Biographies - Online Professional Development for ABE, Literacy, ESOL, and ASE Teachers - March 29 - April 19 2004

Online Professional Development for ABE, Literacy, ESOL, and ASE Teachers


Eunice N. Askov   |   Jeff Carter   |   Ashley Del Bianco   |   Jennifer Elmore
Debra L. Hargrove   |   Jerome Johnston   |   Steve Linberg   |   Tim Ponder
Marian Thacher   |   Duren Thompson

Eunice N. Askov (Ph.D., Curriculum & Instruction-Reading, University of Wisconsin - Madison). Distinguished Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy ( and of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy (, The Pennsylvania State University. She heads up the research and online professional development efforts of the Goodling Institute at Penn State. In addition to conducting research in family literacy and teaching in Penn State's online M.Ed. program in Adult Education offered through the World Campus, she leads the development and delivery of an online Certificate in Family Literacy (, in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy, also offered through Penn State's World Campus.

She was on sabbatical leave for 2000 - 2001 to study applications of distance education to adult literacy programs at Flinders University, Institute of International Education, Adelaide, South Australia. On a sabbatical leave in 1993, she studied applications of technology to adult literacy in developed and developing countries in travels around the world. She has also conducted research in adult literacy and technology at the University of Western Australia under a Fulbright Senior Scholar's Award (1983). In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she is author of four textbooks on reading instruction. Funded by the US Department of Education, she is senior author (with Jerome Johnston and others) of a monograph entitled Expanding Access to Adult Literacy with Online Distance Education published by the National Center for Research in Adult Learning and Literacy and available on their website (

She was named Distinguished Fellow, The Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia), Institute of International Education (1998), and given the University of Wisconsin, School of Education Alumni Achievement Award (1994) and the Penn State College of Education Career Achievement Award (1999). She was the first Literacy Leader Fellow at the National Institute for Literacy in Washington, DC, carrying out research related to skill standards and workplace literacy. In addition to membership in several adult education and literacy organizations, she represents Penn State on the National Coalition for Literacy, having also served as an officer and research chair.

Jeff Carter - I am the Executive Director of DC LEARNs, Washington DC's literacy coalition and primary public-policy advocacy organization. Up until very recently I was the Education Technology Director at World Education, where I designed many staff development projects related to educational technology in collaboration with various agencies around the Northeast. I've never designed or worked with a completely online staff development initiative, but I'm a big fan of using communications technology to

enhance or expand upon more traditional in-person training. For example, I've done some training designed around a book I wrote while at World Education on building Web sites as a class activity, and the online version of the book is designed to support those trainings. I haven't done half as much as what I want to do there, but you can take a look:

Recently I've been interested in how to use weblogs (blogs) as sort of an enhanced version of a teacher journal/virtual class visit -- a way in which teachers can electronically post reflections and receive feedback etc. I just setup a teacher journal for Steve Quann at World Ed along these lines.

Finally, I'm very curious about the state of online PD for smaller programs and teachers who may not have much access to technology? What, if anything, can be offered for them? Here in DC, we have dozens of very small, mostly volunteer organizations with limited tech capacity. But they play a vital role in delivering services to this city, and in a perfect world I would want those staff people to benefit from online opportunities as well.

Ashley Del Bianco is Senior Research Manager at the National Center on Adult Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania. Ashley directs TECH21 (, the national technology laboratory for the improvement of adult education funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and provides overall management of the Center's research grants and projects. Ashley also guided the online implementation and developed the instructional design for the LiteracyLink Project (a Star Schools project funded by the U.S. Department of Education) and has designed and delivered numerous professional development activities on adult education and technology. Prior to coming to NCAL, she was responsible for program quality and professional development at a community-based literacy agency, and she developed and implemented special program quality projects for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Literacy. She has developed and facilitated several series of professional development and technology workshops for adult literacy professionals In addition, she has authored articles that focus on adult education and instructional technology. Ashley holds an M.S.Ed. in Reading/Writing/Literacy from the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania and an M.G.A. from the Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Elmore is an independent, Boston-based education consultant, specializing in:

  • curriculum design for adult learners
  • professional development for teachers
  • meeting facilitation
  • distance learning and website development

Jennifer became interested in distance learning while working as a Project Specialist at the National Center on Adult Literacy ( from1994-2000. She worked in conjunction with the North Central Regional Technology Laboratory to produce Captured Wisdom (, a video and CD-ROM series, focusing on promising technology-integration practices in ABE/GED/ESL classrooms. Jennifer designed and wrote the content for the Professional Development Kit ( - multimedia resource for adult educators who want to explore and develop their teaching practices. Funded by the U.S Department of Education, in collaboration with SRI, the Professional Development Kit includes a CD-ROM component and a website.

Jennifer authored content and conceptualized the graphics, layout, navigation, and online tools for the LiteracyLink website ( Jennifer also designed an online course system (called LitTeacher) for teachers and administrators. She wrote and facilitated five online LitTeacher courses.

In collaboration with Ashley Del Bianco, Jennifer developed and facilitated a hybrid, in-person/distance professional development initiative on technology planning for the Connecticut Bureau of Career and Continuing Education. She created and facilitated another hybrid, professional development experience for teachers, in connection with NCAL's Tech.21 project ( The focus of this training was to help adult education programs across the country effectively integrate multimedia products into their practice - specifically, English for All, TV411, and Workplace Essential Skills.

Jennifer is currently working on a distance learning course for the University of Massachusetts/Adult Literacy Resource Institute. The purpose of this course is to help adult education organizations in Massachusetts develop and sustain distance learning programs for students.

Jennifer Elmore holds an M.S.Ed. in Reading/Writing/Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. She is currently pursuing a second master's degree in Creative Writing at Bennington College.

To learn more about Jennifer's work, please visit her website at:

Debra L. Hargrove, Ed. D. is a web developer and trainer who has worked with adult learners for over 20 years. She helped develop Florida TechNet (, a website and technical assistance grant devoted to the professional development needs of adult educators. The Florida TechNet project currently hosts approximately 28 web-based trainings that have been accessed by adult educators from all over the country. The website continues to grow with input by practitioners across the country. As a consultant, Dr. Hargrove travels to other states to provide professional development training on a number of topics, including technology, leadership, team building, learning styles and retention.

Jerome Johnston. Project IDEAL (Improving Distance Education for Adult Learners) is a consortium of 14 states working together to assess the potential of distance education to expand access to education for ABE, ASE, and ESL adults. Jerome Johnston is director of the Project IDEAL Support Center at the University of Michigan. The Center provides technical assistance to the states in the areas of training, research design, and data collection. ( To help states deliver the training and professional development needed by their distance teachers, the Center has developed several online courses. Distance Learning 101 covers the basics of teaching at a distance for teachers who are new to distance. The course covers recruitment, orientation, teaching and assessment. Distance Learning 102 is an online study group for teachers who have

mastered the basics and wish to improve their skills in analyzing difficult learning problems and providing appropriate instructional support for learners experiencing difficulty.

Dr. Johnston is a research professor at the University's Institute for Social Research. He has been studying the role of technology in education for 30 years. His work is ( His publications include three books on electronic learning and a book on methodological issues in the study electronic learning. His latest book is

Expanding Access to Adult Literacy with Online Distance Education.


Steve Linberg knew his future would have a lot to do with computers at the age of five when one asked his name and then typed back "hello, Steven" on a thin, green strip of paper. It was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. (For those of you in the know, it was a PDP-8, and a picture of the event is at The blond kid is his little brother.)

He started programming professionally in the halcyon days of the early 1980s, when zeroes were zeroes and ones were ones and mice were fuzzy things with ears. After ten years of coercing machines to do fancy tricks using quantities of memory that would be considered rounding errors today, he decided to change gears, and volunteered teaching reading to adults at a two-room school in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Eight months later, without any qualifications other than passion and a passably general education, he found himself teaching ABE there full-time.

The computers weren't content to stay below the surface for long, though, and he worked them into his teaching and participated in a variety of technology-related endeavors within the field, including a lot of training and developing early websites. In 1997 he joined the National Center on Adult Literacy in Philadelphia to develop the LiteracyLink website for PBS, doing the technical design and construction of the over 4,000-page site, working with Jennifer Elmore and Ashley Del Bianco (who are both on this panel - hi Jennifer and Ashley!) and the rest of the NCAL staff. He also rebuilt the PDK website and had a hand in various other smaller projects.

In 1999 he moved back to Massachusetts and formed Silicon Goblin Technologies, a technology consulting company primarily serving adult literacy. LiteracyTent (, his technology portal for literacy, was founded shortly afterwards and is going strong today, offering a range of technology services to the field. He continues to work on other literacy-related projects, most recently the Distance Learning initiative with UMASS/Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Education, designing, building, and hosting web-based data-collection and reporting tools used in research assessing the effectiveness of distance learning in Massachusetts. He still does consulting and training on other projects, has an ever-lengthening idea list on the whiteboard in his office, and generally needs more sleep.

Tim Ponder is Assistant Director in charge of the National Institute For Literacy Literacy Information aNd Communication System (LINCS Midwest Regional Technology Center) and other technology related projects at the Ohio Literacy Resource Center. Tim has worked in the field of adult literacy and education since 1994. Through the Ohio Literacy Resource Center he was responsible for developing and implementing Internet information systems in the state of Ohio. Tim has worked with various state and national adult literacy organizations providing technical support and training in the area of technology and its use in education. Tim has presented and trained in several states and at national conferences, and is an active member of the Adult Literacy and Technology Network.

Marian Thacher is Coordinator of Technology Projects for the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN), an adult education leadership project for California. OTAN currently provides webcasts, videoconferencing, audioconferencing and video streaming to provide training to adult educators in California. Marian has been specifically involved in training on topics related to technology in the classroom and technology planning for schools and agencies. Previously she taught ESOL, and has created online ESOL courses for shipyard and electronics workers as well as being the project leader for Workplace Instructor Training, an instructional CD and workbook with several modules online.

Duren Thompson is Program Coordinator, Information Management and Technology

Services, at the UT Center for Literacy Studies. She joined the Center in

November of 2000. She designs, implements, and evaluates technology related

professional development activities including online course content

development and instruction, and the development and maintenance of AEOnline

( for the Center’s State Leadership Grant. Her

work also includes addressing data reporting needs and providing technical

support for adult education professionals in Tennessee. Her undergraduate

degree is in Business from the University of Tennessee and her Masters Degree

is in Special Education, also from UT.

In 2001, Duren collaborated with Debra Hargrove in the creation and delivery

of Tennessee's first online professional development course "GED 2002 Part #1

- Teacher and Student" via Blackboard. This cohort-based, asynchronous

facilitated course and their next, "GED 2002 Part #2 - Teaching Tools" were

based, in part, on Florida's web-based, self-paced, independent online courses

for Adult Educators. She has facilitated, co-facilitated, and provided

technical support for 14 Tennessee AE online courses in the past 3 years. She

is currently in collaboration with Tim Ponder (ohio) and Bill McNutt

(Tennessee) to convert these courses as well as conduct a new online course

"Introduction to Learning Disabilities in Adult Education" in The Learning


Related Websites, OTAN:

From this site you can see a streaming video of a webcast CA did last summer to prepare agencies to participate in EL/Civics. The agenda shows how it was organized, with a video presentation that went to all sites, and then hands-on activities led by a facilitator at each site.

This is the login for the chat that OTAN uses during webcasts for participants to submit questions. Participants can log in at any time, but it's only active during a webcast.

This page has all the training materials for agencies to learn how to create their technology plan. All the training materials are located under number 5. Training was done via face-to-face workshop, audio conference (telephone conference call with Internet support), streaming video, and by mailing video tapes to those who missed the training and couldn't watch the video on the web.

Here you will find 4 of the Workplace Instructor modules online. These are asynchronous, self-directed modules, but could also be used to support small group study along with the workbook. To access them, fill out a short registration form.

If you want to see what OTAN is, go here. You will have to fill out a brief registration form if you haven't visited before. The OTAN website contains a lot of information for adult educators in California and elsewhere. There is also a section called OTAN For Teachers (on left menu bar) that has lots of resources for teachers related to technology.

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.