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Online Special Education

Traci M. Bean, MA, CCC-SLP   September 23 2019

In the field of special education there have been many trends that have swung the pendulum and changed the landscape in the way in which special education services are provided to the students. Since I entered the field of Special Education over 18 years ago, I have seen teachers move from the Resource Room to the Learning Center to being fully included in the general education classroom. I have seen Special Education teachers lobby to establish themselves as “teachers, not just a destination.” I have witnessed the shift from teachers to case managers. But, no matter what they call themselves or where the services are provided, I have seen these teachers working tirelessly to fulfill the requirements of the students’ IEPs and to meet the strict and varied deadlines required to stay in compliance for themselves and their schools. It's no wonder that these superheroes continue to seek out new and improved ways to ensure that their students will succeed. And, despite the nationwide shortage, these amazing teachers continue to protect their caseloads but seeking ways to better manage their time and efforts. Among the most recent of these improvements has been bringing Special Education services from the classroom to the computer. As technology has continued to advance and to become intertwined throughout the campus, Special Education teachers are leading the charge to bring services to the students no matter where the need brings them.

So, why the move to bring services online? The benefits of providing Special Education services online are as varied as the needs of the student receiving them. Students are growing increasingly proficient at using the computer to attain academic proficiency and many schools have invested in Chromebooks for the student body to access curriculum digitally. Students spend many hours of their day reading, writing and researching online. Providing services online allows teachers to meet their students where they are at. Online platforms allow teachers to log directly into the student’s work and assist them real-time while addressing their IEP goals.  Sharing documents is just one way that online Special Education teachers are helping students to meet their goals.

Many states are experiencing a decrease in the number of Special Education teachers entering the field. Schools are at risk of being out of compliance for not providing services to the students while spending months trying to find highly-qualified teachers to fill vacancies. Still other states are in a hiring surplus with teachers fighting to find their forever job. By offering services online, teachers from other states who possess the appropriate credentialing are able to fill vacancies hundreds and thousands of miles away. With a secure portal, teachers can traverse the expanse of the globe any time of day. Students can more effectively access their teachers via email and instant messaging in order to get help on assignments and to assist with modification in the classroom. Additionally, other teachers and therapists can collaborate and even co-treat to help students to meet their goals more effectively via live, online, face-to-face sessions regardless of their location.

While it is important to continually assess the effectiveness of any method of service delivery, online Special Education services are trending and students are reporting great success. Teachers are also reporting that they enjoy meeting their students online and collaborating with their students on assignments in a new way. And, schools are excited to fill vacancies without compromising quality.

To find out more about Online Special Education Services, contact Total Education Solutions – TES Connect at virtual@tesidea.com for a free demo.

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