Η παρούσα εργασία έχει ως σκοπό την διερεύνηση της αξιοποίησης του Συστήματος Διαχείρισης Μάθησης LAMS για την εφαρμογή συνεργατικών δραστηριοτήτων Διαφοροποιημένης Διδασκαλίας σε μαθητές ΕΠΑΛ. Με γνώμονα την ενίσχυση του παραδοσιακού τρόπου διδασκαλίας σε τάξεις μικτής ικανότητας, σχεδιάστηκαν μαθησιακές δραστηριότητες Διαφοροποιημένης Διδασκαλίας σε περιβάλλον LAMS και εκτελέστηκαν από τους μαθητές ενός Επαγγελματικού Λυκείου, στα πλαίσια του μαθήματος «Προγραμματισμός Υπολογιστών» της Γ’ τάξης ΕΠΑΛ.Για την αξιολόγηση του βαθμού συνεργασίας των μαθητών κατά την εκτέλεση δραστηριοτήτων σε περιβάλλον LAMS, οι είκοσι εφτά (27) συμμετέχοντες μαθητές συμπλήρωσαν ερωτηματολόγιο και παραχώρησαν συνεντεύξεις. Παράλληλα μελετήθηκαν στοιχεία του περιβάλλοντος καταγραφής του LAMS που αφορούσαν το είδος και την ποσότητα των μηνυμάτων που αντάλλαξαν οι μαθητές κατά τις συνεργατικές δραστηριότητες. Κατ’ αυτό τον τρόπο, συλλέχθηκαν ποσοτικά και ποιοτικά δεδομένα, ακολουθώντας μία μικτή προσέγγιση.Η διαδικασία της αποτίμησης μας έδωσε τη δυνατότητα να αποφανθούμε υπέρ της χρήσης του LAMS για την υποστήριξη συνεργατικών δραστηριοτήτων που σχεδιάζονται βάσει των αρχών της Διαφοροποιημένης Διδασκαλίας. Οι μαθητές εκτίμησαν ιδιαιτέρως τον συνεργατικό τρόπο εργασίας στο LAMS, επιθυμώντας την επανάληψη ανάλογων δραστηριοτήτων.
Differentiated Teaching (DT) can be seen as an organized and at the same time flexible way of adapting teaching and learning in which the teacher can diversify content, process, results/products and the learning environment according to student readiness, interests and learning profile, using a variety of didactic and organizational strategies. Among the DT strategies there are those implemented in the collaborative learning method, such as Think-Pair-Share, Jigsaw, etc.In recent years, several tools and systems have been developed that support cooperative learning processes using ICT. Among these is LAMS (Learning Activity Management System) (https://www.lamsfoundation.org/), a free, open source, online Learning Management System (LMS). It is one of the best-known systems that implements the principles of Learning Design and supports the design, management and implementation of individual and cooperative learning activities. It has a wealth of tools to create, manage and monitor digital lessons for lifelong, mixed or distance learning.Research in recent years advocates the use of LAMS to support cooperative learning as the LAMS environment can be used as a stimulating element for pupils to enhance collaboration, despite the tendency of problems in the trainees’ co-operation. The use of LAMS to support the DT has been attempted in several surveys and the results have been encouraging as it has been found to have features that can help in its implementation.This paper explores the use of the LAMS Learning Management System for the implementation of collaborative activities of Differentiated Teaching in EPAL students. The emphasis was put on the use of an e-learning tool to reinforce the traditional way of teaching in order to address the phenomenon of the intense diversity of the mixed-ability classes of a vocational high school. Differentiated teaching activities were designed in LAMS environment, which were then evaluated in the Computer Programming course of the 3rd Informatics class during the school year 2016-2017. The aim of the research was (a) to capture pupils' perceptions of their participation in collaborative learning activities in the LAMS environment, and (b) to explore students' degree of co-operation. The research was in the form of a case study-action study in order to "verify, strengthen and extend the knowledge of the ways children learn" (Cohen et al., 2000/2008, p. 309), as well as to investigate the effectiveness of a teaching method that replaces the traditional method. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected to carry out the survey. Using the triangulation technique, the reliability and validity of the survey data was assured, as data from different data sources were collected and verified. The collection of data was based on: a) an online questionnaire filled in anonymously by the twenty seven (27) participating students after the implementation of cooperative DT activities, b) semi-structured interviews by six (6) students; and c) study of LAMS monitoring environment elements concerning the type and quantity of messages exchanged by students during cooperative activities.Prior to the implementation of the educational intervention, pupils were provided with questionnaires on their learning profile and their interests while studying elements of pupils' performance in determining their cognitive level and their readiness. As students did not have prior experience in LAMS, two (2) brief familiarization sequences with the LAMS environment and LAMS collaboration tools were created. The aim was to identify any problems related to the operation and use of LAMS by students.Following was the design of the main sequence of learning activities, which was based on the principles of the DT. It incorporates activities that use collaborative learning strategies appropriate to the implementation of the DT as the Think-Pair-Share and the Jigsaw strategies. It was expected to last for two (2) hours and related to the teaching of the «Data Structures – List» concept. The biggest part of the sequence was executed live within the Computer Science Lab, while the last part of the sequence was intended to be executed by students at a distance. Thus, a mixed learning approach was followed.The data gathered prior to the intervention’s implementation - with the intention to investigate the profile of the participants in the research - testified to the intense diversity of the mixed capacity classes and justified our choice to apply Differentiated Teaching Practices. In the past, most students had been involved in collaborative activities. But no one had used the LAMS learning management system.The questionnaire showed that students were familiar with various online platforms, both educational and non-educational, and while they preferred to work with others, their experience in previous collaborative online environments was limited. The positive thing was that most students stated that they would like to use the LAMS management system again, as did most of the LAMS survey’s participants.Regarding the degree of students’ cooperation in LAMS environment, it was found that the majority of students believe that they actively participated in the collaborative activities, expressed freely, offered and received help from their classmates, confirming earlier researches regarding pupils’ activation. Indeed, the observation in the LAMS monitoring environment revealed that all pupils, regardless of learning level, exchanged messages during their co-operation. Unfortunately, neither the quantity nor the quality of messages was satisfactory. The above findings were reinforced by pupils' interviews, which reported as basic problems the exchange of messages that did not offer anything essential to problems’ solution or their cooperation and the problems they encountered in using the "Forum and Scribe" tool, highlighting once again, the need for more practice of the students with the LAMS cooperation tools.Also, the existence of problems in co-operation has been, due to the potential students' inexperience in participating in similar collaborative web-based activities. The expected degree of collaboration and mutual assistance through was not observed, with students’ interactions remaining low. Despite all the problems, most students said they were happy with the group work at LAMS, wishing to repeat similar activities.Based on the above, we claim that LAMS can be used to implement cooperative DT activities, enhancing the traditional way of teaching in mixed ability classes of a vocational high school. Despite any difficulties encountered by students during their collaboration, it was revealed that cooperative activities in a LAMS environment created a favorable climate for learning, contributing to the further socialization of students. It is proposed to repeat similar educational applications in the secondary education sector in order to generalize the results to the rest of the student population. It is also recommended to further investigate the factors of the low student interactions in cooperative activities and the lack of previous experience of collaboration in online collaborative environments.