Cynthia Okolo is a professor of special education. Her research focuses on improving academic outcomes for students with disabilities through the integration of technology into the classroom. She also studies how Universal Design for Learning (UDL)-aligned instructional practices can improve learning and behavior. Her current projects involve the development of literacy tools and strategies for using digital reading materials and teacher preparation for the implementation of UDL. Most of her work has been conducted in middle and high schools and in diverse classrooms that include students with and without disabilities. She is Past President and Professional Development Co-Chair of the Technology and Media Division of the Council for Exceptional Children.
Industry Expertise (4)
Areas of Expertise (3)
Indiana University Bloomington: Ph.D., Special Education and Educational Psychology
- MSU Special Education
- LARC: Literacy Achievement and Research Center, MSU
Journal Articles (3)
Jeff Diedrich, Cynthia Okolo
This study provides a snapshot of factors associated with assistive technology (AT) use in one large Midwestern state. Conducted about 25 years after the passage of the original Technology Related Assistance Act, the study presents results from a survey of 1,143 Michigan educators. Results of the study show that respondents use technology frequently in their personal and professional lives, but less so during the instruction of students with disabilities. AT is viewed positively and educators believe they are knowledgeable about some aspects of technology use. However, in other areas, educators provide low ratings of their knowledge of specific AT uses and functions, and have mixed impressions of the support they receive for technology use. Scores on measures of self-reported knowledge and perceived support vary significantly among different categories of respondents and are only moderate for special educators and low for general educators. Nevertheless, educators express interest in further professional development about AT. The need for additional professional development, along with better access to technology and more funding, are perceived as top barriers to more widespread AT use. Other findings include a lack of knowledge about how technology is used by students in and out of school and the low rate of participation of general educators, students, and parents in AT decisions. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for reforming practices related to technology implementation, professional development, and research.
Sean Smith, Cynthia Okolo
Advancements in technology-based solutions for students with learning disabilities (LD) offer tremendous opportunities to enhance learning as well as meaningful access to the general education curriculum for this group of students. This article examines technology integration within the context of response to intervention (RTI). At the forefront of special education reform, RTI is reshaping special education practice. This article seeks to connect RTI components (e.g., evidence-based practice) with technology-based solutions in order to further ways in which technology tools can be incorporated into the lives of students with LD. Three effective practices (graphic organizers, written instruction, explicit instruction) are examined. For each area, we briefly describe the approach, examine the evidence behind the approach, and discuss technology-based tools that embed these effective features.
Carol Sue Englert, Emily C Bouck, Hequn Wang, Cynthia Okolo
History is an important but often overlooked content area for all students in this current era of accountability. Yet instruction in history can help students become problem solvers and learn to make interpretations from multiple perspectives. This article reports the results of a pilot study examining history learning across three groups of students (i.e., students with disabilities, students without disabilities, and students enrolled in an honors class) as they studied history (a unit on Andrew Jackson) through a Web-based history learning environment—the Virtual History Museum. The results indicate students in all three ability groups made gains from pretest to posttest in factual knowledge and reasoning about key concepts of the unit. The results provide preliminary support that a Web-based learning environment that includes features to assist students with mild disabilities can improve learning for all students at about the same rate.