Learning Online After Adversity

2015-1216 Online Education

While reading an article titled, “Online Education After Brain Injury” by Diane Smith published in the Star Telegram, I began thinking about my own recovery from brain injury. According to Smith, “the free online school is open to any Texas student who has been enrolled in the state’s education system for at least one year.”

“It works well for students who need to work at their own pace in their own space, said Kaye Rogers, director of virtual education for the Grapevine-Colleyville school district” in Texas. “We have kids from all over Texas,” said Rogers. “Their needs are not being met in the traditional setting.”

During my first read of the article, I thought an online education would have been great for me, except the internet was not “born,” or at least it was not widely accessible until long after my primary education.

Then, while I was working on a completely unrelated project, something occurred to me — an online education might be a great alternative for some students, but a huge disservice to others — such as those with a major adversity who benefit from the structure of a more formal education.

Although I am not a doctor or psychologist, I do have thoughts about online education for people recovering from brain injury. My thoughts are based entirely on personal experience during my recovery from brain injury. I realize I cannot speak for everybody who has or had a brain injury, but a formal classroom setting was extremely helpful to my recovery. In other words, is the online system a way for Texas to abandon those students who are more expensive to treat. My belief is I would not have recovered as quickly or completely as I did without the customized help of the teachers, therapists, and staff who guided me through a significant part of my journey. Teachers and classmates have a significantly beneficial impact that online education simply cannot provide yet.

Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

As I was writing this post, I suddenly became overwhelmed with thought that the online education system was not built for the student who needs help, but the budget that needs help. While an online education system may provide significant after-hours assistance, I don’t believe it could or should replace the in-school training.

Please note: This post is not a comment about the Texas system which I have not seen, but a personal opinion about online education in general. Online education may be beneficial for some people in some situations, but it should not replace classroom education simply because a student is “difficult to teach.”

Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.



  1. Good post, Scott, and I think you are right on the money so to speak. An online classroom might be a good thing for people whose mind tends to stray, whether from TBI or ADD/ADHD or some other reason, IF and only if it was a subject of great interest to the particular student. But for a typical required subject, enrolling “difficult to teach” students in online courses seems more of a punt by the district.

    As someone with TBI and ADD who has tried both online and classroom settings for adult/continuing education, I needed the discipline and structure the classroom provides, but only if I sit in the very front to minimize distraction. Wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of “difficult to teach” students sit as far from the teacher as they can, when the opposite might wind up making them less difficult to teach.

    1. Howard,

      I, too, have tried online and in classroom education. Even though the online classes I took were of high interest to me, still struggled. I needed the structure of a classroom and dedicated learning time. I also found it was easier to learn a subject with an accountability partner, which you are more likely to find in a classroom. The online classes seemed very sterile and lonely.

      In the past, I was not a front-row learner, but I probably should have been. If I had known then what I know now, a lot would be different. Since I have difficulty hearing and seeing, I would definitely sit up front.

      I really appreciate the time you commit to sharing your valuable comments on my posts. Thank you.

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