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5663 Making Distance Education Work for People with ASD

Saturday, July 9, 2011: 1:30 PM-2:45 PM
Tallahassee 123 (Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center)
The presenters of this session will discuss how to use distance education and learning to better serve people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through both direct and indirect services. The presenters will discuss the best practices of distance education and how these practices can be implemented in both direct services and indirect services in order to better enhance the lives with people with ASD. Glenwood, with 35 years of experience, is a leader not only in Alabama but in the southeast in serving people with ASD. In the past year, Glenwood has developed a distance education service that can better serve people with ASD. By using the Best Practices in the area of Distance Education, Glenwood’s services are able to reach more individuals with a faster response time thereby helping more individuals with ASD reach their maximum potential.

Currently, we are using distance education in several fashions. First, we can provide trainings to professionals across the state in multiple locations during a session. Second, we can observe students from distance locations in order to provide classroom and/or behavioral suggestions with fast response times. We can also provide rapid follow-up services for individuals who have previously received our services. We can assist schools by developing IEP Goals, curriculum development, and consultative services via distance education. Lastly, by using distance education, we can also assist with the collaboration of various agencies in order to provide greater supports to individuals with ASD.

According to Michael Jeffries‘The history of distance education could be tracked back to the early 1700s in the form of correspondence education,” but since its origin it has remained in a constant state of evolution. Distance Education is full of new ideas and ever changing technology but it is often met with great resistance from educational systems. Glenwood Inc., is supported by the Alabama State Department of Education and Alabama Department of Mental Health is striving to meet this resistance with an educational program that is based on the Best Practices of Distance Education

Perhaps the most important political document describing the state of distance education has been the report done for Congress by the In 1989, the Office of Technology Assessment submitted a report to Congress called Linking for Learning. The following is an excerpt from that report:

New curriculum requirements, shortages of qualified teachers in some subjects, sparse student enrollment in some regions, and rising costs for educational services contribute to tan increasing need for effective methods for providing instructions/ At the same time, advances in telecommunications and computer technology are making it possible to combine and transit video images, sound, and data, enabling teachers and students to overcome physical and geographic limitations. These systems can broaden the variety and range of instructional programs available to students in remote locations, distribute education resources more evenly among all students, and provide improved teacher development opportunities. Although telecommunications technologies are already being used extensively for education and training in higher education and business, distance learning projects at the K-12 level currently reach only a small proportion of students and cover limited curricula/ Learning opportunities could be expanded to include remote learners of all types, both in the K-12 classroom and in the home.

With the growing need for distance education and Alabama’s poor economic state, Glenwood created a distance education program in order to meet the need. In the process of developing the program, Glenwood Inc., incorporated the Best Practices in the field of Distance Education.  The following are the best practices and how we have incorporated each:

Organization and Planning—Assess educational/ training needs and create a training that is specific to those needs.

Teaching/ Learning–By creating a training specific to a school system’s needs, teachers will be more effective in the classroom.

Delivery Methods—We can provide Distance Education in a variety of ways to fit your individual needs (e.g. live trainings and pre-recorded material).

Educational Support—Provide supplementary materials and resources to enhance trainings.

Support Services—Assist with setting up and planning your training needs (e.g. assisting IT personnel) to ensure that the nature of the training and the delivery style are efficient.

Evaluation and Assessment—Ensure that the training meets the needs of the participants and provides information for potential future trainings and/or follow-up trainings.

Currently the majority of our services are based on request from school systems. However we are beginning to focus on school systems that have poor scores on state assessments and state-wide indicators. The school systems that tend to have the lower scores are typically the more rural school systems. By using distance education, we can serve these systems at lower costs and with faster response times while meeting their unique and individual needs.  

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will learn how distance education can enhance their knowledge thereby becoming more effective teachers/ professionals
  • Attendees will learn how to assess their classroom/ programs in order to receive trainings that will best meet their needs.
  • Attendees will view the various delivery styles in order to determine the style that would be most beneficial to them and their students.

Content Area: Technology


Felicia Houston, Ph.D
Director of School Based Services for Glenwood Inc.
Glenwood Inc., The Autism and Behavioral Health Center

A Licensed Psychologist and the Associate Director of School Based Services for Glenwood, Inc., Dr. Houston’s work experience includes developing programs for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, conducting comprehensive assessments, developing and implementing interventions and providing consultative services and training to diverse populations.

Jennifer Sellers-Foster, Ph.D.
Consultation and Training Specialist in Transition and Distance Learning Coordinator
Glenwood, Inc., The Autism and Behavioral Health Center

Jennifer Sellers-Foster is a Consultation and Training Specialist with Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center. She has experience with program development in both school-and center-based programs. She currently leads the Standards of Practice in Transition Committee. Dr. Sellers-Foster has a son with ASD.