Most teachers today realize that differentiated instruction is a necessary feature of any truly successful classroom. Differentiated instruction is the practice of tailoring educational content to the needs of each learner depending on their proficiency and ability. This does not mean lowering the standard for some students, but simply helping each student to move through the knowledge space in the way that works best for them. It has been suggested that in the near future, differentiated instruction will be a mainstay of all education.
However, in order to achieve differentiated instruction the teacher must be able to produce data that allows them to see how each student is moving through the knowledge space. Because this kind of data is time consuming to generate, it is often not feasible within the context of the ordinary classroom. The best way to find out exactly what each student needs is to work one-on-one with him or her. Unfortunately, the limited resources available to most teachers make this extremely difficult.
This is where the need for online assessment techniques emerge. Online assessment is rapidly being adopted at the state level. However, we are not effectively preparing our students to succeed in this context. Online assessment on the classroom scale can do more for educators than many currently realize. By using cloud-based software educators can not only prepare their students for computer based tests, they can also engage in differentiated assessment.
Only by integrating practices of differentiated assessment with the structure of our classes can content be customized to the needs of the individual learner.
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