Challenging the notion of grade by age

One of the ways this group feels that online learning can have an impact on pedagogy is through the elimination of ‘grade levels’ in the traditional sense.  It is already known that in the traditional classroom, students work at different grade levels in multiple subject areas, forcing teachers to heavily modify the curriculum for the individual learner (Tomlinson, 1999).

We also know that learning online can provide opportunities for students to learn collaboratively, from anywhere at any time, at their own pace. (Sendall, Ceccucci & Peslak, 2008).

The diverse array of students working at different levels could take advantage of online programs that allow them to work at appropriate grade levels, facilitated by professional educators and reinforced by collaborative online communities.

Jones (1996) provides interesting insights into the implications of eliminating grade-levels by age:

We know that every learner is unique and brings a different level of prior knowledge and skills into the classroom.  Individually-tailored learning can be enhanced and facilitated through the use of collaborative online technology, potentially eliminating the need for the ‘grade by age’ notions of the traditional school.

As this group delves deeper into this concept, future blog postings will focus in on specific facets and implications of this possible shift in approaches to the structure of the classroom and grade-levels.


Ceccucci, W., Peslak, A., Sendall, P.  2008. Web 2.0 Matters: An Analysis of Implementing Web 2.0 in the Classroom.  Information Systemns Education Journal.  Vol.6, No.64.

Tomlinson, C.  1999.  Mapping a Route Toward Differentiated Instruction.  Educational Leadership.  Vol.57, No.1.  P.12-16.


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