Distance learning in inclusion classrooms: Opportunities and Challenges

Author(s) Prof.in Edvina Bešić, PhD Prof.in Dr.in Andrea Holzinger Prof.in Mag.a Ursula Komposch Prof. David Wohlhart, BEd
Institution(s) University College of Teacher Education Styria Kirchliche Pädagogische Hochschule der Diözese Graz-Seckau



Maybe further partner(s)
Theoretical framework/approach Through the use of digital media and assistive technologies, educational opportunities for students with disabilities can be adapted to their specific visual, auditory, and haptic needs (Zorn, Schluchter, & Bosse, 2019). Digitalization, however, can also create or reinforce social inequalities, as the use of digital media depends on the "respective educational, cultural, social, and financial resources" (Niesyto, 2019, p. 39). This was also confirmed during the Corona pandemic-induced (digital) distance learning, where educational gaps became apparent especially among students from families with low socioeconomic status, students with a first language other than German, and students with a disability (Kuhfeld et al., 2020; European Academy of Paediatrics, 2020; Goldan, Geist, & Lütje-Klose, 2020).
Research questions
What practices, opportunities, and challenges do teachers in inclusive elementary school settings describe regarding the participation of students* with disabilities in (digital) distance learning during the corona-related school closure in spring 2020?
Themes / topics
Distance learning; Corona-Pandemic; Inclusive classrooms
Main findings of study / highlights
  • Students with disabilities in inclusive settings were largely reached through (digital) distance learning.
  • Parents, school assistants, but also specialized teachers (for blind and deaf students) played a central role in providing technical and learning support.
  • Personal and prompt feedback on learning progress increased the students’ willingness and motivation to learn.
  • The involvement in the communication and learning pathways with the whole class was also motivating.
  • Lack of accessible tools significantly limited students’ participation during online learning.
  • There is a lack of learning programs that students with disabilities could install and operate without parental support.
  • A lack of daily structure had a negative impact on learning
Methods Qualitative Study
Analytic Appraoch explorativ
Desig of data collection

Online questionnaire with mainly open questions.

47 teachers completed the questionnaire, 29 of whom had specific qualifications in inclusive education.

Time(s) of data collection June 2020
Kind of sampling, kind and number of sample


The survey link was sent to 142 primary school teachers from Styria, who are members of an inclusive education network. The survey lasted from mid-June until mid-July 2020. 47 teachers, between the ages 27 and 62, completed the survey. 33% of the persons contacted answered the questionnaire.

Geographical area Styria/Austria

Bešić, E., & Holzinger, A. (2020). Fernunterricht für Schüler*innen mit Behinderungen: Perspektiven von Lehrpersonen.

[Distance learning for students* with disabilities: Teachers’ Perspectives]
Zeitschrift Für Inklusion, (3)

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