Preparing for and offering adult basic skills online during the pandemic

Hello Colleagues,

In several parts of the world, including the U.S., because of COVID-19, the current novel coronavirus pandemic, universities and schools have shut their classroom doors and are providing instruction only online. Stanford University on the west coast, and Hofstra university on the east coast are two recent examples. Near Boston, where I live, elementary schools have had to close.  I am not aware of any adult basic skills programs that have closed their classroom doors yet, but there may be some. Are you aware of any?

It might be useful to discuss here how to prepare for providing classes only online. Blended and distance learning programs may already be prepared to do this, but might not be prepared for large numbers of adult learners who may want to get into their online classes or use their instructional apps. Traditional face-to-face classroom teachers and administrators may need immediate online training on how to "onboard" learners to apps and how to teach online classes -- remotely by telephone or through webinars that are accessible by smartphone and home computers.  There may be a great demand for professional developers who can help teachers quickly learn how to teach online. Some programs may turn to the 14-state IDEAL Consortium with state members that have  expertise in delivering distance education and online blended learning. Some schools and programs may need to invest in online curricula, but which curricula or courses will best meet their needs? In some states -- California, Illinois, Texas and Massachusetts come to mind -- there are state-or charitable foundation-sponsored technology professional development organizations and projects that may be able to help.  Perhaps this LINCS Community of Practice may be able to help with advice on some of these issues.

Should your program or school be preparing now? Are you already prepared? If you have some thoughts about how to prepare, please share them here. If you have only questions, share those too, and let us as a community try to offer solutions. For example, I have mentioned some potential challenges here, but no doubt there are many more challenges. What are they?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating technology and Program management groups



Hello David  and Colleagues,

The Online Learning Consortium's (OLC), March 6 & 9 webinars and resources at the link below may be  useful to colleagues who need to plan for providing some of their classes online. 

Sarah Stocker

Thanks Sarah. The OLC continuity planning for emergency preparedness resources look to be very helpful, especially for those in higher education settings, but perhaps also for adult secondary education programs.

Ohers here, can you suggest professional development, online learning resources or smartphone apps that would be helpful to ESOL/ESL, ABE and ASE programs that want to help their students continue learning online if or when their classroom doors must close because of emergencies such as the novel coronavirus?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


Hi David, 

The teachers of the Amsterdam and Gloversville Literacy Zones (shameful plug - follow us on Facebook!), operated by HFM BOCES, are using three online learning suites in a blended learning situation. They could be used for distance learning. Each one allows teacher to monitor use on behalf of the student. For students on the path of high school equivalency, we use Essential Education's Tabe and TASC Academies, as well as the Life Essential series. We also use Aztec, which provides an offline component that we use in our correctional facilities. For English language learners we are using Burlington English. As long as students have connectivity and a device outside of class, they can access some components of the programs. Some companies do a better job of implementing systems on mobile devices.

We recently purchased Chromebooks. I am considering allowing students that are well-established with our program to borrow them to use outside of class. I am wondering if any of my colleagues on the listserv lend technology to students. If you do, would anyone be willing to share their policies? I am not sure if they can be shared with the larger group here. If not, they could be emailed to me at

Hello Laurie,

Thanks for your great suggestions.

You asked, "I am considering allowing students that are well-established with our program to borrow them to use outside of class. I am wondering if any of my colleagues on the listserv lend technology to students."  I hope you will get a response from adult basic skills programs that lend chromebooks, but in the meantime you might do an Internet search using the terms "library", "lend", "Chromebook" and perhaps a year, such as "2019" You will see links to many libraries that lend Chromebooks. For example, From my quick scan of these, it appears that many only lend for a week at a time, but you might find some that lend for longer periods of time. You might also try a search using these terms, "library", "chromebook", "lending" and "policy" or "policies"" and you will see that many public libraries publish their chromebook lending policies.  Some libraries, and some adult basic skills programs, may also lend laptops, and they may also have useful lending policies. 

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


Hi David,

Our program is in the midst of training for Rosetta Stone as an options for students in lieu if the virus and long term as well. This is something that students can use between semesters and in the summer to maintain skills.   

Thanks Corlis,

Is your program purchasing Rosetta Stone accounts that students can use, or do the students need to purchase subscriptions themselves? Did your program consider other options besides Rosetta Stone? If so what in particular led to this choice? For example, I wonder if you, and others here, have considered the USALearns English language online curriculum. It's completely free, and has been well developed, maintained and continually improved over the years. It is sometimes used as a blended learning model, but many learners use it purely at a distance.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Integrating technology program

Hi David,

Yes, we have a subscription to Rosetta Stone and all teachers are getting training in next week or two. Rosetta Stone has been used regularly in the program. It is a source between semesters that students can use to maintain their skills and reduce registration fees, if used.

The coordinator regularly sends emails to alert teachers of new or previous tools that can be helpful in the class and outside of the class. Teachers use these tools at their discretion and incorporate them into lesson plans.

David - Thank you for posing the question. The following are some suggestions for local programs to prepare for virtual classes and access to online class material:

  1. Online Communication Platform - There are a number of platforms available to conduct online communication. At ProLiteracy we recently switched over to Zoom and feel that it's a "better mouse trap" for conducting online meetings, webinars, classes as well as 1:1 communication. It's easy to use and the basic version is free. More information can be found at this link
  2. Education on the Coronavirus for Adult Students - Our friends at Cell-Ed have developed a guide in English and Spanish available on any phone that provides micro-lessons on What is Coronavirus?, information on protecting self and others, how to access updated information. Click here to learn more.
  3. ESL/ABE/HSE Online Tools - We offer a number of easy to use online tools that administrators and students can access. These include Voxy (ESL), Learning Upgrade (ABE/ESL), News For You (ABE/ESL) , New Readers Press Online (GED/HiSET) and Leamos (Let's Read) a simple and easy-to-use pre-ESL online literacy course that teaches non-literate Spanish-speaking adults to read and write  . News For You currently has free online access for Instructors and Students on Census 2020 stories. This includes a Teacher's Guide with suggested lesson plan and exercises for the online issue. The Census articles include sentence-by-sentence audio, popup vocabulary definitions, and bonus interactive exercises. Stories include an explanation of the census and why it’s important, a timeline of when it’s happening, a story about how many people plan to respond to the census, a story about how the Census Bureau is working to keep rumors from spreading online, a recap of the last census, a story about jobs with the Census Bureau, and a story about what America might look like in the future. 

Thanks Kevin for this information. Kevin Morgan is the CEO at ProLiteracyWorldwide. Although the products he mentions are proprietary (commercial), most have not been produced by ProLiteracy, but have been selected after a rigorous review process, which I am aware of as a ProLiteracy Board member. It's good to know that News For You, a proprietary ProLiteracy New Readers Press product, has free online access to 2020 Census articles.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


Hello Bernie,

On March 13th you mentioned that you are using Loom for one-way communication with your students. Can you tell us more about that. Does Loom have a built-in feature for making videos? What kind of videos do you make for your students? How have your students responded to these videos?  Can you send us links to one or two of these videos? Do you have any suggestions for others who are interested in learning more about Loom, e.g. particular videos that you found helpful when you were learning about it, or documents you found especially helpful?


David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups.

Hello colleagues,

Quizlet has put together a resource highlighting how digital tools and services, such as video conferencing, online document editing, and digital learning tools can help if schools or programs are closed for extended or undetermined periods of time due to illness or in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Kahoot! is offering free access to all features to support distance learning in schools affected by the coronavirus outbreak. With Premium, teachers can use advanced reports to facilitate formative assessment and adjust instruction based on student performance – even when they cannot attend face-to-face classes. Premium also lets teachers  collaborate with other teachers in their school or program.

Source: Eschool news

What online resources will you be using, and would you recommend to your colleagues whose adult basic skills programs or schools may be closed during the impending coronaviurus pandemic?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrated Technology and Program Management groups

Hi all.

This is a wonderful discussion. Thanks, David, for getting it going.  All helpful suggestions. I'd like to add Open Education Resources to the list.  Jeff Goumas of CrowdEd Learning has organized a list of OER that teachers have recommended to him.  Find the list here:



Hello Colleagues,

If you are new to blended, online or distance learning, and are looking for an online platform with which to organize your own online content, OER content that you might find on CrowdED learning or in OER Commons, or propreitary online courses or curricula, one possibility is Edmodo. It's primarily used by K-12 teachers, but some adult basic skills teachers use it, too. (Do you? If so, tell us how you use it! ) Another free online platform is Schoology. Some adult basic skills teachers use that, and some also just use free website design products such as Weebly or Wix to organize a web presence for their students.

Below is some information that I received today about Edmodo that you may find useful.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

      Your Distance Learning Toolkit  

We understand how important it is to keep learning going for your students, even while facing difficult situations like the coronavirus. Whether your school has closed or is preparing for a closure, here are some resources to help you get started with distance learning—and to help your students feel part of your classroom, no matter where they are.

  See the Toolkit  


  • Webinar: Edmodo for Distance Learning
    Friday, March 13, 2020 | 12-12:30pm EDT
    Teacher and Edmodo Ambassador, Kate Baker, will share tips for setting up your class on Edmodo, creating engaging lessons, communicating remotely, and collaborating online. Join in here.
  • Articles: Guides for Distance Learning
    Setting Up Edmodo Classes for Distance Learning
    Three Activities to Get Started with Distance Learning Using Edmodo
    Quick guides to preparing your classroom for distance learning, including ways to communicate, share documents, assign work, and give your students a space to collaborate.
  • Twitter Chat: Distance Learning is #BetterTogether
    Thursday, March 12, 2020 | 12–1pm EDT
    Need help implementing distance learning strategies? Join our #EdmodoChat this week on Twitter with other edtech tools. Join in here.
      Tips for getting started with Edmodo  

We wanted to pass along some tips for getting started with Edmodo in case you or others you know may need them:

  Getting Started Guide

Hi David,

New Hampshire started using Edmodo as a tool to share professional development resources and provide a closed forum for discussions and questions.  It has taken a few years for adult education practitioners to fully invest and engage in Edmodo, but it has proven to be a great professional development platform.  Similar to the LINCS Community forums, we have build groups targeted to different interests and practitioner needs.  For example, there is an Adult Education Newsletter group for adult education practioners; there is a Program Director's group for directors and coordinators; a mentor group for identified experts in various fields (ABE, ESL, Adult Diploma, Volunteer Services, etc.); and a distance learning/ technology group. 

Building capacity always takes time, and after almost three years of using Edmodo to post professional development announcements and resources, the practitioners in New Hampshire rely on receiving information, as well as posting questions that any colleague can respond to.

On a different note, prior to working in Professional Development Services, I used Edmodo as a volunteer tutor and ESL instructor.  Learners liked the look and feel of Edmodo because it was user friendly and looked very similar to the format of Facebook.

Thanks again for sharing Edmodo as a resource,

Ginette Chandler

Hi all, This discussion is extremely helpful. Here's a doc in which I've gathered the free online curricula that IDEAL states have approved for programs to use in their DL classes. We'll share this with programs here in MA Feel free to use it. I made this editable version, so if you have any to add that you've vetted - non-IDEAL are welcome - it would be helpful. It's also worth checking libraries for free online courses they subscribe to. (Yeah for libraries!) This month we're also going to have two statewide webinars to help programs prepare, one on Google Classroom and the other on USA Learns.

Thank you, Diana and all, for sharing these resources. I am putting together a document to help adult education programs think through steps for providing distance learning and I'll add these resources. I'll share this document once it's complete.  

Google has offered enhanced functionality and features of Hangouts to meet this demand (quoted below). You can read more here about ideas for using other G-suite tools to stay connected with learners. 


From Google: " Starting this week, we will begin rolling out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally including: 

  • Larger meetings, for up to 250 participants per call
  • Live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain 
  • The ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive

These features are typically available in the Enterprise edition of G Suite and in G Suite Enterprise for Education, and will be available at no additional cost to all customers until July 1, 2020. If you need help getting started, please visit our learning center page or follow the instructions outlined in our message to G Suite admins

We’re committed to supporting our users and customers during this challenging time, and are continuing to scale our infrastructure to support greater Hangouts Meet demand, ensuring streamlined, reliable access to the service throughout this period."


Sherry Lehane


Hi Everyone,

I mentioned in my earlier post the use of Zoom. I just came across this article from Harvard University titled Best practices:Online pedagogy which has some great tips for teaching remotely and many of them refer to things that be done in Zoom (Polling, Gallery view, etc.)

Thanks Kevin,

You wrote, "I just came across this article from Harvard University titled Best practices:Online pedagogy which has some great tips for teaching remotely and many of them refer to things that be done in Zoom (Polling, Gallery view, etc.)"

Although designed for higher education, I think the article has some advice on translation of in-person to online teaching that apply equally well to adult basic skills education. Everyone, take a look at this article and tell us which good in-person practices you think have good virtual classroom equivalents or, from your experience, what would be a better virtual classroom equivalent.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and P{rogram Management groups

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for sharing this article.  I found the section about accessibility particularly interesting.  The content serves as a great reminder that we all learn and process information differently.  I plan on sharing this article with our disabilities committee and will continue to share the content of this article with adult education practitioners to better support the differentiating needs of learners and practitioners. 


Ginette Chandler

Posted in another discussion thread in Integrating Technology by Nan Frydland

Submitted by nanfrydland on March 12, 2020 - 4:54pm

In anticipation of our school closing, teachers were given 24 hours notice to create WhatsApp groups and submit plans for an online platform for adult SLIFE.  My students had just learned how to use QR codes. No one has a computer or email. Together, in the classroom, we created WhatsApp groups as a problem-solving measure.Today, the district closed. Now what do I do? I have never used an online platform for teaching.

Posted by Eric Appleton as a reply to Nan Frydland's post in another discussion thread

transitioning online

ecappleton March 12, 2020 - 5:01pm 0 Likes new

It's a good question. Our teachers are in a similar boat. The City University of New York system cancelled in-person classes for the rest of the semester. A one-week hiatus started today, followed by a transition to online classes for all campus programs. I'm sure this is going to be difficult for college students, but they at least have computers. Most of our students don't have computers. We're trying to figure out what we can do with smartphones only. I have a Whatsapp group with my class and have been able to get a little dialogue going, but it's no substitute for class.

I would be interested to hear what other programs are doing.

Hello Nan and Eric,

Good to hear from you both.

Have you considered offering your online class entirely on a real-time online platform such as Zoom or Gotomeeting? Zoom has a free version that allow 35 minutes or so per session. They also have a relatively inexpensive, unlimited time, paid monthly or annually option. Perhaps your program could pick up the expense. With Zoom, and other real time online platforms -- the kind you have probably seen used in webinars -- you can:

1) do presentations,

2) use a share screen with a student or another teacher,

3) have students ask questions of you or of other students and respond in a Q & A or Chat window,

4) ask students who have them to turn on their cameras so they can see each other, and so you can see them, as you would in a classroom, and

5) record the session for students to refer back to or, if they could not be present when the session was scheduled, to view the session in an archived collection, for example by clicking a link in a (free) website you can make using Google Sites, Weebly, Wix or other free website maker. Some real-time platforms also allow you to create breakout discussion groups to use, for example, if you want to have small groups solve problems or develop projects together, etc.

The above might be the easiest, least time-consuming way to transition to entirely online teaching. With a website or a free online platform like Schoology or Edmodo you can have a "home base" for the class, where you host the real time session schedule, post assignments, provide a link to a discussion group like a free Google group that is only open to those in your class.

These are all free or inexpensive, fairly quick to learn solutions to transitioning to a real time online class. The discussion group and free online platform offer additional asynchronous possibilities.

Anyone else have possible solutions for Nan and for Eric?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

This article from VOX points out the increased demand for virtual workplace software but also that in many cases Zoom, Microsoft, Google and others are lifting restrictions on free versions given the COVID-19 situation:

Hello Nan,

See below. It might be helpful. From Susan Gaer, with CATESOL California. If you try this, let us know if they have good suggestions for the challenge of helping your SLIFE students.

David  J Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


We are doing emergency training helping teachers move online. The form to register is here, You do not have to be a CATESOL member to join. After you choose the sessions you want to attend, write this down as you don't get a confirmation.....(something to fix for next time) I will then send you the link to the room.

Hello Colleagues,

This is not a quick-and-easy solution, but it is what many excellent online teachers who are also excellent in-person teachers do; they find the online equivalent to as many of their successful face-to-face practices as possible. Below is an example of a translation of in-person teaching to online teaching practices.  Of course there are many more in-person practices that have good online equivalents. Experienced online teachers here: can you give some examples from your own online practice?

Note: this graphic is from the World Education EdTech Center's work with the National Immigration Forum on their Skills & Opportunity for the New American Workforce project. You can read the full report and get more info here:  Thanks to Victoria Neff at World Education's Ed Tech Center for sending this to me.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP  Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Hello ESL/ESOL teaching colleagues,

Nan Frydland posted the message below in the LINCS English Language Acquisition group. In case you are an ESL/ESOL teacher or professional developer, and missed it there, I am cross-posting it here. Nan provides the details of a difficult challenge. She teaches Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE). If you have suggestions for Nan, please post them here.

Can members of the TESOL adult Interest Group, CATESOL in California, or another state English as a Second Language group offer suggestions? Are you a member of one of those groups? if so, could you see if other adult ESL/ESOL teachers have any help to offer for teachers with this challenge? Do you, yourself, have suggestions to offer? If you need more information you could reply to Nan here, or use LINCS in-mail to reach her privately.


David J. Rosen, Moderator

Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


What works about old school that doesn't work with Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education is that orality is the most crucial tool for communication, that interconnectedness among students and with teacher are necessary, and that scaffolding is needed when students are exposed to new language and content. How can we reach students for whom these criteria are essential to their language acquisition on a phone??? I know I'm not the only teacher with SLIFE who do not have access to computers, do not have literacy skills, never mind digital literacy skills, and can't text in real time while trying to process the content of a classroom task.  I'm combining old and new schools by creating original PowerPoints with student photos and sending them slide by slide on WhatsApp as content, while I follow with a looseleaf binder of the print copy. I'm making funny videos with my husband as model to tell photostories. But these are so limited with students unable to speak or listen.  In both multilevel classes some students are bored and some students are left behind. My school has provided no support since closing doors last Friday and I feel so isolated and frustrated. Even spending so many hours creating 6 two-hour lessons, I'm overwhelmed. These most vulnerable students are dealing with even worse circumstances regarding their jobs, food scarcity, isolation. I wish I could deliver packets of materials to students but in Connecticut we're supposed to stay home. I wish I knew the resources to send to students who only have phones and can't download or print.  I tried for instance, an online workbook by Cambridge but students can't use it on phones. I can't even use it on my phone. I appreciate all the resources that have been listed on this website in the last few days, but I am unable to figure out how to use phones with adult SLIFE who left my classroom seconds after we'd downloaded WhatsApp.


Cross-posted from the LINCS English Language Acquisition group

Focus on what you CAN do

Glenda Rose March 21, 2020 - 10:20am 0 Likes new


First, just so you can have some faith in what I'm about to share, here's a little about me.  I have been teaching online for more than 15 years at all levels, beginning literacy ESL all the way through graduate adult learning classes and in all modalities: asynchronous only (where you never meet "live" with students), live by text (like on Facebook or Twitter), live by web conference, and mixed. I'm also certified by Texas A&M University as a Professional Online Instructor.  As far as ESL, I started teaching English to adults in 1987, have a master's in Applied Linguistics, and a doctorate in Foreign Language Education: Applied Linguistics.  

Now, as to your post...

You are starting in the right place by thinking about what your students have.

Most have mobile phones or have access to a mobile phone, so let's start there.  I have taught an entire lesson for ESL just on WhatsApp (from an airplane, by the way).  How does that work?  WhatsApp lets you use audio as well as text, and you can attach files of all kinds.   So, could you create an interactive lesson plan for beginners on WhatsApp using a mix of text, audio, and images?  I know you can!  It may be a little unpolished the first time, but the more you do it, the easier it will be.

For web conferencing, Zoom is an option that is both user friendly and mobile friendly.   I usually leave the cameras off to save bandwidth, but it's nice to see each other once in a while. What can you teach on Zoom?  Just about anything you can teach in class, especially if you invest in a USB document camera.  (I got a pretty good one from Amazon for $99.)   Zoom also has breakout rooms, which is great for pair or group work. This is one major advantage between the free versions of WebEx and Zoom.  The disadvantage is that the free version of Zoom usually has a 45-minute limit and the free WebEx does not.  The limit is being waived right now for educators. 

For beginning literacy ESL, you can show something, or show yourself, in a web conference to support their emerging listening skills just like you do in a face-to-face class.  I usually leave WhatsApp open on my desktop (yes, there is a desktop version) because my students are so used to using it.  That way, they have the choice of using the chat in Zoom or in WhatsApp for writing responses. Plus, it gives me a Plan B for communicating with students if something happens in the virtual room (like the computer freezing or a lag in the signal).

Again, Zoom is very mobile friendly.  I even had one attend poolside on vacation!  But the teacher should use a computer and, if at all possible, a wired, stable connection.  You can teach on WiFi, but it is less stable.  I actually had my service provider come in and add an ethernet jack just for teaching from my office when I bought my house five years ago.

Again, teaching in this new way may be bumpy the first few times, but you and the students will get better at it.  

Once you have mastered the basics (getting the room open, getting students in the room, different ways of communicating, camera settings, audio settings, sharing screens, annotating, and any other logistical challenges), you can start adding other tools like Padlet, Google Docs, MindMeister, PollEverywhere, WebQuests, etc. to have a higher degree of engagement.  Combining it with materials in a learning management system like Schoology or Google Classroom can also help the students be more connected (with projects and discussion boards). 

Because of COVID-19, my face-to-face classes (I coordinate around 20 of them for the county) have consolidated into 3 levels morning and evening. That actually helps with the multilevel issue.  All classes are multilevel, but at least the online levels are narrower (Beginning Literacy, low beginning; high beginning, low intermediate; high intermediate and advanced).  I have my teachers co-teaching right now so that they can support each other on the technology piece and in the planning - because planning for teaching online means you can't do your old lesson plans in the same way.  In the beginning, it takes more time to plan. 

You can also teach by conference call if the students have their own books and materials ahead of time.  This does not work as well with beginning literacy in my experience, but if it's the only option you have, speak very slowly and clearly and repeat often.  If all of your students speak the same language (which frequently happens here in Texas), having someone who can support their students in their first language will help at the lowest levels.  You can also support the phone call with texting or WhatsApp.  If beginners can literally see what you are saying, it will help them hear what you are saying.

If you have any questions or want to think through some of the issues, feel free to contact me.  


Glenda Rose replied to Nan Frydland with advice on how to use WhatsApp with her students, especially during this time when the doors to in-person classes have been closed. The online equivalent tools, and good practices using these tools, have been important in distance education and now, in this time when learners and teachers can only reach each other at a distance, are critical. Since What'sApp is so widely used by English language learners and, in some places also by native speakers of English, and since we have many teachers and tutors here who are expert in using it. I am going to create a new discussion, in the Integrating Technology and English Language Acquisition groups in which we look specifically at WhatsApp and how it can be used for remote teaching and learning with adult basic skills (including ESOL/ESL) learners. Stay tuned!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


nanfrydland March 21, 2020 - 11:41pm 0 Likes new

Oh, thank goodness. This is what I was praying for, if I had been praying. Yes, I've been using WhatsApp to send  text,  little videos I made, and to share follow-up materials and conduct some back and forth based on our previous activities, using familiar language and content. But I don't know how to get any audio across and sometimes a student sends an audio message but only I can hear it.No one hears my audio messages. So I guess I need to address the setting the room with audio first---and visual. If I can switch between texting and being on camera that would be ideal. But with your post, I'm on my way after days of struggle. Also, my students do have books that we incorporate into a curriculum that we co-create and that's based on learning experiences, their funds of knowledge, the subjects they want to learn, etc  But I  used the QR code exercises from them just to get some listening activity in the mix (which my students had just learned how to use). I'd just learned how to use a smartboard last month after 15 years of teaching with paper...So we're taking steps into new ways of learning together. I'm very grateful for your post and will continue to ask you questions.


Thank you so much, Glenda for your great ideas - your knowledge and your commitment to working with students who may not be as tech savvy as others really comes through. 

David had asked about videos for ESL (beyond We Speak NYC) and here's my contribution. In the work I am doing with a school in Rwanda (where we work with teachers and students), I ran across a set or rap videos that everyone really loved - I think they are fun, demonstrate English rhythm and intonation and are great for incidental learning (learning on the fly) 

there are a bunch of videos by Fluency MC on YouTube - check it out - Best to all - Heide 

Hello Colleagues,

I get this question frequently, "How can I help my low income students afford regular broadband Internet?"  Here are two, often inter-related, programs that can help them get broadband Internet access at a cost of $10-12 a month. Anyone else know of other free or low-cost Internet access programs?

Everyoneon offers broadband service to income-eligible families (for example, those that qualify for free or reduced school lunch, or who live in public housing) generally at a cost of around $10.00 - $12.00 a month, although this can vary from state to state. In some states they also offer (often refurbished) laptops or desktops, typically at between $100 and $200.

Comcast Internet Essentials also offers income-eligible families Internet access typically at $10-12 per month, but has announced in some states 60 days of FREE higher bandwidth service during the pandemic. From the Comcast webpage:  "Comcast is offering 2 months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here for more details. Pricing subject to change."

Of course, Internet access is free at public libraries. If your students have their own portable digital devices (smartphones, laptops, chromebooks, etc.) they may be able to access the Internet just outside a public library even when it is closed. Ask about the services at your public library in any case. Some may be increasing their Internet access to 24/7 during the pandemic.

Bandwidth in your area may be challenged by the increasing numbers of people who are going online. For parents, particularly of young children, this may not be an issues since the only time they can go online is after they put their children to bed, and the bandwidth may be better then.  We'll have to see what happens.

Let us know about what you are experiencing in your area with bandwidth.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


This was just announced today. On my twitter feed @ProLiteracyCEO I said "Bravo Spectrum! Hopefully this applies to Adult Literacy students and other broadband providers will follow suit!"



The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has a daily updated webpage that lists Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with free and low-cost Internet Service Plans.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Thanks Deborah for confirming that Comcast is now offering low-income families free Internet access for 60 days. I hope program administrators and teachers who still have face to face classes, or have a way to contact adult learners, will let them know! I also expect that now that Comcast has announced this, other Internet Service Providers may also offer help.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program MAnagement groups

I'm skeptical that Comcast really wants to help - 

"new customers will be a free self-install kit that includes a cable modem and WiFi router. There is no term contract." (Any help to install if they are adult learners and don't have help to read directions? And will they remember to cancel? Or will they be billed and not be able to pay then fall in my next note below?)

and under other info on the site:

"You do not have outstanding debt to Comcast that is less than a year old. Families with outstanding debt more than one year old may still be eligible.

You live in an area where Comcast Internet service is available but have not subscribed to it within the last 90 days."

 - So if you have subscribed and canceled because whatever reason you cannot get it and if you owe money you cannot get it. This should be waived to help kids and adults both in times of emergency.

A resource that we can share with adult learners is the LINCS Learner Center - The Learner Center links to federally-funded resources for learners. It is organized around goals such as "Learn to Read" or "Learn English". All resources are freely available, online, and ready for adult learners to engage with at any time!

Thanks all for sharing! I have created a remote tutoring guide that helps volunteer tutors get their adult learner a Google account so they can usually sign into sites and apps with one click through that. Also included many of the sites from here and others. 

Also, included a few ideas to get tutors thinking for learners that do not have access to tech:

With or without a smartphone:

  • Regular check-in calls and/or texts

    • Keep these short - unless the learner has something to look at it may get more confusing than becoming more clear

  • Calls can be extra helpful for ELL learners practicing conversation

  • Texts can be great for grammar    

    • Send a short text, have the learner correct it, or find an error and text back and forth until it is correct

    • Practice expanding sentences - start with ‘I stayed home today.’ They add in a word retyping the whole sentence with the word in it then you do the same and continue on until you can’t come up with anything else to add

    • Practice writing a story - you start with a sentence, they add one, you add one and so on. Create poetry or lyrics this way too

    • Send a short text then call to discuss what vocabulary words mean or if it is grammatically correct

  • Keep them as you would a lesson plan: if practicing grammar stick to one grammar point

  • Set time expectations for responses for texts and calls - it can be at a set time each week or if ongoing set parameters of certain times during the day and a timeframe to respond

Hello Jessie,

Thank you for sharing this resource. I took a look at it as many of the programs I manage are looking for free resources to use during our state's mandatory COVID-19  break. However, you did not mention if the learners need to join LINCS to access this resource. I also wondered how someone  who wishes to learn how to read or improve their English skills would be able to navigate the site on their own. There was quite a lot of reading needed to figure out where they should go to find what they where looking for. Maybe you could share your insights into how instructor's can use this resource and learners can access this site as a distance learning tool. Thanks.

Thanks for your questions. Everything on the Learner Center is fully and freely available. (The Learner Center only hosts federally-funded materials and resources). There is no need to register as a LINCS user to access LINCS Learner Center or any of the resources in it. There are a lot of resources on the site, so instructors may want to recommend specific resources to learners, so that learners don't have to explore the entire site to find the resource that may be of best use to them.

For Spanish speakers, there is a Spanish-language version of the website, accessed here:

There are also some helpful video resources under the Common Questions on the site to help folks get started. Here's a link to the resources:

I hope that helps! If others have used the Learner Center in their instruction, please share!

Hello all,

As practitioners are considering moving from face-to-face to online, I thought I would add my thoughts about how to move mathematics instruction online.  I have taught online mathematics for many years.  I would suggest for a new instructor who is moving online to consider using ZOOM is a great (free 40 minutes) real-time conference tool that I have used.  It has a feature that will allow you to share a WHITEBOARD, then using a touch screen monitor/screen, you can write on it; or, if you have a tablet pad you can write, too.  Without those, you can use a mouse but it is a bit more challenging.  You could choose to record these meetings and upload them to YouTube.  I would recommend creating a channel on YouTube to house these videos so other students can see them.

Another thing you can consider is the website: it is a whiteboard, too.  Then using a screen recorder, like Jing or Screen-Cast-O-Matic, you can upload those videos for students to access them, too.  

This is a very simple way to still reach students as many of us are having to transition.  A colleague of mine posted a list of Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions due to School closings.  

In the LINCS Math and Numeracy CoP, we are also discussing moving math online.  If you wish to join this content-specific discussion please join us: or in the LINCS Science CoP:

I will monitor all these discussions to help support everyone as we make these adjustments.

Brooke Istas

In the move towards more online learning, I want to highlight the need to think about making choices around platforms, materials and resources that are accessible for all.  The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) offers Ten Steps Toward Universal Design of Online Courses to help with that process.

From UALR's site, "One does not achieve the level of usability aspired to with a simple checklist, but with an open mind and a commitment to making design and inclusion a priority.  There are a few elements, though, that if taken into consideration, can enhance access and usability greatly. Knowing and incorporating these elements on the front end of the design process can save hours down the line.

  1. Include a welcoming access statement.
  2. Provide simple, consistent navigation.
  3. Choose tools carefully.
  4. Model and teach good discussion board etiquette.
  5. Use color with care.
  6. Make sure text is readable.
  7. Provide accessible document formats.
  8. Describe graphics and visual elements.
  9. Caption videos and transcribe audio clips.
  10. Rethink, redesign PowerPoint presentations.


Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator



Thanks Mike, these recommendations for universal design on online courses are terrific. Some can be implemented quickly; others may require training and more time to implement. I see a need for ideally free online professional development with some of these. Do you know if that exists?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


Yes, there are several good resources for persons interested in learning more about UDL.  Here are a few that I'm familiar with, but I'm sure that there are others out there.  If anyone has other suggestions, please share them.

Google's UDL Tech Toolkit

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST): UDL Curriculum Toolkit




Hello Colleagues,

This discussion is ongoing, however since there are so many ideas and resources already suggested, I thought it might be useful to create a Google Doc summary, with a couple of resources added that were not posted. You will find the summary here.  I have also added links to some of the suggested resources.

Keep posting and replying!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


Thanks Susan. This is indeed an amazing list of free online resources that includes many for K-12 teachers and learners, and some that are also useful for adult basic skills teachers and learners. One way to use it, and perhaps this is what you had in mind, is to check if a resource that you want to use is now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, available for free. It might also be useful for family literacy programs that offer Parent and Child Together (PACT) Activities, and wonder how these could be done at home when schools are closed. Do you, or do others here, see other ways this online spreadsheet of resources, links and sometime comments, could be used for adult basic skills online teaching and learning ?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups