Picture of Kristen McGowan
Differentiation in E-Learning
by Kristen McGowan - Thursday, July 17, 2014, 2:59 PM

Differentiated Instruction (DI) is a teaching strategy used to provide individualized instruction to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom.  While DI strategies are commonly used in a traditional classroom setting, DI is just as critical for online learners.  Classroom instruction can be customized by differentiating lessons by content, process, product, or even the learning environment. 

Tomlinson, Caron Ann (2001).  How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms.  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Virginia.

1.  ReadOf the four options listed below, select one item to read or watch with the purpose of familiarizing yourself with the concept of differentiated instruction and the different methods by which you can differentiate. 

Article Options:

Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are


What Is Differentiated Instruction?


Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation


Video Option: 

New Teacher Survival Guide:  Differentiating Instruction


2.  RespondOf the three prompts listed below, select one to respond to and post for your classmates to review and discuss. 

A)  How could you differentiate the content of your online course to support all learners?

B)  How could you differentiate the process of learning of your online course to support all students?

C)  How could you differentiate the required products of your online course to support all learners?

Picture of Jeremiah Stanley
Re: Differentiation in E-Learning
by Jeremiah Stanley - Thursday, July 17, 2014, 9:30 PM

How could you differentiate the content of your online course to support all learners?

Differentiated Instruction is a key challenge for most educators. I can remember in middle school we were all expected to do the same work and be at the same level of understating. A one size fits all approach to education limits student ability to understand and grow in my own learning I struggle and fell behind when this approach was used.

To address different learning style of student I would incorporate use of Adobe captivate in my class room. Adobe Captivate give you the ability to do a pretest and posttest to help gauge student understanding of the content. Based on the students understanding they could be directed to content that best fits there learning styles. Same content would be given to all student but different delivery methods would be used within the one module to help simplify students interacting with the content and give the students the opportunity to really lean at their comfort level.

Picture of Patricia Richards
Re: Differentiation in E-Learning
by Patricia Richards - Friday, July 18, 2014, 8:01 AM

I had to think about this question for a while as I'm am not a formal educator and do not work with the younger grade school and high school aged children.  Differentiated Instruction was a new concept to me, I think that it should work in theory but  I am a little skeptical about the execution, because it seems like it might be overwhelming for a teacher especially in the classes with high student to teacher ratios.  At my children's school the teachers do not incorperate differentiated instruction and teach to the middle.  As a parent of children who have no intrinsic barriers to learning; I will make up additional work for them to do at home.  This does not go over well.  One tool I tried, which I now realize was Differentiated Instruction based asynchronous math program from Stanford, was called EPGY (http:\\epgy.stanford.edu).  This program provided a short lesson on a math concept.  It worked through example problems with the child.  Then it assessed the child with questions.  If the child got questions wrong it would provide  a targeted short lesson in the areas they were lacking and then ask more questions.  When you completed a 20 minute session you could sign out and it would track your progress through the material with different charts and graphs as well as showed you your percentage correct and allow you to re-work problems you got wrong.  In addition, you were assigned a graduate student from Standford as a tutor who would email you and encourage you.  You could email them if you had questions or join them during their virtual class and Q and A.  I thought this was an excellent tool to supplement my daughters learning.  It worked well during the summer but when school started she didn't want to do the online program and her school homework too.  The point I'm suggesting is that many parents would like to support their childrens learning at home and if they are included in the process the differentiated instruction can continue at home.

B) How could you differentiate the process of learning of your online course to support all students?

I would perform a pre-test on the lesson with general interest questions related to the lesson.

I would already have assessed the childrens reading levels.

I would start with extracting the main objectives everyone in my class must acheive.  Then I would allow the students to make up some of their own objectives for the lesson based upon their interests.  I would also assign objectives for group work.

I would use a Web 2.0 tool like Poppit and have students write their objective in the central circle and as they learn materials related to the objective; I'd have them fill in the surrounding circles.  I would check these Poppit brainstorming charts as the lessons progress to help me evaluate how each individual is doing as they work to acheive the lesson goals.

I would present the material to the children in short bursts and then post and assign similar articles but with different reading comprehension levels based upon their current reading capabilities.  I would also post interest based activities (ex. web searches) on their prior identified interest.    When possible I would embedd videos as well and include the transcript so the child could read along with the video. A discussion forum would be used for each reading and I assign questions to the heterogenous mix of learners to answer/discuss.  

I would assign different projects based upon their strengths. For example; I could ask a child to write a blog about an aspect of the lesson while another learner may be asked to develop a less instense Prezzi presentation on the material.  

These were some ideas that I had about differentiating the process for learners in my fictional class.

Picture of Fonda Lewis
Re: Differentiation in E-Learning
by Fonda Lewis - Friday, July 18, 2014, 5:57 PM

Assessment is a crucial step in differentiation.  Before you truly differentiate content, you need to know "where" your students are.  To differentiate online a preassessment could be done through a survey or form through Google Drive.  Based on results you provide different levels of content and activities.  The tough part would be creating the differentiated learning and "catching up" some learners in order for their learning of required content.  

Re: Differentiation in E-Learning
by David Cook - Saturday, July 19, 2014, 6:28 PM

A)  How could you differentiate the content of your online course to support all learners?

I think the brilliance of online learning is, by nature, the variety of content available.  Take your assignment to us, for example.  You provided 3 articles, a video, and 3 prompts.  The video is differentiated for those of us who choose not to read another article this week!  (smile)

But beyond this, there's more support opportunities online than people realize.  For example, screencast programs are great to help those who need it.  And we've seen the vast resources on D2L through UW Stout that are available for students who are at different levels. 

Picture of Kerri Freda
Re: Differentiation in E-Learning
by Kerri Freda - Saturday, July 19, 2014, 6:33 PM

Having worked in a school for ten years with a 20% special education population, I am used to modifying or offering alternative assessents to special ed. students. 

In the past., I studied Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for developing the curriculum in a way that gives each individual the equal opportunity to learn (CAST, 2012).  Each student has a different variety of interests, needs and skills that are fingerprinted within their DNA. Students learn at different rates and in different ways. There are different approaches that can be utilized by students in today‚Äôs classrooms.  By embracing and capitalizing on these differences, the UDL urges teachers to modify their instruction and engagements.  In addition to learning by text, the same ideas can be presented and expressed through multimedia engagements such as a podcast, the IDA supports.  Students can express their knowledge by creating through such authoring tools as podcasts, digital movies and other authoring tools. Instead of requiring students to read and write posts, perhaps they could communicate through other Web. 2.0 tools. 

Cast 2012, What is universal design for learning Retrieved from      http://www.cast.org/udl/

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