Different Technologies for Differentiated Education: Social Networks, Identity and Diversity in e-Learning

By Mandia Mentis.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A one-size-fits-all educational approach, where learning is the transfer of knowledge from teachers to learners, is problematic in terms of accommodating difference. Learning needs to be relevant and meaningful for each individual to develop an identity that aligns with their own context, culture and (dis)ability. In the area of special education this type of differentiated learning is regular practice, for example in the use of IEPs (Individualised Education Plans). Emerging e-learning tools offer the potential for differentiated learning for all in the form of PLEs (Personalised Learning Environments). New technologies known as Web 2 or social networking tools allow for self-directed learning and collaborative interaction within a networked online environment. This ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ learning approach encourages diversity and facilitates identity development within life-based, life-long and life-wide learning. This paper explores the opportunities and tensions that emerging technologies present for differentiated learning. The characteristics of IEPs and PLEs are initially outlined, followed by an overview of emerging Web 2 technologies and the potential inherent in these for transforming learning. The pedagogical and contextual barriers are mapped out, highlighting the shifts needed in these areas to enable PLEs to move towards the differentiated learning approach that effective IEPs achieve.

Keywords: Differentiated e-Learning, Web 2 Technologies, e-Learning, Identity

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.85-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.303MB).

Dr. Mandia Mentis

Senior Lecturer, Special Education and Educational Psychology Programme, School of Education at Albany, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

Mandia Mentis is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Albany, Massey University, New Zealand. She co-ordinates the Post-Graduate Special Education programme and manages the online learning community for the Educational Psychology programme. She has taught in special and inclusive education settings at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Her research interests include assessment and teaching for learners with diverse needs and e-learning within communities of practice.

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