Curiculum Vitae


University of PittsburghDoctorate of Education, 1999
         Instructional Design and Technology
University of PittsburghMasters of Education, 1989
        Special Education
University of PittsburghBachelor of Science, 1981
at JohnstownElementary Education


Carlow UniversityProfessor
1997 - PresentChair Special Education and Coordinator Instructional Technology Programs

Responsibilities include: Program design and evaluation for undergraduate and graduate special education certification programs and the graduate instructional technology specialist certification; Design, development and implementation of reusable learning objects (RLOs) for distance education courses; Faculty recruitment, supervision and evaluation; teaching courses in special education & instructional technology; student teacher evaluation; scholarship and research projects; advising students; mentoring faculty; grant writing and project management. Program design and implementation for Study Abroad in Ireland for SEN Program

Undergraduate courses:
Computers for Educators
Instructional Design for Exceptional Children 
Behavior Supports
Foundations of Special Education
Teaching Methods for students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities
Teaching Methods for students with Severe/Profound Disabilities
Special Education Student Teaching Supervision and Seminar
International Field Experience in Special Needs Education
Primary & Special Needs Student Teaching in Northern Ireland
Irish Educational and Cultural Institutions

Graduate courses:
Positive Behavior Supports 
Instructional Design for Technology Integration
Selection and Integration of Media into the Classroom
Advanced Computer Based Instruction
Communication and Assistive Technologies in Special Education
Applied Issues in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Foundations of Special Education
Thesis advisor
Thesis second reader
Internship in Instructional Technology
Creative Inquiry


Collaboration with special education schools developing and utilizing a 'professional development schools' model for special needs teacher preparation;  design and development of web-based software application for teacher education and to support data-based decision making for teachers of children with social, emotional, and behavioral disorders; Coordinate international collaborations for adapting museum art curriculum for students with ASD and virtual, interactive field trips; analysis of the effectiveness of RLOs for pre-service and in-service teacher training. development of international special education opportunities to study abroad and for faculty exchange with Perú; coordinate international projects to connect  students with special needs from Northern Ireland with local students; design and implementation of a project for non-disabled peers from local school districts to teach adolescents with severe/profound disabilities in the use of social networking software; design and facilitation of the Carlow Round Table for professional development among Mercy Institutions of higher learning.

Consilience, LLC
Founding member, software solutions for special education

Research, design and development of a web-based software program utilizing a relational database to guide and facilitate the development of functional behavioral assessment and analysis, the development of behavior improvement plans, the collection of quantitative and qualitative data of student behavior and the generation of reports for teachers, administrators and other direct service providers to utilize in making data-based decisions to improve programming and outcomes for students with social, emotional and behavioral disorders. Responsible for design of the user interface and development of graphic displays for interface and reporting mechanisms, design and development of teacher training and continued research and development of product.

Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh, 1985 – 1995
Teacher : Special Education 
Institute of EP development, instructional planning and teaching of children with multiple Pittsburgh disabilities including: Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Traumatic Brain Injury, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Hearing impaired, Visually Impaired, Speech impaired, Microcephaly, Emotional, Social and Behavioral Disorders, Prader Willie Syndrome, and Other Health impairments; collaborated with teachers and administrators to develop the Early Skills Curriculum for Birth to age six ©; secured funding for assistive technologies for students.

Professional Affiliations 

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), representative assembly, 2007 - 2013
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), 1999 -present
     Technology and Media Division (TAM)
     Teacher Education Division (TED)
     Division of International Special Education (DISES)
              President, 2012 - 2013
              Vice President, 2010 - 2011
              Member at large, 2007 – 2009
              Conference registration and planning, 2006 - present
              Reviewer, Journal of International Special Needs Education,(JISNE) 2006 - 2011
     Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) 
     Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD)
     Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD)
Association for the Advancement of Academic Computing in Education (AACE) 1995 - present
Pennsylvania Association of Colleges & Teacher Educators (PACTE) 1999 - present
Oxford Round Table, Special Needs Education, 2003 & 2005
Study Abroad in Peru, May - June 2005
Special Needs Delegation to Ireland, November 2002
People to People Ambassador to Cuba, March 2001 

Community Affiliations 

Parents League for Emotional Adjustment (PLEA) Board of Directors, 1995 – present 
Franklin Regional School District: Technology Advising Committee, 2000 – 2012 
Danish-American Cultural Society Board of Directors, secretary 2002 - 2008


Susan O’Rourke is a professor of education and the program director for the special education programs at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She is the co-leader for the Carlow Cares:  Sligo, Ireland Study Abroad Program in Special Needs and a co-facilitator of the Carlow Round Tables.  Susan earned her doctorate in Instructional Design & Technology and a master's degree in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a teacher of children with multiple disabilities at The Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh (now the Children's Institute) for 10 years prior to joining the faculty at Carlow in 1997.

Her interests include international special education focusing on vulnerable children in developing countries and the integration and harnessing of technology  - specifically the use of video conferencing to support student engagement and learning, the use of assistive technology by students with special needs, and distance education. She specializes in the teaching and learning of children with autism spectrum disorders, multiple disabilities and children with social, emotional and behavioral disorders.

Susan is the Past President of the Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES) and a founding member of the Division of Performing and Visual Arts Education (DARTS) - divisions within the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Recently she served as the Program Chair of BRAGA2014: Embracing Inclusive Approaches conference held in July in Braga, Portugal where over 450 special education professionals from 40 countries participated. 

She has collaborated with special education professionals and provided professional development to teachers and school administrators in Cuba, Peru, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Latvia, Kuwait, Trinidad & Tobago, Israel, Palestine, Portugal and Uganda.


O'Rourke, S. L. & Martin, M (2011).  Instructional Design of a Distance Education Cultural Awareness Course to Enhance Currency and Authenticity. British Journal of Education Technology.  Nick Rushby (Ed.).  Blackwell Publishing. Oxford, UK. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01103.x.

O'Rourke, S. L., Martin, M., Brown, L., Bauer, W., Dobbins, M., Schaeffer, A., Cartin, D, Pollard, C., & Byrne,D. (2011) International Friendships for Students with Special Needs: Harnessing technology to bridge an ocean.  TEACHING Exceptional Children. Vol. 43. No.4. pp 8-15, March/April.

O'Rourke, S. L. (2007). An International Special Education Exchange of Methodologies and Approaches in Services for Children with Different Abilities. Spectrum.  Carlow University Press.

O'Rourke, S. L. (2005).  Innovative Technologies in Professional Development and the Preparation of Special Education Teachers. Oxford Round Table Proceedings. Lincoln College, Oxford, England.

O'Rourke, S. L. (2000).  Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Online Professional Development Courses.  Proceedings of the Teacher Education Division National Convention.  Council for Exceptional Children.

O'Rourke, S. L. & Bauer, W. (2000).  Teacher Training in an Authentic Learning Environment: A Collaborative Effort. Proceedings of the Teacher Education Division National Convention.  Council for Exceptional Children.

Long, J., O'Rourke, S. L., & Rothenberger, M.C. (2001). Are there specific learner characteristics that affect success in an online learning environment?  Stop Surfing, Start Teaching Conference Proceedings. 

Fogarty, C., Forlastro, T., Olisky, M., O'Rourke, S., Zak, N. (1993). Developmental Sequence: Birth to 72 months. The Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh. 

Research Interests


Reusable Learning Objects:  How effective are they improving teacher training outcomes?  2011 - present

The efficacy of a web-based application in preparing teachers in data-based decisions for children with social, emotional and behavioral disorders. 2004- present

Digital tools survey for the Interdivisional Caucus (IDC) of CEC

The use of innovative technologies including videoconferencing and social networking in developing international friendships among students with severe and profound disabilities.  2008 -2011

The use of innovative technologies including videoconferencing and social networking in creating a virtual book club for typical high school students.  2010 - 2012

Development of a peer training model where typically developing adolescents interact with severely challenged peers in the creation of social networking presence. 2009

Application of Instructional Technology in Southwestern Pennsylvania, 2005 -2008

Pilot Study to determine the effectiveness of Behavior Manager Software, Pressley Ridge Schools and Palisades Learning Center, 2003 – 2004 

Child Survivors of Cancer Project, Graduate Carlow College students, 2003 - 2004

Characteristics of successful online learners, Carlow College IM101 students, 2000 – 2001

Opinion Leadership in the Elementary School, Penn Trafford School District, 1998 – 1999