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5 Tips for Navigating Online Classes for Students with Dyslexia

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Do you or your child have dyslexia? Learning how to navigate online classes can be tricky! We asked Dan Jordan, author, counselor, and disabilities services coordinator, to share some of the best tips for navigating online classes for students with dyslexia.

Tips for Navigating Online Classes for Students with Dyslexia

Tips for students with dyslexia as they Navigate distance learning

Tip 1: Know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous classes. 

Knowing the difference between synchronous and asynchronous classes is essential. It allows you 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 class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10 am.

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 because of the set time and days. 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.

Navigating Online Classes When You Have Dyslexia

Tip 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 right now find most challenging – the difference in schedules and routines from typical class attendance in an actual building and classroom. If you mimic what a typical schedule would look like in your daily 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 go through the asynchronous class materials either at 9 am or 11 am. Make sure to pay attention to the due dates for assignments, as these will be very specific for asynchronous classes.

Dyslexia and Online Classes - How to Effectively Navigate Them

Tip 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 assignments 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.

Note: Organizing assignment can be challenging for all students, not just those with dyslexia. If you need help, reach out to your school’s student services department.

Tip 4: Take care of yourself.

Make sure to add in downtime and adequate breaks in your schedule. Your brain needs to rest.

Dyslexia places a great deal of stress and work on the brain, and it can be easy to overwork it. 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 or tests to study for.

Establish a good bedtime routine and get adequate rest. A tired or hungry brain does not work as efficiently, and this is more profound for those with dyslexia.  

How to Be Successful at Online Learning When You Have Dyslexia

Tip 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, make sure you notify your disability staff and CC your instructor on the emails.

Making sure that your accessibility software is working and compatible with your classes early on in the semester is essential. If you wait until mid-terms and discover that your speech-to-text software suddenly is incompatible with the assignments that you have to complete, you run the risk of getting behind or doing poorly on a test or assignment.

Dyslexia and Online Learning

The most important thing to remember about navigating online learning with dyslexia is that you have to give yourself a break. The format may not be ideal but by proactively organizing your day and assignments, you will be more likely to stay on schedule and complete the tasks that need to be done.

If you need help requesting accommodations or academic coaching, reach out to learn more about our personalized student success services. Be sure to grab the book, Self-Advocacy for Higher Education, to get the step-by-step walk-through of how to better understand your disability and advocate for what you need.

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