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10 ways to support neurodiverse learners in online courses

Online courses are a great way to reach, serve, and empower learners of all kinds. However, creating educationally successful programs that are inclusive of neurodiverse learners requires some thought and intentional design. In this blog, we’ll provide a few key considerations about how to best support neurodiverse learners with the right strategies and tools. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create more inclusive and accessible courses for everyone.

Neurodiverse learners, such as people with autism and ADHD, sometimes struggle with traditional learning environments due to their individual learning styles and social/cognitive differences. And online courses aren’t always designed with these learners in mind, and optimized to provide support for these learners in virtual settings. But here’s the good news: with just a few design tweaks, you can create courses that help neurodiverse learners to thrive. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind.

  1. Establish clear expectations for assignments so learners can plan and complete their work.
  2. Allow for flexible deadlines and grading policies to give learners more control over their own learning.
  3. Encourage open dialogue between students and instructors – this allows for more personalized approaches to learning.
  4. Offer additional resources such as audio recordings, video tutorials, and transcripts of lectures.
  5. Create a safe space for students to ask questions, share ideas, and gain support from other learners in the course.
  6. Utilize visual aids to explain concepts as often as possible.
  7. Use elements of gamification to make completing course milestones more rewarding and engaging.
  8. Break down components of tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  9. When possible provide multiple options for learners to demonstrate their mastery of the material (e.g., written papers, presentations, videos).
  10. Provide additional resources for students who require extra academic support, such as tutoring or specialized software programs.

Ensuring your online course is accessible and inclusive for neurodiverse learners is essential to creating meaningful and successful learning experiences. By using the tips discussed in this post, you can ensure that your course will meet the needs of all learners – regardless of their age, gender, race, or ability. However, it’s important to remember that inclusion isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach; there are many other factors that influence a learner’s experience. Ultimately, though, by creating a learning environment that is equal parts supportive and challenging for all participants, you can guarantee you are doing your part in advancing more equitable learning.

Want to learn more or get help with instructional design? Talk to our experts today!