The initial challenge was to continue with multisensory content that is direct, systematic, explicit, sequential, and taught to mastery. Online dyslexia therapy wasn’t missing any of those elements. The question was how to effectively provide the curricula virtually
Let’s face it, COVID shook up many aspects of our personal lives, our jobs, and even educational standards. It was a very hard and difficult time for all. All employees were expected to shift and find ways to continue with their jobs and careers. In the education world, teachers were expected to deliver online content to their students. However, as time went on and it became obvious schools were not returning to the classroom setting in person anytime soon, educators learned how to deliver content virtually. Educators researched and found engaging content to help support their students.
Now we are mostly back in the classroom. In the post-COVID setting, we continue to use much of the technical knowledge we acquired, and digital content is becoming incorporated more and more in the face-to-face setting. Teachers were forced to become more tech-savvy, and it benefitted not only their students but the teachers themselves. It made us better instructors.
Digital content isn’t different for virtual dyslexia intervention/dyslexia therapy. The initial challenge was to continue with multisensory content that is direct, systematic, explicit, sequential, and taught to mastery. Online dyslexia therapy wasn’t missing any of those elements. The question was how to effectively provide the curricula virtually.
How is virtual different from in-person instruction?
Short answer: It isn’t.
Many mistakenly believe virtual instruction is missing direct instruction. Dyslexia curricula should not be a student interacting with a computer program only. Dyslexia instruction is the student and interventionist/therapist actively engaging with each other. The interventionist/therapist provides immediate feedback in a synchronous setting- whether that is in-person or virtual. Nothing is left for assumption and the content is taught to mastery.
Virtual instruction can provide the same level of highly trained instructors with an evidenced-based instructional approach
But is virtual dyslexia instruction still considered multisensory instruction?
Another misconception that many have regarding virtual instruction/therapy is that it is not multisensory. Multisensory instruction in dyslexia education is VAKT- visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. VAKT is the delivery of two or more of those modalities simultaneously. The teacher writes on the whiteboard while verbalizing. The students see the content and provide oral feedback. The students can look at the screen, trace on the screen, or on the tabletop while providing an auditory response. Skywriting can still be incorporated into new learning, all while the instructor provides immediate and corrective feedback.
A benefit to virtual instruction is that students who may have health issues can still receive the same high standard of instruction as their peers. They have the ability to continually learn, grow, and progress in their instruction and remediation. Inclusivity and accessibility to quality curricula and highly trained specialists remain constant.
How to set your student up for success
Often, virtual instruction is free of typical classroom distractions. However, it is important to share with parents that in order for virtual dyslexia instruction to be successful, there need to be parameters set for the student such as:
- A computer with working camera and microphone
- A strong wifi connection
- Virtual meeting application is up-to-date
- Student is working at a desk or table
- Materials such as paper, pen, etc. are nearby
- Noise and family distractions are at a minimum
- Student is on-time to class and shows up each day
- The student is expected to interact and respond appropriately to the instructor
Virtual therapy meets the needs of students identified with dyslexia and even more, can include students who may not be able to attend in person. Virtual instruction can provide the same level of highly trained instructors with an evidenced-based instructional approach. Virtual learning makes dyslexia instruction accessible for all students.