[Technology 959] A challenge: Technologies for Adult Literacy

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Mariann Fedele MariannF at lacnyc.org
Fri Apr 20 14:34:02 EDT 2007

Tech list colleagues,

I haven't seen any feedback on the below message that I posted on behalf
of Tom Sticht.
While done as a satire, I think it raises an interesting challenge for
those of us exploring the uses of new technologies in the classroom.
Although there was no explicit question, how would you answer Tom?

Here are some questions that might form a basis for your response:

1. What do we see as the inherent benefits and value of using new
technologies with our student populations to meet their learning goals?

2. What is gained or lost by engaging students in tech based mediums
(web based text) and modalities (on-line distance learning) of
instruction and learning opportunities versus what would be available in
the traditional classroom?

3. Is there a point of diminishing returns when using technology within
and for educational purposes?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,


Mariann Fedele
Associate Director,
NYC Regional Adult Education Network
Literacy Assistance Center
NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List
32 Broadway 10th Floor
New York, New York 10004
mariannf at lacnyc.org

-----Original Message-----
From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Mariann Fedele
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 2:43 PM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 949] Technologies for Adult Literacy

The following message is posted on behalf of Tom Sticht:

April 19, 2007

Technologies for the Adult Literacy Classroom

Tom Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education

Nowadays a number of adults are coming to classes to learn to read and
write. There are several technologies that the teacher may use to help
these pupils learn. Here are a few.

1. Chalkboards. These are more and more familiar to teachers. They are
black slates (sometimes now in green) on which teachers may write with
chalk. For instance, a pupil may give his or her name and the teacher
write it on the chalkboard and show the pupil and class how to spell,
write, and read the pupil's name. This can be done with lots of other
words, or even sentences, too. Be sure not to stand with one's back to
class for long, as this is not interesting to the pupils. At the end of
class, some of the adults may be called upon to help clean the
and erasers. This can promote friendships in the class! [NOTE: Some
progressive teachers are now using different colored chalks to highlight
important information.]

2. Newspaper print. Sometimes the local newspaper will have some
print left on the end of a role after printing the newspaper. Teachers
ask for this newsprint paper, which comes in a large role. It can be cut
into sheets that can be taped to the walls of the classroom (not on
wallpaper however!) and written upon to record the words and sentences
pupils will want to study as they walk around the room and look at the
hanging on the walls. [NOTE: Some progressive teachers are now using
different colored ink pens to highlight important information.]

3. Overhead projectors. These audio-visual tools let the teacher write
transparent film and project the writing onto a light-colored wall or
screen. With a newer device, the Xerox machine, the teacher can make
photocopies of pages of books, photos, charts and other materials and
project them on the wall. This can be used to illustrate various aspects
writing and reading to pupils. [NOTE: Make certain to have one or two
bulbs for the projector in case one burns out!]

4. Filmstrips. There are now strips of photo film that can be projected
frame at a time onto a wall or screen and the information on the film
frames can be used to teach reading. The Army made extensive use of
filmstrip materials in World War II and proved the usefulness of this
technology in the classroom for illiterate adults. There are educational
filmstrips available from supply houses so make sure your superintendent
places funds in the budget to purchase both filmstrips and projectors as
well as the other electronic technologies discussed below.

5. Photo novels. The Army also used photo novels to make stories
real people that illiterate soldiers could use to learn to read.
can use a Kodak to take photographs and make up these types of photo
for classroom use. The pupils themselves may also take photographs and
their own photo novels for their own and their classmate's use.

6. Tape recorders and playback machines. Some teachers are now reading
onto audio tapes so that their adult pupils can listen to stories before
trying to read them. Sometimes the pupil can listen and read at the same
time to build up speed in reading while comprehension is maintained by
listening to the spoken words. [NOTE: Sometimes a radio can be used in
classroom so that teachers and pupils can listen to an important
and then discuss it to build knowledge of current events.]

7. Television. Cassette players are now available to let teachers play
shows in the classroom. Indeed, there are now many educational
including those for teaching various aspects of reading, that teachers
use. Many times pupils enjoy these TV materials better than typical
classroom lectures or demonstrations.

8. The 'Binocular Organizer Of Knowledge" or BOOK! I once read this
name for the old technology that forms the basis for teaching reading.
course, books remain the foundation technology for teaching in our
classrooms. I once read an amusing story by Isaac Asimov, the famous
writer, in which he espoused the wonders of the book: Once printed it
not consume any more energy, unlike audio tapes or TV cassettes. It
when looked at and stops when the reader looks away. It stores speech
the electronic devices, but lets the reader create his or her own
voice or voices. It lets readers produce their own internal images. It
be produced to be carried in the hip pocket and taken to the beach, on
train or bus, and so forth to be used without fear of breaking it or
producing any noise to bother others.

9. Finally, we can't forget those old reliable friends, paper and
All students should get paper and pencils to be used to learn to write
their names and all the other ideas that are provided in the class by
teacher and other pupils.

10. Always maintain a well-lighted classroom, with good ventilation,
warm in
the winter and cool in the summer. Teachers should dress conservatively,
wear a smile and maintain a pleasant disposition. Be friendly, but
professional, with your pupils and conduct activities to bring about a
welcoming atmosphere. An occasional social activity, perhaps with
refreshments such as lemonade and cookies, can help the adults, who may
shy about returning to school after a long period, to overcome what
anxieties they may feel and develop a high level of class morale that
help all achieve well!

Resource: Asimov, I. (1974, February). The Ancient and the Ultimate.
of Reading, 17, 264-271.

Thomas G. Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education
2062 Valley View Blvd.
El Cajon, CA 92019-2059
Tel/fax: (619) 444-9133
Email: tsticht at aznet.net

Mariann Fedele
Associate Director,
NYC Regional Adult Education Network
Literacy Assistance Center
NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List
32 Broadway 10th Floor
New York, New York 10004
mariannf at lacnyc.org
National Institute for Literacy
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