Schools and therapists across Asia are being forced into a telepractice model of teaching and therapy due to the severity of Coronavirus. According to an article from CNN business, there are millions of people who are being forced to work from home, including teachers. Schools are being held online instead of in person, and it has been difficult at times to keep up with the needs of some students, especially those receiving special education services. Many teachers and therapists are used to being more “hands on” or may not have the tools readily available or needed to hold the sessions and classes via telepractice.
Therapists, teachers and other educators all around the world are now considering providing school lessons online and are in need of reliable long distance learning resources to get started. CNN calls it “the World’s biggest work-from home experiment” and shares that there are both frustrations and benefits to it. While a global pandemic is a bit of an unusual and new reason to utilize this service model, telepractice can be a viable and easy option to use to provide services. As online therapy grows, this approach is being used more regularly. It can also be used when in-person services are not available, such as when a student is unable to travel due to illness.
Here are some things to help you teach online during an emergency interruption:
Reliable Computer (on both ends!):
The most essential thing you’ll need for online school and therapy is a computer, for both you and your students. Your computer will become your new learning site and classroom. The specifics of it are up to you, but you’ll want one with fast download speeds, storage and one that is easy to use and set up. You can use a desktop or laptop. For desktops, many online therapists and teachers like to have more than one monitor, so they can keep billing and admin windows open on one screen, and activities on the other. Laptops are handy if you are going to be more mobile during your sessions, such as a PT or OT session.
To provide therapy or teach from home due to Coronavirus, you’ll need a private, quiet space to hold sessions. This space would ideally have a door you can close, to buffer any noise from others in your home, pets, or just outside noise. It should also have good lighting that doesn’t wash you out or cast you in a shadow. Try having light or a window in front of you or slightly to the side, rather than behind you. And make sure that any scenery behind you is appropriate for students to see and is in tact and tidy. You can hang some colorful educational posters, set up your diploma or credentials in a frame, or put a nice plant there for your students to see.
One of the main things you’ll need to hold any kind of class or online therapy session is good internet access. Make sure you have high speed internet that can handle video conferencing and interactive websites with fast download speeds. You can test your speed with a friend or colleague first, and/or try to have it boosted if necessary. The main thing is that it connects easily and stays connected.
Webcam and Mic:
For your sessions/classes, you’ll need to be seen and heard and so will your students. Make sure you both have a webcam. These can be built into your computer or you can buy one to connect. It is also important to have a microphone, either external or built in, that picks up your voices, so you can speak and be heard during the sessions. Most computers have speakers built in, but you can always use a headset to block out background distractions if you’d like.
Secure Video Platform:
To hold your teletherapy or online class sessions, you’ll need some kind of a virtual video platform. Video conferencing is essential to these services, as the organizations that oversee therapy and education, such as ASHA, require you to be able to hear AND see the student. There are a lot of platforms out there, but you need to find one that is secure and HIPAA compliant. Apps such as Skype or FaceTime or FB messenger are not always secure and private. At E-Therapy we use our STAR platform to access private online sessions and to transmit documents in a secure way that maintains student privacy.
Resources for online learning:
If you are going to provide therapy or teach a class, you are going to need some online resources, lesson plans and activities. There are so many places you can find these, some that are free and some that you can pay for.
There are many online sites today that provide great tools and activities. Some that we recommend are:
You can do a Google search for sites to find them easily. Just be sure to preset the activities and zoom in on the screen to eliminate any ads before sharing with students. We share activities on our FB page every Tuesday and each month we share a “round-up” of activities we have shared online and in our newsletters. These can be super helpful to you teach online due to Coronavirus or any unforeseen interruption of the classroom setting.
E-Therapy also has a video of sample sessions that can help you see how to use teletherapy in real time:
Teletherapy and online classes can be a great solution when outside circumstances mean you are unable to meet your students in person. With Coronavirus closing schools in some countries, and possibly in the US, you may find yourself needing to provide these services quickly. If you find yourself in a pinch to teach from home due to Coronavirus, you can be sure that you’ll be ready to go, or at least much closer, with these items checked off your list.