Insight About Special Education

Special education professionals work to promote students’ overall behavioral, social and academic growth. Special education professionals aide students in developing socially appropriate behavior within their family, school and community. Teachers of special education help students become more confident in their social interactions. Special education professionals administer activities that build students’ life skills.

What Does the Job Entail?

Are you interested in helping others? Can you handle and care for people who learn differently and have other behavioral problems? Do you want to make a difference in a young child’s life? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might consider a career in special education. Below is a breakdown of the short and long-term responsibilities of a special education teacher.

First and foremost, special education teachers focus on the development and academic needs of children with disabilities. They encourage learning in disabled students by implementing educational modules and behavioral techniques. Special education teachers work alone or with general education teachers to individualize lessons, develop problem-solving techniques and integrate children into group projects with other students. Furthermore, special education teachers are responsible for ensuring that the needs of disabled children are met during assessment periods.

Did you know that special education teachers work with a team of professionals, qualified staff and family in order to fulfill their job requirements? It is true. In fact, special education teachers work in conjunction with these entities to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student. An IEP is designed in collaboration with a child’s parents, school principal, social worker, speech pathologist and general education teacher to ensure effective implementation. An IEP targets a student’s needs and growth areas for maximum response. The specialized goals set by the IEP are woven throughout all aspects of a child’s daily activities. Teachers of special education must monitor a child’s setbacks and progress and report back to parents and administrators. Planned goals and tasks are outlined for family members to refer to while a student is at home as well.

The types of disabilities a special education teacher might encounter are difficult to predict. For one, the qualifications for special education services vary greatly from mild disabilities to extreme cases of mental retardation or autism. Types of disabilities include, but are not limited to, the following: speech impairments, hearing disabilities, emotional disturbances, orthopedic impairments, brain trauma cases, blindness, deafness and learning disabilities.

Do You Exhibit These Qualities?

Now that you have an idea of the job’s demands, let’s see if you have the right qualities to be a special education teacher.

Recognize the symptoms and needs of special needs students


Ability to work with one or more parties to achieve short-term and long-term goals

Strong communication skills

Ability to motivate others

Ability to multi-task

Knowledge of the most recent education modules, medical research and behavioral practices

  • Creativity

Knowledge of the latest medical technology relevant to special education

Taking the Next Step toward a New Career

Once you have decided to enter the field of special education, you will need to follow several steps. Due to the specialization of the field, special education teachers in all 50 states must receive licensure before employment. Licensures are approved by each state’s board of education, and the requirements for certification differ between states. Nevertheless, the growing shortage of special education teachers has led institutions of higher education to offer more special education degree and certification programs. In fact, special education degrees are offered at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels throughout the nation. Not to mention, the booming field of distance learning has made certification more accessible from any location in the United States.

In many cases, hopeful special education professionals do not meet the requirements of special education licensure due to their prior completion of degree programs outside of the field of education. Therefore, several states have begun to offer alternate forms of certification. The hope of these programs is to attract new special education professionals and fill the growing need for teachers. The chance to positively impact the lives of special needs children is one of the driving motivations and benefits of entering this field.

After several years, some special education teachers look for new opportunities within their field. In the most common situations, special education professionals transfer to administrative or supervisory positions. Others, after receiving a higher degree, become college professors and educate new students in the field of special education. Experienced teachers of special needs students have also moved up to serve as mentors to incoming special education teachers.

As for the future of special education and employment, there are many changes on the horizon. Most significantly, the job market in special education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is projected to “increase faster than the average of all occupations by 2014.” Due to the new emphasis on education and training in legislature, special education professionals will become even more valued.

Can I Make a Living as a Special Education Teacher?

As mentioned previously, the special education job market is on the rise. In 2004, the BLS reported 441,000 employed special education teachers in the nation. While only 6 percent worked within private schools, over 90 percent were employed by public schools or districts. In rare cases, special education professionals were involved in home or hospital care.

Several factors determine a special education teacher’s financial compensation. Such factors include experience, educational background, area of specialty and geographical location. In May 2004, the BLS reported the following breakdown of median annual earnings of special education teachers:

Preschool, kindergarten and elementary school level: – $43,570

Middle school level: – $44,160

Secondary school level: – $45,700

Special education teachers receive increases in salary through additional involvement in their schools’ educational activities and through coaching school athletic teams. In some districts, being a mentor to a new special education teacher carries additional monetary benefits. However, the most common way to increase earnings is through the completion of a higher degree, which can also make a teacher’s instruction more credible and valuable.

All About Online Education

More and more young people are choosing non-traditional education to start and advance in their careers while completing and furthering their formal education. “Typical distance learners are those who don’t have access to programs, employees who work during scheduled class hours, homebound individuals, self-motivated individuals who want to take courses for self-knowledge or advancement, or those who are unable or unwilling to attend class” (Charp, 2000, p. 10). Three key elements surround the online learner: technology, curriculum, and instructor (Bedore, Bedore, & Bedore, 1997). These elements must be keenly integrated into one smoothly and operationally functional delivery tool.

While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners. Online asynchronous education gives students control over their learning experience, and allows for flexibility of study schedules for non traditional students; however, this places a greater responsibility on the student. In order to successfully participate in an online program, student must be well organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of time management skills in order to keep up with the pace of the course. For these reasons, online education or e-learning is not appropriate for younger students (i.e. elementary or secondary school age), and other students who are dependent learners and have difficulty
assuming responsibilities required by the online paradigm.

Millions of students use e-learning solutions in over 140 countries: corporations such as Kodak and Toyota and education providers like ExecuTrain, New Horizons, the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS), Phoenix University amongst the hundreds of schools and colleges.

Studies have shown student retention to be up to 250% better with online learning than with classroom courses. Several recent ones have helped frame the debate. The Sloan Consortium published a widely distributed report titled “Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States in 2005” that examined the growing prevalence of online education across U.S. institutions.

In addition, a study conducted by the Boston-based consulting firm Eduventures found that, while about half of institutions and more than 60 percent of employers generally accept the high quality of online learning, students’ perceptions differ. Only about 33 percent of prospective online students said that they perceive the quality of online education to be “as good as or better than” face-to-face education. Ironically, 36 percent of prospective students surveyed cited concern about employers’ acceptance of online education as a reason for their reluctance to enroll in online courses.

But what actually drives quality? A March 2006 report released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education identifies six quality indicators: mission, curriculum and instruction, faculty support, student and academic services, planning for sustainability and growth, and evaluation and assessment.

The debate rages on while the Pros and Cons of Online Adult Education for today’s international students are constantly analyzed to determine if this type of education platform can deliver predictable and measurable results.

The Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) is one institution which uses this type of delivery system. ENOCIS enhances their learning experience by offering many other “value added”, cost reducing benefits to students. Online pupils can apply for scholarships available to students of excellence and other financial aid programs like the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), with attractive interest rates. They also provide convenient payment facilities, on line banking, Western Union Quick Collect, bank cards and a student who is granted a loan can start repaying it after two months if they have a corporate guarantor.

Pros of Online Education:

The key advantages of the online education experience are briefly explained below:

1. Cheaper: Online courses may be more affordable than those offered at colleges or trade schools. You may also save on transportation costs like gas, bus passes, and parking permits because you don’t need to commute to school and there are no housing or meals plans to worry about since you do not need to live on or near a college campus. Housing expenses and other costs associated with living expenses are usually the most expensive aspects of a college education, so by taking an online course you could save quite a bit of money.

The best part of online education is the absence of travel and immigration problems. Some students may prefer not to pursue traditional on campus education, as it involves traveling to attend lectures. With online education, an applicant does not need to travel. Courses simply require accessing the internet in order to begin the learning process.

2. More Convenient: By taking courses online, you’re able to decide when you study and for how long. You are also able to schedule your studying around your work or social schedule.

Since you’re not bound to a classroom, you may do your work wherever you have access to a computer and the internet. You’ll be able to set your own pace and decide exactly how fast you want to go over the material.

Take online courses when you need them, not based on some college’s annual or semester schedule. You can learn when you need it (Just-In-Time) A course is as close as a computer with an Internet connection.

3. Flexibility: with no set class times, you decide when to complete your assignments and readings. You set the pace. In some programs, you can even design your own degree plan. The online students can carry out their private or official work, along with the online education. As it provides the convenience of time flexibility, a student can login and logout as per his desire whereas, the traditional education do not provide such flexibility in learning.

Flexibility of online education allows the student control over their studies. They can allot more time in the topics, which they feel comparatively hard and vice versa. The speed of learning depends solely upon the students.

4. Technology: With the help of the scientific technology, students can do their online education at any place. The only mandatory pre-requisite is the availability of computer along with an internet amenity. Side benefits include the learning new technologies and technical skills

5. Availability: distance-learning opportunities have exploded over the past few years, with many accredited and reputable programs.

6. Accessibility: with an online course, you can work on the course just about anywhere you have computer access. Your learning options are not constrained by your geographic location. The new virtual classrooms have created a myriad of learning opportunities for global learning and education center. On line education is a new era experience adapting to the needs of the world citizen.

7. Self-Directed: you set your own pace and schedule, so you control the learning environment.

8. Time Spent in Classroom: now you can take a course on just about any subject without ever having to be in, or travel to, a classroom so you have very little wasted time. Note, however, that some distance-education programs still do have an in-class component and normally to receive a fully accredited US university degree an international student must spend one or two semesters on campus.

9. High Quality Dialog: Within an online asynchronous discussion structure, the learner is able to carefully reflect on each comment from others before responding or moving on to the next item. This structure allows students time to articulate responses with much more depth and forethought than in a traditional face-to-face discussion situation where the participant must analyze the comment of another on the spot and formulate a response or otherwise loose the chance to contribute to the discussion.

10. Student Centered: Within an online discussion, the individual student responds to the course material (lectures and course books, for example) and to comments from other students. Students usually respond to those topics within the broader conversation that most clearly speak to their individual concerns and situations resulting in several smaller conversations taking place simultaneously within the group. While students are expected to read all of their classmates’ contributions, they will become actively engaged only in those parts of the dialog most relevant to their needs. In this way, students take control of their own learning experience and tailor the class discussions to meet their own specific needs. Ideally, students make their own individual contributions to the course while at the same time take away a unique mix of information directly relevant to their needs.

11. Level Playing Field: In the online environment learners retain a considerable level of anonymity. Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are largely absent. Instead, the focus of attention is clearly on the content of the discussion and the individual’s ability to respond and contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the material at hand.

On line adult education can be more effective and better for certain types of learners (shy, introverted, reflective, language challenged, those that need more time). Distance education courses are often better for people who learn through visual cues and experiential exercises.

12. Synergy: The online format allows for a high level of dynamic interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves. Resources and ideas are shared, and continuous synergy will be generated through the learning process as each individual contributes to the course discussions and comments on the work of others. The synergy that exists in the student-centred virtual classroom is one of the unique and vital traits that the online learning format posses..

13. Access to Resources: It is easy to include distinguished guest experts or students from other institutions in an online class as well as allow students to access resources and information anywhere in the world. An instructor can compile a resource section online with links to scholarly articles, institutions, and other materials relevant to the course topic for students to access for research, extension, or in depth analysis of course content material in the global classroom.

14. Creative Teaching: The literature of adult education supports the use of interactive learning environments as contributing to self-direction and critical thinking. Some educators have made great strides in applying these concepts to their on ground teaching. However, many classes still exist which are based on boring lectures and rote memorization of material. The nature of the semi-autonomous and self-directed world of the virtual classroom makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction even more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience. The occasion of a shift in technology creates the hope that those who move into the new technology will also leave behind bad habits as they adopt this new paradigm of teaching. As educators redesign their course materials to fit the online format, they must reflect on their course objectives and teaching style and find that many of the qualities that make a successful online facilitator are also tremendously effective in the traditional classroom as well.

Cons of Online Education:

Briefly explained are some factors that could negatively affect your success with distance learning courses:

1. The Technology:

a. Equity and Accessibility to Technology: Before any online program can hope to succeed, it must have students who are able to access the online learning environment. Lack of access, whether it be for economical or logistics reasons, will exclude otherwise eligible students from the course. This is a significant issue in rural and lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and educating the underserved peoples of the world. Furthermore, speaking from an administrative point of view, if students cannot afford the technology the institution employs, they are lost as customers. As far as Internet accessibility is concerned, it is not universal, and in some areas of the United States and other countries, Internet access poses a significant cost to the user. Some users pay a fixed monthly rate for their Internet connection, while others are charged for the time they spend online. If the participants’ time online is limited by the amount of Internet access they can afford, then instruction and participation in the online program will not be equitable for all students in the course. This is a limitation of online programs that rely on Internet access. Equity of access to learners of all backgrounds and parts of society

b. Requires New Skills/Technologies: if you’re not computer-savvy or are afraid of change or new technologies, then online education will probably not work for you. The online students are required to learn new skills, such as researching and reviewing the internet. For the online students, they need to learn the techniques of navigation on an online library for necessary information. Technical training and support of learners and instructors

c. Computer Literacy: Both students and facilitators must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge in order to function successfully in an online environment. For example, they must be able to use a variety of search engines and be comfortable navigating on the World Wide Web, as well as be familiar with Newsgroups, FTP procedures and email. If they do not possess these technology tools, they will not succeed in an online program; a student or faculty member who cannot function on the system will drag the entire program down.

d. Limitations of Technology: User friendly and reliable technology is critical to a successful online program. However, even the most sophisticated technology is not 100% reliable. Unfortunately, it is not a question of if the equipment used in an online program will fail, but when. When everything is running smoothly, technology is intended to be low profile and is used as a tool in the learning process. However, breakdowns can occur at any point along the system, for example, the server which hosts the program could crash and cut all participants off from the class; a participant may access the class through a networked computer which could go down; individual PCs can have numerous problems which could limit students’ access; finally, the Internet connection could fail, or the institution hosting the connection could become bogged down with users and either slow down, or fail all together. In situations like these, the technology is neither seamless nor reliable and it can detract from the learning experience.

2. The Institution: Many online education facilities are relatively new with many courses and hence, lack in modern instructors for instructing the new curriculum. Estimates show that there is still a need for an increase of more 50% of qualified instructors for online education.

b. The Administration and Faculty: Some environments are disruptive to the successful implementation of an online program. Administrators and/or faculty members who are uncomfortable with change and working with technology or feel that online programs cannot offer quality education often inhibit the process of implementation. These people represent a considerable weakness in an online program because they can hinder its success.

3. The Facilitator :Lack of Essential Online Qualities: Successful on-ground instruction does not always translate to successful online instruction. If facilitators are not properly trained in online delivery and methodologies, the success of the online program will be compromised. An instructor must be able to communicate well in writing and in the language in which the course is offered. An online program will be weakened if its facilitators are not adequately prepared to function in the virtual classroom.

4. Perceptions/Reputation: while slowly changing as more and more mainstream colleges and universities embrace distance learning, there still is a stigma attached to distance education to the student’s interaction in the online education. Some of the students believe that, there are few opportunities with regards to face-to-face interactions and feedbacks.

5. No Instructor Face Time: If your learning style is one where you like personalized attention from your teachers, then online education will probably not work for you.

6. Little Support: students are expected to find their own resources for completing assignments and exams, which is empowering for some, but daunting for others.

There is little support and limited guidelines provided in online education system. Online students are required to search as per their own imaginations for completing exams and assignments.

7. Lacking Social Interaction: while you often interact with classmates via email, chat rooms, or discussion groups, there are no parties or off line get-togethers.
If you enjoy meeting new people and learn better while you’re interacting with other people, you may want to reconsider online education.

8. No Campus Atmosphere: part of the traditional college experience, of course, is the beauty of the campus, the college spirit, but you have none of that with distance-education courses.

Since you’re not on campus or in classes, you may lack opportunities to meet other students. You will not have many opportunities to interact face-to-face with your professors, so they may not have a real sense of who you are as a person.

9. Making Time: if you are a procrastinator or one of those people who always needs an extra push to complete work, you may have a hard time making time for your online classes. On line learning requires new skills and responsibilities from learners

10. Academic honesty of online students: requires a new mindset to online assessment. Most education experts agree that rote memory testing is not the best measure of learning in any environment and new measurement and evaluation tools are evolving.

11. Types and effectiveness of assessments: The importance of outcomes in online learning cannot be over emphasized. Does the program have measurable results? Are students learning what you say they should be learning? Then there are institutional outputs: course completion rates, job placement rates (if that’s the goal of the institution), graduation rates, student success on third-party tests, and student satisfaction scores.

These factors, both the pros and cons, contribute greatly to making an informed decision about the direction of your career path and how you are going to accomplish your goals: on line, in the classroom or a combination of both.

Institutions and companies that use continuing education to meet their needs also face similar decisions. Institutions that deliver online education are confronted with a series of challenges, including the search for good faculty, use of technology, and provision of adequate student services.

The Sloan Consortium report “Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States in 2005” found that 64 percent of chief academic officers and faculty believe that it takes more discipline for a student to succeed in an online course than it does in a face-to-face course.

More and more major business and industry is turning to on line continuing education as a viable and cost effective resource for training its personnel. Hilton Hotel has 380 hotels worldwide and is represented in 66 countries.

When you weigh the benefits and advantages of on line adult continuing education the cost of study and flexibility of scheduling tip the scales of programs like the Enoch Olinga College, Capella and Phoenix University’s distance learning program on line adult continuing education is becoming a world wide respected form of education.

However, as with any situation, there are both pros and cons with the concept of online education and the benefits of the virtual or global classroom. You may want to evaluate both before you decide on an online education program. By examining the advantages and disadvantages, you will be able to make a more informed decision. But, at the end of the day, online learning is independent learning. A lot of structure has been put into online programs, but it still comes down to a learner sitting in front of a computer by him or herself. The knowledge you receive or the benefits it will generate either in development of self esteem or increasing earning capacity will depend sole upon you the student.

Decision To Make During College

Colleges and universities are big companies and big business. Their partners are huge businesses with a big appetite for survival. There is no problem with that – unless what they say to survive is not the whole story on how they impact you.

Years of research, teaching and dealing with incomplete information coming from colleges and universities, banks, college recruiters and others has compelled me to assemble this list as part warning, part checklist and part sobering review for students, parents and others considering the college option.

My experience has taught me to dig deeper and get more information that what I receive from those with a vested financial interest in my business. You take it for what it’s worth to you.

1. The overall college drop-out rate is far worse than the high school drop-out rate, and high school drop-out rates are at epidemic levels. Look up four year and six year graduation rates on the FAFSA website. There are numbers reported by the colleges themselves. It is sobering. My face to face conversation with students and parents are even more sobering.

2. College student loan debt default rates have risen steadily every year since 2005 and are now approaching 10%. Loans at least 90 days late now account for over 11% of all loans. Student loans debts has surpassed $1 trillion dollars and is greater than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States. The average college student graduates with between $25,000 to $30,000 of debt, and many have debt exceeding $100,000 or more. Close to 90% of college students require financial aid to attend and complete formal, higher education.

3. College students show virtually no net increasing in learning between starting college and the beginning of their junior year. This is according to research by Dr. Richard Arum, University of New York and Dr. Josipa Roksa, University of Virginia detailed in their book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Their follow-up book, according to Dr. Arum, is not going to do much to alleviate many fears on this topic.

4. The average length of time required to complete a “four year” college degree is now six years. The most favorable data on the college completion rate is that 59% of those who start college finish within six years. The number graduating within the standard four years is far less. Again, see the numbers on the FAFSA website.

5. Without asterisks and disclaimers, colleges and universities can no longer claim that earning a degree will insure a better standard of living for the graduate versus non-graduates. More students than ever are returning home to live with their parents. Teen and student employment is at record highs. The number of college graduates taking minimum wage jobs is rising fast.

6. At nearly all liberal arts, public and private colleges and universities, the number of college administrators is exploding disproportionately larger than the ranks of professors and instructors. This imbalance and the dramatic increase in class sizes is widely regarded as detrimental to the quality of education in the United States. Additionally, administrative units at colleges are demanding and achieving greater power and administrative muscle over their academic counterparts. As colleges expand, they are spending their money on administrative resources, not instructional resources as evidenced by dramatic shifts in student-to-faculty and student-to-administrator ratios since 1975.

7. At nearly all liberal arts schools, the number of part-time adjunct instructors is growing disproportionately larger than number of PhD level college professors assigned to the classroom.

8. Forbes Magazine published an article indicating that the average college student would now do better financially to work a full-time job during the time they would have spent 4-6 six years at a college or university and not incur the normal debt required to complete a degree.

9. A recent article published in papers across the country indicated that as many as 47% of the jobs available to students now will disappear in the future due to technological changes.

10. A large percentage of college students don’t get jobs in their chosen field of study.

11. Drug and alcohol misuse on college campuses is a leading factor in sub-standard academic performance resulting in young people leaving college before they graduate. In many cases, 25% of college freshmen leave college before the end of their first year due to academic deficiencies complicated by drug and alcohol misuse.

12. The number of people with college degrees who have filed bankruptcy in the past several years has jumped close to 60%, narrowing the gap between traditional filers with lower incomes.

13. A Stanford University recruiter openly admits in the film, The Race To Nowhere, that colleges and universities are putting unnecessary and extraordinary pressure on high school students that results in significant mental and physical health challenges for students and their families, including suicide.

14. The banking, financial, academic and political systems that encourage you to go to college have perfected the result of making you feel guilty or sorry if you don’t go, without citing evidence of the problems brought about by failure and lack of preparation for college and university life.

15. Because of the relationship between these four segments of the economy, college tuitions rose 248% between 1990-2008 – more than any other measurable industry, major product or segment of the economy.

16. Fueled by technology and innovation, auto-didactic learning or self-teaching is growing in popularity as a way to create focused learning without the time, financial and health constraints of a failing traditional education model.

17. Over the past generation, as colleges and universities have spent billions of dollars on assessment systems and administration, academic performance of college students has dropped substantially and the dissatisfaction of the private sector with the quality of graduates has increased. Formal learning and assessment systems implemented by colleges and universities are not working; and they are failing the students, families, communities and businesses they serve.

18. Alternatives to the traditional education model are expanding rapidly. Online education tools are forcing colleges to respond to competition as opposed to colleges taking the lead on new and innovative forms of education.

19. Employers, in a variety of surveys and studies, indicate that they are increasingly dissatisfied with overall product of colleges and universities. Google has begun to approach high school students in a effort to gain better control and influence over the education of students and to insure that they get the kinds of students that will fit their business model best.