Special Education


This course is part of a D2L/Educator and Leadership Institute (ELI) suite of online learning programmes. The programmes aim to boost knowledge in 4 areas: Special Education, School Leadership, Mathematics Pedagogy, and Science and Technology Pedagogy.

The Special Education programme, like the other 3, is an 8-lesson course designed by research assistants, including volunteers, with advice from professors and diverse resource persons.

This course draws attention to a need to be conscious about differences among students. Accommodating individual student differences will be contributing to efforts to ensure equal access to education. This may often require modifying usual practices at school to support students with special education needs or disabilities.

Course Description

Admission to the course is cost-free for the learner. In addition, materials associated with the lessons have been provided at no cost to the learner. The course is self-paced and each lesson is put together to be completed in approximately 2 hours. The lessons are presented in the form of reading materials, images and short videos.

Learners are not required to sit an exam, but questions are included at the end of each lesson. The questions are meant to help the learner have a better understanding of the material that was discussed and to stimulate further discussion of the issues.


Course Outline

Lesson 1: Setting the Context for Special Education and Inclusion Globally -Lesson 1 examines some of the historical forces that have led to, and support, inclusive education. The lesson highlights commonly used terms in inclusive education and provides the opportunity for the learner to consider international agreements and frameworks as well as social movements that have engendered inclusive education globally.

Lesson 2: Differentiated Instruction -This lesson considers the different accommodations and modifications that teachers can make to differentiate their instruction and the learning environment. It provides a general framework, as well as specific strategies, that any teacher in any classroom in any part of the world can take to make the learning experience of all children more fun, engaging, and meaningful.

Lesson 3: Assessment of Student Needs -In this lesson, the different types of assessment, common forms of educational assessments, assistance and support in assessment for students with special education needs, and reporting on student progress are explored. The lesson covers ways to be fair and equitable in our assessments of students with special education needs.

Lesson 4: Learning disabilities -Lesson 4 discusses what a learning disability is and what some of its signs and symptoms are. Some subcategories of learning disabilities as well as strategies and techniques to help students succeed are explored.

Lesson 5: Mental Health -In this lesson, a broad overview of the meaning of mental health and mental illness with some examples are presented. The learner will gain an understanding of the stigma surrounding mental health and ways to talk about mental health comfortably with students.

Lesson 6: Autism -This lesson focuses on Autism Spectrum Disorder related to the background, characteristics, diagnosis and early signs. Some practices and strategies for teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder are also explored.

Lesson 7: Understanding and Supporting Student Behaviours -Lesson 7 examines ways to identify lagging skills that may be behind a behaviour, strategies for developing self-regulation, and ways to implement restorative practices in the classroom. The lesson aims to support the learner’s ability to understand and in turn support students’ behaviours.

Lesson 8: Consolidation: Action research and goal-setting -In this final lesson ways teachers can engage in action research to identify problems of practice and potential solutions to those problems are considered. It also provides an opportunity for the learner to establish goals for next steps in professional learning about disability, inclusion, and special education.

As part of our research on professional learning for educators, we collect data about the user experience in these courses. Research ethics clearance for the project “Face-to-Face and On-line Professional Development for Educators: Impact on Practice” (file #5003) has been provided by the Research Ethics Board of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. By registering for a course, you provide consent to the use of your data for this research project. No aspect of your participation will cause any harm or discomfort. All data will be securely stored and only used with identifying information removed and in aggregate form. You do not need to complete any questionnaire or questions within them to complete courses. Your participation will benefit research on how to most effectively support professional learning for educators globally. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the primary investigator, Dr. Steve Sider (ssider@wlu.ca).

Course Details

Course Developed by:
Research Assistants, including volunteers, under the leadership of Dr. Steve Sider Educator and Leadership Institute, Wilfrid Laurier University


  Real world applications of learning
  Interaction Opportunities
  100% Self-paced
  Cost per student: FREE


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If this is your first time visiting D2L Open Courses, you can register for this course by selecting the Register button below. The first time you register in D2L Open Courses, you will be asked to set up an account and agree to the Learner Terms of Use.   If you have already registered for this course please login now with your existing D2L Open Courses credentials to return to this course.

 Start Date: October 31, 2022
 End Date: December 21, 2024
 Duration:  100% self paced
 Cost: FREE

Registration is open as of October 31, 2022 until December 21, 2024

2136 seats available.
Price: Free