[Assessment 1438] New Designs in online and Distance Learning, a Special Topics Discussion

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djrosen1 djrosen1 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 15 08:05:45 EDT 2008


New Designs in Online and Distance Learning is a National Institute
for Literacy Special Topics discussion that will be held from
November 17th through November 21st, 2008. It will focus on two new
adult education models: a national learning portal for English
language learning at a distance, called USA Learns, and a web-based
and telephone-based learning support system, called the Learner Web,
for ABE, ASE and ELL students enrolled in classes to supplement their
learning, as well as for those who study on their own. We have four
distinguished guests, researchers as well as product developers, who
will describe these two models and answer questions.

For USA Learns, our guests are John Fleischman and Dr. Jerome (Jere)
Johnston. For the Learner Web our guests are Dr. Stephen Reder and
Dr. Clare Strawn. You will find more information about them below.

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Description of the models

The Learner Web is a learning support system providing structure and
resources for adults who want to accomplish specific learning
objectives. A learner can access the system through the Internet. In
addition to on-line resources, the Learner Web integrates support
services from existing local education programs, community based
organizations, tutors, and telephone helpers. The Learner Web
consists of a Web-based software system that is implemented
regionally. The System is organized around Learning Plans. A Learning
Plan is a set of steps structured around achieving an identified
goal. For example, if the goal is to get a GED, the steps might
include finding out more about the tests, identifying what skills one
needs to brush up on, learning new skills and knowledge, taking
practice tests, etc. Each step is matched with online and community
based resources and a workspace where learners can take assessments
or save their work in an e-portfolio. The learner creates a personal
profile, may take a short reading assessment and interest inventory,
chooses a goal from the available list and follows the Learning Plan
independently or with a tutor or a teacher. The Learning Plan is
dynamically matched by the software to both the learner profile and
educational resources. The learner’s progress is saved and can be
returned to at any time via the internet. Learners can choose to
share their workspace with a tutor or teacher.

The Learner Web has begun the second year of a three-year
demonstration project in seven demonstration regions across the country.

U.S.A. Learns is a free Web site designed for adult learners with
limited English language skills. Instructional content focuses on
the language and literacy skills that adults need for everyday
survival. While a broad range of adults can use U.S.A. Learns, it
has been developed primarily for immigrants who cannot attend
traditional classroom programs because of difficulty with schedules,
transportation, or other barriers. The site includes more than 400
hours of instruction and offers an extensive array of video, audio
and richly illustrated graphics and images. The site layout was
created with the inexperienced Web user in mind, and extensive built-
in help features are available. U.S.A. Learns can be used
independently, but it can also be used in association with a teacher
or tutor via an online management system.

Background on Discussion Guests

John Fleischman

With more than 25 years of experience in adult education as a
teacher, administrator and project director, John Fleischman is
currently responsible for information and educational technology
operations at the Sacramento County Office of Education. John
possesses an extensive background with creating and implementing
instructional and informational media for use in a variety of
educational environments. His present area of focus is on building
Web-based solutions for education, including data management systems
and comprehensive online learning resources. Working at the state
and national level, he provides oversight for a range of technology
initiatives including the Outreach and Technology Assistance Network
(www.otan.us) and Strengthening Programs Through Technology
(www.adultedonline.org). John is the author of numerous publications
and is frequently requested as a presenter at both state and national

Jerome (Jere) Johnston is Research Professor at the University of
Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. For 40 years he has been
studying ways that technology shapes what people learn. In recent
years Dr. Johnston has been exploring innovative ways to use
technology in adult literacy. He directs the Project IDEAL Support
Center, supporting 25 states in their efforts to build distance
learning programs for adult learners. The Center provides technical
assistance to states in the areas of training, research, and policy
development (projectideal.org).

Stephen Reder is University Professor and Chair of the Department of
Applied Linguistics at Portland State University. His research and
teaching interests focus on adult education and the processes of
literacy and language development during adulthood. Dr. Reder has
served as the Principal Investigator for a number of major projects
in adult education. Two recent projects, the Longitudinal Study of
Adult Learning and the National Labsite for Adult ESOL, examine the
ways adults acquire new literacy and language abilities and the roles
which adult education programs and policies play in supporting that
development. The results of this research have led to the
development of the Learner Web, an innovative online adult learning
support system. Professor Reder is the author of numerous
publications about his research and its implications for adult
education and adult literacy and language development. He has
recently completed co-editing a volume with John Bynner, Tracking
Adult Literacy and Numeracy Skills: Findings from Longitudinal
Research. A second book is in progress, Dropping Out and Moving On:
Life, Literacy and Development among High School Dropouts. Dr. Reder
actively works with networks of adult education researchers,
practitioners and policymakers at the state, regional and national

Clare Strawn is Assistant Professor at Portland State University,
Portland, Oregon, and has been an analyst on the Longitudinal Study
of Adult Learning. She is interested in patterns of program
participation, the intersection of learning and community
development, social capital influences on learning strategies, and
technology. She has been a co-developer, with Steve Reder of the
Learner Web and has been actively involved in the demonstration project

David J. Rosen
Special Topics Discussion Moderator
djrosen1 at gmail.com

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