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Video-Based Modeling for Accommodating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

I might be the robotics and computer science teacher at the local high school next fall! Having already taught a couple of elementary students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during previous summer coding camps, and assuming I might encounter other students with ASD in the future, I have done some initial research to learn more about ASD. Wie et al. (2012) confirmed popular belief that students with ASD have a high interest in coding and robotics, showing a higher percentage of students with ASD pursue computer science at the university level than students in the general population. With research also supporting inclusion of students with ASD in general classrooms (Kasari et al., 2011), my assumption may easily become reality.

There is no known cause nor cure for autism. But, over the years, a slew of evidence-based practices have been developed to support students with ASD, including the use of video based modeling (VBM) to alleviate difficulties in learning in a typical classroom (Fleury et al., 2014). Similar research by Wright et al. (2019) explored the use of (VBM) in teaching middle school students with ASD to code Ozobots. Three types of VBM can provide differentiated instruction for students, ranging in length from one single instructional video to a series of multiple short videos. Classroom teachers can use VBM to allow students with ASD to learn more independently and complete classroom activities.

Loom is a screen-casting tool that I have recently discovered and recommend for teachers looking to use VBM in the classroom. It’s free for educators, has multiple means of integration (mobile, desktop, Chrome extension), and uploads video as it is being recorded, saving a non-trivial amount of time. Its ease-of-use is somewhat offset by the limited number of tools for editing; but advanced users can download and edit videos separately. In short, it’s a perfect tool for novice screen-casters.

I’ve recorded a screencast of my using Loom to…record a screencast…of a super short instructional video. Take a look:

Quick Loom tutorial for classroom VBM.


Fleury, V. P., Hedges, S., Hume, K., Browder, D. M., Thompson, J. L., Fallin, K., El Zein, F., Reutebuch, C. K., & Vaughn, S. (2014). Addressing the academic needs of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder in secondary education. Remedial and Special Education, 35(2), 68-79.

Kasari, C., Locke, J., Gulsrud, A., & Rotheram-Fuller, E. (2011). Social networks and friendships at school: Comparing children with and without ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 533-544.

Wei, X., Yu, J. W., Shattuck, P., McCracken, M., & Blackorby, J. (2013). Science, technology, engineering, and mathemathics (STEM) participation among college students with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 1539-1546.

Wright, J. C., Knight, V. F., Barton, E. E., & Edwards-Bowyer, M. (2019). Video prompting to teach robotics and coding to middle school students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Special Education Technology.


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