In a 2014 Learning Liftoff article, Ralf Provant explored ways in which adaptive learning computer programs tailor technology in the classroom to students. Essentially, the computer-driven adaptive learning programs verify learning and help students progress quickly by adjusting or adapting to ensure students are challenged at just the right levels.
Individualized and Differentiated Instruction
The U.S. Department of Education distinguishes individualized instruction from differentiated instruction, and it is important to know the differences when considering how technology makes the two instructional methods possible. First, “individualization refers to instruction that is paced to the learning needs of different learners. Learning goals are the same for all students, but students can progress through the material at different speeds according to their learning needs.” Technology helps achieve individualized instruction because it allows students to work at their own pace and adapts to their skill and ability levels.
Additionally, differentiated instruction “refers to instruction that is tailored to the learning preferences of different learners. Learning goals are the same for all students, but … instruction varies according to the preferences of each student or what research has found works best for students like them.” Technology aids teachers in differentiating their instruction because it addresses students’ learning styles and interests.
Technology and Personalized Learning
Technology makes it possible to tailor content, learning materials, and the pace of learning to each student’s abilities and interests. Large class sizes and time constraints make it difficult for teachers to deliver personalized instruction to students in a traditional way. Technology is the solution because it provides multiple learning approaches to the learners while adapting to their abilities and appealing to their interests.
Math and Literacy Apps for Individualized and Differentiated Instruction
- Splash Math, grades 1–5: Splash Math reinforces math concepts and features self-paced capabilities with adaptive practice. The award-winning app is highly visual with a simple interface. For iPad, laptop, and desktops.
- DragonBox Algebra 12+, secondary math students: DragonBox Algebra 12+ covers more advanced math and algebra topics, giving players “a greater understanding of what mathematics is all about: objects and the relationships between objects.” DragonBox Algebra 12+ features 20 progressive chapters, 357 puzzles, and instant feedback. For younger students, check out DragonBox Algebra 5+. For iOS and Android devices.
- Aesop’s Quest, grades 2–6: Aesop’s Quest is a learning game based on Aesop’s Fables and developed in association with the Virginia Department of Education. For iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
- The Opposites, grades 3–12: The Opposites helps kids learn vocabulary and antonyms through word context, featuring ten levels and a dictionary. For iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
Implementing Technology and Apps in the Classroom
Studies find that iPads and other tablets improve classroom learning, especially with abstract concepts and skills that require practice time for mastery. As Generation Z enters classrooms, teachers will see students who have the ability to multitask and prefer technology over traditional teaching methods. Apps and other computer-based games and activities are a perfect solution for teachers looking to individualize and differentiate instruction to meet students’ 21st century needs and help them achieve academic success. For more information on what you can do to further your child’s or student’s education, visit K12.com, Find A School and Enroll, or sign up to receive free info.