When hunting for a resource, I used the search term “differentiation for students in online learning”, and found the Edutopia article “Enhancing Learning Through Differentiated Technology”, by Julie Stern. She had several recommendations for learning tools, but I was intrigued by her choice of EDpuzzle (EDPuzzle.com). Teachers can use this tool to modify video for instructional use, adding questions and voice overs. In addition, it allows the teacher to see how much of a video a student has observed, and check their answers to the questions. With this tool, the teacher can easily see who is ready to move on, and who needs to continue working on the material. Students are also prohibited from fast-forwarding through the video, so this would be an ideal way in an online environment to ensure the actual viewing of the video.
In this week’s reading, I learned that online learning can be both productive and ineffective, depending on the student population. In both online and face-to-face, we do know some things in advance about some of our students – we are notified before a class starts if a student has an IEP or a 504, or is gifted or an English language learner. We can prepare our courses to accommodate various learning styles. Online can be a great advantage for some of these students, especially when they work in an environment without all the distractions of a traditional classroom, or have the time constraints of a block schedule.
However, there can also be problems – “Most existing online courses are designed for students who are competent readers and proficient
at working independently (Lary, 2002), but many learners fall outside competency and proficiency levels.” As I read this paragraph, I immediately thought of a student I had last year in Economics & Personal Finance. Any time we had to work in the online modules (in Virtual Virginia). he started stressing. He had major problems with reading comprehension. It was torture for him to have to read a section, and then take a quiz on it. He did much better when he had an actual book in front of him, and when he had a teacher nearby to answer questions (immediate feedback).
I am curious to see how or if current online courses (like the Virtual Virginia courses) will change to accommodate diverse learners. It may be up to individual teachers to modify this material (or create entirely new items) for their unique students.
In my module design, I will be need to be aware of the amount of typing done for responses. Some of the students need extra time to type due to various processing and physical differences.