Differentiation in Online Learning-Captain

I tried several different Google searches using “differentiation in online instruction” paired with “communication” and with “self-advocacy” and did not get any satisfactory results.  Most results were similar to information we’ve already covered regarding the best practice of communication.  Once I switched to “differentiation strategies in online environments” I found:


I settled on this one because of the following information:

#4 Differentiate Instruction Through Online Work

In a blended learning classroom, there is often online work that needs to occur. This might be a module on specific content, formative assessments, and the like. However, students may or may not need to do all the work that is in a specific module. In an effort to individualize instruction, use the online work to meet individual students needs. Whether an extension of learning, or work to clarify a misconception, the work that occurs online can be more valuable to students when it is targeted. Students are no longer engaged in uninteresting busy work, but focused, individualized learning.

I really wasn’t all that impressed with the results that I found and did not uncover any information that wasn’t presented in the readings for this week.  I am interested to see what others came up with.

There are lots of similarities in differentiation in online instruction and face-to-face instruction.  Content can be given in multiple ways (text, audio, video) and various assessments can be used in both formats.  Teachers can offer students a variety of choices to access materials and cues for prompting in both formats.

The main difference in differentiation strategies with online learning and face-to-face is in the technology used to present material.  Students need to be able to navigate the learning module and access all content areas.  I think minimizing distractions and making the learning module as streamlined as possible is very important.  While I found the Universal Design for Learning website interesting my initial reaction was that the print was very tiny and they had A LOT of information crammed into one space.  I also had to do a fair amount of clicking to check out all the different options and then retrace my steps which I found a little overwhelming.  The checkpoints I was initially drawn to were optimizing motivation, facilitating coping skills, support planning and strategy, and support memory and transfer.  I was excited to see the Quizlet resource there because it was something I recognized our teachers often using and a resource that I advise students to access when we are doing academic counseling.

Another difference is in student discussion and face-to-face participation.  You cannot recreate this in an online environment.  Students can provide answers to discussion questions online and even participate in real time chats with each other, but a question and answer or lively discussion conversation after reading a poem or conducting a science experiment is only possible in a traditional classroom.

I plan to use differentiation in my module by varying how content is presented.  Since my module is a hybrid, this variation will occur face-to-face and through Schoology.  I am going to use videos to deliver content and act as conversation starters.  Theses conversations will occur face-to-face and also through discussion posts online.  I am also planning to incorporate a study skills work book for written content and have the students engage in interactive role play and group discussions.

1 thought on “Differentiation in Online Learning-Captain

  1. I too found the UDL website crammed full of information and did not like the layout of the information. It seemed as though one click took you to another screen which linked to another screen and so on. I did not find many content-specific pieces and that is what I really want to find. I will be interested to see your module when it is finished as it has a very different focus from those of us in the classroom.

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