A five-year, $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will support new research at Kansas University into online education for K-12 students with disabilities.
Don Deshler, director of KU’s Center for Research on Learning, said online offerings are becoming increasingly available and utilized for students.
“More often than not — certainly not always, but most often — when these courses are designed, they’re designed with normal achieving students in mind,” Deshler said.
The research project will involve a thorough analysis of online offerings as they exist today. After the survey, researchers will identify design deficiencies and will seek to build new systems that correct any issues, and build a new system that’s better for students with disabilities.
The Center for Research on Learning will form the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities with two other organizations: The National Association of State Directors of Special Education, or NASDSE, promotes education and services for children and youth with disabilities, according to a statement from KU, and CAST, formerly known as the Center for Applied Special Technology, which explores ways to use technology to improve education for students with disabilities.
The task will not initially focus on students with more severe disabilities.
“We need to be careful that we don’t go a mile wide and an inch deep,” Deshler said.
Deshler said he hoped the research would be the first step in a long series of research initiatives to come.