E-Learning Instructional Design

Differentiation, with computers

There is more than one way to flip a classroom.  While my classroom is currently far from flipped I have been pleased with the results from employing some e-learning strategies.  Blending traditional, f2f classes with e-learning creates additional possibilities for the differentiated instruction that is all the rage in education these days, and curating stand alone historical sources for students allows access to content unmediated by the teacher.  For instance, over the past few years I’ve been collecting resources to use for students to uncover the history of the post-war, American conservative movement.  Last spring, I provided these resources to enrich students who demonstrated proficiency on the Civil Rights Movement and Cold War units in US History survey classes.  E-learning allowed me to provide these multimedia resources to students while simultaneously working with other students to move toward proficiency on the core content.  

I choose to differentiate the way that I did because the Conservative Movement is not covered on the common summative assessment for US History B in my district.  Civil Rights and the Cold War are, so I was definitely offering enrichment.  All students, however, received some of the background on Goldwater, Schlafly, and Reagan.

Using web 1.0 technology to curate resources for enriching students, however, is just the first step.   Facilitating student interaction with each other and the resources, perhaps through a forum discussion or curating a mini online exhibit on the Conservative Movement, seems the next step.  I envision this as a history lab and  I am still considering an organizing question (suggestions are welcome!).  One downside to differentiating this way was that the “enrich” group of students left the room to access the materials through computers in a nearby resource center.  Periodic observations suggested that the enriching students were largely on task in three of the four classes.  Next time, I will use one of our new laptop carts (thanks, voters!) for in room differentiation, and  better supervision.

I’m also interested in how such an enrichment lesson could be used within a standards-based grading regime.  I currently have more questions than answers:  Can extra topics be a part of exceeding proficiency on a standard? Does exceeding proficiency mean an “A” (assuming that I’m still operating in an A-F context)?

By Eric Beckman

I am a veteran high school history teacher interested in decolonizing history curricula, anti-racist pedagogy, and e-learning.

Let me know what you think!

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