Full Discussion - Growing Learners’ Skills Through Virtual Literacy August 3 - 7, 2009

Growing Learners’ Skills Through Virtual Literacy

Part II of a 3-Part Technology and Professional Development Discussion on
Building Adult Education Technology Capacity

Description | Objectives | Resources | Summary

Full Discussion Thread

Day 1

Defining Virtual Literacy

Subject: [PD 3834] Questions for day 1 "Growing Learners' Skills Through Virtual Literacy"
From: Nell Eckersley
Date: Mon Aug 3 08:36:57 EDT 2009

Hello again,
To start our discussion let's make some definitions.

A quote from Part 1:

"The role of the teacher in integrating technology may need to shift. Of course, teachers and tutors (and program administrators) need to continue to integrate technology in the classroom, in computer labs and in tutorial sessions. However, teachers have a new responsibility: to help learners use the technology they have in their pockets and purses, and at home and work, especially to use it for their own learning now and in the future. Meeting this responsibility would involve "technology literacy" that is, computer, web-accessible mobile telephone, and Internet competence and comfort."

--David Rosen

And from the Iowa Virtual Literacy Initiative, Drake University

"Virtual Literacy Defined. With emerging technologies, individuals with low literacy skills can now have immediate access to information and knowledge. Text-to-speech and speech-to-text give adult learners the opportunity to build knowledge and skills prior to their ability to gain literacy competence in the traditional sense."

How are "Technology Literacy" and "Virtual Literacy" similar? How are
they different? What do these phrases mean to you as educators? What
do they mean to adult learners?


Nell Eckersley

ALIES/ASISTS Program Operations Coordinator,

Literacy Assistance Center

Subject: [PD 3847] Visual Literacy
From: Richard Sebastian
Date: Tue Aug 4 14:17:25 EDT 2009

Thanks for getting this discussion going. I'd like to add a few of my own

David's definition focuses more on the skills that enable visual (or
technology) literacy rather than on the tools that can be used to acquire
these literacies. I see visual literacy as part of a growing set of literacy
skills, fomented by new technologies, with visual literacy being the ability
to analyze, interpret, communicate with, and derive meaning from images. So,
new technologies like cell phones, virtual worlds, web pages, and video
games haven't simply given us new ways of acquiring literacy but have
redefined what it means to be literate. It is not enough to read text. Now
learners must have facility with reading hyperlinks, graphic novels, logos,
web-based navigation symbols, etc. Literacy is increasing about creating,
commenting, collaborating, and sharing with both text and images.

The Drake University definition presents technology as a temporary
substitute, or a workaround, for traditional literacy. Learners, regardless
of their level of print literacy, can now participate more fully in building
their skills by using the text-to-speech and speech-to-text affordances of
their technological devices. While traditional literacy will continue to be
essential, I think the increasing sophistication of these tools will bring
into question how we teach literacy and whether we should continue to give
print literacy primacy, at least in regard to the scope and sequence of the
literacy classroom.


Subject: [PD 3859] Re: Visual Literacy
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:18:51 EDT 2009

Yes . both what is needed to be successful and therefore be considered
functionally literate in this culture is changing at a pace unknown in world
history .

It gives us new tools to learn, but it also gives us so much more that we
need to learn

Adult literacy has to recognize this change and get modern and not only
teach to read but how to use all the tools they are getting to help them to
read and understand what is going on all around them . VL helps in both
of these tasks

Glenn Young


Day 2

Integrating Technologies

Subject: [PD 3836] Integrating technologies
From: Jackie A. Taylor
Date: Tue Aug 4 08:28:01 EDT 2009

Good day or evening, all!

Boy, we're a quiet bunch this week, is everyone on vacation? :-)

We've had about 40 people join the PD List for a discussion of ‘’Growing
Learners' Skills Through Virtual Literacy.’’ Welcome! In thinking about
Virtual Literacy and its implications for teaching and learning, I think
it's important to first understand what our collective experiences are
with technology in teaching and learning, and what we mean by that, as
Nell wrote yesterday.

For example, I've often heard teachers talk about how challenging it can
be getting students to not write like they 'text on their cell phones,
while some use cell phones in instruction. So what's been your

Whether you've been on the PD List for a while or you are new to our
group, please reply to this email. Introduce yourself and tell us where
you're from. Then tell us, what has been your experience, successes, or
challenges using technology in the classroom? Consider communications
tools that fit in pockets or purses, Web 2.0 tools or assistive
technologies that help learners access information. What do your
students use for learning? What have you used for teaching and how has
that been working for you?

If you're a PD provider, what has been your experience, successes or
challenges supporting teachers in using any of these tools? To what
extent do you see teachers ready to integrate new technologies?

Let's hear from you.

Looking forward,


Jackie Taylor, jackie at jataylor.net

National Institute for Literacy

Association of Adult Literacy Professional Developers www.aalpd.org

Subject: [PD 3839] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Bonnie Odiorne
Date: Tue Aug 4 10:29:37 EDT 2009

I'm Bonnie Odiorne, currently at the Writing Center at Post University, Waterbury CT, though with a lot of ABE/ESOL background integrating technology into WIA-funded programs, experience invaluable with the current student population. We have a thriving online/hybrid division that serves both day division and returning accelerated degree candidates, graduate and undergraduate. I agree that students sometimes write the way they text, but more often they write the way they talk.

In terms of reading comprehension, I would characterize very few as "print literate" in a traditional sense, i.e. reading, and writing on, long-ish sequential printed essays. Our challenge currently in day division is to try to meet them where they are and be a bridge to a more sustained form of writing/reading/thinking. We're revising our writing program toward shorter, popular culture essays, more experiential writing, and more workshopping with the writing process.
An equal challenge is that despite the fact that our courses are on Blackboard (including f2f), despite their supposed digital citizenship, they are reluctant to utilize the online modules, just as they are reluctant to access campus mail. Is it because both require user names and passwords new to them, whereas they don't require them with their existing e-mails and texting? or do they associate the Internet so much with social networking and the Internet, games, et al. that they find it difficult to transition to using it in connection with the classroom? Or is there something we're missing?

Bonnie Odiorne, Ph.D. Director, Writing Center Adjunct Professor of English, French, First Year Transitions, Day Division and ADP
Post University, Waterbury, CT

Subject: [PD 3841] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Beth Wheeler
Date: Tue Aug 4 11:01:13 EDT 2009

Good morning. I'm Beth Wheeler from Washington state and work in ABE professional development at the state level. We are really interested in hearing about technologies that are being used successfully in ABE and ESL classrooms so we can share them with instructors around the state. Personally, I've taught an online New Teacher Orientation for about five years and each time we offer the course there are fewer new instructors who need help with getting into and navigating the class. Recently, I co-managed the process of creating a library of online, contextual math modules for students and a training on team teaching for directors and instructors. The math modules are a finished product. We are continuing to polish the team teaching training. This year, we are focusing on developing additional PD using different technology tools that will allow us to provide professional development opportunities without the costs of face-to-face meetings. Over and over, we hear that time and money are the two main challenges to integrating technology. The challenge includes the cost of many of the technology tools and the time to learn to use them efficiently and effectively.

I look forward to learning from the experience of others! beth

Beth Wheeler



Subject: [PD 3842] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Kathy Olesen-Tracey
Date: Tue Aug 4 11:42:48 EDT 2009

Although I agree that students write like they text / IM, the bigger problem I see with Virtual Literacy is teaching students HOW to be appropriate in their online world. With resources like social networking and instant communication, our personal world is blending so dramatically with the professional world, that sometimes there is no clear distinction between the two.

Often, this is treacherous waters to navigate. The following questions illustrate how difficult it can be:

  • Do you add a student to your Facebook page?
  • Do you even have a Facebook page?
  • Do you tweet?
  • How much information is appropriate to share?


Subject: [PD 3843] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Judith Kossy
Date: Tue Aug 4 13:55:18 EDT 2009


I have been following your very, very informative conversations for quite a
while and would like to share the attached report for the policy wonks among
you re: state educational strategies and use of technology.

I am an independent consultant in the field of workforce development, with
a current focus on bridge programs that prepare low-skill, low wage adults
for credential training/education and employment in a career pathway. The
"bridge" contextualizes literacy (reading, writing, verbal communication,
math, computers) within a workplace and career cluster, (e.g. healthcare)
framework. The level of technical/occupational skills training increases
with the literacy competency.

I am working on a research project related to use of technology in workforce
training for low-skilled adults and would appreciate any relevant examples,
case studies, reports, etc. that you may have. Also attached is a definition
of bridge programs that Illinois has adopted for its adult education, CTE
and Workforce Investment Act instruction.

Thanks so much.

Best regards,


'Subject: [PD 3844] Re: Integrating technologies introduction
From: Reba Dibartolomeo
Date: Tue Aug 4 13:11:43 EDT 2009


My name is Reba. I currently teach a multilevel class for expecting and new mommies. My interest in this discussion is to help build a program that my students can take home with them.

I have used a blog, Microsoft Office Suite, standard office equipment, my iPhone, and an electronic dictionary in my classes. I regularly use email as a tool and assessment for student writings. I have recently started using forms in place of regular word documents as assignments as well as to collect information.

I would like to relate one experience, because it illuminates how technology demands accuracy, and how that can be a serious obstacle: I had a beg-lit blog designed specifically for readers that read below a 3.0 grade equivalent. The blog collected the sentences we were working on in class. It had a link on the side that went straight to a speaking dictionary. I showed my students that they could type any word and it would speak the word. Ideally, my students could be completely independent with studying reading material because of this blog. Unfortunately, my students did not have the skill, the sensitivity to detail, to copy/type the address to the blog into the address bar. Time after time, it was proven that they could not navigate to the site independently. The adaptation was to send the link in an email. It worked as long as my students could identify the email. The long-term result was that they did not go to the site unless I asked them.

Danielle Reba DiBartolomeo

Move Up Instructor

Impact SEC

Subject: [PD 3845] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Katrina Hinson
Date: Tue Aug 4 14:11:54 EDT 2009

I'm Katrina Hinson and I currently at Mount Olive College-Washington, a small private college in North Carolina where I work in admissions and also serve as an adjunct English instructor. I finished my MA in English a year ago and I am a 2nd Year PhD student in Technical and Professional Discourse. Like Bonnie, however, I also have a strong ABE/ASE and GED background, having worked for the North Carolina Community College system since 1996. Prior to leaving the community college at which I last worked, I was responsible for developing the distance education component to the program and integrating technology in the classroom; I still assist in that role as needed, today. Similarly, even in my current position I work with a very similar population and work to integrate technology in my class and to show other instructors who teach face to face how they too can use technology to enhance face to face learning.

I've encountered student writing that is heavily influenced by cell phones or even instant messaging programs. I'd argue that cell phone texting is just an abbreviated/deviated form of instant messaging like AIM or Yahoo IM etc. Bonnie made an excellent point when she noted that many students are not literate in terms of traditional print media and I'd agree. Students struggle to decode the written text in long chunks which may be why texting or IM'ing seems so easy for them and yet writing something longer than a few lines is next to impossible.

An important question for me is how dependent students and instructors become on 'assistive' technologies - where do you draw the line in 'assisting' a student or a teacher and hindering the student from actually thinking for themselves. Whether it's a debate about using a calculator in class or something more complicated—what good does it really do if the student relies so much on 'assistive' technology more than his or her own ability to think critically, analyze information or synthesize information? Once we teach students to 'access' information—how do you teach them to use that information effectively—let alone teach them that a piece of technology may not be the best way to do that? Along those lines when is a teacher on technology overload—to a point where he/ she is no longer 'teaching' but operating machines?

Another challenge is simple access to technology for many students—many may own a cell phone but not all the applications to make it an affective learning tool. For others, the cost alone of texting prohibits such a tool in the classroom. I work in an area where most of my students do NOT have a computer at home and were it not for the lab at school they'd not use a computer at all. Even for some students who do have a computer, they don't have internet access.


Subject: [PD 3848] Re: Integrating technologies introduction
From: Richard Sebastian
Date: Tue Aug 4 14:33:58 EDT 2009


The obstacle in this case seems to be that the tool you chose—the
blog—wasn't the best fit for your low-level learners. Perhaps you could
investigate other text-to-speech tools that would be easier for your
students to use.

Richard Sebastian

Instructional Technology Specialist

Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center

Subject: [PD 3850] Integrating technology
From: Kristin Morris
Date: Tue Aug 4 15:50:43 EDT 2009

Hello everyone!

My name is Kristin Morris and I'm from Minnesota. I agree with Beth's post, time and money are critical components of integrating technology. Another question that I have is: does anyone have an idea of how to support a teacher who wants to use technology outside of the classroom? I'm also a GED online teacher and what I have found is sometimes, commenting on Kathy's post, you do have to 'teach' the learner about appropriate online behavior. What I have done is created a document about netiquette. This way, the student had an idea of the type of language that should be used when we are communicating online. I also don't think that I would ever have my student as a friend on a Facebook page because it crosses too many boundaries into my personal life.

Take care,


Subject: [PD 3851] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Joann Steinmetz
Date: Tue Aug 4 16:40:28 EDT 2009


I work for an organization called Read to Succeed Buffalo. We are a literacy coalition that is also a convener bringing our partners together on specific projects. We write grants, design programs collaboratively and implement.

We have been trying to get a "dual-customer" project off the ground targeting low-skill workers (who are already GED ready) and industries that have entry-level job openings. We recently came to the conclusion that our model was a workforce development model and that it was leading to mission creep. Instead, we decided that we need to re-focus our efforts on those individuals with low skills AND low literacy and help them bridge the gap to GED, training and post-secondary in order to find entry-level jobs with career paths. So Judith's e-mail is quite valuable. We believe that the educational requirements of ARRA training and jobs are out of range for these individuals and so local WIBS are hesitant to serve those with these limited skills. We plan to approach our local WIB and see if we can establish a bridge program (as defined in Judith's e-mail) in an area of Buffalo, NY that we call our Literacy Zone and be part of a DOL grant that was recently posted: Health Care Sector and Other High Growth and Emerging Industries SGA/DFA PY 09-01.

We welcome suggestions and information on successful models.

Thank you all!


Joann Steinmetz

Senior Program Manager

Read to Succeed Buffalo, Inc.

Subject: [PD 3852] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 16:48:41 EDT 2009

Thank you for the attachments..

We have enormous examples of success of the use of VT, but it's not called that, it's called assistive Technology and in the field we see the success in the disability community. Case in point is the governor of my state.
who is blind. He gets all his written materials these days in a VT format.
Braille is only basically used for labeling of salt vs. sugar containers
these days the e-world has opened up a wide window of opportunity for him
and others who are blind or who have low vision

And workplaces are using VT every day for persons with
disabilities and for high level executives and in lots of places—with
voice to text technology being so common these days.

But we involved in lower skilled populations and in workforce still want to
look at the world as if its 1983 at best .. I picked that year because that
year I got two scanning computers that worked for text to speech for the
Seattle blind community and they cost $40.000 each in 1`983 dollars ..

Now the technology is so readily available and so cheap, but we use it like it’s dear and rare ..

Let's get modern.

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3853] Re: Integrating technologies introduction
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 16:53:07 EDT 2009

I would suggest that the first place to state is with iPod technology ...

I bet many have an iPod or something like it ... or there older children or
siblings do ... and give the instruction on how to do things on the iPod and
they them practice from there

Also if these are primarily immigrant people coming from a non-technological
it may take lots of practice .... I had bosses a while ago who couldn't do
the same thing since they were not of that "computer age" ... it took them a
lot of time too.

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3854] Re: intergrating technology
From:' Kathie Daviau
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:03:17 EDT 2009


What about a group for your students on Facebook? Do they need to be friends to belong to a group?


Kathie Daviau

Billings Adult Education Center

415 North 30th Street Billings, MT 59101

Subject: [PD 3855] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:04:55 EDT 2009

Katrina - you raise great questions that may take a long time to sort out
the right answers

But I think your approaching it from the standard concepts and I would like
to suggest a new concept to you .... The concept that is called "Universal
Design" (Originally developed in North Carolina by the way) simply says that
if you design for people with disabilities in mind then all people will

The original intent was architectural but has been transferred all forms of
settings, including education ... so in the example you state, instead of
trying to find out who "really" needs the accommodation ... give everyone
the accommodation and those who don't need it will soon progress out of it
.... In this day and age calculators are everywhere and simply using one
does not say ... don't think ... it says here's a tool that helps you do
some process ... but what does the process mean?

If you can get pass the method of memory to under stand 2x2= 4 and get to
its meaning they you allow more people to think ... not less

And if the person has the modern phones ... let's train them in how to
access the stuff ... it's an incredible tool

Unfortunately what I have found is the teachers are the one's who are
intimidated by the new tools and don't understand either the process of
using them, or the extent that can be used and tend to avoid its use ....

The younger students at least may have horrible reading skills but great
"phone" skills ... lets build on their strengths

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3857] Re: Integrating technology
From: Bonnie Odiorne
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:12:29 EDT 2009

I have set up a Facebook page, very carefully edited for writing center, spiritual direction, and labyrinth facilitation, all things I'd want to get contacts for. It's been vetted and linked with my university Facebook page, and I'm invited to add mine to theirs when I get around to it. So it can be done, with care, and restrict all information to friends only, and say no to RSS feed.

Bonnie Odiorne, Ph.D. Director, Writing Center Adjunct Professor of English, French, First Year Transitions, Day Division and ADP

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Date: [PD 3905] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Judith Kossy
Date: Tue Aug 4 18:11:13 EDT 2009


In response to Joann’s question, I have attached a bridge development guide
as well as the City of Chicago’s RFP for ARRA funded projects which includes
bridges as an eligible activity. My experience indicates that the
connection of bridges to employment, the instructional model and supportive
services serve increase motivation and completion rates. A few studies
e.g. of the I-Best Program in Washington State, show increases in
transition to post-secondary training and employment in good jobs. Illinois
is working on how to moiré effectively use WIA/ARRA funds for bridges (using
the contract training provision) and still meet performance requirements.
In Chicago, Carerras En Salud and SER Jobs for Progress in partnership with
community colleges offer health care bridges at several literacy levels.

I would be happy to provide additional information.

Judith Kossy

Policy Planning Partners

Subject: [PD 3862] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Barbara Sabaj
Date: Tue Aug 4 20:32:25 EDT 2009


The above is a link from Mary Schmich’s column in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. She talks about the pitfalls of Facebook with participants much younger than she. It is sort of cute column that could be used with students as a discussion piece.

Barbara Sabaj

bjteach at ameritech.net

Subject: [PD 3863] Re: Integrating technology
From: Davis, Jennifer
Date: Wed Aug 5 08:08:36 EDT 2009

You can start a group on Facebook for specific classes, topics, etc.
You do not have to be friends with all the participants in that group.
These groups can be public and/or private. It is a good way to reach
students without having them see your personal information.

Jennifer Davis

Professional Development Specialist

Southwest ABLE Resource Center

Subject: [PD 3865] Re: Integrating technology
From: Alpha Computer Live
Date: Wed Aug 5 09:17:14 EDT 2009

Great comment Jennifer.

I just started one on my Facebook page to help people learn computer skills.

Have a great day.

Jeff Brown



info at alphacomputer.ca

Helping You Get started

Subject: [PD 3872] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Katrina Hinson
Date: Wed Aug 5 10:15:04 EDT 2009


Thanks for your response to PD3855. I know about the Universal Design concept. Up until last year, I was part of a committee of teachers working on Content Standards for Adult Education programs here in North Carolina, so I do understand the ideas behind "designing for people with disabilities in mind " and that if you do so, all have a chance to benefit. That's not what I have concerns about it....it's about students and teachers who rely so much on the 'tool' or 'technology' that they don't necessarily use their brain - they don't think or question, or critically analyze. I know some teachers who rely so much on power point that they can't function if the computers are down for the day at work....they can't adapt when something goes wrong with the technology they've learned to rely on so much. I've seen students panic for the same reason - so used to working with a computer that when they were given something like a workbook, they thumbed through it as if to say "what's this?"

You wrote: it says here's a tool that helps you do some process ... but what does the process mean?"

That's what I want students to come away with—understanding what the process means—the question is how to bridge the gap between them knowing it's a tool to HELP do the process and understanding what the process means? How can we best help students appreciate and utilize the technology and still understand the meaning behind the process?



Subject: [PD 3874] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Birdsong Info Services
Date: Wed Aug 5 10:44:17 EDT 2009


My name is Lark Birdsong and I am Director of The Information Literacy
Initiative at the University of Washington Information School. I work with
adults who have been left out of information literacy training and one group
of youth needing information literacy training. These youth are not in a
college setting and have not receiving this training in the public schools.
The adults have been women who are homeless, adults 55+ in age, small to
medium sized business owners and individuals looking for a job. There is
quite a range of ethnic & economic diversity in the attendees and the
individuals all tend to have basic reading skills. Most of the programs are
taught in partnership with a non-profit entity as I need a room with
computers. This is one of my biggest technology challenges is finding the
room with enough computers. The next challenges I have are with individuals
who have lost their access to computer hardware, software and connectivity
(jobless) or who have never had connectivity and rely on the public systems
for getting online (a group of women without homes). For these groups of
people I provide training that focuses on how to search efficiently and
effectively as they have great time restraints placed upon them.
Additionally, I give them notebook of information and a USB stick so they
can save at the last minute before being shut off, if they can't get to
their computing cloud software to save a resume or cover letter.

For SMBs we spend quite a bit of time on social media and how it can help
with their business information needs. For all groups, I stress getting a
library card if they don't have one already. We then work on using their
public library databases and information points online.

Educational videos on YouTube are helpful in emphasizing what I am trying
to teach. I use a curriculum I have developed specific to the populations I
am teaching. There will be a two part article titled Information Literacy
Training for All: The Outliers in the September and October 2009 issues of
Searcher Magazine that provides more details on the information literacy

I want to thank everyone for their input, find this list valuable and only
recently became a member.


Lark Birdsong

Birdsong Information Services

Customized Business Research

Customized Web and Online Search Training....Find Quality Info Faster

Director, Information Literacy Initiative, University Washington,

Web Page: http://cis.washington.edu/project-sites/infoliteracy

Twitter: http://twitter.com/infoliteracy

Subject: [PD 3904] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Susan Kidd
Date: Wed Aug 5 20:21:01 EDT 2009


I'm Susan Kidd from Washington State. I work with Beth Wheeler in Professional Development and, as she said, we're always looking for ways to use technology to extend professional development.

One of the tools with which we've had the most success has been ITV. We developed a protocol for delivering face-to-face workshops to multiple remote sites through this medium. I always like to have a designated facilitator at each site to whom I send electronic copies of all handouts (numbered), a copy of any PowerPoint, and directions from room set-up. Because much of my work is in math and uses concrete manipulatives, I've sometimes had to mail a box of stuff in advance. It takes a lot of intentional effort to engage people at remote sites, and I always request that each site have at least 3 people at it so that they can engage with each other, but it has allowed us to reach faculty in some very far-flung regions of the state.

I have also experimented with wikis and web-conferencing (the tool we use is Elluminate). Unfortunately, I have had less success with these tools and would love to hear from anyone who has had successful experiences. Frequently teachers ask to extend the PD and keep in contact with others who attend face-to-face workshops. We set up a space on a wiki, invite folks to post and try to keep them engaged, but after a few months with no further "hits" I generally give up. One example of this was a project in which I posted a math "problem of the month" on a wiki. I sent out e-mails to teachers, invited them to post comments on the wiki and hosted Elluminate web-conferences and invited the teachers to work on these open-ended problems together in cyber space. To date, only one teacher has attended one Elluminate session and one other told me that she actually used the problem of the month with her class.


Susan Kidd

ABE Professional Development Coordinator

State Board for Community & Technical Colleges

Subject: [PD 3915] Integrating technologies
From: Katrina Hinson
Date: Thu Aug 6 09:38:31 EDT 2009

I was looking for a video this morning to help some of my coworkers learn how to use the A+Anywhere learning system. I'm still looking for that one, but I did find a good video on the need for Anywhere Anytime Learning - which addresses the impact of virtual learning and I thought I would share it here. I hope no one minds.
The link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIKYVoci8JI

There are some other really great videos that I've actually skimmed through this morning. There is one on "The Changing Classroom" and another on "Digital Learning."



The VL Approach

Subject: [PD 3840] Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 10:38:41 EDT 2009

Dear All.

I have just joined the list to, among other things participate in the
discussion on "Virtual Literacy" . I may inappropriately, but with some
justification, claim to be the person who developed this term for the
literacy world and have been pushing to develop model programs and add the
concept into the WIA rewrite.

But I know I am not alone in this effort, so lets see what questions there
are about the idea and concept.

I would like to start by presenting the idea that we are talking about as
two needs, linked but perhaps separate.

"Literacy skills" and "the need to be literate".

The definition of both these terms have changed greatly over the centuries, so if possible I'd like to avoid a discussion of the definitions but talk
more about the difference in the terms.

Literacy, or perhaps better said, reading skills has been one of many tools
used to transfer the knowledge to be "literate" in many societies, until
recently mostly those tools for transferring knowledge of being literate
have been oral and reading (dancing is also a tool in some cultures). Given
that plays and songs are really just oral traditions greatly enhanced, until
the 20th century there was still only oral and reading.

Now we have had an explosion of new tools to help people become literate, and an explosion in the items and skills needed to be literate, based in
technology (radio, movies, TV, and now the Internet). Virtual literacy is a
concept by which we utilize all these new tools, especially the "E" tools
which are becoming so common, to enable persons with low reading skills to
still gain the knowledge needed to be "literate" in the modern world, using
modern definitions of literate, despite their limited reading ability. And
to do so in a far quicker process than the current design, which only focuses
on improving reading skills, can possible offer.

This VL approach is therefore not a substitute for reading, but an expansion
of options for those with poor reading skills to gain needed knowledge by
other means while still working on reading skills, if they choose. E
technology in many ways is an extraordinary expansion of the oral tradition
of learning offered in a far greater universally available means and
accessible on an individualize schedule.

The key to success in almost any culture is being "literate" not just having
a literacy skill of reading. There are many who have reading skills but
remain highly non-literate. What adult literacy needs to focus on is not
just the mechanics of one form of becoming gaining knowledge (reading
skills), but helping people in the programs to become literate as quickly
and efficiently as possible using all the currently available tools that can
be used.

OK, how's that for an opening comment?

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3846] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Tue Aug 4 13:45:31 EDT 2009

Thanks Glenn,

I have two questions.

  1. To me literacy is, as described in the Merriam Webster dictionary, "the quality or state of being literate", where to be literate is defined as "able to read and write". "Literate" does have other meanings, like "to be well read in literature" or "to be competent" (computer literate, for example), but I think that the fundamental issue surely is the ability to read and write. Basic literacy, or the ability to read and write, and to do so well, is a powerful tool for learning and communicating. There are other ways to learn, but studies show that basic literacy skills, in the sense that I have used here, are the most reliable predictors of success in the work place, more so, even, than years of schooling. If we confuse literacy with learning in general, or the acquisition of many kinds of knowledge and skill, are we not distracting ourselves from the important task of teaching basic literacy skills, the ability to read and write.
  1. Is virtual literacy only involved with the use of hand held devices, smart phones, text to speech and other technology that enable poor readers to acquire knowledge and information, without improving their basic reading skills? Does it also include the ways in which technology and the Internet and these devices can help people acquire traditional basic literacy skills, so that they do not rely on such devices and can access written information wherever they may find it?

Steve Kaufmann



Subject: [PD 3858] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:14:47 EDT 2009

See, I told you so. I was trying to avoid definitional disputes and here
comes Steve trying to pick a fight over some dictionary definition (I am
saying this jokingly)

No . not biting .. I stated as I stated and I will hold to that .

Now on the second point . yes VL tools can be used for enhancing the ability
of a person to learn to read . no problem with that ., beside its use in the
class room using the voice to text process . in getting people knowledge
.may in fact get that person exposed to the "richness of the language" and
greatly help to increase their vocabulary and the use of many new words they
will not get through current standard approaches

And as the person is exposed to language and the vocabulary etc .. That
clearly tends to increase the persons desire to learn to read independently .

So by taking the VL approach as the "lead" you may in fact lead to a higher
desire and effort towards traditional reading skills

On the other hand . we know that leading with the standard approach is often
highly discouraging to people as the can not master larger words and they
are highly restricted in their exposure to vocabulary and concepts with
limited books they can master . and they feel embarrassed by having to read
little kids books . and they tend to leave and not feel excited .

So VL may in the long run actually increase more interest and efforts by low
literate adults then the current system .

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3849] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Bonnie Odiorne
Date: Tue Aug 4 14:40:57 EDT 2009


That's a fabulous opening comment, because I was realizing while I was writing that I could be coming off lamenting the "End of Print Literacy" and "dumbing down" learning skills for lack of anything better. That is so far from the truth. By involving students in "virtual literacy," in other words, using 'other' literacies to develop thinking, expressiveness, questioning, engagement, while still developing their reading skills is precisely what I've had in mind. Engaging virtual literacies would allow for skills development in entirely different interfaces while also developing skilld appropriate for college success, the workplace, where the 'need to be literate' is greatest, and where habitual means of interacting with technology would not be acceptable. Thanks for your interesting take (and if you defined it, all the better!) on this idea. I look forward to hearing more.


Bonnie Odiorne, Ph.D. Director, Writing Center Adjunct Professor of English, French, First Year Transitions, Day Division and ADP

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Subject: [PD 3856] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Katrina Hinson
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:08:27 EDT 2009

I was getting caught up on the discussion before I started teaching in a few minutes. Two things struck me from Glen's earlier posts. The first being not wanting to focus on a definition of terms. I don't think it's that easy to overlook how the terms are defined. When it comes to literacy and literate—how the readers identify and define those words is very important to how they engage with this discussion on Virtual Literacy.

The second comment:

’’This VL approach is therefore not a substitute for reading, but an expansion of options for those with poor reading skills to gain needed knowledge by other means while still working on reading skills, if they choose. E technology in many ways is an extraordinary expansion of the oral tradition of learning offered in a far greater universally available means and accessible on an individualize schedule.’’

makes me question how radio, television, e-technology - etc, help a low level student gain knowledge. Is knowledge only the transmission of ideas? The comment, seems to imply, even if I don't think that is the intent, that to be literate simply means having knowledge—but what good is knowledge if it cannot be used or is not used and added to that, cannot be used or is not used effectively in the student's day to day life?

All the knowledge in the world can be at a student's fingertips—literally with the World Wide Web and yet if students do not know how to make effective use of what they have access to, are they any more literate than if they had never been exposed to the 'knowledge' in the first place?

Doesn't being literate mean we help students go beyond just words on a page or images on a screen or sounds on a radio so that they are changed by what they hear or they can use what they see or hear to act within their workplace, their community or their family environments?


Katrina Hinson

Subject: [PD 3860] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Glenn Young
Date: Tue Aug 4 17:31:33 EDT 2009

Bonnie . thanks for the reply and support.

I am really an historian at heart and think and view things that way.

Now as an historian I know that in a time period of say from 1700 -1940 or
so—maybe more like 1920—people use to keep extensive diaries, writing
volume after volume of their thoughts and experiences and their thoughts on
their experiences, etc. They were literate (or should I say had literacy
skills) and bored .. so they wrote and wrote . and we know so much about
that time period because they wrote and they wrote .

They also tended to write letters of tens of pages long about everything.

Then comes the car and the airplane, and the radio, and movies and e-mail
and so much more, and people are far less bored .. And they wrote so much
less. And as an historian, the twentieth century is a lot harder to find out
about people and what they thought and did than the 18'th and 19th century people.

Except now I have the movies and the radio shows and the mass novels and on
and on for the 20th century that I didn't have from the people who lived
before they were invented.

Things are different and how people write and think and use technology is
all different then at the beginning of the 20th century. But in adult
education .. well, we still seem to act like everyone needs to keep diaries
and write endlessly about what they do in volume after volume .

No one does that any more, everything is technologically based. So should be
our efforts at addressing the needs of low-literate adults

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3861] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Tue Aug 4 19:22:55 EDT 2009

Katrina said. "what good is knowledge if it cannot be used or is not used "

Surely the value of knowledge is not only determined by its usefulness, or
by the value that others ascribe to that knowledge, but also determined by
the person who has that knowledge. Many people just want to know. That is
one of the reasons why they travel and that is one of the reasons why they
read. Knowledge gives satisfaction and happiness. Reading is a great way to
access knowledge. Once a person can read comfortably, what he or she chooses
to do with that skill, and with the knowledge acquired from reading, is up
to them, but their options and opportunities are increased.


Steve Kaufmann



Subject: [PD 3869] Re: Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Bonnie Odiorne
Date: Wed Aug 5 10:07:27 EDT 2009

Agreed. Any engagement is a plus, even those frustrating ones where they lose their user name and password because "I'll remember it" or, in the case of my students, can't see why they have to use campus mail or Blackboard at all. For all the navigating they do, they seem sometimes reluctant to learn new things; could it be a latent print literacy problem? In that case we have to teach it as such and move on to the fun stuff. I'm doing a reading comprehension strategies bridge week-long course in a couple of weeks, and any technology/websites you can recommend would be awesome.

Bonnie Odiorne, PhD Director, Writing Center Adjunct Professor of English, French, First Year Transitions, Day Division and ADP

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Labyrinth Facilitator, Spiritual Director

Subject: [PD 3876] Joining the discussion ...
From: Anne Murr
Date: Wed Aug 5 11:31:56 EDT 2009


I am new to this listserv. Thank you for exploring Virtual Literacy this week.

I have been the Coordinator of the Drake University Adult Literacy
Center for 11 years. Our services included basic literacy skill
assessment, one-to-one tutoring and small class instruction for
adults with low literacy skills. I have seen so many adults, some
who are high school graduates, most who have been employed for years
but who are not yet functionally literate. However, adults have
immediate needs, economic and personal, and learning to read for most
adults takes years of dedication and hard work.

At the Drake University Adult Literacy Center we have embarked on the
virtual literacy path because adults have expressed the need for
accelerated access to information in order to earn a GED, to improve
job skills, to be ready for post secondary education, and more.

If reading is the barrier, then use technology to remove the barrier.
The student is still responsible for the learning. But if they
can't access the information, they struggle. Whether it's social
studies chapters in the GED book or information in the pesticide
handling manual that must be learned to be a certified lawn care
worker, they fail. They drop out.

Let's use text to speech technology as a learning tool. Good
instruction from teachers is still necessary. Could Virtual Literacy
be considered "learning tools" for students while all the outstanding
technology uses being described be "instructional tools" for teachers?

Our Center received small grants from the Dollar General Literacy
Foundation, our county government and local casino to purchase
Kurzweil, used with success to give access to print the blind. This
software initially requires a substantial investment. However, over
time it can be used by intermediate literacy learners (reading at
grade equivalent levels of 5th to 8th grade) to follow highlighted
text on the screen while listening to the text read aloud. A learner
who knows how to point and click with the mouse and knows how to
click on toolbar buttons can use Kurzweil with less than 10 minutes
of introduction.

More and more screen readers are becoming available as freeware.
Their quality is not yet as good as Kurzweil, but who knows how
technologies will progress in the next months and years?

Anne Murr, M.S., Coordinator

Drake University Adult Literacy Center

School of Education

Subject: [PD 3877] From Ellen, Joining the list joining the discussion ...
From: Ellen Richer
Date: Wed Aug 5 11:34:24 EDT 2009

Hello, my name is Ellen and I'm a newcomer to this forum-3 weeks' new.
I've been reading your entries and was a bit reluctant to get into the
ring but your discussion is just so interesting I thought I'd add my
piece. If there is a protocol to be followed in participating I would
appreciate knowing that so I avoid any faux pas!

From my days in linguistics and language acquisition I've
thought about literacy as about the making of meaning and then being
able to communicate with the social world surrounding us. Any tools that
promote this have evolved over the millennia from dance and body
language to the Rosetta Stone to Morse code to radio and television to
audio and video cassettes to CD's to DVD's to Web2.0 and so on. These
are all simply tools and artifacts indigenous to one's time and place in
history. It is difficult for many or most to experience the transition
from one technological era to another and those who are most at risk
have the most difficult time with this. Transition, though, is crucial
to becoming functional and living independently, and whatever combination
of artifacts/implements can help individuals shorten the learning curve
is what we should be using as educators and fellow discoverers.
Communication, with language—written, spoken and heard—as the primary
system, is the essence of the quest.

Ellen Richer

NYC RAEN Director

Literacy Assistance Center

Subject: [PD 3918] Re: Integrating technologies
From: Glenn Young
Date: Thu Aug 6 08:54:11 EDT 2009

Just to show that the dictionary and politics are not always the same, this
is from the UN

Changing concept of Functional Literacy Now - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO> (UNESCO) has drafted the following

  • "'Literacy' is the ability to identify, understand, interpret,

create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials
associated with varying contexts.

  • Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to

achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and
to participate fully in the wider society.

Glenn Young


Day 3

VL What Works

Subject: [PD 3861] For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Nell Eckersley
Date: Wed Aug 5 01:07:01 EDT 2009

Thanks for all the great posts on Tuesday. I think we got a real sense of the varieties of challenges and successes in using technology in Adult Literacy whether the technology is in the form of what used to be called "assistive technology" or web 2.0 tools and social media etc. Below are some of the challenges and successes that you mentioned.

Time and Money: Some students do not have access to texting, computers, or the internet outside the classroom, and sometimes programs do not have access to computers for in-class work. Technology changes quickly and it can be a challenge for educators to keep up with how new technology can be used in the classroom.

Navigation: It can be challenging to navigate to a website if students have to type in long URL's. Students can seem reluctant to use online modules and campus email. Adult learners need to be taught how to use information on the Web effectively, navigate through all the junk on the Web.

Personal vs Public: The blending of personal worlds with professional worlds—how to manage the personal and professional on social networking sites like Facebook. By the way, you can control who sees what on Facebook and you can create groups and pages on which classmates/educators can share information without everyone having to become "friends."

Universal Design: If you design for people with disabilities in mind then all people will benefit.

Bridging: Meeting students where they are and acting as a bridge to more sustained reading/writing/thinking.

Professional Development: Providing professional development opportunities without the costs of face-to-face meeting

For Wednesday

Please continue to introduce yourselves and share your experiences with technology in Adult Literacy. I'm particularly interested in hearing ways you've used technology that have resonated with your students.

We had a project when I was teaching in which ESL student wrote letters to the Mayor of New York City describing what they liked about the City. After years of doing this on paper, we decide to try this project using email. This added some steps to the project. We knew we would have to spend some time in the new computer lab making sure everyone had an email address they were willing to send this letter from. But once we were in the lab it became apparent that some students didn't know how to use a mouse, while others were very computer literate so we had to see if the more technologically advanced could help the students with less computer experience. Just getting everyone an email address turned out to take a couple of days. We wondered if we'd lost the objective of our lesson-to write the letter to the mayor. But there were several students who actually teared up when they got their first test email. These were women who had computers at home that their husbands and children used but the women had never known how to use, never mind having an email address. Now they felt they could use the computers and suddenly they even had the ability to be in contact with faraway friends. We still wrote the letters to the mayor, but we all agreed that it was the email access that the students resonated with. And having gone through the email set-up once, we could use the same email accounts for other kinds of writing.

In addition to ways you've used technology in the classroom, how have you used technology for professional development? There were some posts on the first discussion about using twitter as a form of professional development, and there is at least one state that considers the NIFL Discussion Lists as formal professional development. What's your experience?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,


Nell Eckersley

ALIES/ASISTS Program Operations Coordinator,

Literacy Assistance Center


NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List

Subject: [PD 3864] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Mullen, Jason
Date: Wed Aug 5 08:26:01 EDT 2009

My personal experiences integrating technology into a classroom has been bumpy. The classrooms are multilevel and multi-subject so a great deal of learning is trying to happen. Some of the classrooms I have worked in did have computers but no internet access. Some classrooms had excellent support learning software. Rosetta Stone, Azteca, Plato. Other classrooms had no technology available at all if we are considering Computers and internet access the forms of technology we are discussing. Low tech manipulatives like Cuisenaire rods and base ten blocks for math, Games like Scrabble and Boggle for vocabulary building are a forms of classroom technology that often gets overlooked during discussion like this but are tools we can use in a classroom that students may not be as apprehensive about using. I digress
I have had similar experiences as Nell, a lesson about how to get an e-mail account and send an e-mail turned into a week long computer literacy class just to get consistently successful access to e-mail in the first place.

I found in one classroom last year a smart board that apparently the daytime teacher (AE held in a middle school classroom) didn't use. I plugged it in a for a month we spent part of our class time visiting different websites with tutorials and mini-videos demonstrating things I could not do in a classroom w/o the tech.

Regarding personal/professional use of the internet social groups: I am constantly worried about the crossover and other instructors have expressed the same concerns.

Looking forward to reading about how others are using cell phone and text messaging in the classroom, although we just spent a massive amount of time developing and enforcing a no cell phone policy in all classrooms to get rid of the disruption they have been causing.

As an Instructional Specialist I send a massive amount of e-mails to all of my instructors with ideas and links to websites. The college has recently developed a new online course delivery system that I am anxious to try out.
I also suggest to new instructors and especially volunteers that they check out the free online courses available through Verizon's Literacy website.

What is working, more and more of my teachers are using e-mail to share ideas and discuss issues, I have few hard core anti Internet instructors but most are coming around to the advantages, especially the immediacy of response that can be achieved with e-mail communication.

Jason Mullen,

Instructional Specialist

Chesapeake College Adult Education

Subject: [PD 3866] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Maryanne Donovan
Date: Wed Aug 5 09:54:22 EDT 2009

Thank you all for the wealth of knowledge and ideas pouring from this list.

I wear several hats in this world of adult literacy. First, I teach Business
Communication and Computers to business majors at a SUNY college. Second, I
run a small, website-based business that offers online writing courses and
writing services.

In the classroom, I have been amazed to find my students lacking in the
virtual communication skills needed to effectively navigate today's business
world, i.e. blogs, forums, discussion lists, Twitter, and software tools such as
databases, project management, and even Word, except in its most basic,
manual capacity.

My goal in teaching them is both use of, as well as how to think critically
about, the best use of these tools. I weave a single project throughout the
semester and require the students to use the tools as they would be used in
a real world business environment within the scope of this project. Thus,
the tools become a means to an end instead of an end unto themselves. At the
end of the semester, the students express both surprise and appreciation of
their new-found skills and knowledge and see direct relevance to their
upcoming careers. For this project, they work in teams of two or three, and
they often use a blog as a project management tool. Of course, they use
email and instant messenger for communication. They find forums and
discussion lists to be good sources of current thought on topics, and despite
significant initial skepticism about Twitter, they at least come to
understand it which mitigates their significant skepticism and converts it
into more of a question (critical thinking) about its true value.

Mary Anne Donovan

Freelance Writer

Adjunct Professor, English

SUNY Brockport

Subject: [PD 3867] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Maryanne Donovan
Date: Wed Aug 5 09:55:40 EDT 2009

Interesting article:


Subject: [PD 3868] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Katrina Hinson
Date: Wed Aug 5 09:39:05 EDT 2009

I've used technology like Blackboard/Moodle, Instant Messaging programs, and e-mail to provide access to my students—both face to face and online. I use all of these to communicate with students outside of my class time. Students find it reassuring when they are studying at home, and have a question, to have access to me in real time. We can dialogue back and forth, in terms of the IM'ing, until we've resolved whatever question the student might have had. I like the discussion boards because students can talk back and forth to others in the class, often more freely than they do face to face, and learn from each other. A program like Dim-Dim is also GREAT. You can create a virtual classroom environment for your students and at a set time, your students can meet you there for group discussion on common problems. This works very well for my online students and students in a face to face class also find it effective.

One project I've had my face to face class participate in, in the past, was a project I think I learned about from David Rosen—a Virtual Class Exchange—my class partnered with another class in a different country, Australia, and exchanged email's for a time in which they discussed their commonalities associated with getting their GED. The students really enjoyed it because they learned that while the process might be different, there were students in other places who were just like themselves. Suddenly, they weren't 'alone' in their boat - not having a GED/ high school diploma wasn't an issue limited to their small community - they saw and learned how it affected others and how others were overcoming their own barriers. It was one of the most successful projects I have had the pleasure of participating in! It would not have been possible without internet access or email capabilities - the technology helped my students cross cultural boundaries they had never thought about or imagined.

As for Professional Development, this is something I am exploring with a colleague who still works in the community college environment. We want to create online modules for training that instructors can access in order to meet training demands required by their job. This is one of the things I hope to learn more about as this discussion progresses. I've used the NIFL lists in the past in training sessions I've done face to face, and I have always been an advocate to other instructors in terms of locating information in the archives that they might find useful. One of the problems with using the technology in professional development, is that some instructors don't want to learn about the technology—they don't see it as useful and see it as more of hindrance than a help. Access would also be an issue—because just like many students, many part time adult teachers in the area I work with, don't have computers at home or don't have Internet access. They may have a cell phone, but the idea of texting is something they are not comfortable with. The same goes for something like Facebook or Twitter - they're simply uncomfortable with the collision between private and public space.

Regarding Facebook and students, as has been noted in some of the other posts, I do think it can be utilized both with students and with other professionals. I'm in several groups on Facebook associated with adult education and adult literacy—being part of the group is another way to learn from others but it doesn't mean that all the group members are on my 'friends' list and therefore I maintain my own sense of privacy within the social networking environment. The nice thing about Facebook is that you can adjust your privacy settings and control the access others have in regards to what they see of you.


Subject: [PD 3870] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Glenn Young
Date: Wed Aug 5 10:06:33 EDT 2009

Please let me address a point that has been raised by some, costs and availability.

Yes right now, the cost and availability of the technology puts it out of
the range of many.

But a dozen years ago who would have projected the extensive use of cell
phone technology since at that time it was so expensive.

And 30 years ago the personal computer was seen as rear thing because of costs.

The answer is to look at us at the beginning of a process. Lets prove it works, and then the cost and availability issues will be addressed by the
market forces that push success. Right now we are at the beginning of a
process where costs and availability are always the issue.

Lets think a bit more long term.

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3873] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked? SIDE TRIP?
From: Dave Middlebrook
Date: Wed Aug 5 10:41:30 EDT 2009

I realize that this discussion is about high technology, rather than all technology (pencils and paper are technology), so I am hesitant to butt in. I have added "SIDE TRIP" to the subject line so that those of you who would like to stay focused on high technology will be able to do so. And now for my low-tech success:

My work involves using paper scrolls and colored markers. I have used them in a wide range of settings, from preschool through college. Here is how my methods relate to Nell's challenges:

  • Time and Money: It is very cheap, but does require extra time.
  • Navigation: It makes navigating a book—and teaching book-navigation skills (such as skimming and scanning) —a breeze. These are very hard skills to teach on screen or in a bound book. They are not hard to teach on a scroll. And once learned, they transfer back to ebooks and bound books.
  • Personal vs Public: Scrolls are a very social media. They invite shared reading and conversation. Scrolls in the classroom stimulate conversation about books.
  • Universal Design: Scrolls provide a range of sensory access that neither bound books nor ebooks can provide. In some ways, scrolls are less accessible than ebooks (I'm not talking here about proprietary ebook formats—just the open ones such as Daisy and OEB), but in balance they are far more accessible. Scrolls fit the UD paradigm much better than bound books or ebooks.
  • Bridging: Same as Universal Design.
  • Professional Development: I have not yet done distance PD for using scrolls. I expect that it can be done, and am watching and learning from this conversation about the possible avenues.

You can read about scrolls here: http://www.textmapping.org/whWorkshopNotes.html#introductionHead

So that's my low-tech pitch. I hope you find it interesting!

- Dave

Dave Middlebrook

The Textmapping Project

A resource for teachers improving reading comprehension skills instruction.


dmiddlebrook at textmapping.org

Learning Diffabilities blog: http://diffabilities.wordpress.com

Subject: [PD 3875] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked? SIDE TRIP?
From: Katrina Hinson
Date: Wed Aug 5 11:01:54 EDT 2009


I very much appreciate your "Side Trip". What a great reminder that some times, tried and true traditional learning aids are still highly effective and can bring so much to a learning environment.

Thank you for sharing some wonderful ideas!


Katrina Hinson

Subject: [PD 3880] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked? SIDE TRIP?
From: Reba Dibartolomeo
Date: Wed Aug 5 13:01:46 EDT 2009

I do like the scrolls idea. I think it offers a measure of "how much?" to beginning readers, which is an analog discussion.

I think it also offers an interesting analog to digital crossover. Getting students to manage what they consume—meaning what to print, how to print, and how much to print—is a plague upon nonprofits. It is also a foundation skill for true literacy, comprehension, and reading with a purpose. You are not finished when you print; you are finished when can function without staring at the page. This is a hard lesson to learn. It is equally as hard to convince students to preferentially take notes over printing. I think scrolls can add a measure of accountability and a visual cue that might help these goals. If students must tape together everything that flows from the printer and wrangle it for the rest of the lesson, absurdly long scrolls/ scrolls with unnecessary pages could be 'the necessity' that mandates learning the "print selection" toggle or how to copy and paste into a word document before printing.

Danielle Reba DiBartolomeo

Move Up Instructor

Impact SEC

Subject: [PD 3884] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: French, Allan
Date: Wed Aug 5 14:21:14 EDT 2009

I fully agree with Glenn that the accessibility to today's most advanced
technology will improve over time. Just five years ago, the majority of
my intermediate-level ESL students didn't have access to the Internet at
home, and today only a very small number do not.

However, what remains is a great gap between those who always have the
latest and those who won't get it until it becomes cheaper and easier to
use. Another poster stated that while most basic skills students have
cell phones, many don't know how to fully utilize them. Ten years from
now, most of those students will be able to utilize mobile technology
more completely than they can today. But by that time there will be even
more advanced technologies developed that many of these same folks won't
have access to right away.

Education and educators have a responsibility to keep up with advancing
technology, but we must remember (especially as it pertains to any type
of standards, assessments, accountability, etc.) that not all will have
the same access to the latest innovations. The gap will remain, albeit
at a higher level of the "technology chart." Remember, after over a
century of being the greatest economic power in the world, this nation
still has significant socio-economic and even technological gaps, and I
don't foresee these as being narrowed much (unfortunately) in the


Allan D. French

ESL Instructor and Assessment Coordinator

Basic and Transitional Studies Division

South Seattle Community College

Subject: [PD 3892] Re: For Wednesday: Need working models
From: Glenn Young
Date: Wed Aug 5 16:41:41 EDT 2009

Thank you Allen, for your remarks.

But I'd like to add one thing ..

We don't deny access to people because not all people have access .

We need to learn how to present new services so a demand can be made to
create more service for those without .. for example:

Nokia has a very expensive phone out that can take a photo of any document
and make it into a text document and reads it to the phone user in
nanoseconds. It great and the IOWA VL project is promoting it as a great
tool, which it is, but it is very expensive. (they have developed a great
video on it and that can be found at

However, right now we could make it so that even the cheapest cell phone
with a camera and e-mail capacity could be made into a product that could do
the same thing in a matter of about 2 seconds. (still a very manageable

We can do this without violation of copyrights. I have a friend at Google
who explained how this could be done nationally for about $150,000 (one time
cost) and then maintained with very nominal fee for the service. I've been
trying to find that 150,000 to make it happen and haven't come up with it
yet. So for a small investment we can make it that all those younger
people with cell phones could be using that phone to be able to "hear"
documents they can't read, in a matter of seconds, VL in action.

But if we had the political will and desire and willingness to adapt and
embrace the future … we can make so much happen with the existing
technology, for so little money. But the whole system seems unwilling to
think beyond their own classrooms or the technology that is right in front
of them now .or to work collectively to ensure that the capacity of
technology is adequately represented in legislation.

We need to expand out thinking and our activities .. pool our resources and
our political capacity to make this new future, this new way of accessing
knowledge, available to our populations. Or the digital divide just keeps
growing and growing and growing.

Let's work to make the future work for us ..

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3896] Re: For Wednesday: Need working models
From: French, Allan
Date: Wed Aug 5 17:10:01 EDT 2009


Again, I agree that those who offer literacy or educational services
should make new technology available to all. Still, your own quandary
of finding $150,000, suggests that there remains a gap not just among
individuals but also among institutions, and even within institutions.
For example, CASAS has e-testing which I am convinced would be great for
instructors, students, programs and institutions. The problem is
building the local infrastructure to take advantage of it, especially in
tight economic times. On my own campus, some buildings are up-to-date
smart, while others have very limited hi-tech capacity, with no good
solution on the horizon. As Pres. Obama stated a few weeks ago, the
community colleges have always been given the least amount of help
compared to K-12 and the universities. He has verbalized a need to
change this reality, but the proof will be in the dollars.


Subject: [PD 3911] Re: For Wednesday: What has worked?
From: Anne Murr
Date: Wed Aug 5 18:45:32 EDT 2009

Here is how one of our learners discovered "virtual literacy," which
in the end, did increase her actual literacy.

Some years ago this 60 year old woman earned a GED after intensive
tutoring help from a retired high school teacher.

1 1/2 years ago she enrolled in the basic literacy skills class I
teach, because she continued to struggle with reading and spelling.
At the same time we began a "Reading of a Different Kind" book club
at our local library where we "read" books on CD. She began to
listen to the books on CD. Then she read the same book while
listening to the CD. Over time, she has left the listening behind
and now reads independently. She also attended 60 hours of
instruction in basic word structure.

When I gave her the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test post test, her
reading comprehension increased 7 (yes, seven!) grade equivalent
levels (9.0 to 16.9) and her word knowledge increase 2 grade
equivalent levels (7.3 to 9.4). She described herself as a
"ferocious" reader. (She then added another word to her

I believe either approach (word structure alone or VL alone) would
not have produced such dramatic results. But together, her
accomplishments are outstanding.


Subject: [PD 3908] Re: For Wednesday: Need working models
From: steven pritchard
Date: Wed Aug 5 18:49:13 EDT 2009

Dear Glenn,

Once again in this letter I am using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking the phone that you talk about I have used which was on loan to me by the Drake University adult literacy Center, I have not found many flaws at the K. reader mobile has.

It's very simple it was demoed on the video which you can find at the Drake University adult literacy Center website, how can this phone help people like me I'm a slow reader, in being discharged from a hospital or medical center the 12 page document that you have to read and sign before being dismissed as so many words that it would take me at least one hour to read this entire document.

If the medical center had this K. reader mobile, this phone in other words the nurse or doctor in the ER could bring it to the patient that has a reading problem a literacy problem, by pushing the button on the phone taking a picture of the text within seconds it would read it back to me and I would understand that I am not going to hold the hospital liable for discharging me without proper treatment, the phone can help read text with the earplug plug into the side of this phone I would definitely use this in college years ago if it had been around,

This phone was introduced to me thanks to the Drake University adult literacy Center here in Des Moines Iowa for more information on this phone please contact Anne Murr Drake University adult literacy Center Des Moines Iowa,

I look forward to your comments

Steven Pritchard

Listening / Remembering

Subject: [PD 3878] listening, remembering?
From: Janet Isserlis
Date: Wed Aug 5 11:42:51 EDT 2009


A question -

As someone very much tied to print-based information, I'm wondering what
people can tell us about those who rely more on
text-to-speech//speech-to-text technology.

I'm not at *all* suggesting that one is better than the other, but am
interested in strategies that learners use to remember, manipulate/use
information that is received orally/aurally.

We hear, anecdotally, about strategies that non-readers have for remembering
things (e.g. landmarks instead of street signs) - how are we asking learners
and practitioners to think about strategies for accommodating and
integrating information that isn't received through print?


Janet Isserlis

Subject: [PD 3879] Re: listening, remembering?
From: Wrigley, Heide
Date: Wed Aug 5 12:15:49 EDT 2009

Hi, Janet and all

I've not seen research directly related to what is remembered from text to speech and what strategies learners use.

There seems to be consensus in linguistics that listening comprehension in many ways parallels reading comprehension and that comprehension strategies help make information stick. Text to speech where a learner can easily "relisten" - the way one might in rereading can reinforce the connection even more (since sound is so ephemeral)

Some of the strategies that show promise for both reading and listening are activating background knowledge (to prepare oneself for understanding to create a place in the brain where new information can link to prior knowledge); listening for key content vocabulary and try to identify big ideas as well as details; thinking about purpose (why am I listening to this; what am I supposed to do with the information; is this a functional text where I should listen for who/what/where/and why or a story where I should relax and enjoy the language); visualizing as you listen; listening again to catch more details or to clarify points that may not have been clear on the first round.

As for remembering, I can see a few information processing strategies that would be helpful: retelling (to oneself and to others), mentally summarizing, creating a story board or flow chart of a sequence (on paper or in the mind); working with others to talk things through through various strategies associated with "reciprocal learning" such as question asking and question answering (one student asks a factual or inferential question based on the text and another student tries to remember and answer

Of course, these are all strategies that might/should work given what we know from reading research and some of the parallels between listening and reading

But it would be great to have studies that tell us what learners do to help them make sense of spoken text and remember key points (or beautiful language) - I don't think we know what's remembered easily Clearly chances are that texts that speak to one's interest, contain a surprise or have an emotional component that resonates might be more easily remembered

But what about texts that must be understood because you need to pass a class or need to prepare for certification or some license - what strategies work best in these circumstances?

You can't quite annotate a spoken text especially of literacy is still a challenge.

So in spite of having a long post trying to answer, Janet your question still stands

What do adults do to gain meaning from oral texts (ok, I added that one) and remember what they read



Heide Spruck Wrigley


Subject: [PD 3881] Re: listening, remembering?
From: The Lendoaks
Date: Wed Aug 5 13:25:14 EDT 2009

Hi Janet,

Re/ question ...."strategies to accommodate and help remember..."

Writings by George Gopan PhD suggest that listeners and readers can
accommodate new information better if the health educator gives the context
first. Then, when given the new information, the listener can more readily
associate and link it to what they already know.

Remembering can be fostered in many ways. One of the easiest is for the
health educator to add a vivid example so the listener can mentally
"illustrate" the information. Further, since pictures are said to have more access
points in the brain than individual words, people are more likely to

best wishes,

Len and Ceci Doak

Subject: [PD 3882] Re: listening, remembering?
From: Reba Dibartolomeo
Date: Wed Aug 5 13:26:54 EDT 2009

I have used my iPhone to play podcasts for my students. I choose something that is five minutes long. There is a good grammar podcast that can be used with GED students. There is also a Story of the Day from NPR that is often short enough to use. Anyway, most job-related communication is spoken, and I use the podcasts to build listening skills when there isn't a visual cue or kinesthetic component. Students can find it very daunting to listen on command.

That brings me to my point. There are many programs that will read a document. Few of them do the Karaoke part of showing you what is being read. That part is necessary to bridge to print. Otherwise, you might as well have a podcast. My experience with teaching beg-lit has been that for students, keeping up with or understanding where the reader is, electronic or human, is the hardest part.

In terms of listening and remembering, I found that my students did best when there was a delay in the answer. Meaning, they were more likely to learn and recall if they had to type the word into a speaking dictionary. It seems that if it's too easy, students become dependent. In the case of the podcast, success at comprehension was across the spectrum. Things like topic and mood of the student were huge factors in recall. Students also had to learn to let go a little, otherwise, all that they were remembering was that they had to remember something.

Danielle Reba DiBartolomeo

Move Up Instructor


Subject: [PD 3885] Re: listening,remembering?
From: Tom Sticht
Date: Wed Aug 5 14:22:44 EDT 2009

Janet, Heide: You can find a lot of research on listening and remembering in
the references below following the note I wrote last March. Tom Sticht

March 13, 2009

Beyond the National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) Report: A Focus on Adult
Language and Literacy Development For Native English Speakers

Tom Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education

The NELP (online at lincs.ed.gov) looked at how well various measures of
literacy (e.g., alphabet knowledge, etc. and measures of oral language,
including oral vocabulary and listening comprehension) predicted reading
achievement when children entered school. The authors concluded that along
with other variables, "...more complex aspects of oral language, such as
grammar, definitional vocabulary, and listening comprehension, had more
substantial predictive relations with later conventional literacy skills"
p. 79. In these analyses, listening comprehension of preschool children
tended to correlate mildly with their reading comprehension in
kindergarten, first grade, or second grade.

For those interested in how listening and reading correlate beyond the
second grade and into adulthood you can download a free book entitled
Auding and Reading: A Developmental Model (Google it). This book was
written with adult literacy education in mind but it presents a
developmental model about how the typical child in our literate society
grows up to become literate. The idea was to make it possible to understand
how some adults grow up without much language or literacy skills by
comparison to the theoretical child’s model.

The book summarizes dozens of studies of the relationships of listening
comprehension (auding) to reading comprehension at grade levels from the
first grade up into college students. The data show that listening and
reading correlations increase over the school years. This is explained by
the fact that in the early grades the correlation of reading with listening
comprehension will be low because there is not much variation in children’s
ability to comprehend the written language. As their skill increases with
additional practice in the school grades, the correlations of listening and
reading increase as those with high listening skills before school become
the better readers, while those with low preschool listening skills once
again gain access back to their relatively low listening skills. This has
been substantiated by considerable research presented in the Auding and
Reading book and in other research with adults since that book was written.
The Auding and Reading book also presents data indicating that it may take
as long as the first eight years of school for children to become as
efficient in processing the written language as they are the spoken
language. These findings and many other aspects of the listening and
reading processes of adults are discussed in the following free one day

Workshop on Listening & Reading Processes of Adult Native English Speakers

Recently there has been a growing interest in listening research and
instruction with adult literacy learners in various industrialized nations.
For this reason adult literacy providers may be interested in my workshop
that I first presented in 1999. I have recently (2006) participated in
seminars in London, England on listening, speaking, and reading processes
and instruction with adult learners and have incorporated new research into
my workshop. In January of 2009 I presented a workshop in Toronto, Ontario
on listening and reading focused on adult language and literacy development
to ESOL learners, too).

The Workshop on Listening & Reading Processes of Adults addresses aspects of
the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, Title II: The Adult Education and
Family Literacy Act that focus attention on relationships among listening
and reading abilities of adults. In particular, this includes information
about phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension
in reading and how this builds on and adds to adult's listening skills.
The questions, methods and findings of four decades of research on adult's
listening and reading skills will be summarized. The workshop emphasizes
the role of adults' listening and speaking skills in family and workplace
literacy contexts and provides examples of teaching activities for adult
listening that focus on acoustic, linguistic, and semantic features of

Listening has been identified as a critical work-related skill but it has
been almost totally ignored in national assessments of adult literacy. 2008
was the 100th anniversary of E. B. Huey's 1908 classic book, "The Psychology
and Pedagogy of Reading" in which he stated that, "The child comes to his
first reader with his habits of spoken language fairly well formed, and
these habits grow more deeply set with every year. His meanings inhere in
this spoken language and belong but secondarily to the printed symbols...."
. This workshop presents extensive research and data from the United States
and United Kingdom on the oracy (speaking and listening) skills of adults
and how these skills relate to workforce development and the
intergenerational transfer of language and literacy skills from parents to
their children.

Goals. The goals of the Workshop on Listening & Reading Processes of Adults
are (1) to summarize four decades of R & D on adults' listening and reading
skills; (2) to present information on writing as a second signaling system
for speech and how that involves phonemic awareness and phonics training
in bridging from listening to reading for information and for learning, (3)
to illustrate techniques for training listening skills for learning by
listening and to improve reading fluency and comprehension, (4) to
illustrate how listening and literacy practices can be assessed using
various methods including the use of the telephone to provide assessments
of the need for listening and literacy education among the local adult
population, and (5) to illustrate the role of adult’s language and literacy
skills in the intergenerational transfer of language and literacy from
parents to their children.

Outcomes. Following the workshop, participants will be able to (1) discuss
the R & D on listening and reading using specific references to the R & D
literature and use this information in their planning for adult literacy
education, (2) incorporate information about the place and manner of
articulation and other types of information relating listening and reading
processes of adults into their planning for program development that helps
adults bridge from oral to written language skills, (3) use this
information in planning for the development of teaching and learning
activities for both native language speakers and for English as an
additional language for non-native English speakers, and (4) apply the
information to the design and conduct of local needs assessments for adult
literacy education including the assessment of adults' knowledge and
literacy practices by listening in telephone interviews.

Related References

Sticht, T. (2003, September). From oracy to literacy. Literacy Today
(No. 36).[1]

Hofstetter, R., Sticht, T., and Hofstetter, C. (1999). Knowledge,
Literacy and power. Communication Research, 26, 58-80.

Sticht, T., Hofstetter, R., and Hofstetter, C. (1996). Assessing adult
literacy by telephone. Journal of Literacy Research, 28, 525-559.

Sticht, T. and Armstrong, W. (1994, February). Adult Literacy in the
United States: A Compendium of Quantitative Data and Interpretive
Comments. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

Sticht, T. & McDonald, B. (1992). Teaching adults to read. In: J.
Samuels & A. Farstrup (Eds.) What Research Has to Say about Teaching
Reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Sticht, T. and James, J. (1984). Listening and reading. In: P. Pearson
(Ed.) Handbook of Research on Reading. New York: Longmans.

Sticht, T. (1984). Rate of comprehending by listening or reading. In:
J. Flood (Ed.) Understanding Reading Comprehension. Newark, DE:
International Reading Association.

Sticht, T. (1979). Applications of the AUDREAD model to reading
Evaluation and instruction. In: L. Resnick and P. Weaver (Eds.), Theory and
Practice in Early Reading: Vol. 1, Hillsdale, N.J., Lawrence Erlbaum and

Sticht, T. (1978). The acquisition of literacy by children and adults.
In: F. Murray and J. Pikulski (Eds.) The Acquisition of Reading. Baltimore,
MD.: University Park Press.

Sticht, T., Beck, L., Hauke, R., Kleiman, G., and James, J.
(1974).Auding and Reading: A Developmental Model. Alexandria, VA.: Human
Resources Research Organization.

Sticht, T. (1972). Learning by listening. In: R. Freedle and J. Carroll
(Eds.) Language Comprehension and the Acquisition of Knowledge.
Washington D.C.: V.H. Winston & Sons.

Sticht, T.G. and Glasnapp, D.R. (1972). Effects of speech rate,
Selection difficulty, association strength and mental aptitude on learning
by listening. Journal of Communication, 22, 174-188.

Sticht, T.G. (1970). Mental aptitude and comprehension of time-compressed
and compressed- expanded listening selections. Journal of Auditory
Research,10, 103-109.

Sticht, T.G. (1969). Comprehension of repeated time-compressed
recordings. Journal of Experimental Education, 37, 60-62.

Sticht T. and Gray, B. (1969). The intelligibility of time-compressed
Words as a function of age and hearing loss. Journal of Speech and Hearing
Research, 12, 443-448.

Foulke, E. and Sticht, T. (1969). A review of research on the
intelligibility and comprehension of accelerated speech. Psychological
Bulletin, 72, 50-62.

Sticht, T.G. (1968). Some relationships of mental aptitude, reading, and
listening using normal and time-compressed speech. Journal of
Communication, 18, 243-258.

I charge no fee for any of these workshops or presentations, but sponsors
must pay travel expenses and make all arrangements for the events. Contact
me at tsticht at aznet.net if you want to arrange for a workshop (or other
presentation) in your area.

Thomas G. Sticht

tsticht at aznet.net

Subject: [PD 3889] Re: listening, remembering?
From: Gabb, Sally S.
Date: Wed Aug 5 16:06:54 EDT 2009

Hi Janet, Heide and all—thanks for this great question, Janet! It is near and dear to my experience as an adult reading specialist. Some years ago I completed a qualitative research study in which I worked with adult learners who had grown up in communities in which advanced literacy was not common, and folks relied on aural/oral exchange for most communication. I found that using the work of such reading theorists as David Pearson and others useful—especially their concept of 'schema theory'—the idea that we understand by fitting new information into our existing structures of knowledge, the network of prior knowledge components. Folks who learn by listening and observing also use their 'schemata'—visual or oral structures—in processing new information.

In addition, visual/aural learners without text fluency also create cognitive 'story boards' as Heide said—creating a narrative into which the information can be integrated. Research has demonstrated that creating a narrative with new information enables us to hang on, to 're-member' new stuff. In addition, the reinforcement/ review/rehearsal process through engaging in dialogue fits with the reciprocal teaching-learning strategies. My experience with students who use text to voice to process reading assignments suggests that both visualizing and follow up dialogue are especially important to enable the students to integrate the new information into their memory structures, their schemata. I also have found that activating metacognitive awareness with these students—encouraging them to formulate language around their processes for remembering—is essential. Students need to self monitor as they listen to be sure they are comprehending and integrating the information.

I agree that we need further research with those who use listening to process text in order to understand which practices enable them to integrate/remember information from aural/oral input. Perhaps text to speech software that allows oral annotation to which a student could re-listen could enhance the listening to learning process? With modern technology, sky's the limit.

Sally Gabb

Developmental Reading Skills Specialist

Bristol Community College

Subject: [PD 3924] Re: listening, remembering?
From: K Olson
Date: Thu Aug 6 12:21:14 EDT 2009

You can't quite annotate a spoken text especially of literacy is still a

But you could illustrate or act out or use some other form of movement as an
aid to remembering. I have had a lot of success with having students draw
pictures of what they remember, then using the pictures to retell the

Kathy Olson


Hilliard, Ohio

Virtual Literacy and IQ

Subject: [PD 3883] Some questions for "virtual literacy"
From: Tom Sticht
Date: Wed Aug 5 13:50:08 EDT 2009

Here are a some thoughts stimulated by the "virtual literacy" discussion.

First: If we have machines that will write speech and read print, are the
machines literate? They can read and write. With the use of Google-type
components they can even answer questions.

Second: Some time back I got interested in why employers may not recognize
that their employees have literacy problems. I got two adult literacy
students who had scored at the 5th grade level on a standardized test. Of
course, if you average their scores, the average is also 5th grade level.
But then I took one student's correct score and added to it the other
student's correct answers that the first student got wrong. I found that by
combing the two student's scores, the combined score was about the 8th grade
level. I called this an example of what might be called "virtual minds" and
noted that in the workplace "virtual minds" may abound and conceal the fact
that employees may have lower than desired literacy skills. In most
workplaces people can share their minds and thus produce what in the
present discussion might be called a more highly "virtually literate" set
of "virtual minds". Social cognition in the workplace. Of course, these
findings might also apply to other social settings, home, club, community
settings, etc.

Third: Lots of the discussion of "virtual literacy" has focused on learning
disabled, such as dyslexia. In the olden days this was defined as someone
with a normal or higher IQ (intelligence) but a low reading score. In this
case, one could substitute a text-to-speech technology and help the person
virtually read and learn. I wonder, however, if there are genuinely lower
intelligence persons who also have trouble with learning to read and are
not dyslexic or otherwise learning disabled. In this case, will
text-to-speech technology still be of use. Also, if there are still lower
intelligence adults in adult literacy programs, is there any determination
of this and anything done to assist such learners?

Enquiring "virtual minds" want to know (virtually).

Tom Sticht

Subject: [PD 3891] Re: Some questions for "virtual literacy"
From: Glenn Young
Date: Wed Aug 5 16:20:59 EDT 2009

Tom ...

I had a discussion long ago with Reid Lyon along the same point you are
raising in your third section.

And he clearly stated that if you have two people .. one with 130 IQ and
can't read and one with 85 IQ and can't read ... and you somehow teach them
to read ... it is more then likely that someone with the 130 IQ will be able
to do a great deal more with the information they now have .. then the
person with 85 IQ ... but you still teach both to read the best they can
.. because they will both benefit ... one will perhaps "achieve" more with
the new skill ... but they both will benefit.

The same will be true if we really put together a VL process ... where it is
more than likely the higher IQ persons will learn the tools quicker and get
more out of it quicker ... (maybe less so if we factor in age ... since the
younger person with a lower IQ may be far more comfortable with the new tech
then an older person with higher IQ) but the lower IQ person will still
benefit greatly ... it may take a bit more training and support ... but they
will benefit greatly ...

And we see the results in the blind and low vision community. All blind
regardless of their IQ's benefit greatly to various degrees from VL ... some
just to function a bit better ... some to become governors ... but they
benefit ...

In the adult literacy community ... some will benefit quicker with greater
success and some ... well will function better ... but they will all

Your first two points are a bit too theoretical for me and better discussed
over a beer ... (if only at the White House)

Glenn Young


Oral vs Written Text

Subject: [PD 3886] are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Wrigley, Heide
Date: Wed Aug 5 15:25:33 EDT 2009

Hi, Ann and welcome to the list serve.

I thought you made an excellent point that I'd like to reinforce.

Just because you hear a text (rather than reading it), doesn't mean you understand the information presented. Abstract concepts, sophisticate language, uncommon vocabulary, sentences with multiple subordinations, and writing that is not organized well all present huge barriers to understanding. And that goes for any kind of text—oral or written.

Comprehension difficulties don't disappear just because a text is read.

Speech to text can facilitate access to ideas where literacy is a challenge, particularly at lower levels. But once the text itself becomes more difficult—it may need to be scaffolded, explained, and discussed so that literacy students can come away with a solid understanding of what's been heard.

There is a corollary to the work being done as part of studies in "language access" for those who speak a language other than English. There is an assumption by many agencies that anything that is translated into the native language must be comprehensible to anyone with basic literacy. It's not, of course, nor will it become much easier if it is read aloud if the language is not modified or otherwise supported by text aides such as graphic organizers. Quite often it is the cognitive challenge that's inherent in the text that throws students, not (just) the medium.


Heide Spruck Wrigley

Literacywork International

Subject: [PD 3887] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Wed Aug 5 15:40:29 EDT 2009

I agree with Heide and that is why it is so important for struggling
readers, or second language learners, to be able to choose texts of interest
to them, where the context is familiar or meaningful to them. Ideally these
texts are graded for difficulty, based on the learners' vocabulary level. If
these conditions are met, the use of audio can only help the learner. This
is true regardless of the kind of technology which is used to provide the

I would also suggest that test to speech produces voice which is not
natural, and therefore low resonance. it does not engage the emotions of the
learner. A face to face teacher is best, and a natural recording comes next.

I would also challenge the idea expressed earlier that we are entering an
age where people read less, or where reading is less important, or where
audio will replace the written word, or replace braille. I think that those
who read well will continue to enjoy a significant advantage, at school and
in the work place. That is why basic literacy has to be the goal.


Steve Kaufmann

Subject: [PD 3890] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Glenn Young
Date: Wed Aug 5 16:07:50 EDT 2009

And just because you read it does not mean you understand it either ...

How ever a person gets the information we need to work on comprehension ....

Glenn Young


Subject: [PD 3894] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Tom Sticht
Date: Wed Aug 5 16:56:51 EDT 2009

Heide, Steve, and all: The following article presents some research on
whether texts are easier to understand than written texts. Two of the
studies are with students in an adult literacy program. The piece is also
relevant to the discussion of using text-to-speech machines for adults. Tom

This article first appeared in the September 2003 issue of
Literacy Today (issue no. 36).

From oracy to literacy

Dr Thomas G Sticht

Adults who struggle with literacy are usually tested on their reading ability. But can their oral language skills be used to measure and also improve their reading? DR Thomas G. Sticht, an international consultant in adult education, explains the 'reading potential' of adults.

As children grow up, their listening ability develops first and reading ability is acquired later. This leads to the concept of 'reading potential'. When they enter the primary grades, children can generally comprehend more by listening than by reading. For instance, a child in the first grade may comprehend stories by listening just as well as the average third grader can comprehend the same stories by reading. Therefore, the average first grader's listening score can be said to indicate a 'reading potential' of the third grade level. This is because if the average first grade child could instantly comprehend by reading as well as he or she can by listening, they would have a reading ability comparable to a typical third grader's reading ability.

The concept of 'reading potential' is important for adult literacy educators for at least two reasons. Firstly, people are frequently designated as learning disabled based on a measure, such as an 'intelligence' test. Often, these people are at their appropriate age level or above, but on a reading measure they are one, two or more years behind. That is, they are not reading 'up to their potential'. Listening tests are one way of assessing people's 'intelligence' or 'verbal IQ'.

The second reason that reading potential is important is, because of their age, adults in need of literacy education are expected to have developed fairly high levels of competence in oral language. This would provide the adult literacy learner with a fairly high level of reading potential. In turn, this leads to the expectation that the adult's literacy problems may be solved fairly quickly with a brief period of training in decoding the written word, so that the language comprehension competence already possessed in oracy may be transferred for use by the newly developed literacy.

Contrary to this expectation, in research in the United States, when some 2,000 adults were assessed to compare their skills in both listening and reading, the anticipated higher level of listening over reading ability was not found, even with adults reading at the second grade level. In another study, a prison population of men reading at the fourth grade level showed only about 1.5 grade levels of potential (Sticht & James, 1984 ).

Using a different test of listening and reading skills, 71 native speakers of English in an adult literacy programme had an average reading level at the 4.8 grade level, while their reading potential was 6.0. Interestingly, 45 adults with English as a second language had average reading scores at the grade 4.8 level while their reading potential score was at the grade 4.4 level. In other words, their listening skills were lower than their reading skills, so when the listening score was converted to a reading potential score, they performed below their actual reading level (Sticht, 1978)!

Further research (Sticht & Beck, 1976), assessed the reading potential of 42 native English speakers and 32 speakers who had English as a second language, in an adult literacy programme. The native speakers had an average reading level at grade 6.2 level and a potential at grade 6.4 level. The non-native English speakers read at an average grade 4.3 level and had a potential at grade 4.4 level.

Generally speaking, these data on listening and reading suggest that adult literacy educators may have to provide many of the least able adult readers (less than fourth grade ability) with not only effective instruction in phonemics, phonics and other decoding knowledge, but also extensive opportunities for these adults to develop lots of new vocabulary and content knowledge using their oracy skills. This way, they can raise the adults' reading potential by listening and speaking and the instruction in decoding can help them comprehend what they are able to read at their new level of potential.


T. Sticht and J. James (1984) Listening and reading. In R. Barr, M. Kamil and P. Mosenthal (eds.) Handbook of Reading Research, New York: Longman.

See also: T. Sticht (2002) Teaching Reading With Adults. Online at www.nald.ca under Full Text Documents.

DR Sticht is an American who has worked in adult literacy since 1966 when he developed methods for helping blind students read through listening. He has served in the United Kingdom since 1992 as a consultant in adult basic skills for the Basic Skills Agency and on adult literacy research with the Department for Education and Skills. He was recently awarded UNESCO'S Mahatma Gandhi medal in recognition of 25 years of service on the international jury that selects the literary prizes awarded annually by UNESCO.

Contact Tom Sticht at tsticht at aznet.net

The National Literacy Trust is an independent charity and relies on voluntary contributions. If you have found our website useful, please consider making a donation. Every penny helps.

Subject: [PD 3895] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Wrigley, Heide
Date: Wed Aug 5 17:01:49 EDT 2009

Glenn writes

And just because you read it does not mean you understand it either ...

Absolutely, Glenn! I totally agree


Subject: [PD 3898] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Wed Aug 5 17:53:27 EDT 2009


I feel that listening and reading reinforce each other. It is easier to
learn vocabulary if we can read. We get a visual as well as an aural clue.
We can cross train our brain, which experiences the new words and phrases by
using sound and sight. We are engaging different neural circuits. I think
that audio is an inseparable part of language learning. Until I am well
along in a language I avoid reading texts for which I do not have audio.

I also feel that a deliberate program of vocabulary accumulation is
important. Computers now enable us to do things to help. Learners can hover
and see the meanings of words in their language, or in simple language.
Previously searched words or phrases are highlighted in yellow. Unknown
words are highlighted in blue. Definitions and learning hints used by other
learners appear in a pop up, when the cursor hovers over these words. And of
course audio is provided. And the saved words are automatically put into
flash cards for review.

Can literacy learning not take advantage of these methods?

Steve Kaufmann

Subject: [PD 3901] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Wed Aug 5 17:55:45 EDT 2009


My reading and experience suggests that the brain learns better from
experience and example, rather than by explicit instruction. I also believe
that word knowledge, and the experience of seeing and hearing words often,
in many contexts, is a bigger contributor to understanding than critical

Steve Kaufmann

Subject: [PD 3899] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Anne Murr
Date: Wed Aug 5 18:16:04 EDT 2009


You said, "Just because you hear a text (rather than reading it),
doesn't mean you understand the information presented." Agreed!

Several other factors also come into play:

VL difficulties:

Auditory learners will benefit more from listening than visual
learners. I am not an auditory learner so listening is not my
preferred mode of learning. (When someone gives me oral directions, I
get lost after the second, "turn left at the next stop light").

Just making materials available audibly and visually does not make a
person a learner. Study skills also need to be taught.

VL benefit:

Text-to-speech on computer monitors has the multisensory benefit of
both auditory and visual learning. This makes repeated readings
accessible also.


Subject: [PD 3914] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Anne Murr

Date: Wed Aug 5 19:17:35 EDT 2009

Thanks, Steve, for making the connection that language learning
principles apply whether learning in your native or second (third)
language. (One of our learners, African American dyslexic, when she
found out what ESL meant, remarked, "Maybe English IS my second

What software are you referring to that highlights searched words in
yellow and unknown in blue and also utilizes audio?


Subject: [PD 3909] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: steven pritchard
Date: Wed Aug 5 19:26:16 EDT 2009

I'm not speaking for anyone else except myself I learned most of what part of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet from along playing album which I played over and over as I was growing up. I remember things from hearing them from a tape or a record now with the help of MP3 players and CDs listening to them over and over I have gained some knowledge.

Don't get me wrong, I could quote to you almost every line of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet because I own the video I've seen it many times. I could quote it to you right now seeing and hearing has helped vs. reading it, why?
The fact is I'm a slow reader I don't read much because I'm a slow reader I can get the knowledge faster and just as accurate by hearing it from iTunes or CD or MP3 been reading the book.

But now the technology exists for me to put my words on paper in text form without even touching the keyboard, the technology exists for me to take a test either by an instructor reading that test to me or with the help of various freeware that exist like browse allowed. Downloading books for free, hearing them read to me has been a major plus
not everyone is the same, some people are better at watching a person do a task over and over until they get it whether it's running a register, and then having them do it over and over or watching it on a video or DVD or hearing it on MP3 just have to find out which technology works best for that individual person be at the browse allowed the K. reader mobile Dragon NaturallySpeaking something as simple as a DVD or CD or even a person reading a test to the individual.

Those are my comments thank you

One more thing this tool but I'm using, this Dragon NaturallySpeaking is on loan to me by the Drake University adult literacy Center in Des Moines now. This is a tool that works great for me. If I wrote everything I have just spoke into this microphone it wouldn't look as nice with sound kind of like I'm stupid, that may not make a lot of sense my typing skills are good my grammar between one and ten I would give it a -1. For any more information regarding the Dragon NaturallySpeaking or the K. reader mobile or any other technology please contact the Drake University adult literacy Center Des Moines Iowa.

steven pritchard

Subject: [PD 3912] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Wed Aug 5 19:38:57 EDT 2009

Anne wrote "Just making materials available audibly and visually does not
make a
person a learner. Study skills also need to be taught."

It is difficult to make learning "study skills" seem fun. It is easier to
make reading and listening to subjects of interest, seem fun. So I would
start with listening and reading and leave the "study skills" until later.


Subject: [PD 3922] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Thu Aug 6 10:18:24 EDT 2009


That is how LingQ works. We have just uploaded a new version and we are
working through some bugs and so the site is a little slow right now.
Registration as well as use and download of learning content, and most of
the functions I described are free. Have a look. The audio is recorded, not
text-to-speech. There are 10 languages including English.


Subject: [PD 3920] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Thu Aug 6 10:39:15 EDT 2009

I can imagine speech recognition is a great tool for learning to read, since the learner can see familiar and meaningful content (his or her own thoughts) appear as text. For most people who have literacy problems, however, I would imagine that it is more important as a tool for improving reading skills, than as a substitute for basic literacy. In my experience with Dragon speak, it was only about 80% accurate, so you still need to know how to read to use it, from a practical point of view.

I agree with Stephen that the MP3 player is a powerful literacy learning tool. Difficult books become easier if we can hear them first. I could never pay attention when trying to read Proust, but after listening to the audio book I really came to appreciate the inherent poetry of Proust's prose.


Subject: [PD 3930] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Martin Senger
Date: Fri Aug 7 07:57:42 EDT 2009

Pax Steve!

I agree that the brain learn best by example, but I also strongly
believe that you often have to explain the implications of the grammar
explicitly to let the student know the relationship between the grammar
and the meaning. Case in point: the difference between "What are you
doing?" as opposed to "What do you do?"

I practice "grammar association" by repeatedly pointing out the grammar
behind the meaning (or meaning behind the grammar?) when examples in
class present "teachable moments." Note that I said "point out." I do
not ask nor expect my students to explicitly remember the grammar. At
some point, my students begin to "notice" the grammar by themselves.


Martin E. Senger

Subject: [PD 3948] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Fri Aug 7 14:54:14 EDT 2009

Understanding and explanation of grammar does not equate to using words
correctly. All Chinese people can understand the concept that in English we
say "he" and "she", which they do not do in spoken Chinese. after 10 years
of grammar instruction, many Chinese struggle with this when speaking
English and are as likely to say "my husband, she" as "he". Ditto for the
present tense third person singular. These, as well as your examples are
just patterns that we have to get used to. They can be pointed out. They can
saved and reviewed on flash cards etc..But in my experience the explanation
matter less than the exposure and the alertness, attentiveness and interest
of the learner.

Subject: [PD 3950] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Dan
Date: Sat Aug 8 20:47:04 EDT 2009

I found with Chinese speakers of English that deconstruction of a sentence
as to what it meant often seemed to help. In TOEFL prep classes, we would
not move from the grammar based questions until the students in the group
could explain the meaning of the sentence. While these students understand
grammar they often did not understand the meaning. Only with repeated
practice at the sentence level did comprehension of both written and oral
English seem to improve. I had students who came to my adult education
class who were in college but could not make themselves understood to
Americans nor could they understand basic conversational English.

While this group of college students were not the target of my class they
interacted well and often assisted other students in various ways.
Supporting one another was a major requirement in my classroom which
promoted interaction and review. Often Chinese students wanted to look up
words in the dictionary which they had already looked up 50 times before and
work on word for word translation. Getting them involved in communication
based activities seemed to do more to help them increase their fluency
rather than passive activities like listening to taped dialogues repeatedly.

I think the example presented below does not really address the question of
how grammar explanation helps students. I had a wonderful friend and co
teacher who often made the mistakes mentioned when she was speaking quickly
in English. She was journalism and English major and had lived in the U.S.
since childhood. I agree that exposure, alertness and attentiveness plus
learner interest are huge factors in students' growth, but I do not see them
as sufficient.

Dan Wann

Adjunct Faculty Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

Adult Education Consultant

Subject: [PD 3952] Re: are oral texts easier to understand than written texts
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Sun Aug 9 18:24:10 EDT 2009


I am sure that your Chinese students had gone through years of English
grammar study in China. Discussing the meaning of sentences is a good thing
to do, although I find that often the problem is that these students do not
really know what the words mean, their scope in English. They are stuck with
a limited dictionary definition or translation into Chinese, at best, or
have forgotten the meaning of the words entirely.

That is why at LingQ we focus on words and phrases. Learners can ask for the
meaning of phrases. But mostly they continue to come across the words that
they have looked up, now highlighted in yellow. The meaning of the word that
comes from a dictionary is only a Hint. The picture become clearer over
time. Knowing that word has been looked up before helps. Learners are
conscious of an increasing confidence as to the meaning of the word.


Virtual Minds and Workplace

Subject: [PD 3888] virtual minds and workplace
From: Wrigley, Heide
Date: Wed Aug 5 15:48:30 EDT 2009

Hi, again Tom

Just to respond to the first part of your post

Nice to see that we are coming back to the idea of literacy being mediated through interactions with others and we don't just live or die by what we as individuals know and can do. Although, of course, the more you know, the more you know ..

Some years back there was a small scale study by Darrah who showed that workers very rarely consulted a manual. Instead they relied on demonstrations and help from others in figuring out how to do tasks that challenged them.

So as we prepare students for a print saturated world, it makes sense to me to prepare them to deal with multiple dimensions of literacy and environments where sometimes individual skills count and at other times, collaborative efforts.

The Darrah article Complicating the concept of skill requirements: Scenes from a workplace can be found in
Glynda Hull's book Changing Work - Changing Workers


Heide Spruck Wrigley

Literacywork International

Subject: [PD 3893] Re: virtual minds and workplace
From: JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall
Date: Wed Aug 5 16:49:35 EDT 2009

Heide and Tom,

My dissertation work, of so many years ago, also confirms that manuals are
not where workers get much of their information. In fact, with the
clerical workers I studied, it was the last place they turned. I surmised
that in many cases, it was because the manuals were (unfortunately)
written for people who were like those who were writing the manual. They
were not written with their users in mind.

If this is true of clerical workers (who work continuously with
print/text), then I can imagine that it would be even more true of those
who work in less print/text-saturated environments.

Jodi Crandall

JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall

Professor of ESOL/Bilingual Education

Director, Ph.D. Program in Language, Literacy & Culture

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Overwhelmed by VL

Subject: [PD 3897] Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: Thompson, Duren J
Date: Wed Aug 5 17:29:08 EDT 2009

Hello, I am Duren Thompson with the Center for Literacy Studies, and I
am working to become virtually literate.

In the past 12 - 24 months, I have:

  • Begun Blogging, including reading other's blogs, and starting 4 blogs of my own (all personal): example.

http://glasshalffullreport.wordpress.com/ (you'll note I am not a very active blogger).

  • Subscribed to a blog aggregator (Google Reader) and subscribed to at least one weekly podcast.
  • Learned how to create and edit Wiki pages, including how to create tables in a non-WYSIWYG tool (it was free).
  • Broke down and started a page in Facebook. I have 95 friends since April (I check it like 1-2 times a month).
  • Learned how to send text messages to others' phones through YIM (my plan still charges me for all text messages).
  • Actively viewed videos online via site like U-Tube and Hulu. (Amazing what a broken TV will do for your technological literacy).
  • Researched how to improve discussions in online courses/discussion boards via techniques for improving a sense of community.
  • Created a photo sharing page and uploaded photos. Begun to make extensive use of others' photo and image sharing sites.
  • Learned how to make cheap and inexpensive podcasts.
  • Learned how to use an automated search tool (like Google Alerts).

In about a week, I get an Ipod of my very own. I don't yet tweet.

Lemme tell you - this is WORK! And I am technologically inclined
person, whose JOB it is to try out new technologies that may have
implications for instruction (meaning someone is paying for my time to
learn all this).

Anyone else concerned about the human beings' ability to keep up with
the pace of technological change and the accompanying onslaught of
information? I'm thinking time management and prioritization skills, as
well as information management skills are critical elements of virtual


Subject: [PD 3902] Re: Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Wed Aug 5 18:01:51 EDT 2009

I agree Duren. Every person needs to decide for themselves what makes sense.
For me the most powerful tool is the MP3 player. I have, on my iPod, a full
mini language lab, updated daily from my computer.

I am on Twitter but ignore all the twits that tweet me. I have an account at
Facebook and ignore it. I just do not get it.

I have a blog, put primarily to promote our language learning system.

On the other hand I can access the most phenomenal language content for
languages of interest to me. I subscribe to fascinating podcasts. I can read
the news anywhere in the world in the language and country of my choice. I
can look up any question I have in a jiffy. I feel I am ahead.


Subject: [PD 3900] Re: Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: Bonnie Odiorne
Date: Wed Aug 5 18:17:26 EDT 2009

I am. A friend described Facebook as a "vortex of dark energy" and I'm beginning to believe it. And I haven't even done all you have, AND (except to the extent that I tend to think I'm responsible for knowing everything) it's not my job. I'll not detail what I've done, but the point is made. And I wonder about the time allocation of our students (virtually literate) who check their Facebooks and Twitter and text all the time. Not to mention YouTube...

Bonnie Odiorne, PhD Director, Writing Center Adjunct Professor of English, French, First Year Transitions, Day Division and ADP

Post University, Waterbury, CT

Labyrinth Facilitator, Spiritual Director

Subject: [PD 3910] Re: Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: steven pritchard
Date: Wed Aug 5 20:41:02 EDT 2009

Dear friend,

For around $200 you can buy the Dragon NaturallySpeaking which I'm using to send you this e-mail right now. I am talking into a microphone and the words that I say are printed on to the text of this computer, for the record this laptop and Dragon NaturallySpeaking which is then loaded into the laptop from a CD is on loan to me this week from the Drake University adult literacy Center here in Des Moines Iowa please call them for any questions. Technology doesn't have to be technical

I have both arms boldly this both eyes I'm not deaf or blind but I have a problem putting the words from thought to text this Dragon NaturallySpeaking works you don't have to have millions you don't have to be a super tech person I could walk you through how to install it and use it over the phone.

Other technologies is the King reader mobile also sponsored by the Drake University adult literacy Center here in Des Moines Iowa. There are free technologies like browse allowed and dial to do just go to your local library use their computer for free type in Google and then dial to do it this easy as 123

Most people make or create tech problems there are other technology tools that are in my toolkit once again if you have any questions please contact me at the e-mail below or feel free to call or e-mail the Drake University adult literacy Center here in Des Moines now.

Stevenp50320 at yahoo.com

Subject: [PD 3926] Re: Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: Michael S. Curry
Date: Thu Aug 6 13:15:25 EDT 2009

Duren, I loved your post...made me laugh out loud (see, I still spell
even when twittering)...keep up the good work...all of us old-schoolers
are smilin' along with you. Michael

Tech-Mediated Learning

Subject: [PD 3903] Re: text to speech is just one feature of tech-mediated learning
From: Silver-Pacuilla, Heidi
Date: Wed Aug 5 21:24:25 EDT 2009

Hello all—sorry to be coming late to this very interesting discussion.

I see that the element of social learning/socially mediated literacy is being raised and discussed as well tonight, but I thought I'd respond here first.

As someone who has taught and studied literacy mediated through technology such as Anne describes, what I would like to emphasize as the strengths of the approach is the availability of the kinds of supports Heide mentions as necessary to comprehension, but there is still a strong role for a mentor/instructor/guide/facilitator.

Text to speech is only one feature supplied by literacy software packages - or thoughtful bundles of accessible technologies. Hearing the text is only the beginning, and if the vocabulary or structure of the text is too complex, it's not going to lead to comprehension.

Other features must be taught to be used strategically so that learners can not only hear a text but LEARN with and through it. These scaffolding features include e-dictionaries and other reference sources, including video supports; highlighters and other note makers for annotations and later extraction; word processors w spell checkers; drafting, outlining, and webbing tools that can serve as the graphic organizers, etc.

These tools are clearly instructional as well as study tools. First, many adult learners need to learn how to draw information from these kinds of scaffolds (what does a graphic organizer represent? how do you annotate a text? what is a summary?); at the same time, they need to learn how to use them technically/get comfortable manipulating them; AND also at the same time, they are learning to use them to learn with and through text. As learners learn to do all of this, they can really boost their ability to self study -- this is NOT to say, however, that all texts become comprehensible. I'm sure we could each find a text in our home that is incomprehensible without serious study, even if someone (trying to be helpful) reads it aloud to us (garbage disposal installation, anyone?).

As many of you know, I'm a big proponent of teaching all of this at the same time. I advocate for computer classes that are also teaching content and vice versa, I think the research is pretty clear that technology-mediated learning (for all of us!) is most efficiently done through authentic, meaningful tasks and rarely in isolation.

Peers and family support networks are excellent mediators for all of this. It takes some good humor, patience and humility to learn in new ways!

So, I'll try to watch the rest of the discussion, learn from what you all are doing, and jump in in a more timely way if I can share some examples or resources.

Heidi Silver-Pacuilla

American Institutes for Research

Washington, DC

Subject: [PD 3916] Re: text to speech is just one feature of tech-mediated learning
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Wed Aug 5 23:24:56 EDT 2009

Rubem Alves is a Brazilian educator that I discovered as part of my
Portuguese studies.

Some of his comments are pertinent to the discussion of teaching people how
to understand what they read.

There is a complete incompatibility between the pleasant experience of reading, a vagabond experience, and the experience of reading for the purpose of answering questions of meaning and understanding.

"Nothing destroys the pleasure of reading as much as questions from the teacher about interpretations, strategies or analysis".

Once a centipede was asked how he could operate all of his numerous feet in such an orderly manner without getting them confused. The centipede shook his head, shrugged, and said that he had never given it a thought. From that time on, the centipede became unable to move, the legs all got in the way of one another.

Steve Kaufmann

Subject: [PD 3917] Re: text to speech is just one feature of tech-mediated learning
From: Alpha Computer Live
Date: Thu Aug 6 07:56:57 EDT 2009

Hi Heidi,

Excellent points. Especially those on learning computer skills while
teaching content. Thanks.

Jeff Brown


Subject: [PD 3931] Re: text to speech is just one feature of tech-mediated learning
From: Michael S. Curry
Date: Fri Aug 7 08:29:38 EDT 2009


R. Alves has done considerable work on contextual influences in
interpretative analysis...not unlike Gestalt-like "filling in the gaps"
that are highly subject to cultural and socioeconomic conditions. How
these existential realities effect understanding and interpretation is
as relevant to learning as are the technologies used. Reading is a
hermeneutic circle that entails not only the written word (either read
or heard) but also the reality of the setting in which the learning
takes place. The same technology applied in an upper class living room
using the same text will be interpreted differently when applied to a
contrasting setting like a bomb shelter or a jail cell. I'm interested
in any work being done to measure the effects of such differing "reading
rooms" upon technology usage and consequent
interpretation/understanding. Alves has touched upon this theme via
Bible studies conducted in barrios versus cathedral settings and the
results are truly amazing. I wonder what studies have been done on such
a concept when technologies are layered into the mix?


Subject: [PD 3938] Re: text to speech is just one feature of tech-mediatedlearning
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Fri Aug 7 14:49:36 EDT 2009


This sounds interesting. I do not know of any such studies. It does argue in
favour of letting the reader/listener enjoy the content in his or her own
way, without too much deliberate instruction on how to interpret the
content. This is more likely, in Alves' opinion, to engage the reader and
encourage the reader to read more, and reading more is the key to reading


Day 4

Using the Technologies

Subject: [PD 3906] Watch This: Steven's Video
From: Jackie A. Taylor
Date: Thu Aug 6 08:49:31 EDT 2009

Good day or evening, all!

Please take 5 minutes today to view this short video of Steven Pritchard
demonstrating the virtual literacy tools that Glenn, Anne, Heidi, and
others have been discussing:


(1 minute to load; 4 minutes to view)

Following this message will be a few email posts from Steven, written
using some of the tools he demonstrates in the above video.

The video was produced by Drake University as a part of the Iowa Virtual
Literacy Initiative
and was inspired by Glenn Young's virtual literacy vision and our plans
to host this discussion here on the PD List.

I met Steven at the VALUE Institute, upon Marty Finsterbusch's request
for me to join Steven in presenting on technology in teaching and
learning. We presented on technologies available to practitioners today
and the potential that technologies, such as text to speech, voice
recognition software, and cell phones, can have for learners in
providing accelerated access to information and in developing literacy

During the presentation, Steven demonstrated how to use the tools you
will see in the above video. We even experimented using the tools to
post to a NIFL discussion list. While we weren't successful with the
latter (lesson: never connect to the Internet using the pizza guy's
wireless service in the building behind your conference hotel!),
Steven's message below and in the posts that follow demonstrate his
application of the tools.

When planning this Virtual Literacy discussion, I asked Steven if he
would create a video demonstrating some of the tools. The above video is
the result. I am pleased to share this video with you today; I hope it
offers a slice of the experience I had in understanding the potential
that these technologies hold.

A special thank you to Drake University for producing this video.

Jackie Taylor

Dear Jackie,

I am sitting in my living room speaking into a microphone headset that
is attached to a laptop computer which has the Dragon naturally speaking
installed on it.

I have wrote two books lovers of the flood and disabled thoughts, my
wife did a lot of editing due to the way I hear the sounds of the words
and type them, but Jackie with the help of this tool and many others
that exist and that are out there on the market today we have the means
to get people the GED's that they are so deserving.

I am 46 years old. I have considered going back to college. This Dragon
NaturallySpeaking is on loan to me by the Drake University adult
literacy Center here in Des Moines Iowa, it could help me get my
associates degree and go on to become a pastor.

Jackie I think this is the first time ever I have personally felt that I
might have a chance writing a paper in passing a test thanks to this
$200 program. Think what I could do with just the Dragon
NaturallySpeaking I could write school papers once I graduate a while
once I graduate I never ever thought about once I graduate it's always
well I can't graduate I never could graduate and never had the ability
to pass a test. I've never been able to write a paper because the words
get jumbled between my head my lips and my fingers you know me Jackie
you know that I'm a good speaker I can wow an entire room full of people
but in writing a simple e-mail to the head of the Fortune 500 company I
look stupid, it looks like it's being wrote by a fifth grader. I haven't
been taken seriously. I used to be the District training manager for
training center here now I sold computer classes but when it came time
to type a letter to principle of Wells Fargo, Blue Cross Blue Shield, or
some other Fortune 500 company like I said before when I read it back it
sounded like something a fifth grader might write or even a fourth
grader. It sounded scooped I sounded stupid, but with the help of this
tool Dragon NaturallySpeaking I'm seriously considering going back to
college and getting my associates degree in pastoral rail leadership or
in other words being an associate pastor, you're more than welcome to
post this letter I'm writing to you. Now my only fear is not shutting up
I could talk and talk and talk forever and every word I say is printed
on the screen. Jackie thank you very much for all your help Glenn Young,
and the Drake University adult literacy Center.


Steven Pritchard

Subject: [PD 3907] Re: Some questions for "virtual literacy"
From: steven pritchard
Date: Wed Aug 5 18:40:08 EDT 2009

Dear Glenn

I am in my living room using the Dragon naturally speaking. This tool can help not just the blind but 46-year-old man and women who can speak clearly, but not type very well. This tech tool, the Dragon naturally speaking does not cost all that much money the rewards outweigh the few hundred dollars it costs.

Please note the Dragon NaturallySpeaking I'm using in my living room right now is on loan from the Drake University adult literacy Center. If we knew and I and others like us can get this tool into the of employers, and workforce sites all over the country then stop and think how many people that have a low literacy issue it will help.

Glenn you know me and you know my writing skills they're not the best but with the help of this Dragon naturally speaking it can help me Stephen Pritchard communicate in a much better way and in a more clear way then meet pushing buttons on a computer, everything I am saying to you and everything I have just said to you is being spoken into a microphone, head I have not had to touch the keyboard once I speak the commands I say the text this tool can help people with learning disabilities adult literacy low illiteracy skills the blind adults with autism, at least I believe this tool can do those things.

I have wrote the book lovers of the flood, and disabled thoughts, both books had to go through a lot of editing now with the help of the Dragon naturally speaking and what the Drake University adult literacy Center has done for me I will be able to write better and more profound and more touching books in the future. I have contacted the White House, technology department I have not heard back from the staff there. We need the support of the United States Congress and the White House what specifically in the White House and Congress do?

By teaching adults with low literacy skills and or giving them the skill sets necessary to get better paying jobs it will help increase the employment in this great country we live in the president wants to get people back to work we must give them the tools some of those tools exist now such as this tool I'm using in my living room of my home, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking other tools are the k reader mobile, and the use of the freeware that exists. Glenn you have helped me see how these technologies and these tools can help people and now my friend I want to show and inform others around the world including members of Congress and the White House how we can use these technologies by getting these technologies into the workforce we can put more people back to work we can educate adults, we can help get adults the GED which they need to get a good paying job or to go on to college and get a better paying job.


Stephen P. Pritchard

Subject: [PD 3919] Re: Stephen Pritchard
From: Dave Middlebrook
Date: Thu Aug 6 10:06:07 EDT 2009

Hi Stephen, and everyone else,

I have read Stephen's posts and viewed the video. Amazing stuff. My first exposure with assistive and adaptive technologies was in the late 1980s. Since then the field has made great progress. The interesting thing is that people outside of the "disabilities" community—and I know that I am painting with a broad brush here—don't think that this stuff is for them. But it can be, doesn't have to be, but can be. Many of the best tools and teaching methods were originally developed to address issues of access and accessibility. I should add that many in the "disabilities" community—and, again, I am painting with a broad brush—are unaware of other technologies that are being developed that could be very helpful to them. It seems (to me, at least) that the fast pace of development of new technologies kind of keeps us all, to some extent, in the dark. It's just too much to keep up with. We miss so much. So much of what is being done simply doesn't find the right audiences.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but...here are three more resources. You might find yourself viewing some of the stuff that you'll see at these conferences as feeder-technologies for improving online PD for everyone. TED is a particularly good online PD resource. You need not attend the conference to benefit.

Thanks, Stephen, for sharing your experience with the tools that work for you.

- Dave

Dave Middlebrook

The Textmapping Project

A resource for teachers improving reading comprehension skills instruction.

Subject: [PD 3932] using the technologies
From: Janet Isserlis
Date: Fri Aug 7 09:11:53 EDT 2009

Stephen and all

Thanks, Stephen, for describing the processes you've used for
speech-to-text. I'm wondering about how you go about explaining and
describing this process to other adults who might be hesitant to try it, or
to other people outside literacy work.

It seems there are so many potential (and already realized) useful
applications for adults with low/no vision, reading challenges, etc. Have
you been able to speak to other adults to help them learn more about all of
this? Have you had opportunities to talk about this work in broader


Janet Isserlis

Subject: [PD 3944] Tech
From: steven pritchard
Date: Sat Aug 8 15:51:56 EDT 2009

Hi yes that's easy. I do enjoy traveling around and explaining these tools, these tech tools.

Some adult students may only have a third or fourth grade reading level but they have the potential to go a lot farther, the first question I asked them is can you use an iPod and do you own an iPod,

Sure they say anyone can use an iPod, what about a nano do you have or have your reviews the nano was sure that's easy will what about sending e-mails once again the adult student says yes I've sent e-mails to my friends and my mother my brother and I asked you have any problems doing this will allow it's easy to have you always been able to do this have you always been able to send e-mails well no!

So how did you learn who taught you, like myself I see so no one showed you how to use an iPod no more about e-mail no about the nano now I just played with it so that the tutor helped you and you are allowed to play with the Dragon NaturallySpeaking do you think you could learn it.

Most adults have a fear of something or other some adults who have no literacy problem whatsoever have a problem learning or a fear of playing/learning something new whether it's a computer program or a remote control on your TV, it's fear that stopping us that the technology. We have to teach the tutors first we want the tutors at the various literacy centers around the country and around the world to feel comfortable with the Dragon NaturallySpeaking and the K reader mobile and the dial to do and the browse allowed in the other software programs and technology programs that exist.

A great man once said there is nothing to fear but fear itself, another great man even said by the end of this decade we shall put a man on the moon, but let's stop and think what it is we know about putting a man on the moon when John Fitzgerald Kennedy said that nothing! And if we were afraid to embrace these new technologies to get us to the moon we would have never made it my literacy friends. Let us embrace these new technologies and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me or the Drake University Adult Literacy Center .


S. Prichard

Subject: [PD 3934] Re: using the technologies
From: Silver-Pacuilla, Heidi
Date: Fri Aug 7 12:23:16 EDT 2009

Hello Janet and Steve and all—

I also want to thank you, Steve, for sharing the video and the
explanation of how you use speech-to-text. Both are very powerful!

As we can see from the output/the text, there is plenty of literacy work
going on when someone uses voice recognition software. I think you can
think of it as a technology-mediated Language Experience Approach. The
user/learner speaks the text, the software recognizes with about 80%
accuracy, then there is the back and forth process of correcting,
revising, formatting and editing. This is facilitated for users by the
text-to-speech option in the program (having what you just spoke read
back to you). This is an incredible learning experience for adult new
readers and writers who will argue w the program, "That's not what I
said!", and realize "Oh, is THAT how you spell that word?" It's great
fun to be part of. It removes the helpfully literate teacher out of the
LEA process (writing the words as they are correctly spelled doesn't
really expose misspellings) and puts that person in the role of a
facilitator guiding the interaction.

There is a fairly strong research base on the literacy boost derived
from using speech to text for students w LD. We should draw on that for
adult ed.

Here are two things I've written about using accessible technologies for
adult learners (particularly those w LD) that have the research

Getting Started with Assistive Technology, in the November 2007 Focus on Basics:
Assistive Technology and Adult Literacy: Access and Benefits, from Vol 7
of the NCSALL Annual Review:

Janet, Heide, and other ESL specialists, I'd be interested to hear your
take on how well this approach may or may not be advisable with adult
ELLs at various stages of English proficiency.

Heidi Silver-Pacuilla

Subject: [PD 3935] Re: using the technologies
From: Robert Berdan
Date: Fri Aug 7 13:25:46 EDT 2009

We are finding that bring text together with speech helps
develop oral reading fluency. Here’s an example, the
first chapter of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea:


Another example is Lynne Cox reading the first chapter of
her book Grayson:


In each of these the text is parsed to highlight
phrasally. The user can control the synchrony of the text
and oral reading: tightly synchronized to read silently,
following along with the computer voice. Or the
highlighting can be advanced to allow the user to read
aloud in chorus with the computer voice.

The user can also slow the reading with a control that
stretches the pause time.

Bob Berdan

Technology Enhanced Literacy Project

California State University Long Beach

Subject: [PD 3936] Re: using the technologies
From: Gabb, Sally S.
Date: Fri Aug 7 14:44:41 EDT 2009

Thanks for this comment, Robert—do you mean comprehending text that is read orally—listened to? Sally Gabb

Subject: [PD 3941] Re: using the technologies
From: Robert Berdan
Date: Fri Aug 7 15:46:04 EDT 2009


What we do might be thought of as "assisted reading". As
the user changes the timing of the synchrony, the nature
of the assist changes as well. In the default timing, the
voice assist comes at or very near the timing of initial
fixation on the successive words of the text. As the
highlighting is advanced the assist shifts to reinforcing
fluent prosody in the user's oral reading.

Bob Berdan

Subject: [PD 3943] Re: using the technologies
From: steven pritchard
Date: Fri Aug 7 17:46:13 EDT 2009

Hi all Steven here,

How's everyone doing tonight? Once again I'm sitting in my living room using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking a program which can be purchased at a number of stores in your hometown. The technology that I have been talking about and demonstrating to people works.

The cave reader mobile may work best for Bob or Jane or Sue but for Dave his purpose may be different this purpose may be to get his GED in which the Dragon NaturallySpeaking might help him more than the cave reader mobile.

The dial to do which is absolutely free to use might be best used for Sue who has a problem reading her pill bottles, Sue takes seven different pills in six bottles. Using the cave reader mobile and taking a picture of the bottle or the prescription will help Sue in knowing what the directions are.

John however just wants to pass his CDL license, John can have the department of transportation motor vehicles examiner read the test to him or John could take the cave reader mobile snap a picture of the text listen and watch it being read and answer questions on his own.

The dial to do... take Cindy she has a low literacy reading problem but is spending time with the tutor Cindy and her tutor worked together for one hour each week at the local adult literacy Center, Cindy meets with her tutor on Wednesday night for an hour, the tutor gives her an assignment Cindy goes home and by that weekend she has forgotten what the assignment was instead of calling the Tudor or the center she blows off going to next Wednesday night, if she used her dial to do cell phone on loan to her by the Center she could record the assignment as the tutor gave it to her.

Let's take John he is 46 years old speaks very clearly to others but John has a problem spelling as John meets with his tutor at the local literacy Center by using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking John sees the words in the proper way to spell them and with other forms of virtual literacy they can be read back to John in the male or female voice, many students learn best when they can choose to learn from a male voice or a female voice.

GED many students have not reached their potential of receiving their GED, but with the help of the local literacy centers and ally of tutors is my opinion that between the live tutor and the technology these adult students can obtain literacy skills above where they're at now, my goal to see that these adult students get their GED and or be placed in a workforce environment whereby they can obtain more than just a living wage.

Steven Pritchard

Subject: [PD 3947] Re: using the technologies
From: Steve Kaufmann
Date: Fri Aug 7 16:06:52 EDT 2009


This is very impressive. The books are not easy. On the other hand the
reader can stay on the same page until the meaning is clear. Our approach at
LingQ is more geared towards vocabulary acquisition. There may be synergies.
In any case, congratulations, a very pleasing learning environment.


Subject: [PD 3949] Re: using the technologies
From: Andrea Wilder
Date: Sat Aug 8 20:17:21 EDT 2009


This is wonderful. I wish I had had this to use with my thai
student, she would have blossomed.

I wish I had known about it.

What I will do now, though, is email the link to her.

Thank you so much.


Subject: [PD 3958] Re: using the technologies
From: Robert Berdan
Date: Mon Aug 10 14:01:58 EDT 2009

Andrea, Steve,

Thanks for the comments. It’s true that these would not
be first choice texts for English learners. They are
books that have been annual choices from “Long Beach Reads
One Book.” Folks associated with those events have been
instrumental in getting us the permissions to publish
these copyrighted materials on the web.

We are currently building “The Circuit,” a short story by
Francisco Jimenez. The syntax and vocabulary there is
rather simpler than either of these examples.

Bob Berdan

Subject: [PD 3959] using the technologies
From: Janet Isserlis
Date: Mon Aug 10 17:06:16 EDT 2009

Heidi and all

Apologies for the delay in responding to your question. Not sure that I can
answer it ¬ but am very good at turning questions back into more questions.

I would wonder these things about speech-to-text for people whose first
language isn't English:

  • Does a mechanized voice (without much inflection?) help or hinder listening comprehension?
  • Does the use of the technology itself get in the way for English language learners any more/less than it might for other adult learners?
  • Are there some applications that can be connected to technologies that people already use (cell phones, for example) - and can visual organizers help with podcast listening? How/different is pod cast work from the old cassettes with texts/support materials?

I wonder if others on the list with more hands on experience could share
their views?


Day 5

Next Steps

Subject [PD 3929] Next Steps?
From: Nell Eckersley
Date: Fri Aug 7 04:20:34 EDT 2009

Hi all,

Thank you all for such great contributions this week. We have covered a lot of ground and shared a lot of resources with one another.

We started off the week with a couple of questions. How are "Technology Literacy" and "Virtual Literacy" similar? How are they different? What do these phrases mean to you as educators? What do they mean to adult learners?

Perhaps Anne Murr helped to illustrate the difference between "Technology Literacy" and "Virtual Literacy" most clearly in her post on Wednesday, "Let's use text to speech technology as a learning tool. Good instruction from teachers is still necessary. Could Virtual Literacy be considered "learning tools" for students while all the outstanding technology uses being described be "instructional tools" for teachers?"

The discussion this week is actually the second in a three part series. The series of discussions was originally described this way: "The Workforce Investment Act is up for reauthorization and some recommendations include expanding the use of technology in teaching and learning and in professional development. But what are the language and literacy skills required for adults' independent online learning? How can technologies both assist instruction and also open access to information for adult learners? What knowledge and skills do teachers say they need in order to use these technologies? How can professional development help?"

Certainly we have illustrated that one of the challenges in working with technology is the TIME it takes to keep up with what's new in our own lives, never mind practicing ways of using it with adult learners. As in another post this week, Duren Thompson so eloquently put it, "Anyone else concerned about the human beings' ability to keep up with the pace of technological change and the accompanying onslaught of information? I'm thinking time management and prioritization skills, as well as information management skills are critical elements of virtual literacy."

Acknowledging that time is a major factor, what are the next steps for yourselves as individuals? And what are the next steps for your program or state, and for us as a field, including policy implications?

My next steps personally are to practice using social networking sites like Ning and Wiki so I can better understand how to use them with adult learners. I will also continue to contribute to the ALE Wiki and create a Wiki for my book group so I can see how other less technology interested folks respond. I'm setting up a Ning to help provide support to some of the people I work with and we'll see how that goes. I am already on Twitter and Facebook, both personally and professionally, which I enjoy immensely, and will continue to explore ways of using these tools with students. For my agency, all that has been said so far in this series of discussions underscores the importance of providing more technology focused PD to the field. On the policy side, on Tuesday, Judith Kossy posted a study of state educational strategies and the use of technology which was very interesting but focused on youth. Where is the one for adult learners?

Looking forward to hearing your next steps,


Nell Eckersley

ALIES/ASISTS Program Operations Coordinator,

Literacy Assistance Center

Tools for PD

Subject: [PD 3939] Re: Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: Jackie A. Taylor
Date: Fri Aug 7 14:59:38 EDT 2009

Hi Duren and all,

Duren, I know you and it alarms me to hear that you are overwhelmed by
your virtual literacy - I consider you at the front end of the curve!

-) If you are overwhelmed, then I am hopeless.

I'm wondering, based on your experience both in learning technology and
as a staff developer, which of these tools hold promise for using in
staff development, and in what instances? I recognize that one should
pick the right tool for the right job (as Steven demonstrated very
well). I'd like to hear a few concrete examples from a professional
development perspective as to how some of these tools are being used -
or ideas on how they can be used - in staff development.

Secondly, if the purpose of the staff development were to help
practitioners dip their toes in these waters, where does it make the
most sense to begin?

Thoughts anyone?


Jackie Taylor

Subject: [PD 3942] Tools for PD was Re: Overwhelmed by my virtual literacy
From: Thompson, Duren J
Date: Fri Aug 7 17:23:20 EDT 2009

Wellll...I *am* enjoying this virtual literacy learning process, even
though I feel like I am racing to try to keep up with the "pack" that is
truly cutting edge - I keep finding HUGE vistas of stuff I didn't know
was out there that would be SO cool if we could only take the time to
learn how it all works and develop literacy content for it.... But
don't worry about me much, I am having fun. :-)

In my experience, different professional developers have gravitated to
different tools that THEY like to use for professional development. They
become "experts" of a sort and can often best see how their preferred
tool could be used effectively for PD. As illustrated by this week's
discussion, some prefer podcasting (MP3 players), some wikis, some
social networking sites, others course management software, synchronous
web meetings, self-directed web courses, others discussion lists and

While I can see value in all of these tools (and others) - and
especially in combinations of these tools - to meet a group's PD needs,
here are some guidelines I'd suggest:

Short and focused: Practitioner time is generally tight. Short focused
"bytes" of PD will be of the most value to the broadest audience. Focus
on one tight area of concern (Pre-reading strategies; acceptable testing
accommodations; teaching area and perimeter; etc.), present it in
everyday language and real-life contexts, and offer the research basis
info as *additional material.* Present examples of how they can
implement the strategies presented and provide links to more info.
Semester-long courses, material that focuses theory rather than
effective practices, or even presents too many strategies/ideas are less
likely to be effective with our current, often part-time or volunteer
personnel. (Many Verizon Thinkfinity courses are good examples of

Keep it Technologically simple: This doesn't mean don't use Technology,
or use only simpler technologies, but rather use only one or two
technologies within a single PD event. Know the tenor of your PD group
and don't intro more than one "new" technology per PD event. If few in
the group have ever seen a wiki, much less used one, AND many do not
regularly use e-mail, then don't *also* try to get them to use a
chat-tool, or a blog.

Keep it Technologically accessible: AE can learn a lot from Advertisers
- do market research. What kinds of technology are *comfortably
accessible* to your PD group. If the technology requires a solid and
reliable or high bandwidth connection to the internet, be sure that is a
CLEAR pre-requisite to everyone in your group OR be ready to provide an
alternative (like the video on a CD vie US mail). Note that if a piece of
standard hardware is accessible, but has never been used, you should
treat it as a "new technology." I kid you not, I found out too late that
a major barrier to participating in a synchronous online meeting for a
group of instructors was that they did not have a microphone (or headset
with microphone). This meant that not only did they have to acquire
one, they had to set it up on their computer, and they had no ease of
use during the meeting. So they had TWO new technologies to work with at
once - the microphone AND the online meeting software/interface. Not a
good idea.

Contextualize: Technology/virtual learning techniques should always be
used IN CONTEXT. The technology should not be the focus of the course -
what you can DO with the technology, or using the technology to
accomplish the PD should be the focus of the course. A podcast about
podcasting is less interesting to our Adult Ed practitioners than an
example podcast that they might borrow and use with their students

BLEND: Add "one new thing" to a PD process they are familiar with. So
add an e-mail follow-up discussion to a face to face training. Or add
ONE podcast to an online course. Or add a 30 minute online chat/webinar
to a face to face meeting.

I say there is no one best or true virtual learning tool best for PD - I
think they ALL have potential depending on the technology comfort level
and access of the group involved. The KEY is to PLANNING - matching PD
to needs, access, and abilities. Push the envelope, but at a pace that
will let it 'stick" and be implemented.

Duren Thompson

Center for Literacy Studies

VL Discussion Thanks!

Subject: [PD 3953] VL Discussion Thanks!
From: Jackie A. Taylor
Date: Mon Aug 10 10:00:46 EDT 2009


Thank you to Nell Eckersley, moderator of the Technology and Literacy
List, for leading us in a discussion of Virtual Literacy. A special
thanks to Steven Pritchard, Glenn Young, Anne Murr and Drake University,
for making the Virtual Literacy to Succeed
(http://www.educ.drake.edu/webfiles/ivls.mov) video for our discussion,
and to all for your insights and expertise. I appreciate everyone's

I've compiled all posts in the ALE Wiki:
http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/VirtualLiteracyDiscussion (Yes, I
am caught up!). I will let you know when a final version is up on the
NIFL web site.

We will use this discussion compilation and a summary as a springboard
for Part III of the discussion series on Building Adult Education
Technology Capacity. I have some interesting discussion activities
lining up for us, so please keep your eye on the PD List for further

In the meantime, feel free to continue discussions of Virtual Literacy
here on this list. Two other of the Institute's Lists will also be of
interest to you as they intersect with Virtual Literacy issues; here are
the links should you wish to subscribe:

Learning Disabilities:

Technology and Literacy:

Thanks again, and have a great week!


Jackie Taylor, PD List Facilitator, jackie at jataylor.net

National Institute for Literacy lincs.ed.gov

Association of Adult Literacy Professional Developers www.aalpd.org

Subject: [PD 3960] Re: VL Discussion Thanks!
From: steven pritchard
Date: Mon Aug 10 20:12:32 EDT 2009

Dear Gang,

>From the Desk Of Steven Paul Pritchard

We must not forget Ms Linda Kelly for her help on the video that was made at Drake University. Des Moines Iowa
Ms Linda Kelly has been a driving force for all of us at the Drake University adult Literacy Center.

Mr Steven Paul Pritchard

Resources Shared During Discussion


Articles and Reports:

Web sites:


Please note: We do not control and cannot guarantee the relevance, timeliness, or accuracy of the materials provided by other agencies or organizations via links off-site, nor do we endorse other agencies or organizations, their views, products or services.