Using Technology to Differentiate Learning

By Karen on January 4, 2017
Posted to Using Technology

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1 differentiation with technology

I am very excited about the possibilities digital technologies open in our classrooms as a vehicle for meeting the needs of a wide range of learners.

The key to effectively integration of technology and differentiation is the quality of pedagogy we use. It is easy to simply substitute a practice with a digital tool, but we should be asking ourselves how the tool/app supports us to be more effective. Does choosing this tool enable us and/or our learners to do more than the could before? Can our students collaborate and communicate more effectively? Can our students manage their learning more independently with this tool? 

And ideally, from our perspective: Can our students manage the whole process? 

Digital technology enables us to:

  • Move from having all students doing the same thing at the same time, to providing opportunities at an appropriate level of challenge and ‘just in time learning’ (instead of the ‘just in case learning’ that was prevalent in 20th century classrooms.)
  • Facilitate student led learning as well as enable students to think deeply and be involved in inquiry/research projects
  • Require students to express opinions, their voice and ideas, and to debate thinking and knowledge. Non-google-able questions are the key to stimulating these higher order thinking processes, questions that require thinking skills: creativity, critical thinking, synthesis, analysis and more.

Specifically, technology enables greater flexibilty such as:

  • Placing the tools for creating content in the hands of our students. Creativity and content creation are key employability skills.
  • Enabling curation of classroom resources - for example during an inquiry project students might use social bookmarking, a twitter hashtag or Pinterest/Flipboard to save resources of value to other class members.
  • Using video to reduce the reliance on teacher instructions with quick run-downs at stations/tasks or enabling students to act as peer-tutors and/or explain learning processes.
  • Increasing collaboration, accountability and group work through collaboration tools such as Google docs.
  • Enabling students to provide evidence of their learning, use multimedia in their reflection processes and prepare for student-led conferences with their teachers and parents.
  • Using literacy and numeracy games for independent work, according to student-set goals, and accounting for progress through levels attained.
  • Facilitating student exploration of their progress, for example analysing writing skills with Hemmingway App and Analyze My Writing.
  • Providing platforms for storage and presentation of digital outputs, for example blogs for reflection, reporting and evidence gathering.

What should you put in place in your school/classroom in order to enable this to happen?

  • A content management system, like Edmodo, a Wiki, Moodle or Ning.  it is important that these tools be accessible from home, so that you can engage in ‘flipping the classroom’ as required.
  • A sharing platform, this may be inside your content management system, or separate like blogs, forums or backchannels.
  • Content creation tools for students to use, such as: Google Docs, iMovie, Voice Thread, Animoto Audacity, eBook makers and storytelling apps.
  • Tools for tracking your students’ digital output like: Feedly, RSS feeds or NetNewsWire.
  • Clear expectations, requirements and assessment criteria.
  • The inclusion of student’s leadership, learning, self management and reflection skills in the assessment criteria.
  • A flat classroom, where students engage with other students: intraclassroom (within the classroom), interclassroom (between classrooms) or in managed global connections that might be student to student with teacher support, or student to the world and open.
  • Digital citizenship within, and in addition to, the classroom program. Digital citizenship encompasses digital literacy, safety, digital learning strategies and netiquette.

Are you ready to share the control and ownership of learning in your classroom with students? 

Like these ideas? Want more?
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