WIA Community Conversations Transcripts - Technology and Distance Learning

WIA Community Conversations Transcripts

Technology and Distance Learning

WIA Community Conversations | Other WIA Community Conversations Transcripts

Subject: [Technology 2489]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From:Judy Mortrude

Date: Monday, January 11,
2010 12:23 PM

What are
creative and flexible ways to use technology and / or distance learning to
expand access to adult education or help learners make progress toward their

community colleges increasingly using distance learning platforms like D2L and
Moodle, ABE programs must start developing content accessible to the lower level
reader on these systems and utilizing them in transition programming, so we are
truly preparing adult learners to move into post secondary training.  Just
as some states have mandated that high school students must take at least one
online class in order to graduate, ABE programs realize that computer literacy
is an absolute essential for all level of student.  We need the systems to
support this reality and fund the work appropriately.

What are
the barriers? What innovative solutions have you used to address those

There are
HUGE barriers, not the least of which is our own apprehensions about using
technology.  The ABE teaching field is filled with experienced instructors
– experienced can also be read as we have been doing this a long time and a
long time before computers were around!  We have to embrace lifelong
learning ourselves and be willing to learn while we teach.

Cost is a
barrier.  ABE programs not having server space in their districts or in
their institutions is a barrier.

The only way
to address these issues is head on!  Keep pushing for the needs of our
learners through professional development of our staff, through advocacy for
our students including access to good technology solutions, and through
investment in systems specific to our adult learners such as the Learner Web
project out of Portland State University.

What are
your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

My hope is
simple – more funding for the best type of programming and a willingness to let
go of the kind of “feel good” programming that resulted in no substantive gains
for the individuals or the communities at large.

Program Administrator
Department of Employment and Economic Development
St Paul, MN

[Technology 2491] Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From: Glenn

Date: Monday,
January 11, 2010 1:32 PM

Thank you,
Madam Assistant Secretary, for the opportunity to comment … and your openness
to ideas.  Here are a few on technology:

We need to
create new technology centers to work in each state to help programs come into
the 21st century in the use of technology to gain and learn from
information.  These centers should be helping the whole field to move
towards a “virtual literacy” approach for those with limited skills that have
been not gaining from the existing approach to literacy. Virtual literacy uses
technology as a means to by pass limited literacy skills and enables the person
to gain information through other means (text to speech etc)… This approach is
based largely on the tremendous gains in learning through technology that is
current being used in the blind and low vision communities.  And with
proper support and tools, almost all learners in programs would be able to be
accessing and understanding information in a matter of weeks or months, not
years as the current approach take.   

Inertia …
The barriers include the field being trapped in the concept that traditional
reading approaches and skills is the only way to learn. People must learn to
read in order to read to learn… However, technology has changed that paradigm,
in so many places but not adult education.   The field is so short of
funds that it feels that it could not approach the issues of virtual literacy
for lack of resources.  And most teachers are so untrained in technology
they have limited understanding of its capacity.

I hope that
WIA will provide funding for new state technology centers … and funding
resources to help eliminate the “digital” divide issues that currently keep low
literacy people trapped in a world without technology … and therefore ill
prepared to enter the modern workplace.  These centers would not only help
to better prepare those in the adult literacy system for the modern work place
in a far better and far quicker fashion … it would also create a whole set of
new jobs for those who have technical skills now … helping to revive our
economy in many positive ways

Not asked
but suggested is that we need a lot of help from the private sector to create a
cheaper and more flexible virtual literacy tool aimed specifically at low
literate and ELL populations… and show that there would be a huge market for
this type of tool from governments … We need a national virtual literacy
taskforce headed by the likes of  Microsoft, Google, etc … (they are
already doing similar projects in India … why not in the USA.? )

Glenn Young
Buffalo NY

Subject: [Technology
2492] Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From: Rick

Date: Monday,
January 11, 2010 5:16 PM

Thank you,
Madam Assistant Secretary, for the opportunity to comment and your openness to

At the
present time, we have many students who are afraid to use computers.  We are
told that the only way we can provide computer instruction is if it is needed
to learn the core academic subjects of reading, writing, math, social studies
and science.  I would like to suggest that computer competencies are worthy of
independent study.  Most of our student’s ultimate goals are to obtain a GED. 
Since the GED does not require computer competencies, we are not allowed to
teach it.  The National Reporting System (NRS) includes descriptors/competencies
for each of the six educational functioning levels, but has not approved any
assessment to determine these competencies.  I would like to see the OVAE
clarify this issue, so that we can teach our students basic computer skills.
Below you will see the list of skill descriptors the NRS has published. 

Functioning Level 1

No knowledge
of computers or other technology

Functioning Level 2

knowledge of, and experience with, computers.

Functioning Level 3

Can use
simple computer programs and perform routine tasks.

Functioning Level 4

Can work
with most basic computer software, such as using a word processor to produce
own texts; can follow simple instructions for using technology.

Functioning Level 5

proficient using computers and can use most common computer applications; can
interpret the appropriate use of new software and technology.

Functioning Level 6

Can use
common software and learn new software applications; can adapt use of software
or technology to new situations and can instruct others, in written or oral
form on software and technology use.

Rick Burgin
Casper College ABE/GED

Subject: [Technology 2493]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From: David Williams

Date: Monday, January 11,
2010 5:31 PM

are creative and flexible ways to use technology and / or distance learning to
expand access to adult education or help learners make progress toward their

- We have
found that the use of technology has been instrumental for us, as a small adult
school, to be able to provide better instruction to a more diverse group of
students. For example, in our ABE/ASE programs we use several different
computer based instruction al programs to supplement our traditional classroom
instruction. In the case of ABE students and transitioning ESL students this
has been very effective in providing more appropriate instruction on their
varied levels than would be possible in the traditional classroom (due to our
small size, it is virtually impossible to have a class devoted to these levels
of learners), while providing appropriate instruction for the actual ASE level
learners.  This use of technology has allowed us to expand our programs by
offering additional distance learning materials, either as standalone distance
learning instruction or blended instruction. In our ESL program we have used a
similar approach to enhance the classroom instruction through technology (both
through CBI and interactive classroom technology materials such as Putting
English to Work), which also has been expanded to distance learning for the ESL
learners, both standalone and blended.

are the barriers? What innovative solutions have you used to address those

– The most
common barrier I see in this area is the cost of instructional materials that
utilize current technologies. Producing these types of instruction materials, for
use on a broad scale, would be very difficult for small agencies. Purchasing
them can be very expensive. The second most common barrier, in my opinion,
would be the access our students have to the technology to utilize these
materials. While this access is increasing, there are still many adult learners
who cannot access computer technology except at adult schools. The third
barrier I see, although not nearly on the scale that it was 5 years ago, is the
instructional skills required to effectively use technology based instruction.

The supplemental funds provided by the WIA has made a tremendous difference in
the procurement of CBI curriculum. It is a direct result of this supplemental
funding that our school has been able to purchase an ASE/ABE GED prep CBI
program for site use, an ESL CBI program with a 25 user license for site use
and an online program subscription that can be used by both ABE/ASE and ESL
learners. The supplemental funding has also been important in being able to
provide the hardware to use this type of curriculum on our school site so that
all students enrolled can access them. We have found that if the school focus
turns more and more to the use of technology, peer and student pressure to
provide appropriate instruction in the use of these programs has moved even the
most reluctant instructors into acquiring the necessary skills.

are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

– We hope,
especially in the face of dramatic reductions in state funding, that
continuation of the WIA supplemental funds will allow us to continue to update
and expand the use of technology to provide instructional opportunities to
adult learners. This will be of vital importance as many of our school will not
be able to afford expanding instructional sites to meet additional adult
learners in our communities.

Principal, Beaumont Adult School
Beaumont, CA

Subject: [Technology 2494]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From: Gail Troy

Date: Monday, January 11,
2010 6:07 PM

The potential
of distance learning to reach students with transportation and childcare
problems is tremendous. 

It would be
great if there was a way to TABE via distance technology as TABE (or
equivalent) is required by the “powers that be”.

One of our
greatest barriers to distance learning is that we do not have good Internet
access in most of our county. 

Our Electric
Coop, which serves about half the county, is pioneering BPOE (broadband over
the power lines).  I’ve been waiting about three years for it to come to
our home. It will not help those who do not get Coop electricity.

Dial up
connections are not good enough for most distance applications (Virginia’s e-LearnVa does not work well with dialup)

Our problem
is our beautiful mountains!

We can, and
do, use computers in our classroom for students to acquire some computer
proficiency.  This does not help distance learning.

I would hope
that WIA reauthorization would continue and expand funding.

Gail Troy,
Lead Teacher
Nelson County Adult GED

Subject: [Technology 2495]
Technology and Distance Learning

From: Davis W. Graham

Date: Monday, January 11,
2010 9:05 PM


Again I can
not tell you how text to speech has changed my life.  There are three
text-to-speech software (ReadPlease, Read:OutLoud and Victor Reader Soft)
programs which have changed my life.  As for the purpose of being a confidence
builder these programs will instill confidence in a student or child who
struggles with the written word.

For a
summary of my life travels with the gift of dyslexia visit:


Today, I
read between 300 to 480 words per minute with 90% comprehension.  The
organizations which have enabled me are www.readplease.com, www.rfbd.org and
www.bookshare.org .  Bookshare for the student and adult population is an
excellent resource.  Newspapers from all over the country are available and
Bookshare provide two text to speech software programs, Victor Soft reader and
a Beta for Bookshare made by Read:Outloud. 

 Being able
to read the newspaper is a character builder, I know what is going on in the
world because I read it in a newspaper, I had never been able to say this
before, I can read my trade journals now, where in the past they ended up in
the garbage because I could not face the daunting task of reading them.  Now it
is a simple clip and paste or have Read:Outloud read it to me via the web. 
When I read I have to follow along for 90%+ comprehension, but on the other
hand I'm working a lot on spreadsheets with numbers and listening does not
detour from my number crunching.

Today the
written word is not a hurdle to me nor should it be in the way of education for
any student in the academic environment in the United States of America. By
combining technology of text to speech, and gathering the printed word in
digital format, Bookshare has overcome the initial hurdle; Bookshare has made a
pioneering pathway for an unbridled learning environment.  If I come to a
person, place or thing which I do not know or understand I highlight the word
and then click on the dictionary and Read:OutLoud takes me to the internet and
then I can read about the subject and incorporate a snippet of the subject into
my book.

enables me to read my letters and emails before they go out and is generally
the one I use the most, Readplease should be made available to all populations
in schools and libraries.  If made available to all then it would not cause the
much dreaded stigmatism.

is a Microsoft only program, but in today's environment there are parallel
operating systems software, so you can have MAC or Windows running at the same

As for
public access, again it is us (advocates) pushing with concerted effort in the
same direction.

Once I was
lost now I am found, once was blind to the written word, now I read.

Call if you
have any questions.

Director \ CFO
Manatee Diagnostic Center
Bradenton, Florida

Subject: [Technology 2496]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From: Gail Spangenberg

Date: Tuesday, January 12,
2010 10:32 AM


A recent
CAAL resource on distance learning may be helpful in this discussion. It's
called The Power of Technology to Transform Adult Learning: Expanding Access to
Adult Education & Workforce Skills Through Distance Learning
This 65-page CAAL report by Mary L. MCain of TechVisiion 21 was published on
October 21, 2009, and is available from the CAAL website at: www.caalusa.org/publications.html
as item NCCAAL-11


Subject: [Technology 2498]
Technology and Distance Learning

From: Barbara J Struble

Date: Tuesday, January 12,
2010 1:38 PM

I have
taught ESL/ABE/ASE in both Arizona and Alaska - large states with extreme
terrain and weather. Both states have many First People, small isolated
villages/communities and large cities. These are my comments based on
educational experiences in these two states.

1.QU:  What are creative and flexible ways to use technology and/or
distance learning to expand access to adult education or help learners make
progress toward their goals?
1.ANS: CBI (computer based instruction) is the way to reach all adult
learners. CBI is:  A. economical - requires fewer master teachers; B.
increased learning - CBI programs have both scope and sequence, content and
interactive success. Currently, many instructor based classes especially in the
smaller rural areas utilize instructors/tutors who lack the training and
teaching skills that are built into the CBI programs. One master teacher can
facilitate many adult learners utilizing technology over distance. I have
utilized Contemporary and Plato for CBI on computers with built in
text-to-speech capabilities; webcams; Read/Write Gold; Dragon; built in
languages; MSN live for instant discussion. Assessment is online. Practice
tests for GED classes are computerized. I have utilized both Skype (free) and
videoconferencing (more expensive than the rest). Face to face over the
internet is a great way to feel connected and involved. I have created videos
and sent them to clients for teaching a concept. I have also used the telephone
for assisting clients with questions. The web is a great teaching/learning
environment for every subject. A few desktop links that I have added to
computers that were sent to villages and rural areas are: dictionaries
(including speech capabilities for words), encyclopedias, math sites, history
sites, work sites, government sites, drivers' licenses online sites, CDL sites,
computer lessons and keyboarding sites. There are many more, each customized to
the area and state.

2. QU: What are the barriers? What inovative solutions have you used to
address those challenges?
2 ANS: BARRIER-GED is still paper based and the requirement for a GED
administrator is a 4 year degree (2 year with certain background experience).
SOLUTION - I keep promoting online GED testing every chance I have to do so.

BARRIER-CBI is still considered a back-up/addition to person based instruction
instead of the other way around. SOLUTION - I utilized CBI as the instructor
with myself as back-up instructor and village/community people as tutors
assisting clients in the use of the computer and the programs. I trained the
tutors myself and was available 24/7 via MSN live and webcams for assistance.

BARRIER-definition of direct instruction (80% required) in WIA. Community staff
tutors cannot be paid with WIA funds because the term "direct
instruction" does not include their work in a computer based environment.
SOLUTION:  I have no solution. My recommendation is that WIA adopt a new
21st century technology based approach to adult education: 

BARRIER-High speed internet necessary to run the CBI programs. SOLUTION: Piggy
backing on to the local, state, federal government businesses in the local
areas and supporting their requests for grants and other funding for high speed

BARRIER-staff training. SOLUTION: I trained community staff to operate the
programs we used on computers. Webinairs are available through some companies
and I recommended purchase of the programs that included free training via

3.QU  What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?
3. ANS:  Greater funding of technology based learning based on a
change of thinking - from many people and books for adult learning to few well
trained distance education teachers and many technology tools (including internet).

Barbara J Struble

Learning for

Subject: [Technology 2501]
Technology 2497 WIA Discussion - Technology

From: Kathy Sheehy

Date: Tuesday, January 12,
2010 4:30 PM

In New York State as part of our Quality Framework, we are taking steps to integrate
technology into the teaching/learning process in Adult Education and in
Distance Learning.  We need to prepare our students to live and work in the
21st century with a competitive global economy which requires a highly skilled
workforce.  Whether they will enter employment or post secondary education,
students need to have knowledge, understanding and be able to use production
software, instructional software, operating systems, and web 2.0 technologies
along with literacy.  Teachers and administrators also need to have knowledge
and technology skills to manage effective, quality adult education programs.

are creative and flexible ways to use technology and/or distance learning to
expand access to adult education or help learners make progress toward their

In New York
State, we have developed a web based learning management system called
e-Literacy New York which allows web based access to adult education
programming through a wide range of media rich curriculum and interactive
workbooks along with links to other adult ed resources.  The platform currently
hosts curriculum published by Intelecom which includes:  Crossroads Cafe,
Lifelines and Madison Heights.  The Kentucky Educational Television published
GED Connection videos are also available on this electronic platform along with
SMART (Skills To Make Adults Ready to Succeed), vocational software and links
to additional online applications.    We now have online curriculum for reading
levels four to twelve.  Through the use of e-Literacy New York, teachers are
able to create an online virtual classroom for individualized instruction,
manage student assignments and track student time on task. This platform
combines employment preparation, computer instruction and life skills with ABE
(Adult Basic Education), GED (General Educational Development) and ESOL
(English Speakers of Other Languages) curriculum.  There is also a link to
remediation software for academic skill sets in the K-12 curriculum range. 
This platform is being piloted both in the traditional classroom and in
distance learning.

We are in
the process of defining what effective teachers, managers and students need to
know and be able to do with technology.  We have surveyed the field using the TISA (Technology Integration Self Assessment) and Distance Learning Self assessment to see
what technology skill levels have already been attained.  The results of these
surveys will be the basis for a statewide technology plan and professional
development to elevate the use of technology consistently on all levels of the
teaching/learning process.  A plan is needed that provides flexibility to take
advantage of a range of options that integrate workplace and academic skills
with career goals that need to be instilled in our academic and work culture in
order to prepare our future skilled workforce.  We need data systems to track
our students from kindergarten to high school, through college, and into the

Success of
this transition requires intensive program development, continuous improvement,
individualized educational programs with goals for post secondary or
employment.  e-Literacy New York combines both academic and work readiness
skills on an electronic platform that provides a portal for adult education

The Internet
is the new frontier.  Web 2.0 technologies empower people to connect,
collaborate and innovate while working faster and more effectively.  Web 2.0
tools include:  blogs, podcasts, wikis, social networking and change the way we
interact.  They drive skills and knowledge sharing.  Web 2.0 tools are
developed for social networking to create communities, find profiles, work in
forums, participate in collaborative activities, and maximize the power of
participation.  They allow you to do more, do it faster and more effectively. 

study circles and digital workshops allow teachers to share their best
practices.  Online websites such as Google group websites allow teachers to
share best practices online.

online software is currently being piloted as well.

are the barriers?  What innovative solutions have you used to address these

Not all
programs have the access to technology that is necessary for the full
integration of technology.  Some teachers are not proficient in the use of
technology.  The sharing of data is sometimes difficult because systems do not
always talk to one another.

that do not have access to technology may use computers in libraries, etc. 
Teachers are being taught technology skills based on the results of the TISA and distance learning surveys.  We have recently moved our NRS data system to the
web.  This allows are wide range of program data information to be analyzed. 

are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

  • More
    widespread availability to adult programming on a national level. 
  • Funding
    to support the professional development of teachers, administrators and
    students on the use of technology.
  • Funding
    to support the technology systems needed for adult ed programming

Sheehy, Associate
The New York
State Education Department
Education and Workforce Development
Albany, NY

Subject: [Technology 2502]
(no subject)

From: Tom Cytron-Hysom

Date: Tuesday, January 12,
2010 5:34 PM

are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

I have been
following the discussions on various groups with interest. As someone who works
statewide in developing both distance learning and simultaneous workforce/basic
skills education, I know how important these emphases are both to adult
learners and their communities. They need to be adequately incorporated and
reflected in WIA reauthorization.

I am also
concerned that the needs of the many learners who may not fit neatly into these
categories not be neglected. In Minnesota, we have many refugee learners who
still struggle to master basic English - many, in fact, do not know how to read
and write in any language since they were never able to attend primary school
in their countries of origin or in refugee camps. Other adult learners are
primarily concerned with family literacy, so they can support their children in
school. Some are intent on obtaining citizenship. And many deal with
significant learning disabilities which daily challenge them in their efforts
to educate themselves.

As we work
with legislators to insure that ABE services are responsive to evolving
educational and economic development needs, I hope we also preserve some focus
on those "hardest to serve" who have traditionally been educated
through our programs. If we fail these high-need adult learners, they really
have nowhere else to go.


Subject: [Technology 2503]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning
From: Susan Jones

Date: Tuesday, January 12,
2010 7:26 PM

In my
opinion, the quality of the CBI is a big issue, especially in math. 

Susan Jones
Development Specialist
Center for
Academic Success
Parkland College
Champaign, IL

Subject: [Technology 2505]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions
From: Mary McCain

Date: Monday, January 11,
2010 12:14 PM

October 2009
report from Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy:


to Adult
Education and Workforce Skills Through Distance Learning.


Subject: [Technology 2506]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning

From: Tom Cytron-Hysom

Date: Wednesday, January
13, 2010 10:22 AM

I do not
believe CBI is the way to reach "all" learners, although it is a valuable
tool for many. Adult learners are not all necessarily proficient or comfortable
with computers, and may not have ready access to these tools. In addition,
lower level ELL learners, especially, require direct interaction with other
learners and teachers. If we adopt CBI as as our primary instructional delivery
system, we run the risk of marginalizing many adult learners for a variety of

Both a
review of the literature, and our direct experience in Minnesota, indicate that
nurturing direct and ongoing relationships between teachers and students using
distance learning is key to the success of this instruction. Developing and
deploying DL curricula is also quite time consuming. These require significant
time and resources, which does not seem to support the position that fewer
teachers/staff are required.

Subject: [Technology 2508]
WIA re-authorization

From: Clare Strawn

Date: Wednesday, January
13, 2010 12:28 PM

I am Clare
Strawn from Portland State University. I worked with Steve Reder on the
Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning (www.lsal.pdx.edu) and
am currently part of the national leadership of the Learner Web (www.learnerweb.org).

are creative and flexible ways to use technology and / or distance learning to
expand access to adult education or help learners make progress toward their

Some of what
we learned from the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning is that many adults
are actively engaged in developing their skills outside of program contexts,
and many of them use computers/internet to do so.

How does
technology broaden the reach of AE resources into the community, increasing the
flexibility and capacity of programs, and at the same time support development
of self-directed lifelong learning skills? These are the questions that Steve
Reder and I (and many others are exploring through the Learner Web
platform.  Currently Learner Web is being used by tutors to add to their
face-to-face tutoring time and by professional development programs that use it
to follow up a workshop with continued practice and feedback. MN is field
testing the possibilities of using Learner Web to better integrate workforce
and basic skills development programs.

We know that
Learners move in and out of programs, so technology should be portable to
support their continued engagement.

We also know
that having technology skills and access to improve them increases likelihood
of employment, both of which contribute to literacy development (Bynner, J.,
Reder, S., Samantha, P and Strawn, C. Digital divide:
Computer use, basic skills and employment
. NDRC, 2008).

What are the barriers? What innovative solutions have you used to address
those challenges?

recession has impacted innovation on several levels. 1) fewer students have
internet connectivity in their homes, which limits access to technology tools
for learning when they have the time and at their own pace. 2) programs and
government agencies have made drastic cutbacks that curtail their ability to
invest in innovation.

NTIA and TOPS programs previously funded many Community Technology Centers.
This initiative should be re-invigorated and encouraged to be linked to Adult
Basic Education programming and content.  Grants should be made available
to libraries and community based programs serving adult learners to provide
internet labs for learning.

What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

WIA funding
policies should consider incentives for taking risks and testing innovation.
There are many good suggestions in the Assessment and Transitions discussions
that note where policy (such as proxy hour assignment for DL) applies friction
to innovation. Progress at the scale needed by American workers demands
investment in trying and evaluating innovation. Innovation needs to be
resourced with research and development at the national level, investment of
time and experience at the program level, and sustained support after initial
launch if it is going to payback in greater efficiencies and problem solving

Subject: [Technology 2510]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning

From: Gail Troy
Date: Wednesday, January
13, 2010 7:46 PM

Years ago,
Kit Baeschke Baker in Southwest Virginia had a computer lab used by her
students at all levels.  The students all took to it like a duck takes to
water.  The instructors had a harder time!

Gail Troy,

Lead Teacher

Nelson County Adult GED

Subject: [Technology 2512]
Re: Technology and Distance Learning Questions

From: Katie Murdock

Date: Thursday, January
14, 2010 1:27 PM

I am
slowly developing a "program" to be loaded on a flash drive with
interactive capabilities for the learners.  I am working in conjunction
with an ESL teacher and a reading specialist.  We all think that this
could be a wonderful tool.  At the end of the year or semester-whichever
the students would be given or offered the flash drive at a very low
cost-depends on the size of the grant we obtain to implement this.  The
flash drive that we are looking at will be a 2GB so there will be plenty
of room for other participants to develop their own materials as well.

Katie Murdock

& Program Developer

Housing Resource Center

Subject: [Technology 2515]
Re: hopes for adult ed tech and DL


Date:Friday, January 15,
2010 1:36 PM

Hello all,
I’m responding today as a researcher at AIR, deeply interested in the role of
technology to support learning for struggling students, and have enjoyed tuning
in this week to learn about creative solutions in use around the country.

I will echo
that my work supports the use of technology with all adult learners of all
literacy levels, but that support/orientation/and differentiated content is
absolutely critical. They must go together but there is no magic formula to
determine how much support a particular student will need; it is very much an
interaction of the task, skill level of learner, interest/motivation, and technology
interface and functionality.

A paper on
threshold literacy levels for online learning published by NIFL which
incorporated the wisdom of this listserv a couple years ago is available at http://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf  

One of my
hopes for adult education, really, is that we join the larger innovation
community and take up our role as a key step in lifelong learning, and not be
confined to funding through a single stream. 

Our issues
on ensuring Internet connectivity and broadband capacity belong squarely in the
FCC conversation about bringing broadband to all and we should have a way to
reap benefits from the EETT funding for technology.  Our plans to
integrate technology and distance learning should be included in the National
Education Technology Plan being written by the Dept of Ed’s Office of
Innovation and Improvement.  There is a very large overlap in our
population with the under- and un-insured; we could contribute to the roll out
of information on health care and health literacy with community partners such
as community health clinics.  We could be a seminal site for financial
literacy and consumer empowerment education.  We do not seem to be well
positioned to apply and benefit from I3 or Race to the Top challenge grants.
 These larger initiatives’ priority language rarely include adult
education explicitly and this makes it difficult for programs, even those based
in eligible institutions (school districts or community colleges), to be seen
as strong contributors in proposals and collaborations. I would like to see a
stronger interagency directive built into WIA that could strengthen some of
these connections between federal agencies and initiatives. 

Too often we
are dividing the same pie into smaller and smaller pieces in order to try
something new. That’s no way to encourage innovation.

there has been so little research funded in adult education/literacy/adult ESL recently,
it is hard to know what the baseline on many issues is and what the “state of
the state” is.  A few key surveys and evaluations of what IS happening
would be of great benefit to advocates, programs, state planners, researchers,
and proposal writers alike.

Thank you
for the opportunity to give some “blue sky” thinking.

Sr. Research
Institutes for Research
Washington, DC 20007

Subject: [Technology
2518] Re: last day of the formal WIA CommunityConversations
From: Jim
Date: Friday,
January 15, 2010 3:28 PM

Thank you
for your invitation to post my comments even at the risk of expressing comments
already made by others. I have been somewhat reluctant to post during this
week-long conversation due to the fact that I am a commercial vendor and my
comments therefore might be seen as self-serving.  But I have been in the
field of adult literacy education for well over thirty years now, and upon
reflection, I have decided that I, too, have a rightful place at this table. My
path as an author and publisher has perhaps taken me on a different tangent
than most individuals who are involved in this discussion, but our ultimate
purpose, I am sure, is the same.

I want to
express my experience of how profoundly the ability to offer literacy
instruction online has transformed my ability to offer effective reading
instruction to adults not just in the city where I live, but all over the
world.  For almost twelve years I operated a reading clinic at one
location.  Adult students would attend class on average one or two hours a
week.  The highest expression of technology available to us then was the
tape recorder.  I would record a lesson, and students would take the tape
home and listen to it for review purposes.  For an adult far behind in
reading, the amount of instructional time necessary for him to become an
independent reader at two hours a week of instruction was measured in years not

Prior to
operating a reading clinic, I also served as a volunteer literacy tutor while
in college for two years.  As a trainee, I was asked to attend a training
class for two hours a week over a six week period of time.  Upon
completing the training, I was asked to commit to be a tutor for a minimum of
one year and to meet with my student twice each week for that one-year period
of time.  Of course as a volunteer, I received no monetary compensation.
 In addition to all of these prerequisites, I was also charged with the
task of developing a relevant curriculum for the student I served.  

As any adult
literacy instructor knows, teaching low-level, adult readers basic reading
skills is extremely time intensive.  An extraordinary amount of drill is
required to teach phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency skills to the point
of mastery.  And the lower on the reading scale an adult reads, the more
prolonged is the learning curve for him to master those basic skills.
  Scheduling and teacher training are also problematic. It can be
extremely challenging to schedule adequate and ongoing instructional time that
is mutually workable for both student and instructor, and effective
teacher-training takes time and requires a significant personal commitment for
both the trainer and trainee.

The ability
to offer online instruction has changed everything for me as an instructor.
 Now the time-intensive, instructional activities are automated, and
students are able to study as often as they want, and in many instances, in the
privacy of their own home.  Almost all of my adult students are working
independently without benefit of an instructor.  Teachers and volunteer
instructors are able to preview any given lesson prior to teaching that lesson
to students by accessing the online lessons.

The issue of
funding has been repeatedly cited all week long.  Online or distance
learning can enable an organization to offer literacy instruction to students
and provide effective training to teachers or tutors in a cost-effective

I realize
the ideas I am presenting have all been discussed to some extent this week.
 But I did not want to let this opportunity pass without first describing
my personal experience and expressing my conviction of how much the ability to
combine video, audio, and text in an online format has forever changed for me
my concept of what is possible to accomplish as an instructor and what students
may now realistically expect to accomplish in their studies.  

Thank you
for the opportunity to share this feedback.

Jim Williams

Subject: [Technology 2519]
Technology PD for teachers

From: Susan Pierson

Date: Friday, January 15,
2010 4:41 PM

Our teachers
need to feel more comfortable with computers and integrating technology into
their lessons.  Our teachers range from extremely comfortable to extremely
Uncomfortable with using computers.  With job applications being done online
and many of our assessments being done electronically, our teachers need more
PD to reach their own comfort level.  This will hopefully translate into
increasing our students' use of computers in their daily lives.

Education Consultant
Bureau of
Health/Nutrition, Family Services & Adult Education
Department of Education
Middletown, CT

Subject: [Technology 2520]
Seven recommendations for using blended learning and other technology to help
learners make progress and to expand access to adult education

From: David J. Rosen

Date: Friday, January 15,
2010 6:51 PM

What are creative and flexible ways to use technology and /
or distance learning to expand access to adult education or help learners make
progress toward their goals?

1. Use
blended learning models, especially those that begin with 75% face-to-face, 25%
online learning and that help a learner to transition to 75% online and 25%
face-to-face. To be successful this implies: a)  having teachers who are
comfortable with technology, b) teachers who are trained in helping students
get comfortable with technology, and c) adult literacy education programs
(students and teachers) with access to state-of-the-art Internet access.
It also implies having high quality online curriculum that can be used
anywhere (by groups of learners at a program and by the same learners from
home, work, a library or web-accessible handheld. OVAE needs to expand its
level of investment in such online learning curricula, with the stipulation
that the products will be free to users.

2. Fund
support for using blended learning models in workplace basic skills education.

3. Invest in
serious research and evaluation on effectiveness of existing and new models for
blended learning in adult literacy education, including research on effective
ways in which reading disabled adults can learn to get information by auding
text, and whether or not, and if so, under what conditions auding helps adult
learners to improve their reading skills.

4. Fund
model demonstrations that help face-to-face programs become "seamless
system" programs offering learners place-based and online learning
options in a seamless continuum of services.

5. Fund a
national demonstration model that includes online adult basic skills learning
accessed by web-accessible handhelds/smartphones as well as by computers and

6. Fund a
national project to develop an online and blended learning professional
development model for helping teachers integrate technology in their

7. Require
programs to offer basic computer/technology literacy to all students and
provide new federal funding so this is not an unfunded mandate. In other words,
elevate technology literacy to the same level of priorioty as reading, writing,
numeracy, ESOL,  and adult secondary education, as another critical set of
basic skills.

J. Rosen

Subject: [Technology 2522]
Seven recommendations for using blended learning and other technology to help
learners make progress and to expand access to adult education
From: Jenifer Vanek
Date: Tuesday, January 19,
2010 10:04 AM

I'd like to
second two of David Rosen's points listed below.

Point One-
David suggests a continuum for mixing online and f2f learning in ABE
programs.   We have learned through our experience in the Learner Web national
demonstration project (www.learnerweb.org) that strong support up front is
necessary in order to launch most of our ABE learners into online learning.  
If tied to proxy hour or contact time, WIA funding formulas need to be flexible
enough to allow this.    Additionally, teachers may need lots of professional
development to gain the tech skills/competency to know where to place learners
in this continuum.  In our programs in St. Paul we are often working with good
guesses about which online learning materials will either help or hinder
learning.   If teachers had a more precise list of computer or tech literacy
benchmarks, matching learners to materials and setting up programming would be

Point Seven-
Requiring tech literacy in ABE programs.   I'd add that when possible the tech
literacy skills need to be embedded into current course work rather than having
stand alone computer classes.