Introduction by Tyler Wood

My students are fourth grade ESL students in Seoul, South Korea. We consider the Common Core State Standards because we attampt to adhere to an American curriculum, but we do not have a specific requirement to adhere to them. The following are three of the standards I feel would have the biggest impact on the success of my students in an e-learning classroom.

1. "Information is provided to students, parents and mentors on how to communicate with the online instructor and course provider. Instructor information is provided to students with contact, availability, and biographical information. Information on how to contact the instructor via phone, email, and/or online messaging tools is provided within the contact information. If regular contact with the instructor is required as part of the course, clear expectations for meeting this requirement are posted within the course" (iNACOL, 2011). 

I chose this standard because one of the biggest potential problems with e-learning is the lack of someone the students trust to be a part of their experience. I think the biggest thing a traditional classroom offers that e-learning might struggle with is teacher presence and guidance. I chose this because I think every student should know that they are not alone and they have many ways to contact their instructor if they have a problem or question. Having the knowledge they can reach out in need and they have the expectations to talk to an instructor not only builds trust in the course, but helps build motivation for the student. 

2. "Online instructor resources and notes are included. Resources and notes to aid online instructors in teaching and facilitating the course are included within the learning management system" (iNACOL, 2011). 

I chose this standard because one of the best things about a flipped/blended class is the access to materials that can be replayed/reviewed as many times as the student needs without bothering the teacher or feeling like they are bothering the teacher. This allows a student to gain mastery without feeling embarrassed about asking too many questions in class. Especially in my district where all the students are second language speakers, they can use dictionaries or subtitles to suppliment their learning at their own pace. 

3. "Assessment strategies and tools make the student continuously aware of his/ her progress in class and mastery of the content. feedback tools and procedures are built into the course to allow students to periodically self-monitor their academic progress" (iNACOL, 2011). 

I chose this standard because feedback is the most important thing for learning. This is gamification 101. Why do people love games so much? Not just because they are fun, but because there is constant feedback directly linked to progress of a particular goal. Having this ability in an e-learning environment is where e-learning can be better than a traditional classroom, not just sufficiently good, or 'as good as'. E-learning offers a possibility that most classrooms are ill equipped for - regular, timely, goal-oriented, and consistant feedback (Wiggins, 2012). Computers are getting good at analyzing and responding quickly. Faster than the average teacher can grade papers, typically, now. That is something that can not just impact my students, but revolutionize learning globally.

I think all the standards listed are important for an effective e-learning environment, but these three are the standards I feel would impact my students the most.

Click below for a more detailed look at the standards I evaluated for an online course.



iNACOL. (2011, October). National standards for quality online courses. Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Retrieved from

Learning Theories and E-Learning by Tyler Wood

I doubt it is a controversial claim that the world is glued to their digital screens more and more. Whether it’s the smart phone, laptop, or desk-top computer, people are getting more and more accustomed and comfortable with staring at screens. Even school kids that are supposed to be listening to their teacher in class would rather be looking at a digital screen, albeit to play games. There are definite benefits to having a teacher in front of you, but there are also many benefits for moving education into the digital format of e-learning. 

Much like teaching face-to-face, e-learning design has a few learning theories to choose from, so what kind do I choose? 

One interesting theory is the Experiential learning theory that proposes that “learning is about meaningful experiences - in everyday life - that lead to a change in an individual’s knowledge and behaviours” (UNESCO, n.d.). As a person with wanderlust that has seen my fair share of new places and cultures, I find this theory in line with my personal experience, actually. I believe the classroom shows this to be true with the interaction of students and how they learn from each other’s behavior and ideas and their own ideas that get a positive response from the group. This could be argued to agree with Skinner’s idea of positive and negative stimuli (UNESCO, n.d.), but I think it goes deeper into the social behavior of learning and not the individual learning of a student, evidenced by different students playing different roles in classes. Sometimes the smart, outspoken student in one class will be shy in another. To my eyes, this matches the social interaction and experiential learning ideas more than Skinner’s behaviorism. I find this intriguing because I can see and experience this in a classroom quite easily, but to try and transfer this idea into an e-learning environment might be a challenge. 

However, in the case of involving the students in the experience, the experience of writing, instead of talking, to each other can be beneficial when writing and written communication is more in-line with the standards or learning goals of the class. The experience is going to be able to be different and possibly more involved for the students (if properly designed) which would fit well into the theory because “learning can only be facilitated: we cannot teach another person directly” (UNESCO, n.d.). The e-learning environment can help facilitate learning by creating unique experiences that sitting in a classroom might have difficulty doing. 

I think many of the theories are interesting, but this one struck me as one I would like to learn more about because it fits into my personal experience well. 

Click below for more information on instructional strategies and what is compatible with e-learning.



United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (n.d.). Most influential theories in learning. Retrieved from

Design Models by Tyler Wood

There are three main instructional design methods I have explored - ADDIE, Backward design, and the TIP models. All three instructional design models have their benefits and challenges; however, I would choose the backward design approach. I think backward design is similar to the ADDIE model, in that both agree that courses should be "logically inferred from the results sought, not derived from the methods, books, and activities with which we are most comfortable" (Wiggins & McTighe, 2013). According to the ADDIE model's analysis phase designers should "identif[y] the learning problem, goals and objectives" (ADDIE model, n.d.). I prefer the backward design because it is more stream-lined. 

Click below for more information on backward design.

This approach is beneficial because if I know the objectives and desired results, I can design the material before the class begins more effectively. Though that should be done anyway, but usually "teachers begin with and remain focused on textbooks, favored lessons, and time-honored activities—the inputs—rather than deriving those means from what is implied in the desired results" (Wiggins & McTighe, 2013). Especially when designing for an online course, where reactions to the content and activities will be harder to foresee and react to by the nature of the technology, it is essential that we are not being distracted by a new website or game software we want to use, but instead design with the desired outcomes in mind and only use that software if it is actually useful for the learning desired. 

Another reason I would choose the backward design, and I feel it is more stream-lined, is that feedback is a main focus of the method Wiggins and McTighe elaborate on in their book Understanding by Design. In the ADDIE model, it is the final phase, though it is pointed out it should be utilized throughout the process, it is last. The emphasis on feedback is not strong enough in the ADDIE model and should be more important since "researchers argue that feedback on successful actions encourages individuals to invest more resources in pursuit of other, similar actions" (Fishback & Finkelstein, n.d.). In other words, more feedback means more motivation from the students, which is important when there are no teachers present. This is something to consider before planning the course, how will the feedback be implemented. 

These reasons, and the organization around an essential question in the backward design model, will help me frame and create the plans I need for designing the course. Organizing around the main principle that I need to first consider the objectives and what evidence I will need from the students to show mastery of those objectives will help me design a course that will always be keeping the students on-track for reaching those goals.

The challenges I foresee in this model are in the relating the learning to another instructor. This is where the ADDIE model would be beneficial. The details in which the ADDIE model considers each and every step in the designing process would help make sure no stone was left un-turned. Backward design is more open-ended and free for choosing other methodology in planning individual lessons, so it is not beneficial for the lesson-to-lesson planning, where ADDIE would be (ADDIE model, n.d.). 

Ideally, the combination of the two would be the most beneficial. Backward design would be the framework for the course and ADDIE would cover the details more thoroughly. 

Click below for an instructional design flowchart for help designing an e-learning course.



ADDIE Model. (n.d.). Knowledge base. Retrieved from

Fishbach, A. & Finkelstein, S. (n.d.). How Feedback Influences Persistence, Disengagement, and Change in Goal Pursuit. Goal-directed behavior. Psychology Press. Retrieved from

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2013, February). Backward design: Why “backward” is best. Retrieved from

Types of E-Learning by Tyler Wood

Why do people pay for expensive drinks in a crowded bar where they can't hear each other speak? Why do people go out of their way to sit in a certain park even when there is a park much closer to their house? Why do people hang artwork on bare walls? Humans can't seem to function without trying to beautify their spaces. Aesthetics and design are more important than people may realize. Why am I talking about this here? I have been working on this for some time and believe that one thing that can help create a meaningful, rich experience for students (online or in a class) is visually pleasing design. This, of course, only works as an addition to a well designed course that the students can "visualize the overall structure of the piece. Put simply, if they can see where you're going, they'll be more motivated to head in that direction" (McCleskey, 2009). Once you have a well designed course, "perhaps the best way to enhance learner motivation is to make sure the courseware you develop looks appealing to the eye" (McCleskey, 2009). I have had good results with well designed, full color worksheets in my kindergarten that encouraged the students to match their writing quality to the paper they were writing on. I saw improvement in their penmanship and spacing after the second worksheet. It is a bit like walking into a quiet room and immediately quieting down. This can transfer into motivation for higher expectations by simply looking the part. People pay extra money for beautiful drinks in a visually appealing location all the time. Visual stimuli is motivating them to pay more for the same thing because of design and aesthetics. 

I have been studying gamification for a bit and really like the idea behind this as well. Gamification offers the unique ability to motivate students with proven game techniques like; consistant and immediate feedback, confident experimentation, rules and regulations, competition, role-playing, and others (Lee &Hammer, 2011). I have been using a form of gamification points earning in my class this year and it has structured the management of class seemlessly with the online points software I use. The students and parents can access their daily or weekly points from home and see how they are doing. I would like a better program, but it is already working and I have had many parents tell me they love it. It has even opened the door for communication, which is harder with the language barrier here in Korea. This same principle can be used in an e-learning environment to motivate students. 

In my particular case, I would use these methods in a flipped classroom, if I could. I have been toying with flipping the class already but I would like to get the approval of the administrators because then I could really flip the class properly. I am slowly putting my classroom material (presentations, worksheets) online for students to access at home for homework and the students are comfortable with this idea, but I would need approval for a fully flipped classroom because i would switch from having the online material as added to it being required as part of the course and the parents would need to be aware and want to participate in that. I like the flipped classroom because at my school we still want to students to be in a location for learning, that is a pretty strong motivator for parents, especially with the problem with online addiction here. Parents want their children in a location with supervision and not to be home, especially if they are both working. Flipped classrooms would be best for my situation and my school for that reason. Fully on-line is not an option, and other types of blended learning would cause trouble with the homeroom Korean teachers because it would require restructuring classrooms a little too much because of the pods or stations. In a flipped classroom, it can appear the same as it does now except what is happening would be very different. For second language learners it would be especially beneficial because they can stop, rewatch, and slow down the lectures to make sure they understood in English (Educause, 2012). This would save time in class reiterating what I have said and answering the same question several times for clarification. I could focus my attention and time on working with each student on their work and they could be working at their own pace instead of being left behind. I think this method would best serve my needs and interests and best integrate the best practices I have mentioned previously, as well as others not mentioned here. 

Click below for more information on the approached to e-learning. 



Educause. (2012). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Educause Learning Initiative. Retreived from


Lee, J. J. & Hammer, J. (2011). Gamification in education: what, how, why bother? Academica Exchange Quarterly, 15(2). Retrieved from


McCleskey, J. (2009, August). Five e-learning design strategies that keep learners coming back for more. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from

Learning Management Systems and Curriculum Development by Tyler Wood

I have been testing the waters with as many online educational tools as I can find the use for. I have made a Delicious account to keep a list going so I don't forget. The following is not a comprehensive list, but tools I have recently used or started using.

1. Prezi - This is number one for me because it has changed my entire classroom. Once I started using Prezi I could not return to Powerpoint. My school still uses Powerpoint, so I still use the already made presntations, but I have been systematically making a presentation for every chapter we cover in science. I have also made a few for special occasions, like Open Class, and holidays. The non-linear nature of the presentation is wonderful in an elementary class because the kids have questions and I can use the touchscreen to move around the presentation to look at different things. You can even add Powerpoints into it, if you wanted the features of that. It's major flaw is GIF files. Adding video and pictures is easy, but it does not work with GIF files. You can add a single Powerpoint slide with GIF on it, but that is something they need to work on. Otherwise, the movement and 3D look is great. I sometimes even just keep the files I want all on one Prezi so I don't have to open and close screens in class. It makes any slides on the screen seamless and streamlined. These can be easily added to, or linked to, an online course. I would use them if the learning called for it, for sure. Online or in a blended learning course. (

2. Classdojo - I found out about this right at the beginning of this year and decided to give it a shot. It keeps track of behavior in class, but I do not use it in class. I do not use it in class live because it would take up the screen space that I need for class material. I use the screen frequently for class activities or to show visual material, so I do not want to have to go back and forth between them. I have a running point system in class and I just add behavior points to the site after the class. The students and parents can access their behavior points at home and, so far, the parents have been very pleased. The kids seemed happy with it at first, but there is a limited amount of customization they can do to their avatar, so they have since just been focused on the points. The parents are able to message me as well, but only one mom has used that feature. I like that it can give the parents more specific and timely feedback on their children in class (Wiggins, 2012). They don't have to ask their child how they were in class and get a "fine" answer. They can ask why they got a point for participating, or how they received a point for helping others? It is more transparent, which I like. However, I was intending to make my class more of a gamified environment, but this is just not as good or detailed as I was hoping. There are only a few ways to view any data, and the data is limited to attendance and simply good or bad awards. I was hoping to use it for points, so when they use their points to buy some gift I can subtract points, but it does not work that way. This means I would need a separate system for rewards. It is hard to say what would fix it, otherwise I might be a rich software designer, but it is just not Web 2.0 enough, not interactive enough, or customizable enough. So I reverted back to class points, like a stickerboard, which is what I was trying to avoid. An improvement for this digital tool would be to have an option of a sidebar version, in order to use the screen for class materials and still have the children's avatars on the side where their behavior points would be available still. Maybe have a Chrome extension. I would not recommend using this tool for a class or online as is though. (

3. Learnboost - I found this at the beginning of the year as well. I wanted to find a better way to keep track of grades. I think using spreadsheets is worse than just writing grades down into a book. This offered graphs and easy to print, easy to read grades for my students and parents. They are also able to view them online without wasting paper. I have not allowed that, however, because my school has specific rules and software for grades (spreadsheets) and I have to use the same files as everyone else, so I could not allow the parents to see something different. I use it for me and I sometimes print out the grades to have student-teacher conferences twice a semester to talk to them about what they are doing right and what they need to improve upon. We make an action plan, and they can understand that easily. They are too young to make much sense out of a spreadsheet, and I do not have enough time to transfer all that info into graphs or other easy to understand visuals for them. I have not looked too deep into other gradebook software, so I am not sure how good this one is, but it is much better than using Microsoft Office. This would be useful for an e-learning course only if the course platform I was using did not have a built in grading tool. (

4. TeacherKit - Similar to Learnboost, this is a classroom management software that tracks attendance, schedule, grades, and offers data visualizations. It is based on an app for your handheld devices, so it is easy to take with you anywhere you may go, even in class. However, I find that it is still faster to write things down than to shuffle through the different tabs to find the appropriate place to add the data. They have also added a simple additional app for randomly choosing students or tracking to make sure you are choosing all of your students in class. It is unfortunate that it is a separate app, but it is a nice addition to the system. I ended up using Learnboost in class after having tried them both because I preferred the interface of Learnboost, but have dropped both once I started using my LMS platform in school. If you do not have an LMS that covers all of these features, take a look at each and see what you think, they can be quiet useful in organizing a class without the messy paperwork or spreadsheets. (

5. Wordle - This is a simple program that turns text into a word cloud. I have used it to make vocabulary a little more fun and to help students decide on new or interesting words to use for stories or other writing. I like it, but there are only so many ways to use it. It's easy to use, but you are not able to save the clouds you make on the site, you can just print it and use it. I am not sure how it would work in an e-learning class, other than to recommend students use it for an assignment. They would still have to jump through some hoops to turn in the assignment, so I do not think it would be very useful for a fully online course. (

6. Memrise - I originally found this app in the Apple App store to help me study Korean. I really enjoyed it, then another teacher mentioned it as well and we all found out we were using it. We decided that if it worked for us, then it could work for the kids as a helpful tool for practicing their vocabulary. One of the teachers has been putting our books' vocabulary on it and we signed our students up. All the students have to have an email for access to the school-wide Scholastic Reading program, so we were able to use those email addresses for their accounts, with their approval. About half the class has really taken to it and keep track of each other. The site reminds you to study or refresh your memory itself, but our students who like it, use it often anyway. They are keeping track of leaderboards and scores with each other. There are four of us teachers using it and our students have linked up with each other as well, so they study together outside of school or online with this. They can add content and make it more individualized, so they really like that. They can also study books not a part of our class to gain their own knowledge and follow their intrinsic interest to learn. This would be a great suppliment to any e-learning class. (

7. Gliffy - I have only used this once for a class and I was not terribly impressed. It seemed very much like something I could do with my own Apple software on my computer at home anyway. I think it would be useful for making worksheets or other printables, but I am not sure I would use it for an e-learning class. If it was a blended class and they could use paper worksheets in class, maybe. (

8. Dipity - I was very hopeful of this tool for making interactive timelines, but was very disappointed by their interpretation of interactive. I was hoping you could add content and adjust or have a walkthrough the timeline to make it very interactive in class on a touchscreen. The interactive part was basically that you could add a lot of events to the timeline and zoom in and out, but that was pretty much it. I might try and use it again to see if anything has changed because the possibilities are great for this idea, but I remember feeling a little disappointed and decided to not use it for the class I was planning for. I still might find some good uses for Dipity timelines in an online class, so I would consider it for use, but I would need to try it again to be sure. (

9. BrainPOP and BrainPOPjr. - I have used these sites many times over the past few years and I still look to them for great content and activities. It is mostly a video learning software with worksheets, activities, and games attached to each lesson. The videos are animated and the kids enjoy them. They cover pretty much every major subject you could ask for in elementary and kindergarten. They have space, dinosaurs, writing, you name it. It is a pay site, so I am not sure how I would be able to integrate it into an e-learning class, but if I could, I would. There is a limit to how many people can access the site under one account, so each child would need their own account, and that could add too much cost to the school or parents. ( and

10. Jux - I used this slideshow software once for a class and I was not impressed. It looked nice, but was very glitchy and not very dynamic. It is basically a slideshow you can share online. If I was creating an online class, I would already have the ability to share a slideshow, so there would be no need for this tool. It looks nice and would be useful for personal uses, but I did not see the point for my class. (

11. Flickr Commons - I have fallen in love with this for making worksheets and generally designing content. There are thousands, maybe millions, of free to use photos. You can search them and find what you are looking for, mostly. You have to be a little creative and be ok with black and white photography, but it is a great service to be able to use to create aesthetically pleasing content. It would work especially well in any history class because most of the photos are historic anyway. Maybe it is just my love of photography, but I immediately loved this tool for finding free stock photography for class. I would certainly use this tool in an online class, blended or fully online. I enjoy being able to be creative with the design of the site and this would give me more freedom without having to pay a large amount for some other stock photography sites. (

12. Smart Seat - This is a very simple app that allows the teacher to organise their seating chart. The teacher can alter seats, choose students randomly, or even organize the seating randomly using the app. They can also track attendance or tardiness and take notes. It is not free and not very interesting in the design category, but it can be useful if these are the only features you are in need of tracking. You would still need a separate grade system, so I would not bother with it in my class. With web 2.0 technology, there are other options that are cheaper that would cover s much more, so I find this technology lacking and overpriced. (

On my Delicious list, I have built up a list of a few tools I have yet to try but would like to. Here are a few of the tools I want to use. 

1. Diigo - This is an annotation and cloud tool. It seems very much like the annotations in the Kindle, but if it can be used on websites and PDFs then it might be more useful to compile all the information for one subject together for helping create lessons. Depending on how it works, I might recommend it for students to use, but it seems like something I would use to help create the content, not really something in the course itself. (

2. Edublogs - I really want to set up a blogging community for my students. This one seems a little safer than a blog that is open to all because it was built for education uses, so this might be what I am looking for. The students could write, connect, and share online with this. (

3. Story Board That - I use storyboarding in my writing classes a lot to help students visualize their story before writing it. This tool seems like it might make the process of storyboarding even more fun. If I like the interface, this would be useful in an online class because I would not need to print off all the storyboarding sheets for class, they can work on that part at home and bring it to class to review. (

4. Socratic - This is a question and answer board for studying. This might be a helpful resource for students when they can not reach the teacher for some reason. I would hope to be able to respond as quickly as possible, but perhaps it is a weekend and they need help, they can go here and read or ask questions to get help from the community. (

5. Storybird - This is a beautiful looking tool for storywriting and publishing. Students can create a book from their work that they can keep and remember. This could easily be incorporated in an e-learning class by having it be part of the homework or a project to work on. I would like to try this with my advanced writers when we finish our Sci-Fi stories we are working on now to see how it goes. It looks interesting and I think the kids would enjoy playing around with it. (

This is an always growing list, but I hope to narrow it down to the tools that will actually help me create a useful, effective, and memorable course when I am ready to design one.

Click below for more information on the learning management system (LMS) I chose and why.



Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Retrieved from

Assessment by Tyler Wood

There are many ways to assess students that can be used in a 100% online classroom, and probably many more that will be developed in the coming years, but I tend to use tools and techniques that have proven to work with some alteration for the online classroom.


In order to get prior knowledge from my students, I like to let them open up on the topic in discussion. Since students will not be in the physical classroom with me in an online course, we can replicate that environment with a discussion board or, if it is possible, a Skype or Google Hangouts type of discussion. Since I teach ESL, it is important to try and work verbal assessment into any assessment I design for the course. Written discussion boards would be great, and can be used as well, but ideally I would like to be able to assess their knowledge with verbal skills right away.


Coaching students in an online course is the bread and butter of online learning possibilities. Any of the myriad ways of assessing without grading and risking too much cheating is essential, and quite useful for motivation as it builds confidence and allows for students to take action on feedback before any summarize assessments. I like to use peer assessment in writing in my class because most of my students are effective at seeing the correct way to do something when reading, but struggle to transfer that knowledge to authentic practice. Having peers assess their written work regularly it allows the students to see other writing styles and see their own mistakes through another student's eyes in a less authoritarian way. Teachers can feel like the judge, but peers can be more forgiving and cause less stress. They are in the same boat and have a shared experience with peers that does not exist for the teacher/student relationship. I would use a blog for a regular (journal) writing sample that can be peer assessed. I would "collect student work in multiple stages as it is developed: ask students to hand in outlines, early drafts, topic statements, or annotated bibliographies as a portion of their grade on the assignment. Use assessment methods, such as portfolios, in which students demonstrate progress over time with a collection of their work" (RIT, n.d.) I would also use differentiated quizzes to check for understanding to help the students see what they understood and what hey might want to review. I would try as many methods as possible, but those would be my stand-out formative assessments.


I would be concerned about the ease of which students can search the Internet for simple, multiple choice style answers, so I would find a way to get around that and use something I like to use in my class as well - authentic assessment. Our objectives (especially if you are using the Common Core) are about learning higher order thinking skills, or as Crockett, Jukes & Churches say we should be teaching "21st century fluencies" (2011, p 17). I would use any summative quizzes sparingly, I would instead forus on authentic assessments like a portfolio for writing or a relevant project (RIT, n.d.). This would reduce the ability to copy, cheat, or plagerize for the students and the added bonus of assessing their transfer of knowledge, rather than rote memorization of content. I have used many projects in class, like designing a music video just last month, and the kids really enjoy working on it. They tended to work longer and more focused on that than any other assignment or class work. Using that interest could help keep students that are not in a physical class motivated to stay active in class and not get distracted by their lives outside the computer. 

Click below for more information on assessments in online learning environments.



Crockett, L., Jukes,I., & Churches, A.(2011). Literacy is Not Enough.(first ed). 21st Century Fluency Project Inc.: 21st Century Fluency Project.

RIT (n.d.). Student learning outcomes assessment. Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved from

Using E-Learning to Support All Learners by Tyler Wood

The idea of differentiation is about fitting the learning to the most effective way the student will learn. Whether that means something as simple as giving students visual representations to help visual learners to offering technology to help students with hearing problems read or see the words instead of hearing them, and many other possibilities. 

When designing an online program, it depends on the program as to how you would adapt the vision of the course. For example, if you were designing a course for the broad internet, like Edx, then it should be assumed that all possible student disabilities will be represented and students with them will want to partake in the course. In fact, it is the law to consider such a thing (Dept. of Education, 2013), at least if you are getting federal funding. I also think it is the moral goal of public education to educate everyone, not just "normal" students, whatever that might mean. However, if you were designing a small scale, blended course, there might not be enough funds to offer all possible solutions right away, so there might need to be much more awareness by the teaching staff of what disabilities the course actually needs to attend to based on the students in the course. A blended course would also afford the opportunity to see and meet the students in question and assess their needs more accurately. 

So, how would I adjust a fully online course? I can create a "multi-modal learning experience so students can access course content in whatever way works best for them" (Gomez, 2013). If I can imagine how the course will be for the student, I can offer alternatives in as many ways as I can as a designer, so the students will be able to adjust the learning for themselves. 

Teachers can collaborate on each other's course design by role-playing a student with a particular need before rolling out the course, or use personas (Gomez, 2013). Think of what the student might need for the course and test the course to see if it meets the challenges. Or you can use real examples to shape your design, like Shelesha Taylor who has a degenerative eye problem and needs software to magnify the text on the screen (Haynie, 2014). Some of her required readings do not come in the right format to use the software, so she has to work harder to locate copies not offered by the professor. Using UDL, the professor could have offered an audio version of the text or alternative that would have suited the student's needs. 

The challenges are trying to predict the unpredictable. Finding problems before they are problems can be a difficult task, but using UDL and offering alternatives will reduce the later challenges because students will have the ability to choose their method of learning a little bit more than normal. Social stigma is another challenge. Many students will not admit they have a learning disability and they might come into the course undiagnosed, so helping a student that does not want help or think they need help can be challenging. However, I prefer to think of disabilities as part of the spectrum of learning and having certain "special" help offered to all students reducing the stigma of using that help. If no one is there, like an online class, the students will feel more comfortable to try something like a magnified screen, for example, but if it is clearly offered to all students, then it will seem less like a special need, and more like a regular tool for learning as well. 

I think the biggest challenge will be assessing disabilities over a fully online course with no prior knowledge of the student's abilities or learning styles. Making sure there is data tracking of how the student chooses to view the course (which modal they choose, for example) and paying attention to their work, it can be done. 


Department of Education. (2013, December). Protecting students with disabilities. Office for Civil Rights. Retrieved from

Gomez, C. (2013, October). Help ensure online course content is accessible to students with disabilities. Disablity Compliance for Higher Education.Retrieved from

Haynie, D. (2014, April). Students with disabilities meet challenges in online courses. U.S. News & World Report: Education. Retrieved from