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Surviving Online Classes for Students with Dyslexia

In this season of online classes, some students have had more challenges with this learning format. For students with dyslexia, a learning disability, those challenges have been more significant due to increased reading material for some classes, household distractions, and general COVID anxiety. These tips can help set you on the right path to maximize your success in online courses.

1.            Know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous classes.

Knowing the difference is essential to plan accordingly and have accurate expectations of the class format and assignments. Synchronous means that class is scheduled at a specific day and time, and you show up virtually. It’s just like attending a call MWF at 10 am. You would show up at the right building MWF at 10. Asynchronous means that there is no set date and time for class. All the learning is on your own. There are specific deadlines for tasks and class participation, though, so be careful of those deadlines.

You can plan your studies according to each type of class you have. It’s much easier in synchronous courses. Asynchronous is more challenging to plan and organize because there is no established class. All your learning depends on how well you manage your time.

2.            Organize your days.

Regardless of what type of classes you have, you still have to have an established routine and structure for your studies. If not, the schedule seems chaotic and challenging to manage. Know that this is what most students find most challenging—the difference in schedules and routines from typical class attendance in an actual building and classroom. Changing routines can have a severe effect on those with learning disabilities. If you mimic your class schedule in your organization, it will help minimize the impact of doing classes online.

Structure your asynchronous classes around your synchronous ones. For example, the synchronous class meets MWF at 10 am. You can schedule a time to review the asynchronous class materials at 9 am or 11 am. Pay attention to the due dates for assignments, as these will be very specific for asynchronous classes. If you are a college student, this organization and type of routine will help with your higher education studies.

3.            Organize your assignments. 

Go through each syllabus individually. Use an online calendar or the one provided by the school. Put in all the due dates for each assignment and test. Large projects will need to be broken down into smaller chunks. Put each small chunk into your calendar. Make sure to give enough time for each assignment and task. It will be time-consuming and tedious but worth it when several projects are due all the same week and preparing for finals.

4.            Take care of yourself.

Your mental health matters, especially now. Make sure to add downtime and adequate breaks into your schedule. Your brain needs to rest. Dyslexia places much stress and work on the brain, and can get overworked. Breaks give your brain rest and make sure you are ready for the next task. Don’t forget to schedule eating lunch and dinner too. Eating is easy to forget when you have several assignments due the same week and tests. Establish a good bedtime routine and get adequate rest. A tired or hungry brain does not work as efficiently, which is more profound for people with dyslexia. 

5.            Make sure that all the class materials are accessible.

All the information for both course types is in the school’s learning management system, such as Blackboard. Test all the class documents in your text-to-speech software and make a note of any issues. If there are issues, notify your disability services office staff and CC your instructor on the emails. It should go without saying that you should be consistently using the assistive technology that works for you. Further, ensure that your accommodations are appropriate for online formats. Testing can be somewhat different online. Extended time can be arranged quickly, but distraction reduction will be your responsibility. If you have questions about your accommodations or 504 plan, such as extra time for tests, colleges, and high schools have dedicated staff to address these questions.

A FREE resource to help you navigate the accommodations request process. Take the mystery out of it and get clear on what you need.