ADDRESSING DIFFERENTIATION USING MOBILE-ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING

A. Osifo

Zayed University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
The idea of instructional diversification (Gardner, 1993) is not new and it remains a likely solution to the challenge of modifying our instructional strategies in order to reach more students and impact their learning. Differentiation or academically responsive instruction (Tomlinson et al., 2003) concentrates on teaching strategies that provide students with multiple options to meet their needs. It is a continuous reflective practice of teaching and learning, which takes into account students’ readiness levels, interests and learning profiles (Tomlinson, 2001) so that both learner engagement and motivation are achieved. Efficient implementation of differentiation also requires a flexible learning environment, flexible grouping, co-operation and simultaneous activities with varied degrees of difficulty and scaffolding, which may benefit students with diverse competencies. Mobile-assisted language learning favours social-constructivist and connectivist (Siemens, 2005) theories to learning and adaptive approaches to teaching. It offers many opportunities to differentiated instruction in meaningful ways as it enables learners to become more collaborative, engaged and independent through additional dimensions such as web-based media, virtual learning environments, online publishing to an imagined audience and digitally mediated communication. MALL applications can be a tool for the teacher to personalize and adjust instruction according to the learners’ needs and give continuous feedback to improve learning and performance in the process, which support differentiated instruction practices.

This paper explores the utilization of Mobile Assisted Language Learning applications as a supporting tool for effective differentiation in the language classroom. It reports overall experience in terms of implementing MALL to shape and apply differentiated instruction and expand learning options.

The paper is structured in three main parts: first, a review of literature and effective practice of academically responsive instruction will be discussed. Second, samples of differentiated tasks, activities, projects and learner work will be demonstrated with relevant learning outcomes and learners’ survey results. Finally, project findings and conclusions will be given.

References:
[1] Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: Basic Books.
[2] Tomlinson, C. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed ability classrooms (2nd ed). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
[3] Tomlinson, C.A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C.M., Moon, T.R., Brimijoin, K.,… Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating Instruction in response to student readiness, interest and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms: A review of literature. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27 (2-3), 119-145.
[4] Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2 (1), 3-10.