Why online learning is great for people with intellectual disability

It’s Annabelle here. I like tablets because they’re so much easier for me to use. It’s so good because I can talk to it and take it wherever I go. I can search for things and learn about things. I mostly like learning about horses, dogs, cats, birds. Well actually, all the animals because I love them.

If there was ever a time to embrace online learning, this is it.

At the height of COVID restrictions, we had to temporarily close some of our services and that meant a change in routine for many of our customers, which was difficult.

Not wanting you to miss out on your usual in-person learning opportunities, we quickly put together a suite of free online learning programs specifically designed for people with intellectual disability (It’s called Thrive Learning and you can check it out here).

Even though it hasn’t been up for long, we’ve been blown away with the feedback.

There are many reasons why we think online learning has been so popular for people with intellectual disability. We’ve taken some of those top reasons and highlighted them in this blog.

But first, will online learning replace face-to-face learning?

No way. At least not for us.

We think these online programs are a great addition to face-to-face learning and support, but not a replacement. What they give you is the opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime, and about almost anything.

What we’ve done with the Thrive Learning program, is put a few of our favourite learning topics in one place so it’s easy for you to get started. They also work in perfectly with the program at our Learning and Lifestyle hubs.

So let’s explore the benefits together…

1. It’s on your terms and easily works in with your routine

Routines are important to everyone, whether you have a disability or not. They help you manage your time and help you get things done that matter to you.

Online learning programs can give you a sense of achievement. They break things down into smaller, simpler steps so you can learn new things without feeling overwhelmed. You can work through as many or as few steps as you like, depending on how it fits into your day.

2. It’s cheap… and often free.

Let’s face it, learning new skills in real life can be expensive – and that’s not even counting transport costs.

Online learning has made learning new skills cheaper and more accessible than ever before.

We’re really passionate about making sure that no Australians with intellectual disability are left behind, especially in this time, so we decided to make our courses free for the next little while.

3. Leaving the house can be hard, and you might not always be up for it

Sometimes there are additional barriers for people with disability when it comes to leaving the house. Anxiety, immune conditions, safety concerns, fear of new places, financial barriers, lack of support or transport to name a few. We want to make sure that people are getting support in ways that work for them.

Online learning means staying at home doesn’t mean missing out on the activities you enjoy.

4. It can be tailored to people with intellectual disability

The vast, vast majority of online courses are not designed for people with intellectual disability. They can be a confusing, detailed, and not a great experience. We looked around at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and realised that there wasn’t much already out there for our customers.

So we changed that.

We used our education and specialist disability knowledge to put together online courses for people with intellectual disability.

And as a bonus, at the moment they are free.

5. It’s great if you live in a remote location

Living in a rural or remote part of Australia can mean there is less to do, or that you have to travel further to do things. How far would you have to travel to get to a gym each week? Or how long does it take you to get to the nearest library? These might be things you enjoy that you can only do occasionally because of where you live.

Online learning has opened up more opportunities than ever before as you can access it from anywhere.

6. It works really well with your regular in-person services

If we stop exercising, we get unfit. The same is true of learning. If we stop learning, our brains can get lazy and we can forget some of the things we have learnt. By practicing at home the life skills you learn through our in-person services, you will be reinforcing those lessons which helps you move on to more advanced skills. The Thrive Learning program cooking module is just one example where you can learn about WHY you need a healthy breakfast, and HOW to make one too. Peanut butter protein balls anyone? Yum!

7. It helps improve tech skills

As a bonus, online learning also helps us learn more about using computers and other technological devices. By regularly logging into a course and following the steps, you are not only becoming fitter and stronger, or a better cook, but also a better tech-user.

So are you ready to get started? Ready to learn something new? Everybody still in their pyjamas? Ok, let’s go have some fun online learning at home!

A big thank you to our Annabelle for being in the image for this blog.

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