Online Learning and Special Education

The COVID-19 pandemic created a challenge for teachers, parents, and students in special education. It came with all the issues that hit the broader education community, and additional concerns about how the students would handle learning under these new conditions. Students in special education classrooms usually need a structured, consistent schedule, and that was more difficult to maintain while working remotely.

Winn and Behizadeh emphasized a right to education, specifically literacy education, and it is naturally easy to worry about fulfilling those obligations for special education students when they suddenly found themselves in a completely different setting, with a strange new routine none of them were used to.

Open laptop that says online learning, Writing utensils, and a notebook sitting on a desk

By law, schools were still required to provide special education services during remote learning, which included various services in addition to general education curricula like reading and math. The problem is that accessing these services could be difficult. Parents were often at a loss as to what to do. This also came with them having to basically become teachers themselves and try different learning methods till they found something that worked for their child.

IEP assessments became an issue too. The school must evaluate every child’s IEP and determine whether education goals were being met and what needed to be rewritten in light of the student’s current needs. With remote learning however, correctly evaluating these things could prove difficult for special education teachers and the aides who are meant to help students navigate through their time at school.

It was a rough year for special education, but hopefully things will begin to look up from here on out. More schools in Ohio are back in person (whether part-time or full-time) which should mitigate the issues that arose around special education. Being back in a physical classroom can give students the structure and consistency they need to learn.

Back to the Past: A COVID-Free World

Just when we’ve all barely managed to adjust to this new normal, we are mentally preparing ourselves to get back to some of our old ways. With vaccinations happening all around the world, we have plenty of reason, and hope, to start preparing to re-enter society.

Medical professional administering vaccine to someone

Medical professional administering vaccine to someone

As much as the internet has kept us laughing during these trying times, we are all looking forward to the day where we won’t have to sport a mask. While in-person activities will resume, they will not be without rules and regulations. Even now, as people are getting vaccinated, SOPs continue to be in place. This is because we are still trying to determine how long the vaccines will protect people.

It’s safe to assume that many of us have grown used to working from home, not meeting up with others, and sanitizing our hands (after everything we do). Only one of these things should be held on to in a post-pandemic world. No points for guessing which one.

Jokes aside, it will be strange to once again be in public spaces. The concept of shaking hands and hugging is already in somewhat alien territory. Let’s not even talk about kids who have grown up during this time; they think wearing a mask has always been the norm.

Complain all you must about those never-ending video calls, but the fact is that if it weren’t for them, we would have had zero contact with the outside world. While we’re still on the topic, apparently 30% of us don’t even bother changing into professional attire to take these calls. Don’t Zoom in too close!

Photo of four men dressed in professional shirts but just undergarments on the bottom half of their bodies. It says "Me and the boys ready for Zoom."

Photo of four men dressed in professional shirts but just undergarments on the bottom half of their bodies. It says “Me and the boys ready for Zoom.”

On a more serious note, even the economy seems to have acclimated to the pandemic. One company, in particular, has managed to secure a place in the history books during this unprecedented time. Zoom has been the go-to for all things work-, birthday-, and anniversary-related.

Interestingly, this piece from Colin Lankshear bears testament to the same. Talking about the features of what he calls a ‘new capitalism’, there is one aspect that stands out in particular.

He says, “sources of productivity depend increasingly on the application of science and technology and the quality of information and management in the production process.”

He goes on to state that the greatest innovations during the past thirty years have led the way for improved productivity.

The kicker, if you’d like to know, is that Lankshear wrote this in 1997.

What we can infer from this is that if the economy was so reliant on technology back then, we can only imagine what that means in the present. Two main things to factor in are:

  1. Technology has come a long way since 1997, and
  2. The pandemic has only fueled our dependence on it.

Pandemic or no pandemic, the world was already in the grips of technology. The past year of working and surviving under lockdown has proven that productivity has not only been stable, it has even risen in some cases.

More importantly, this leads us to understand the importance of communication. No matter what the situation, the exchange of information is what will keep us, and the world, going. Ultimately, it is the one thing that will, without a doubt, shape the future.

Vaccinations, Public Health Rhetoric, and Snapchat Stories: How Online Writing has Affected Vaccination Efforts

If you live in Ohio and are currently located in the Columbus area, you may know the struggle of getting a COVID vaccine. Just look at the map below to see how the distribution of appointment unavailability is concentrated in Columbus. Compared to other large population centers in Ohio, Columbus is by far experiencing the most shortages. Even with places like the Schottenstein center having delivered over 79,000 vaccines, the demand for vaccination in the Columbus area is higher than the supply.

A map of ohio that highlights vaccine availability

But why is this? As discussed in Week 12, the pandemic has caused an increase in coalitions and relational literacies in regards to health on this specific issue. We in Columbus, especially those who attend OSU, are lucky to have a close relationship to health information via the Wexner Medical Center. They provide so much information on health and wellness, and many students and alum value their writing greatly.


With the integration of health information so strong in the Columbus community, it seems to me there has been an even greater response to vaccination. Even in my personal communities, everyone I know is actively trying to book a vaccine appointment or has booked an appointment. We, as OSU students and community members, are more aware of how important getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is, and we, therefore, have a much higher demand for vaccine appointments.


This increase in availability may be more of a reflection of trying to support rural and minority communities, who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks. This increase in appointment availability will hopefully help these rural communities get over some of the vaccine hesitancy presents there. Unlike in Columbus, many people in rural communities may not be able or willing to take a vaccine appointment time that interferes with their work or life schedule. There will also need to be a bigger push of public health writing and rhetoric to decrease vaccine hesitancy, and it will need to target the specific fears and hangups each community has.


Unfortunately, this lack of appointments means people like me, a 22-year-old college student, have a much harder time accessing vaccines. We want to be able to celebrate our graduations safely, but this means we need to be vaccinated within the next week if it’s not already too late. But fortunately, social media has helped many people access the vaccine in an alternative way. While you shouldn’t be posting your vaccine card, posting about getting a vaccine is a way of sharing support for a public health issue. It also makes others aware of how they can get vaccinated. I personally found access to a vaccine through social media. While it may be used to push anti-vax rhetoric, social media also has the power to get us back to normal even faster.