communication is asynchronous and students move at different speeds. So Martina can respond to each student individually.
Intermediate tests, such as quizzes, are frequently used by Martina to provide students with automated information about their learning. However, the interim tests are playful and there is no grade for them. Martina can, however, use the results to again address individual needs.
This is just a few of the many possibilities in the Swiss Online School classroom.

Learning breaks

Our brain is always in one of two modes: either blooming or pruning. Blossoming means that synapses between nerve cells are formed and activated. Pruning means that these synapses are consolidated or clipped, in keeping with the oft-heard motto: “Use it or lose it.” Now, crucial for our purposes is that the pruning phase is critical if learning is to occur, because that is when learning progress is “pushed” into the brain. But for this to happen, a pause must first be taken – as long as impressions are still hitting the brain, it is automatically in blooming mode. The very big break that we regularly switch on is called sleep. It is therefore quite understandable that after a good portion of sleep we not only have the feeling of being rested, but that very often we also notice that “overnight” insights have been added. We should give our children this feeling of learning much more often during the school day. But because we don’t want them to sleep 3-4 times during the day, you can put them into a sleep-like mode: that of automated activities. When children do something for 5-15 minutes where they don’t have to think about anything (sketching, listening to music, simple movements), their brains fall into the mode of pruning – and thus begin to process those learning contents that previously provisionally entered the brain in the course of pruning. The result: the child learns! Even though, on the surface, it’s “just” taking a break.

Source: HfH Course Neuropsychology

Advantages of online teaching for children with autism, ADHD, ADD and Asperger syndrome

Online tutoring offers a variety of benefits for children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Here are some of the key points to consider:

Individualized learning environment: online instruction allows the learning environment to be customized to meet the specific needs of each child. Children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s syndrome often benefit from structure and predictability. Through online instruction, lesson plans can be customized to meet individual needs and create a calm, familiar learning environment.

Reduced Sensory Overload: Children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s Syndrome can be sensitive to sensory stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, or crowded classrooms. Online instruction offers the opportunity to reduce these stimuli and tailor the learning environment to individual needs. Children can learn in a quiet environment without being distracted by sensory overload.

Flexibility and Adaptability: Online classes allow for flexible scheduling and adaptation to each child’s individual needs. Children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s Syndrome can benefit from a structured schedule that helps them organize their daily activities and reduce stress. Through online classes, the schedule can be adjusted to fit individual sleep patterns, therapy sessions, or other important appointments.

Improved social interaction: online classes provide a less overwhelming environment for children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s Syndrome to practice social interactions. They can communicate with their classmates and teachers in a safe space, which helps improve their social skills and build their confidence. Online classes also provide the opportunity to use communication tools such as chat or instant messaging to facilitate interaction.

Access to specialized resources: through online instruction, children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s syndrome have access to a wide range of specialized resources. Teachers and subject matter experts can share resources and tools online that are specifically designed for children with special needs. This can include therapy programs, visual aids, interactive learning games, and other materials that support and enhance the learning process.

It is important to note that online instruction is not the best option for every child. Some children may benefit more from face-to-face interaction and supportive on-site tutoring. Still, the benefits of online instruction offer a valuable alternative for children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s syndrome. Here are other benefits:

Reduced pressure to perform: Online instruction can reduce the pressure that can be associated with learning in a group setting. Children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s syndrome can sometimes be plagued by anxiety and stress, especially when comparing themselves to their peers. Online classes give them the opportunity to learn in a more relaxed environment without having to compete with others.

Individual learning pace: each child has their own learning pace and needs. Online classes allow students to learn at their own pace and focus on the content that is most important to them. Teachers can customize lessons and provide extra time for specific topics or assignments to ensure each child gets the most out of their learning experience.

Parent Involvement: With online instruction, parents have the opportunity to be more involved in their child’s learning. They can serve as a supportive resource when needed, and can attend classes at home. This allows for closer collaboration between parents, teachers, and therapists to ensure the child receives the support they need.

Continuity in therapy and support: children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s syndrome often benefit from regular therapy and supportive interventions. Online instruction can allow these therapy sessions and supports to be seamlessly integrated into the classroom schedule. This ensures that the child continues to have access to needed services without the need for additional travel or interruptions.

Enhanced learning opportunities: Online classes open up a variety of learning resources and opportunities for students. They can access online libraries, interactive learning materials, multimedia content, and virtual field trips. This allows students to deepen their interest in specific topics and expand their learning outcomes.

It is important to note that online instruction is not a substitute for face-to-face interaction and social integration. Children with autism, ADHD, ADD, and Asperger’s syndrome should also have the opportunity to connect with others in person and develop their social skills. A balanced combination of online instruction and face-to-face interactions can ensure the best outcomes for these children.