Using Google Tools for Teaching and Learning - Virtual Mini Conference

As some of you know, the EdTech Center @ World Education, Inc. is a non-profit effort to help promote the use of educational technology in adult education. This summer, we are experimenting with running a mini virtual conference, so that more practitioners can benefit from interactive “hands on” workshops online. We invited Ed Latham, who you may have heard on the LINCS webinar Improving Teaching Using Technology for Formative Assessment, to share his considerable expertise on using Google Tools for teaching and learning. The EdTech Center has been able to host a number of free webinars this year with the help of sponsors. For this ½ day event, to defray costs, we will be charging just $45 until June 1st. For more information and to register go to  Please spread the word, especially if you think these kinds of events are a good way to introduce teachers to new tools and approaches.

Using Google Tools for Teaching and Learning
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 (1:00– 4:30 pm Eastern)

Session 1: Using Google Docs in Instruction (1:00 - 2:00 pm)
Break (2:00 - 2:15 pm)
Session 2: Using Google Slides in Instruction (2:15 - 3:15 pm)
Break (3:15 - 3:30 pm)
Session 3: Using Google Forms in Instruction (3:30 - 4:30 pm)


Leah, David et al, my recent experience at the Philadelphia conference on technology and adult education was educational in many areas.

In particular I could see the need to conduct much more “outreach” and education on the part of LINCS.

First, in the area of the use of Technology, there is a great deal of education to do.

And, just about every group on the LINCS discussion list coincides with the goals of the organizations that participate in many adult ed conferences.

Perhaps there is a way for LINCS to send representatives to various conferences and conventions, as ambassadors, so to speak.

I can also see a role for the EdTech Center in this regard.

What do you think, can LINCS conduct such outreach? 


Paul and others,

LINCS representatives do often present at conferences. LINCS-related sessions, and sometimes whole strands, have usually been part of the COABE annual national conference, and perhaps other national conferences. I believe that some, or perhaps all, of the LINCS Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDCs) present at regional and state conferences. Perhaps others who know more about the work of the RPDCs would like to chime in here.

Yet, we know that there are still too many adult basic skills practitioners who do not yet know about LINCS services; presentations at more state conferences would be terrific if budgets allowed. There are very few sub-state conferences like the (I believe unique) Annual Literacy and Technology Conference held in Philadelphia, but many or possibly all states hold adult basic skills conferences. California, where you are Paul, has a great annual adult literacy and technology conference sponsored by OTAN. CALPRO offers a lot of professional development to adult educators across the state, and possibly an annual conference; and CATESOL has long offered an English Language teaching conference attended by adult ESL practitioners. I wonder if some California LINCS folks can share with us some information about LINCS presentations at these conferences.

David J. Rosen


David, concerning LINCS’ participation at conferences, I think that there is a lot of information that people need to know in the field of adult education, information which LINCS can provide. Teachers and administrators alike are in the dark, so to speak. But what is lacking is the dissemination of this information.

Particularly in the area of the uses of technology and mobile devices there appears to be a huge “information gap”.

So what I advocate is that LINCS engage in a concerted outreach, especially as presenters at important conferences, or at least as “vendors” at a table.

Perhaps we could invite people to join in a Hangout or make a video of LINCS to put up on YOUTUBE.

At the same time, smoothing out the technical or mechanical issues with the site would also be very helpful in recruitment.


Paul and others, I am gearing up to provide weekly hangouts to offer a sequence of informal learning experiences with basic skills. The intent is to provide 15-30 minutes of demonstration/instruction and then allow for up to 30 minutes of discussion while people try to implement the learned skills right there with a community of support available. I will be doing these as Hangout on Air so they can be recorded and automatically put up on YouTube as a series people may view and review. I really believe that the technology integration professional development practices I have experienced and been involved with all strive to shove way too much at teachers with little to no time for the teacher to implement or try any of what they observe and almost no follow up help a week or so later. My hope is that be creating a weekly, quick, and focused series of live interactions, teachers will find more successes in their implementation and by extension, learners everywhere have increased opportunities to find success in learning. 

I hope to offer a live hangout on Wednesday 6/1 at 5pm EST. The topic will be "Getting started with Google Hangouts". In this first session, we will explore the basic features and how teachers can establish quick connections with learners once teachers and students are all set up with how to get things set up efficiently. I plan on having an instructional guide set up by Sunday night so that people may find it easy to connect on this first foray. There will be 10 spaces for people who wish to have video/voice ability during the session and an unlimited number of people may participate as spectators able to contribute in a text chat. I will have more of the particulars Sunday night after I have had a bit of time to draft up the supporting guide I am making. 


Ed, this is what we all need. I just tried to set up a Hangout with some of my students and failed miserably! Also let's write down a synopsis of the steps. Remember that some of us are babes in the woods. I know I should take more classes, but I get a perverse pleasure out of using the method of trial and error...for a while, anyway, then I read the directions or ask someone who knows.


Hello Paul,

You wrote: "I get a perverse pleasure out of using the method of trial and error." 

Perhaps there's a different and important way to think about this: In the struggle of trial and error learning, frustration is often accompanied by engagement and -- I am not sure what the name for this is -- coming to understand the context. I don't think this is perverse, but rather for learning many things it is smart. It's often a good way to learn about new tools. With some of the knowledge, you then know what questions to ask, what the problems are that you can't yet solve, and you have some tips for more efficient trial and error learning. In the process of learning a new digital tool it is often useful to have what someone once told me was a "tech buddy", someone you know and trust,  who knows more than you do, who has used the tool, but who isn't so advanbced that s/he can't explain or show you how to do the things you want to do. Some people call these coaches or mentors.

What I described above, along with sometimes turning to manuals, guides, online forums and YouTube videos, is my preferred learning style, as a friend once said, "mucking about with it" for awhile, until I know what questions to ask. Then I turn to one of my (often online) tech buddies, some of whom are members of the Technology and Learning CoP and get the tips I need to benefit from the other learning resources.

I wonder if others resonate with this auto-didactic, nonformal way of learning.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP


I agree with David's brief reflection of how valuable a tech buddy can be. We would all like to have a tech Superman on call waiting for us any time we brave the technology waters, but it is not always easy to find that one person. I would like to extend the idea of a tech buddy so that it includes your social network. For those of you not familiar with what a social network is, you can think of it as your digital neighbors. they may hang out on Facebook, Twitter, LINCS forums, and even your email or phone address books are part of your digital neighbors. 

I get dozens of "How do I ....?" questions a week from people that have in as part of their social network. Very often, I am lucky to have had experience with their situation and can respond quickly and painlessly. When I don't have a clue, I share that I don't know but I will check my network. I toss the question out to my network and all sorts of great ideas start flowing in and within 12 - 24 hours I end up with many options to share. The value of this human potential to share experiences is enormous and how I continue to learn cool new things daily. 

As far as learning things, I think my flow looks like:

  1. Hit up Youtube to watch solutions. I am visual and watching someone run through a similar situation teaches me so much.
  2. Googling "How do I ...?" is my second go to if Youtube has no clue
  3. Hit up my social network. This option is lower on my list because I frequently am dabbling in geeky and strange areas trying to do stuff that others may just laugh at ... at least at first. Still, I have some "go to" tech friends that always make great sounding boards to help me brainstorm possible options to explore to resolve my situation. 
  4. Try, Try , Try .. Sleep on it .. then Try a few more times. So many nights of lost sleep thinking about a problem but the euphoria of finally figuring something out is a natural high. I run around trying to celebrate with others who politely blink at me and say, "Ummm so, it blinks? What's the big deal?" I slump my shoulders and slunk away while still dancing a happy dance inside if I get something figured out on my own. 
  5. Local "experts" This option is not usually as fruitful as I would hope. Maybe I try too many divergent things or maybe the specialists are really focused on a narrow range of experiences, but my local experts often have not offer the help I had hoped. Still, there are times they may suggest another resource locally I had not thought of pursuing. 

In terms of accessing my tech buddies, I use Google Hangout and Facebook as my two primary tools of communicating/finding my tech buddies. 

How are others using or connecting with their tech buddies? Are there other resources you find more valuable? Do you have a different sequence of learning something new?


David, Ed and members of the Technology group, yes, trial and error, latent learning (‘sleeping on it’) and exploration (‘mucking about”) are all legitimate and meaningful parts of the learning process, if I remember my Learning Theory class in Experimental Psychology.

And as you infer, a Tech Buddy can shorten the time span and eliminate some of the frustration.

But even those who are ‘advanced’ should make the effort to explain things clearly, in plain language, so that the teacher is also a coach or mentor, sometimes a guide.

As Einstein said:  “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”

In any case, perhaps some day we will be able to simply ask the experts in a Hangout on an ongoing basis, like a drop-in center..So I look forward to the Hangout on the nuts and bolts of ...Hangouts!

Meanwhile, fortunately for me one of my students from the WhatsApp learning circle seems to know how to fix the kinks in setting up the Hangout class, so he is my designated Tech Buddy.





Di, thanks for this! I did not know there was a YouTube channel.

I think it would help if there were an overall introduction specifically for the teachers who need to access resources for their classes, and not necessarily for professional development. The format for this type of video is more promotional or “personal” – i.e. like a newscast, minus graphics. 

My main concern is that there is a lot of information on the uses of technology that is simply NOT getting out to people in a way that they can understand and then use. And many teachers in the nonformal sector, especially non-paid tutors, need to be included in this kind of outreach.