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Differentiating Instruction in Online Language Courses

Video from NFLRChawaii YouTube Channel

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Welcome to the NFLRC professional development series on Online Learning Pedagogy: Materials Development for Online Language Courses. This lesson focuses on how to adapt available materials when they are designed for a specific proficiency level and are not suitable for an online class in which students have a variety of proficiency levels.

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Differentiated instruction not only includes different proficiency levels, but rather the inclusion of students with special needs. This presentation addresses different proficiency levels as well as equity and accessibility of resources and information. As the Center on Technology and Disability (2016) points out, the evolution of federal disability legislation demands that online learning evolves to include personalized learning environments for students with special needs.

Accessibility refers to the design of materials. Based on 2016 The National Education Technology Plan (2016) and the Checklist for ADA Compliance in Online Courses what types of modifications could you incorporate into your lessons regarding compliance towards equity and accessibility of resources and information?

Concerning differentiation of instruction related to different proficiency levels, Theisen (2002) reminds us that one size does not fit all and offers a variety of suggestions on how to engage students at various levels in one class. After reviewing Theisen (2002) (see reference below), what strategies stand out that could be easily incorporated into an online or blended course?

Theisen, T. (2002). Differentiated instruction in the foreign language classroom: Meeting the diverse needs of all learners. Languages Other Than English (LOTE). Retrieved from:

Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education. (2016). Future ready learning: Reimagining the role of technology in education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from:

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