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Delivering Differentiated Instruction through a Video Game experience

May 24, 2024
Written by 
Brian Mak
4 min read

Differentiated Instruction…it’s one of the biggest topics in recent years as more research comes out correlating learning efficacy and a child’s exposure to personalized learning. With games becoming more sophisticated and engaging, we have some opportunities to combine the best of both worlds so that students can continuously be both educated and entertained.

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction (DI) is a student-centered approach where teachers tailor instruction to students' backgrounds, readiness, interests, and profiles. This personalization fosters increased learning, confidence, motivation, and comfort among students. Research supports the positive impacts of DI on student achievement, attitudes, higher-order thinking, and social skills. Teacher training in DI is crucial for effective implementation. DI can be implemented by modifying the content used, process of content delivery, and product of learning (assessment) based on students' readiness, interests, and learning profiles. This is called the CPP-RIP framework.

Why video games?

Digital game-based learning can significantly enhance a student’s ability to acquire knowledge and new skills. Research overwhelmingly supports its positive cognitive and affective outcomes, particularly in STEM education, improving learning achievement, self-efficacy, agency, engagement, and motivation.

However, effective implementation requires pedagogical considerations. A three-phase approach (pre-game, during-game, post-game) with appropriate scaffolding is crucial, tailoring support based on a player’s experience. Video games also offer assessment advantages by addressing misconceptions and reducing mathematics anxiety through tiered testing. Furthermore, we have the opportunity to reimagine digital games by incorporating computational thinking and scientific principles into a collaborative, interdisciplinary framework - an approach that is prominent in STEM education, where a single digital game can address multiple subjects, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

Why is Differentiated Instruction important - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Differentiated instruction as a teaching approach is based on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Yes, differentiated instruction significantly enhances a student’s ability to acquire knowledge and new skills. But it’s important to note that differentiated instruction is a method that can be applied to all students without regard to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, or background. It’s a method that is tailor for each student based on their readiness, interest, and learning profile. 

Tying it all together

When we first set out to build Yeti Confetti Kids, our initial thought was, How can we use AI to teach children, and use AI to adapt to their learning needs, and meet them at their learning level. As we researched more, we found that we had the opportunity to tackle something much bigger than our original thoughts. Using AI, we have the opportunity to make differentiated instruction a reality at scale! The main barriers to differentiated instruction are 1) Resources, and 2) Making it fun, and leaning into that area of “interest” (per the CPP-RIP framework). 

We know that differentiated instruction is difficult because it takes a lot of work and a lot of amazing, passionate educators to facilitate this. It also takes a big, dynamic personality and a lot of energy to make it fun and engaging for each child. It’s just not scalable. 

The latest advancements in AI, particularly large language models (LLMs), have unlocked our ability to find and curate a virtually limitless collection of the best videos, songs, worksheets, assessments, and more from around the globe. Our AI then utilizes this content to create personalized learning experiences, tailoring both content and delivery to each student's unique needs and preferences, optimizing their learning journey in alignment with the CPP-RIP framework. But as research has shown, game-based learning can enhance a student’s ability to learn. Putting it all together, this is an exciting time in education because we have the opportunity to deliver the best of both worlds of learning and video games. Both differentiated learning and game-based has the ability to enhance a child’s learning experience. As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the combination of differentiated, game-based learning has the potential to accelerate learning, which we have seen with Daniel International School.

By blending personalized learning with the excitement of games, we're on the verge of a learning revolution. Get ready for a whole new level of engagement, understanding, and achievement at home and in the classroom.

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