8 Tips To Create eLearning Courses For Online Learners With Special Needs

8 Tips To Create eLearning Courses For Online Learners With Special Needs
Summary: EVERY online learner should feel like your eLearning course is custom tailored for them. No exceptions. In this article, I'll share 8 tips to create eLearning experiences for online learners with special needs.

How To Create eLearning Courses For Online Learners With Special Needs

There are a number of reasons why you should develop eLearning courses for online learners with special needs. First and foremost, it ensures that all of your online learners can access the eLearning course materials, which increases learners' motivation and engagement. It can also help you keep up with local laws and regulations that govern eLearning accessibility, such as Section 508. In this article, we'll explore 8 tips and techniques to create effective eLearning courses for online learners with special needs.

1. Include Text Descriptions For Key Takeaways

Some online learners have difficulty deciphering images, eLearning videos, and charts. Many use text readers that are unable to put these graphic elements into words. For this reason, it's important to include text descriptions for your key ideas and concepts. As an example, outline all of the main stats in a bar graph so that online learners are able to identify trends. This will also help online learners who aren't able to comprehend the information based on the visuals. For instance, some online learners may absorb information more effectively when it's in written form.

2. Create Groups Of Online Learners With Similar Special Needs

Every online learner has his or her own needs and preferences. For example, those who are hearing impaired are unable to listen to eLearning podcasts that explore a specific topic, or hear background music that influences their mood. Creating online learner groups gives you the power to create personalized eLearning course materials based on specific traits. In this case, you would develop a companion script for your eLearning podcast and influence their mood through the use of color. This is yet another reason why it's essential to research your audience. Polls, surveys, and focus groups give you a complete picture of your online learners' special needs and how to address them.

3. Focus on the eLearning Course Flow

There are a number of reasons why your eLearning course should have a cohesive flow. First and foremost, it allows for easy eLearning navigation. Online learners are able to quickly locate the navigation icons and move onto the next eLearning module or activity. It also makes it easy for text readers to translate the HTML code. Readers will announce the eLearning content in sequence, which is why you should arrange it by order of importance. For example, the header at the top, followed by the sub-headers and body content. If possible, place icons, images, and graphics wherever convenient on the page to avoid breaking up the text.

4. Put Online Learners In Charge

Online learners should have complete control over the multimedia elements and eLearning course interactions. They must be able to go at their own pace and pause whenever the need arises. For instance, online learners who have dyslexia or other learning impairments may take longer to read a passage. In addition, avoid eLearning tests and activities with time restrictions. Online learners will feel pressured to complete the task before the clock runs out. Thus, they won't be able to absorb and assimilate the information effectively. Personal learning paths are another great option. They allow online learners to choose their own eLearning activities, modules, and assessments based on their particular preferences.

5. Offer A Broad Range Of eLearning Activities That Cater To Different Learning Behaviors

eLearning courses for online learners with special needs should include eLearning activities and assessments that cater to different learning behaviors. However, you must also take the online learners' physiological and physical needs into consideration. For example, online learners who are visually impaired may not be able to participate in a serious game. Instead, they might benefit from a branching scenario that includes audio narrations. Survey your online learners in advance to gauge their expectations and preferences. Another factor to bear in mind is mobile-accessibility. Many online learners use their tablets and smartphones to participate in eLearning courses. People who have special needs are no exception. As such, you should use a responsive design tool to make it multi-platform friendly.

6. Avoid Technical Jargon And Difficult Vocabulary

Complicated terminology can be challenging on two fronts. Firstly, they may be a roadblock for online learners with special needs, such as those who have reading difficulties. Technical jargon can also be problematic for text-readers, so that online learners with visual impairments may not be able to fully comprehend the topic. For instance, the text reader might garble the words or mispronounce them. In addition, you should keep sentences clear and concise to avoid any confusion.

7. Provide Optional Assistance

As is the case for all learning audiences, some individual require assistance while others go it alone. The same rule applies to online learners with special needs. Some of them may need help from time to time. But there are those who can fully understand the topics without any eLearning course wizards, tips, or hints. Give online learners the opportunity to receive assistance, without making it mandatory. A great alternative is a microlearning online repository where they can access supplemental eLearning resources. Or include pop-up windows that offer in-depth explanations of the topic.

8. Conduct A Pilot Test

Invite a diverse mix of online learners with special needs to participate in a pilot testing round. Give them access to your eLearning course materials and then gather their feedback. Surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews are ideal diagnostic tools. The data allows you to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses so that you can adjust your eLearning strategy. For example, the visually impaired participants have trouble with their text readers during the safety eLearning module. As such, you should take a closer look at the design to identify the tech glitch before you launch the eLearning course.

Online learners with special needs have the right to benefit from your eLearning course. Their impairments should not hinder them from actively participating in the eLearning experience. You can use these 8 tips to create an all-inclusive eLearning course for EVERY member of your audience.

Learning disabilities are another factor to consider when creating your next eLearning course. Read the article Learning Disabilities In Online Training: 10 Facts eLearning Professionals Should Know to discover a few facts about learning disabilities that you should know.