Using Social Media in Teaching and Professional Development - Guest Biographies - Building Adult Education Technology Capacity

Using Social Media in Teaching and Professional Development
July 12 - August 6, 2010

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

Discussion Description | Resources | Terms | Small Groups

Guests' Biographies


Susan GaerSusan Gaer, Professor of ESL and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education
— Susan Gaer has been utilizing technology with ESL students of all levels (literacy-advanced) since 1994.

Susan Gaer has an MA in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University and an MA in English: Emphasis on TESL from San Francisco State University. She is on a TESOL standing committee for Professional Development, on the board of CATESOL. She is a frequent presenter at TESOL, CATESOL and CUE (Computer Using Educators).

Susan has been teaching at Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education since 1994. She has been using technology in Education since 1991 and has developed a project-based website ( She is an avid user of technology and project based learning for beginning level ESL students. In 2003 she won the David R Pierce Faculty Technology Award and received the Sadae Iwataki award from CATESOL in 2006.

She has been exploring the use of mobile and collaborative technology in the classroom for the last 2 years, starting with beginning level classes and photo projects to intermediate levels with collaborative writing tools.

Social Media/Online Resources:


Melinda HoltMelinda Holt, Project Specialist, Sacramento County Office of Education
—Melinda Holt is a Project Specialist with the Sacramento County Office of Education. She has developed and provided trainings and workshops on Google products as well as other Web tools and sites to educators throughout California.

As Project Specialist, Melinda has more than fifteen years of experience in providing technical support for a wide variety of hardware and software, database development and maintenance, Web site development, hardware and software troubleshooting, as well as developing, coordinating and presenting trainings and workshops both online and face-to-face.

Social Media/Online Resources:


Steve QuannSteve Quann, Instructional Technologist, World Education
—Steve Quann works as an instructional technologist designing, developing, and evaluating online projects for the US Division of World Education, a Boston-based non-profit that provides professional development for the adult literacy field.

Steve Quann's experience with social media began with a LINCS project designed to help teachers publish students’ writing on Web sites.  Although not technically defined as "social media" as the term has come to be used, this effort was in the same spirit of helping users of the Web to become creators of content.  Out of these experiences, Steve Quann and Jeff Carter produced Under Construction, a guide presently available in PDF on the LINCS Resource Collections at Later, in conjunction with the Health and Literacy Special Collection, Mr. Quann coordinated one of the first efforts of LINCS to use blogging in professional development.  Teachers, including himself, blogged about the process of designing and implementing a health project in their adult literacy classes, while other teachers and professional developers offered support and suggestions using the blog’s comment feature.   Mr.Quann is co-author with Diana Satin of student text entitled, Learning Computers, Speaking English. He has applied his growing knowledge of integration of Web 2.0 tools and social media into online teaching, face-to-face professional development activities, and his instructional design and development work with the United Nations Population Fund. At present, in his capacity as instructional technologist, Mr. Quann is leading an effort to integrate social media in the work of his home agency, World Education.  

Social Media Resources:


Richard SebastianRichard Sebastian, Ph.D., Instructor/Instructional Technology Specialist, Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
—Richard Sebastian leads statewide technology integration projects in Virginia, including managing eLearnVA, a distance learning program for adults who want to prepare for the GED online, developing career pathway and transitioning programs, and providing online and face-to-face technology training to adult basic education professionals. Richard teaches several courses in the Teaching with Technology track that is part of the VCU School of Education’s M.Ed. in Adult Learning.

As instructional technologist for the VALRC, Richard believes that social media tools are quickly altering the educational landscape, moving learning into more collaborative and open online spaces. These powerful communication tools, combined with increasingly easy access to a wealth of free or inexpensive learning content via the web, give adult learners new opportunities to acquire and construct knowledge, and are causing educators and educational institutions to question traditional notions of schooling and explore how these tools can help adult learners achieve their educational goals.

Richard has used social media tools for a number of projects in Virginia. As director of eLearnVA, Richard has integrated the use of Facebook, Ning, and blogs to better connect teachers with their students, teachers with other teachers, and students with each other. Additionally, eLearnVA teachers use Ning to keep in touch and exchange best practices, and hold semi-monthly synchronous webinars on Blackboard.

Richard also lead the design of a virtual conference that ran during last year’s Summit on the Future of Adult Education in a New Digital World, held at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. During this event, the on-site keynote and plenary sessions were streamed live to online viewers who could provide online feedback and contribute to the summit deliberations in real-time, using chat and online discussion forums. Over 100 people joined the summit online and numerous educators from across the country contributed the summit discussions.

Social Media Resources:


Marian ThacherMarian Thacher, Director, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN)
—Marian Thacher is the Director of OTAN which provides support for technology integration to adult educators in California.

OTAN provides support and training for technology integration, electronic collaboration, and distance learning to adult educators in California. She developed and led OTAN’s Technology Integration Mentor Academy for several years before becoming the project director. She has taught adult ESOL in Illinois and California, and written and participated in many grant-funded projects related to adult education, distance learning and technology integration. Ms. Thacher is a frequent presenter at national, state and local conferences on topics related to technology in adult education.

Social Media Resources


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