Accessibility is a welcome necessity in modern education, but there is also more to the story of how technology and education interact. For many contemporary educators, differentiated instruction has become the preferred way to teach a class. Differentiated instruction is a method of education in which the educator presents information differently to different students in the same classroom. Typically, this is done by placing students in smaller groups during class, based on learning styles, level of educational advancement, and other factors like learning disabilities or physical challenges. The educator then crafts group-specific lessons, reading assignments, projects, evaluation methods, and ways of presenting information that fit each group best. This allows students to enjoy the social experience of being in a large class with their peers, without the frustration or difficulty that often accompanies the “one lesson fits all” approach. Image online learning is no ornamentTechnology, like differentiated instruction, offers major benefits to all students, not just students dealing with an educational challenge outside of their control. This is because people learn best in a wide variety of different ways. These different learning styles typically fall into one of three widely accepted categories – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual learners are able to consume information best if it is presented in video or photographic form, and at times from reading. Auditory learners learn most successfully by hearing information, whether through a lecture, an audiobook, or online with text-to-speech technology. Kinesthetic learners are hands-on types, who are able to comprehend information best by doing actual physical activities. Technology offers benefits to each type of learner, and makes it easier than ever for educators to differentiate instruction in their classrooms. Differentiated instruction intersects closely with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which is a set of principles that provides an instructional framework for a flexible approach to individual learning needs. In addition to multiple forms of media for the presentation of information, students now expect and crave interactivity in their learning experiences. It is only natural that, as students spend their off time consuming interactive information on tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and PCs, static textbooks are not enough to hold their attention. Interactive learning materials allow students to be actively engaged in their education, reinforcing information through audio, video, text, and even educational games, all on the same device. The concepts behind learning styles and differentiated instruction also apply to technology itself. Even just 20 years ago, students learned mostly from textbooks, and e-readers, tablets, and dynamic, computer-powered blackboards were far-off dreams. Those students expected to learn from books because they didn’t know to expect anything else. Today’s generation of students, on the other hand, have grown up with those technologies acting as an integral part of their daily life. In some sense, then, “technological” could be a fourth learner type. To best reach every type of student, educators must use the technology through which students consume most of their information. Unlike the other learner types, the hypothetical “technological” category would apply to nearly every student. Image Credit: Gideon Burton