Differentiated Instruction and E-Learning

Student populations are diverse. “Diversity includes students from various cultures; with varied abilities, disabilities, interests, experiential backgrounds, and even language use.

The potential for meaningful learning that is learner-centered may exist when diversity is acknowledged, and the needs of diverse learners are accommodated.

E-Learning design and instructional practices are always adjusting to keep pace with constantly changing technology and to serve and support diverse learners situated across geographical boundaries. In e-Learning courses a relationship exists between the extent of the availability of learner-centered multi-media technology materials and the extent to which diversity learners are accommodated.

One way that diversity, e-Learning, and technology connect is through e-Learning experiences that are grounded in learner-centered principles and support the complex process of learning through collaboration and learning situated in inquiry and community. Features of such learning experiences and instructional practices are multiple ways of presenting course curriculum using a variety of technologies.

Differentiated instruction requires use of a combination of materials. A relationship exists between student learning achievement and course materials that are tailored to diverse learners. E-Learning that offers multiple technology modalities such as graphics, audio, video, and animation accommodates diverse learners. Course design that promotes differentiated instruction with technology includes individual student access to digital instructional material and instructor adaptation and presentation of digital instructional materials to students on an individual basis.

Hardware and software can comprise an information and communication technology package. That package can be used by course participants to receive and create content and can include whiteboards, mobile devices, and peripherals such as microphones and iPods. Some instructional materials that support learning can include audio and video that is constructed by course participants and course instructors to align with learning objectives, and or is accessed from sources such as i-Tunes lectures.

Web 2.0 technology is viewed as a group of tech tools that enable social learning through user creation of content and collaboration. Web 2.0 technology tools abound and offer e-Learning course facilitators an array of options for maintaining presence in the e-Learning classroom environment, providing feedback to learners, posting announcements in the e-Learning classroom, and for communicating with learners during a course. Such activities can be delivered using Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, screen casts, video sharing, avatars, and social networking sites.

Due to constantly changing technology and the need to support a diverse student body located in different global regions, e-Learning design and instructional practices are constantly changing. Technology has facilitated the participation of diverse student bodies in virtual work groups and partnerships that may result in the social learning. When we consider diverse learners and diverse learning needs, we should consider multi-media technology tools for differentiated instruction.

Web 2.0 technology tools and mobile device usage are creating additional opportunities to individualize and differentiate curriculum for diverse learners. Web 2.0 technology tools such as wikis, blogs, screen casts, video sharing, avatars, and social networking sites offer e-Learning course facilitators an array of options for maintaining presence in the e-Learning classroom environment.

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