Mobile Learning Applications and Differentiated Instruction

Mobile Learning Applications and Differentiated Instruction

Shelley A. Jackson (Texas Woman's University, USA), Sharla Snider (Texas Woman's University, USA), Nicole Masek (Texas Woman's University, USA) and Joanne Baham (Texas Woman's University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8789-9.ch055
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Abstract

Mobile learning devices allow for learning anytime anywhere (Kinshuk, et al 2009). Currently instructors are attempting to keep up to date on the new developments in technology so that instruction is on the leading edge. Many instructors desire to be at the forefront of creating meaningful opportunities to use mobile devices rather than being passive recipients of developed curriculum and plans related to the use of these tools; plans that possibly address a “one size fits all” approach. For example, rather than technology being a tool to administer the same exams technology can be used to develop the exam so that it is student centered and responds in real time as the student completes the exam, perhaps modifying questions based on the student's incorrect and correct answers. It is important for instructors to participate fully in the emerging technology of mobile learning applications (apps) and to create opportunities for differentiated instruction. Mobile learning apps hold the promise to be able to adapt to various learning styles of different instructors and different students to provide personalized learning experiences.
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Background

Differentiated instruction is a teaching philosophy based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences (Cobb, 2010, p. 38).

Differentiated instruction, also termed individualized and responsive instruction, is a teaching method that is quickly developing in the higher education setting (Tulbure, C., 2011). This “inclusive individual support model” asks instructors to take inventory of student’s learning styles including, but not limited to, individual strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals, to design lessons or make arrangements that support their unique compilation of characteristics to promote success (Hart, Grigal, Sax, Martinez, & Will, 2006, p. 1). Differentiated instruction is grounded in Piaget’s Constructivism theory positing that knowledge is more readily obtained if based upon previous knowledge and experiences (Gash, 2009). As with the myriad of abilities and interests amongst all people, differentiated instruction must be flexible and accommodating to environmental change and student maturation.

Originally, differentiated instruction was designed on behalf of children who qualified to receive assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004, and its predecessor, Education for All Handicapped Children Act, enacted in 1975 (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). As part of the intervention, an individualized education plan (IEP) is developed based upon children’s strengths and weaknesses in various areas with the goal of preparing children for furthering their education, gaining employment, and living independently (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). The collaborative effort made to optimize children’s potential proved to be very successful and led instructors and educational researchers to believe this strategy could be beneficial to students of all ages and abilities. Learners who are advanced and learners who struggle are among the populations served by differentiated instruction (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006).

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