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Libraries and mobile technology

Yesterday I made a presentation of my ESL Distance Learning program via Smart Phone to 25 volunteer tutors of the libraries in Santa Barbara and surrounding counties

My program consists of the websites,, plus my Facebook, YouTube videos and WhatsApp study groups.

Most of the tutors at the libraries, of course, provide one-on-one classes in many subjects to a wide variety of students, in addition to ESL. So I think that what is needed is a list of websites that can provide courses or programs in all subjects to volunteer tutors.  

For example, one tutor asked me for information concerning helping a stroke victim to regain his English skills. I told her that I would ask my contacts, so please let me know any information you might have.

I have also found out that apparently there is still a reluctance to use technology not only on the part of tutors but also across the board in adult education, so it would be very worthwhile to have a discussion on the practical benefits of all the gadgets, gizmos and devices! Believe me, they work and work well!!






Leecy's picture

Paul, I believe that LINCS members would really like to discuss best practices in using "gadgets, gizmos and devices" to reach more students. I know that I very interested in learning more.

I appreciate your bringing out the need to help volunteer tutors gain PD and experience easily where they are. We don't discuss the use of volunteers enough in our forums.) I have found that very often, volunteers are underused and, sometime, misused for lack of training and supervision.) Online resources can be shared online all over the US and abroad! I hope that folks will share sites that promote tutor training online. If there are no suggestions, let's start a site ourselves! We could develop a highly-effective collaborative project here! Where do we start? I'll provide the Web space to get us started... Leecy

carolrac's picture


I was thinking the same thing. I volunteer at a Literacy Program in NewJersey, I was an adult educator for 25 years before our program was defunded. One of the complaints of being a volunteer is the lack of continuity among the volunteers.... A place for them to go to get PD, resources and help with questions they may have with their students. It would be great if there were  one place they could go to get help and meet others throughout the US.

Please keep me posted or sign me up to be a part of your initiative. 


Leecy's picture

You're in, Carol. Let's see what others say. Thanks. Leecy

Paul Rogers's picture

Leecy – Wowow! This is a great project! And we can do it!

Actually I am just now in the position of a Volunteer Tutor, and I look forward to getting to work with the other tutors and with this project.

First, I noticed that all the people I met were well-educated senior citizens. I felt right at home, as if I were back in college, but …..a few years later.

It was explained to me that during the recession when programs were cut back, opportunities for college students to volunteer dried up. Plus the economy in general does not provide much incentive to the younger generation to volunteer.

So – we seniors can collect our SS and continue working in a productive way!

I also learned that the volunteer tutor programs in libraries have expanded in recent years. In once city where I will be working there are over 200 volunteers.

We can do this.  I look forward to it.

Paul Rogers's picture

Leecy, the Online Tutors training project can provide a link in the concept of “Life-long learning.”

Often a tutor is a coach, and serves as an aid for someone to acquire skills for a more formal class.

The project then can also serve as a link to non-formal, community based adult education providers.  

Actually a library is a non-formal organization.

One addition would be to provide references to multi-lingual programs and classes.

Spanish literacy, for example, is provided by an online program called (Let’s read).

Then as tutors become trained they can work with a community program, and vice-versa, tutors in community-based classes can go to the library for training.

This is a good way to form partnerships and eventually a literacy coalition similar to the Philadelphia Literacy Coalition.




Edward Latham's picture

Just wanted to share that people may find a nice list of technology items for volunteers to learn about on the website created by last year's Online Tools and Resources Micro-Group. Alternatively, one can read a review of the group's work, as well as all the completed evaluations at this link. This group developed a list of resources, an easy to use evaluation form, and a system of compiling data from those evaluation forms to help teachers and volunteers determine if an online tool or resource could be effective for their learning needs. 

Just this week, a new micro-group has been set up to continue building on the work started last year! We are already recruiting educators that wish to try online tools and resources with learners and share those experiences with others in the field. You can read more about this new micro-group on this LINCS link. It would be great to have library volunteers participate to share how these online tools and resources work (or don't work) with the learners they assist. 

Leecy's picture

Thanks for the information, Ed. If we have enough input to dedicate a site to house PD materials for volunteers, I will definitely include the information you listed. I hope you have a great turnout in the micro group. I hope to participate, too! Leecy

Kelsey's picture

Leecy, I love this idea! If there are such websites that provide online training for volunteers, or if one is developed, I'd love to know about it! I currently train our volunteer tutors in-house with a brief (hour-long) presentation, but it's just a tidbit on some of the essentials of teaching refugee adults to get them started. I'd really like to be able to provide them with more resources and support, as many of our volunteers have no background in adult education. 

Leecy's picture

Thanks, Kelsey. I'll do a bit of research here and there to see if Web resources are out there. We can share the info here and move it to a site if we have enough. I've worked a lot with volunteers. One of the big lessons I took from the experience is that programs do best when they treat volunteers as regular paid staff, with job descriptions made explicit and agreements made to follow a participation schedule. Recognition is also very important for volunteer retention. I don't mean just a "thank you," but a formal recognition during staff events and other occasions. Let's hope we get good input here.

I also wonder if we would like to collaborate on a training agenda. Hmmmmm...


Paul Rogers's picture

Leecy and group members, re: website to help train volunteer tutors: I can “feel” this idea growing!!! The type of website that will provide real, practical help to tutors will also be an incentive to people to become tutors and an incentive for community organizations to start literacy classes.

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Leecy, about treating the tutors with professional respect, in addition to including good training. Actually, I think one goal would be to train a volunteer so that he or she eventually could get a paying position or a stipend. 

For my part, in addition to showing others how my program works, I am now an Adult Ed Tutor…in training!!!

When I think about Adult Literacy, a lot starts to come to mind. I believe that many basic programs can also include literacy training in various professions. 

Let’s take an example of a 50-year-old man who gets laid off permanently from his job as a mechanic in a factory, who also happens to be semi-literate and unfortunately must pass written tests to get another job.  

Also, there are many people who have suffered from a stroke or head trauma who need to re-learn how to read and write.

One more observation: many libraries also provide “Homework Clubs” to all the school-age children and young adults. Can you imagine the classrooms filled up with kids, their parents and…even their grandparents!!!!

So - yes, tutors need to be trained, and more! Look at the job(s) they will be called upon to do!





Josh Anderson's picture

I was looking for resources to draw from as our program is looking to move to a hybrid in-person/online model for initial tutor training while this discussion was going on.  Learner Web, which David highlighted, and Intake to Outcomes were far and away the best available comprehensive resources.  Both incorporate video throughout the training. 

Intakes to Outcomes is a project of Literacy New York,  They are offering it to other programs at the cost of $25 a tutor.  I'll be demoing it this week.

Kathy Houghton's picture

Thanks, Josh, for taking a look at Intake to Outcomes (I2O)!  We do have a dedicated website for I2O:

Here you'll find workshop descriptions, videos, and more.  It's been an exciting project, and has met the needs of hundreds of tutors thus far.  Looking forward to seeing folks at COABE-- we'll be in the vendor area, and we have a workshop on Monday, 4/3, at 11:00am.  

Kathy_Tracey's picture

The Illinois Secretary of State developed an online tutor training module. While the first lesson is specific to Illinois, I think you will find a great deal of valuable information here. You could ask your volunteer tutors to explore the content and summarize what they have learned so you can remediate any ideas and build a rapport and communication stream. 

Kathy Tracey

Kathy Houghton's picture

Hello, LINCS Group!


Literacy New York, in collaboration with Think60, developed online tutor training for volunteer tutors in adult literacy programs. It is called Intake to Outcomes (I2O) and is based on research and evidence-based practices related to tutor training.   


For the past two years, we have trained over 800 tutors in our network of community-based, volunteer-centric literacy providers in New York state. During this timeframe, we saw a significant positive impact on the consistency of quality training, training budgets, and the virtual elimination of the logistical issues related to on-site training.


I2O includes three workshops: Basic Literacy Learner: Reading Basics, Basic Literacy Learner: Math Basics, and English Language Learner: Language Basics. Included in each workshop is a unit on successful tutoring, which has always been the hallmark  of tutor training in our network.


Each workshop follows an asychronous, but facilitated, training model. Tutors are supported throughout their training by online facilitators along with any support provided by their local literacy organization. After completing a workshop, tutors continue to have access to the training and the vast array of resources including instructional materials and the video demonstrations.


I invite you to visit our website to learn more about I2O.  


If you’re attending COABE in Orlando, stop by our I2O/Think60 booth and say hello. My session chronicling our journey is called “Literacy New York Online Tutor Training: Builds Capacity, Creates Successful Tutors, and Increases Educational Gain” and it will be presented on Monday, April 3 at 11 am.


Leecy's picture

OK. You have both shown interest in sharing links and contributed resources to be shared. Just to give you an idea of what a site might resemble, I've created a test site, which we may or may not want to develop, depending on whether or not something is already available in that regard. I've added your contributions on the Online Resources page. What do you think? As they say, "If we build it, they will come..." We've started to build together. Shall we continue? See URL below. Let's talk more! Leecy

Paul Rogers's picture

Yes, Leecy, the test site looks good. So we need sites for the tutors and also for the students. I am in favor of the "easy, peasy, lemon squeezy" approach, so that people can get in and out  fast. But it all depends. There is a big gap in sites to train tutors, which we will remedy. I also will start writing my  own manual for tutors and make a few videos.  

There is so much to this, but the more the merrier.  It seems very reasonable to assume that such a site also will serve to recruit more tutors but also more students. 


Leecy's picture

Thanks, Paul. I believe that there are many, many sites and resources dedicated to adult learners, including our own LINCS Learner Portal and the sites that you offer, among others. Apparently, not that much is out there for tutor training. We'll find out. Onward! Leecy

RosemaryS in Charlotte's picture

How will resources be added? I was the tutor trainer for International House in Charlotte, NC. We created our own training manual, but it drew on the work of others, including a US grant-sponsored creation that was wonderful. I have files and links, but I can't take time right now to put things together. I can mull though, and gather here and there.
   Some things are no doubt in the Learner Portal. Can there be cross links that are briefly annotated so people don't get lost wandering in "the stacks?"

Leecy's picture

Thanks for the comments, Rosemary! I have volunteered to publish anything on the Website that this group gives me. Your tutor manual sounds wonderful. I can publish it if I can make sense of the file names or have a table of contents to reference. If the material is licensed or can be licensed as OER, so much the better! I have a site,, and I will reference the content from there also! Wonderful.

Sure, we can certainly cross link to the Learner Portal. Good idea. Thanks! Leecy


S Jones's picture

Yes -- there are lots of sites.   Over the weekend I finished the copy-paste exercise to get a mess of phonics word lists into Microsoft Word and contemplated the "how to make them available to the people who'd benefit from them."   

First, I made them OER and gave them a CC-BY license (and might just make it "CC-0"  with no attribution necessary, since it's word lists... not even dictation sentences which require some creativity...)   

   Next, I'm going to plop them up on  my site because that's "mine" -- and then I'll send them to two or three of the more well-known OER repositories like OERCOMMONS. 

    I'm taking the "Designers for Learners" course starting today and this module (   )  includes lots of good info about adult learning, in general as well as an interview w/ a community college instructor who notes that her biggest timesuck challenge is *finding* the good stuff and making it into something that works for her students (she teaches history).    There's a video in that module worth watching. 

     I'm also discovering that if people are willing to dive in and learn some comptuer stuff that places like Canvas are open platforms where we can create lessons that are so much more than "read this and answer the questions."    Sites like   describe taking accessibility to new levels. 

Leecy's picture

Susan, your (I like the title!)site has some great resources under all tabs, especially the Reading and Spelling, Reading and Comprehension, and Math Tabs. Thanks for sharing, Susan. If you add anything for tutor training, let us know! I'm thinking that we should add your link,, from the Designers for Learning MOOC to our developing tutor site.

What does everyone think? Would tutors benefit from that information?

In that regard, what should we consider as topics to cover among tutors? Let's through that around a bit. I'll suggest that having a basic introduction to andragogy as opposed to pedagogy might be a good start. We could start looking for that kind of information to add to the site, along with listing actual links to tutor training.

 What do others here want to throw into the pot? Leecy

S Jones's picture

Yes -- there are lots of sites.   Over the weekend I finished the copy-paste exercise to get a mess of phonics word lists into Microsoft Word and contemplated the "how to make them available to the people who'd benefit from them."   

First, I made them OER and gave them a CC-BY license (and might just make it "CC-0"  with no attribution necessary, since it's word lists... not even dictation sentences which require some creativity...)   

   Next, I'm going to plop them up on  my site because that's "mine" -- and then I'll send them to two or three of the more well-known OER repositories like OERCOMMONS.   

    I'm taking the "Designers for Learners" course starting today and this module (   )  includes lots of good info about adult learning, in general as well as an interview w/ a community college instructor who notes that her biggest timesuck challenge is *finding* the good stuff and making it into something that works for her students (she teaches history).    There's a video in that module worth watching. 

     I'm also discovering that if people are willing to dive in and learn some comptuer stuff that places like Canvas are open platforms where we can create lessons that are so much more than "read this and answer the questions."    Sites like   describe taking accessibility to new levels. 

This is also my week for designing math modules in D2L ... so time to get off the INternet and back to that!  

kjrossman's picture

Hi Everyone, my apologies for coming in late to this discussion. I work with Tutors of Literacy in the Commonwealth, a organization in PA that provides support to volunteer tutors and tutor coordinators in adult literacy programs. We offer face-to-face and online tutor and tutor coordinator trainings. We have a number of resources for tutors of adults on our website, and there is a specific page for tutors. TLC also developed a site several years ago, Tutoring Adult Learners Using the Internet. It is not kept as current as I would like, so some links may no longer be active. We have developed a closed FB group for tutors - TLC Adult Literacy Tutors, for which you need to request an invitation to join (email request to Unfortunately, this idea has yet to spark much interest but it is there for tutors who would be interested in participating. While the original purpose was for PA tutors, why not go nationwide? I look forward to sharing resources and helping tutors make connections!

Leecy's picture

Fantastic, Kim. You are not late but just in time! I'll add your resources to our test site right away. Hopefully, as we disseminate these resources, your FB page will draw exciting participation. I'll have readers understand that they have to apply. That shouldn't be a prob. Thanks so much for posting and continued support of tutors! I bet that we will also find support on Twitter when we have more resources gathered. Or before? What does everyone think? Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Leecy,

Please include this resource for tutors:

Tutor Ready is a free professional development tool for reading tutors and teachers of adults. It was developed by a partnership with LINCS, Portland State University’s Learner Web, California Libraries, and supported with funding from OCTAE at the U.S. Department of Education.  Tutor Ready’s new Web Address is

Unlike many other adult basic skills professional development approaches, Tutor Ready is “just-in-time” professional development. Although it is steeped in years of research on how to teach adults to read, it's not a course, workshop or webinar.  It's an asynchronous, online system built on authentic questions that adult reading tutors often ask, usually after they have received an initial 15-20 hours of face-to-face training, and after they have been matched with adult learners. When working with adult learners, all kinds of pressing questions and issues emerge, and for many volunteer reading tutors there are not always opportunities to get help with them.

A tutor who has questions like these,

  • How can I know if my learner needs phonemic awareness practice?
  • How can I help my learners connect how words sound with how they’re spelled?
  • How can I help my learner read with appropriate phrasing and expression?
  • How can I help my learner to build up her background knowledge so she can understand how vocabulary words relate to larger concepts?

or any of over 50 more questions about phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, can get help from carefully chosen Tutor Ready articles; excellent short, authentic tutoring videos; audio files; and other resources.

In a field where more than 80% of the paid teaching force is part-time, and where volunteer tutors are very part-time and unpaid, having a research-based, user-friendly PD resource like this is enormously useful

David J. Rosen



Leecy's picture

Thank you for the helpful resource and detailed description David! I'll add it right away! Leecy

Paul Rogers's picture

Kathy, I agree with you about tutors, they are the first adult educators that many people will encounter, and serve as a solid bridge to encourage adults to continue. I still remember the literacy volunteer from my hometown library who came to our school every year at Christmas to read a classic story.

One aspect I am going to focus on is developing a manual for Leecy's tutor training website project. At first I will focus on my Pumarosa program, and then later on other areas as things develop. 

Please describe your experience and let's share notes.


Leecy's picture

Paul, do you have links among your resources that are designed for tutor training? You listed several great sites that you use for students. If any of those are geared to tutors, we can add those to our list! Thanks. Leecy

Catalina Gonzalez's picture

Hello everyone,

I have been following the posts with excitement because as Leecy mentioned, we do not discuss the use, training, and support of volunteers enough.

The Office of Adult Education in Philadelphia offers 24 Tutor training session a year, in Blended and Online formats. After training, the volunteers are referred to volunteer partner agencies across the city. Our blended training offers 9 hours of face to face training and a facilitated online component. Our online training is asynchronous but facilitated with a defined start and end date.  We offer Basic Tutor Training, ESL Tutor Training, ASE Tutor Training, Mentor Training and Digital Literacy Tutor Training (currently being developed).

I am curious to know more about TLC’s experience with the FB group. What barriers need to be removed to make a virtual community (or a virtual resource room) for tutors, active and engaging? We have a virtual resource classroom for “graduated tutors,” where they are encouraged to post ideas, questions, lesson plans, share resources they have found interesting and useful; but also struggle with participation. I look forward to continuing the conversation. 

Catalina, your resources sound wonderful. Are they open to all programs or just those in Philly/PA? I wonder if you might share your links with us so that I can post those on our test site. As we post resources, it would be nice to add a Terms of Use statement for each link. The more OER, the better! Thanks much! Let's keep talking. Leecy

Paul Rogers's picture

Catalina and Kim, Your Literacy Programs in Philadelphia provide an excellent model for Tutor training, and it is great to see how tutors from literacy programs throughout the city can all benefit - a good example of the meaning of the word "Commonwealth". Leecy's concept, now in its nascent stage, will grow and can incorporate your ideas and work so that through LINCS we may be able to assist tutors and adult learners throughout the country.  

I would like to add that the Philadelphia Office of Adult Education / Philadelphia Literacy Alliance numbers about 200 organizations, I think, and mainly consists of non-profit centers, which provide "Non-Formal" adult education classes for everyone. The possibilities are endless.


Paul Rogers's picture

Leecy, Right now I do not have a  manual on how a tutor can use Pumarosa. I will try to write it soon. Actually, there are many bilingual sites for English and other subjects, which can be evaluated and added. YouTube has some very good lessons. 

Leecy's picture

Good news, Paul. Let me know when you have a manual and I will post it! Leecy