IES University Prep

Meeting Varied Learner Needs in Online Classrooms

Course Description

This module focuses on various learner needs in the online classroom. It provides strategies for supporting students and creating adaptations depending on their specific situations. It is suitable for teachers of students who struggled with the online transition.

Students learn in different ways, have different learning needs, and have unique ways of processing information. Better understanding *how* students learn helps us create a more effective learning environment and equal opportunities for all students. Understanding some basic principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can set the stage for success for the greatest number of students. In addition, approaches for differentiating instruction in an online classroom are often similar to approaches in face-to-face classrooms, as many accommodations for students are easily adapted for online delivery.

While this course touches upon accommodating students with education plans as part of the focus on meeting the varied needs of online learners, the course is designed to share best practices in supporting any students who experience challenges in learning in an online environment. The course will be most helpful for teacher supporting students who have demonstrated success in their face-to-face classes with or without accommodations and is not intended as professional development in the area of special education. Certain barriers are more challenging to overcome; those situations require the expertise of local special education staff and careful planning and communication with families.

This 10-hour module focuses on meeting the needs of a diverse classroom. Teachers will differentiate between the variety of learner needs likely to present themselves in their online classroom, determine appropriate accommodations based on their population of students, create make-up plans or support documents tailored to a specific student’s needs, identify essential stakeholders necessary to support student success in online classrooms, anticipate common barriers to online learning, and generate a bank of accommodations based on predicted student needs.

Important Notes: This module does not provide instruction for meeting the needs of students that require PT, OT, ABA, or services from an SLP, as there are a variety of tele-health options available for districts to review and evaluate.

This module does not focus on technology devices to support student learning for students with audio, visual, or physical limitations. For information about technology solutions to support students, we recommend you review guidance from your local department of education or office of special education.

This module is part of a series of professional learning opportunities focused on critical skills online teachers must develop. Teachers can enroll in one module or take the entire series. Courses are designed for middle and high school teachers or teachers teaching grades 7-12.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the Meeting Learner Needs Module, participants will be able to:

  • Differentiate among a variety of learner needs in the online classroom
  • Determine appropriate accommodations based on learner needs
  • Develop a make-up plan tailored to a specific student needs
  • Identify essential stakeholders to help support student success
  • Anticipate common barriers to online learning based on curricular expectations
  • Generate a bank of accommodations based on predicted student needs
Course Commitment

10 hours asynchronous study

Course Facilitator

Stacy Young

Stacy Young is the Associate Dean of Instruction at VHS Learning. She mentors and collaborates with the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) team members to support VHS Learning teachers in their professional development. Key responsibilities include oversight of professional development courses, traing and supervision of teachers, supervision of the Faculty Advisors, coordination of teaching assignments, and Curriculum and Instruction program development as a member of the C&I Leadership Team. Stacy was formerly the Director of the Massachusetts Personalized Learning Network with the Center for Collaborative Education, and she brings fifteen years of classroom expeirence to this role. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Masters of Science in Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine.

Professional Learning Course Registration


Flexible Schedule / Self-paced


10 hours asynchronous study

Total work hours

10 hours



Certificate(s) available




VHS Learning

VHS Learning (VHS, Inc.) is a nonprofit organization providing supplemental online classes and blended learning opportunities to middle and high school students, and professional development to educators. We partner with schools and districts to create programs in their schools and work directly with parents and students that want to enroll in our classes individually.

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