Thinking about …

Thinking about this whole notion of ‘no more traditional age-by-grade’ (or ‘ability-based education’) issue has got me thinking about all of the wonderful technologies that can be employed to serve as online learning environments for students to collaborate, explore and work through individualized programs at their own pace.

Here are some of examples of online technology that I think can be useful in this type of learning environment:

Voice Thread: Voice thread is a piece of software that facilitates conversations and collaborations based on images, presentations, documents and videos (Nakagawa, 2010, para.10) making it a solution for sharing images, text, video, drawing, and personalized voice messages (Holland, 2010, p.84).  This program is extremely versatile.  A new voice thread can be created by the teacher, or a student and be in any digital format.  Students and the teacher can respond to the voicethread through text, video, audio, etc.  The nature of this tool is perfect for collaboration in and outside of the classroom and could easily be used to support individualized learning outside the confines of the traditional ‘graded classroom’.

Podcasts/Videos:  With video content, a teacher can create content that students are able to refer back to, or pause, rewind, etc.  In this type of classroom, the teacher is more of a facilitator and video content created by the teacher can be employed when the teacher is not present, or outside of the classroom at any time.

Wikis: The collaborative nature of wikis make them a tool of collaboration, which can be used for collaborative activities such as Web-writing or problem-solving, for information sources or case libraries, for submission of student assignments, and for project spaces.  Wikis are also useful for problem-solving in small or large groups (Collaborative Software Lab 2000).  Due to the collaborative, any-time nature of wikis, a student working at his/her own pace through varying grade levels could collaborate and work with students working at their own level in their own classroom, or even at many different schools.

These are just a couple examples of technologies that can facilitate a collaborative learning environment where students master material at their own pace and are not limited to a ‘grade level’ based on age. 

Feel free to share your ideas on other technologies you believe could be useful in this type of learning environment.


Collaborative Software Lab. 2000. A catalog of CoWeb uses. (accessed May 30, 2012).

Ferris, S., and H. Wilder. 2006. Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom. Innovate 2 (5). (accessed May 30, 2012).

Holland, J. (2010). Use VoiceThread to merge audio-based chat with interactive media for dynamic online multimodal teaching and learning.  National Social Science Proceedings, Volume 44, no.2. pp.84-92.

Nakagawa, A. (2010). Using Voicethread for professional development: Probeware training for science teachers. PowerPoint presented at the 15th Annual Technology, Colleges, and Community Worldwide Online Conference.


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