Virtual Teaching, Actual Evaluation

By Ian Quillen — March 19, 2010 1 min read
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So you think virtual schooling can solve a lot of logistical issues for children with disabilities?

It might actually solve more problems for instructors.

That’s according to Jamie Pagliaro, the vice president of Rethink Autism, an organization that provides Web-based instruction to teachers of students with autism. Pagliaro said in a webinar Thursday that virtual school special education teachers, when surveyed, respond that they are satisfied with the amount of evaluation they receive from their colleagues and bosses. By contrast, he said, traditional special education instructors are generally dissatisfied with the amount of feedback they get.

“We have to spend a lot more time creating individualized goals and then individualized teaching strategies,” Pagliaro said of special education instructors. But software, when utilized properly, he said, can help structure some of those strategies, freeing up more time for instruction and especially evaluation.

Pagliaro was one of three presenters for “Serving Children With Disabilities in Virtual Schools: Examining Policy and Best Practices,” the latest installment in a monthly series of webinars by the International Association for K-12 Online learning, or iNACOL.

Paula Burdette, the director of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, highlighted distinctive challenges of virtual special education, and called for increased standardization of such education, including a federally funded virtual special education center.

Donna Baker, the director of special education at the Virtual Community School of Ohio, described how her school uses the online infrastructure of a virtual school to create networks that help mobilize needed services, such as therapists and psychologists.

If you want to check it out, the webinar is archived in iNACOL’s member forum. If you’re not a member, you can e-mail Wendy Fleming in the group’s communications department to purchase the archive for $15.

So what’s your take? Are virtual schools doing enough to meet the needs of special education students? And if standardization would help more schools meet those needs, how practical would a push for more federal involvement be, considering everything else on the U.S. Department of Education’s plate?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.