week 6 – Differentiation


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.


5 thoughts on “week 6 – Differentiation”

  1. You made a good point about being aware of the amount of typing required for responses. As I have watched our division move away from keyboarding classes, I have also witnessed the lack of typing skills. I do feel it is a skill that students need and have heard the same concern from many teachers. While some view this as an outdated skill due to texting and “tapping” on tablets and other devices, I feel that it is a skill that helps students in all courses throughout high school and beyond. I watched an 8th grader the other day looking for a letter on the keyboard as if he were lost in space! When students put so much effort in just trying to find the letters they need, they lose their focus on what they are trying to communicate.

  2. I work with students with IEPs and 504s as well. Differentiation in the classroom is an easy task compared to an online learning environment. However, I was researching the UDLW site we were supposed to check out this week. I found some resources that offer help for students who have difficulty reading and writing. I think there are resources available to aid differentiation for low readers out there. I agree with you that the teachers are going to have to incorporate them in their instruction online on their own, depending on the circumstances. Hopefully, if students are taking courses online all information will be provided to the instructors in cases of special education accommodations.
    In history class, I have many low readers and often partner them up with those that can read, but have another job for the reading-challenged student. I don’t want either student to feel the burden of doing all of the work.

  3. There is a program called play posit that allows you to take an educational video and modify it by inserting questions. Libbey Kitten, the science supervisor, introduced this to us this summer. I am hoping to use this tool in my module. I’ll let you know how it works. It seemed quite easy to do. I believe that it also tells you how long the student was logged onto the video.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on EDPuzzle and Posit!! I was just working on my module and have a video that I want to break into segments to insert some interaction. Remember when it was so novel to even use a video in class?

    The quote you referenced “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.” made me think about the variety of online classes available. The Virtual Virginia is almost all reading. Edgenuity provides almost all of its instruction through videos with the transcripts available. Teachers and districts have to investigate carefully when choosing a provider and online product.

  5. I am interested to try the video software you mentioned– I have used play pos-it but this one sounds more sophisticated and I think would help make video sessions more interactive and meaningful.
    This weeks reading resonated with all of us that teach E P/F as we are all struggling with students who are having a tough time accessing the material we are presenting online and we are having to back pedal to figure out how to make material more accessible.

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