integrating technology into teaching and learning in adult education

Discussion groups are full of this topic and often we keep hearing that our students are "too old" or "we don't have the right devices" or "we don't have any devices" and on and on.    We are cheating our adult students and  pretending to prepare them for the 21st century by preparing them for the GED.   We are teachers and if our students cannot master basic technology, then we have the obligation of teaching it.

However, as an administrator, how do we move our teachers and our programs to this type of thinking.   That was part of my frustration.   Then I remembered my early days of teaching in gifted education.   We were told to teach the students but we were not given sets of text books because our students "needed something different."  We moaned and groaned, gnashed our teeth, pulled our hair and then we because creative and actually started teaching.  Not from one textbook, but ideas and concepts and we used many resources, including several textbooks for one concept.   We were forced into teaching.

This idea any program can use to bring their adult program into the 21st century.   Set a goal to be "paperless" in say two years.   Redirect all funds so that they are paying for hardware, software, online programs.   Involve every member of the staff so that when programs are purchased they are on a continuum to meet the needs for the lowest achieving to the highest achieving.   Not one program that does all, but a program designed for the low level learners and then a program for the next level, etc.  DO NOT PURCHASE ANY TEXT, WORKBOOKS, TEACHER MANUALS OR PAPER MATERIALS.   If it is not digital, don't purchase it.

All of this is fine, but remember, professional development/teacher training and aiding teacher with structure is a must.



Hi Virginia and all,

Thank you for putting into words some things that I've been playing with for a while.  I agree that including technology in our teaching is an obligation to our students and that teachers have to jump into technology--starting where they are, because no set curriculum is going to come along (and that's ultimately a good thing).  Your suggestion of setting goals (short term and long term) like going paperless in two years is a great place to start, and then coming back to the fact that we must provide professional development and support to help teachers integrate technology in to their lessons. 

But I know a lot of teachers and administrators are wrestling with just where to start and how to move forward with the integration of technology.  I hope folks feel free to bring their questions and conundrums to this group so we can share our frustrations and solutions.   That is what this group is for.  Don't be shy and don't think that you are alone with your concerns and fears.  And those of you who have already started integrating technology, tell us what you're doing and how it's working out.

One thing that I am going to start this month is Tech Tool Thursday.  I will share a tech tool every Thursday and keep a catalog of them on a Google doc.  I hope you all will chime in with tech tools you would recommend and ways to integrate them into lessons.



Virginia and Nell,

I think what you are proposing is great. I recall in 1995 when our program gave teachers computers and eliminated all paper memos and encouraged our use of the machines on our desks for lessons, attendance etc. It created a huge institutional and professional change. 

And Nell, I love the Tech Thursday idea. It might be too late, but later today EdWeb has a webinar introducing some new Ed Tech Tools. For those not familiar with EdWeb, it is a great way for teachers to get free webinars on some of the latest innovations in education. And if you or your staff are not able to participate live, one can always get the archived webinars later. See their calendar at

Steve Quann

World Education


I was hoping to post the free EdWeb webinar on new technology innovations that was presented Monday, but it has yet to be uploaded to the web. However, here is the page where previously recorded ones are made available for viewing. Many are K-12 but there are quite few that are worthwhile for AE.

Steve Quann




I agree with you 99%! I have been using online learning as part of my adult ESL classes for ten years now in a Blended Approach, and am almost ready to go paperless. That is, I still provide my students with workbooks that I have written so that they all can 'own' their materials. In this way, those students who do not own computers can participate.  In the classroom, of course, everybody uses computers.

Now with the use of cell phones, Tablets, etc., I am investigating how to go paperless, although I still think books are important.

To me, one of the key ingredients in setting up a course that 'integrates' technology is to provide the students with a list of websites that they can use to learn. Then it is up to the teacher to "integrate" the various websites into the lessons.

Any adult ed school or program can write grants to provide low cost or even free computers, cell phones, etc. for eligible students.

Paul Rogers 





I agree with Paul on the point of letting students have some texts. As he points out, not all students have computers at home. I might add to this that even if they do, there is something about a textbook that seems to give cachet to an adult student - yes, still. Plus, what do you do when the technology fails... and it does inevitably, even  if only temporarily?

I remember, back in the 70s, when I was graduating with a BA in English and a teaching certificate, I had to take an "AV" or audio-visual class. Bascially, I had to prove that I could run the film and film strip projectors; turn on and manipulate the overhead projector; and thread the video tape to record, pause, rewind, fast forward, and replay lessons. I also remember, however, the AV instructor telling me that I needed to be prepared for when the AV failed... and it would. As he said: "Sometimes the cord is just not long enough to reach the outlet."  So, keeping that in mind, integrating technology into instruction is a goal and a worthy, attainable goal, I think. But going completely paperless??? Well, just as a hybrid model of PD and instruction seems preferrable either to all face-to-face or all virtual communication, I think integrating is the operant term for the use of technology in instruction.

That said, like Nell, I'm curious as to how people are using technology in their classrooms - especially in classrooms with English language learners.



Concerning how I integrate technology: I have been teaching beginning and intermediate adults as a volunteer in a local library’s ESL course, and it seems to be working fairly well.

The library has a computer lab which patrons can use for one hour, so the students can begin the class on an appropriate website.

The websites include PUMAROSA, lessons on YouTube, and others that can be found on Google.

Here I act as a tutor or guide, observing what each student is working on, answering questions and making suggestions.

After the hour on the computer, the students move to a classroom. Each student receives a three ring binder that can hold up to 400 pages of texts, which I print up on my own printer to save money, refilling the cartridges as I go. These texts cover most of the lessons students will need for at least 6 months, I have found.

In the ‘live’ class for beginning and intermediate students, I focus on pronunciation, tricks to learn difficult ‘rules’ in English, and grammar, especially verb tenses. Then I introduce reading material: essays, stories, songs, and poetry.

My next step is to learn how to put lessons on Smart phones, including text, video and audio lessons. I have started with Wiki Spaces for Teachers and a free WIX website. But I am not very Tech Savvy, so I look forward to reading others’ experiences.

Paul Rogers

PS: I have not been getting my Digests, so I wonder if there is a glitch.