Share what you have read, have been thinking about, or your questions

Technology and Learning CoP colleague,

Let's talk.

David: Think of this CoP as a community of colleagues who are interested -- as you are -- in information, ideas, practices, research, opportunities and challenges concerning the use and integration of technology in adult basic skills learning environments. Think of it as a way for you to participate -- both to learn and to share.

You?: I'm participating; I'm reading your post.

David: We want to know what you are reading, planning for or doing in your classes, program, school, professional development, or graduate school program.

You?: Who has time to read, think, or -- help us -- to post a message to a LINCS CoP!

David: For example:

  • You've just read an interesting online article. You wonder what others who care about the integration or use of technology in adult basic skills think about it. Tell us about it, and provide the link to the article. Some of us will read it and share our thoughts.
  • You read a post here with a description of a short article. Wow, you couldn't agree more... or less. Hmm, the article has you thinking about something. You share your thoughts here.
  • You've been thinking about.... (your classes, your program, your PD workshops or classes, your use of a particular technology, something else). You have a question, and wonder if anyone has the same question -- or some answers, or thoughts about it. You post it to the LINCS Technology and Learning CoP.

You?: Okay, okay. I'll wait for someone to post an article, I'll read it.   Oh, all right maybe I'll post something, a question. If I like the article I'll let you know. I'll send it on to other colleagues, and I'll click the CoP "Like" button. You ask a lot of questions, don't you, and it looks like you're not going to leave us in peace.

David: It doesn't take a lot of time to post a link to an article you have read or a video you have watched, post or reply to a question, hit the "llke" button, or carve out 10-15 minutes now and then to write and post about an aha! experience or a teaching challenge using technology. Please take the time. We want to hear from you.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator




I recently read an article in the Huffington Post on video literacy. . This part of the article got me thinking:

"Video is a language. It is a way that we communicate ideas with one another. And, rather remarkably, it often transcends language and cultural barriers in a way that books and writing don't. So the notion of video literacy is appealing for many reasons. But being video literate is more than just picking up a camera, pointing it a something and pushing the record button. As with the world of print, there is a world of sophistication (and rules) to telling stories in video. These are not hard to learn, but as with any language, it takes a bit of work and then a bit of practice. It used to be that owning a video camera was a bit of an anomaly. If you did own one, it was that thing that you pulled out of the closet for birthdays and trips. No more. Now, every smart phone (and there are more than 2 billion of them in the world) is a video camera. It is a pencil and paper, with a world-wide audience. But you have to learn how to 'write' with it, if you want to get your ideas across."

Should we be teaching video literacy as an adult basic  communication skill ? This might mean not only the critical skills needed to interpret videos, media literacy, but also the technical and planning skills to communicate well using video. The National Education Technology Plan (being revised in 2015) includes: "Communication and collaboration. Students should be able to work collaboratively, both in person and at a distance, and to communicate ideas effectively to multiple audiences using new media."

If we should be teaching the language of video communication skills in adult basic education, how should we teach these skills?

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator


Hi David, 

I've been thinking about how to provide a digital discussion board for an ABE/ASE L2 language-arts classroom without going crazy learning the technology to administer it. My experience with technology is that it changes just when I get competent, and I would rather spend my time getting on with teaching rather than learning a new program every six months. I exaggerate, but I know others who share this frustration, others who would like to integrate more technology in their classrooms.

An online discussion board would provide a rich language environment for my students by allowing for written engagement with each other, focused on academic work. It must be closed and closely moderated. It must be easy to access and use, with an ability to disable spell-check. A dictionary feature would be a plus, as would accessibility features like a text reader.

Where shall I look for this, and what words do I use to find it? 

The blather: a post in another string referenced an exciting event in technology, but when I got to the last paragraph the language was intimidating! Tech slams and QR codes and live tweets - the image of juggling my various electronic devices and my morning coffee to navigate a conference makes me shudder, yet the power of engagement at this level has me enthralled. How can I prepare my smart phone and my brain to navigate COABE like this? Egad. Where's the tutorial?

I hope to find technology cliff notes and other curious digital immigrants in this CoP.

Thanks for listening, 

Hallie Murphy
HSE Instructor

Hello Hallie,

Thanks for your great post. There is so much in it!

Many of us -- I definitely include myself -- are sometimes frustrated by the changing (and sometimes disappearing) software tools that we have painstakingly learned. That certainly is a downside of using digital tools.

I have some suggestions for threaded discussion software -- and I will post them in a day or two -- but let's see what others have to say first. Perhaps there are some adult basic education teachers here who have direct experience using these with their "ABE/ASE L2 language-arts" students. I am not sure, but I think you mean adult basic education and/or adult secondary education students who have learned English as their second (or other) language. Is that correct? If so, then their English language skills, I would guess, are at the intermediate to high level. If so, does that describe their reading and writing skills as well as listening and speaking skills?

I also wonder what you hope they will learn from posting in a threaded discussion: Improve their English writing skills?Learn to use a technology definitely needed now for post-secondary education? Distinguish between conversational and formal writing? Something else?

For those who may wish to answer your question it might be helpful to know if you need free software or if you have a budget for this and, if so, how much you could spend annually for software that has most or all the features and characteristics you mentioned.

You might also consider posting your question to the English Language Learning CoP.

What you are looking for could be searched for as "discussion board",  "discussion board software",  "threaded discussion",  "threaded discussion software", "threaded discussion board", "discussion forum",  "threaded discussion forum" or some other variation of those words. Anyone have other search terms to suggest?

Regarding the COABE App -- I wondered if someone had done a screen capture video yet to demonstrate how to download and use it. When I went to YouTube I found that  there are three newly-made screen capture videos, made by Nell Eckersley. . If you have questions after watching Nell's videos, you could email her or post your questions here. Until recently the moderator of this CoP, she's still an active member. 

By the way,  if I want to learn how to do something now -- almost anything -- I search YouTube first. You might try searching YouTube for "threaded discussion", and you might find a demonstration of software that looks appealing.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator





My partner in crime, Dr. Debra Hargrove, was working on a tutorial for the COABE app just last night.  So funny you should mention it!  I found it here (but I don't honestly know if she's finished with it or not).

As far as a discussion board for English Language Learners, most Learning Management Systems (LMS) have the option of moderated discussion boards.  I use Schoology because it's free and has a low learning curve.  It's very similar to most "Windows" type interfaces, so students seem to get the hang of it very quickly. And they do develop very interesting conversations.  Most of the time, I just sit back and watch as they help each other figure out the problems they have in English.  I jump in when an "expert" is needed, or someone gives incorrect information.  


Hi Glenda and all,

Thanks for mentioning the COABE app tutorials!  Deb did a great job on five video tutorials for using the COABE App on Apple/IOS devices that were just added to the COABE App YouTube Playlist

And Glenda, I've been looking a Schoolology to use in professional development with adult ed instructors. I work for a non profit and I couldn't tell from a (relatively cursory) look at the Schoolology website if they cater to organizations that aren't k-12 or higher ed.  Do you happen to know how they work with non-schools?  Any tips you can share regarding its usefulness in prof dev?



Nell Eckersley

Hi Nell,

I believe that West Virginia has been using Schoology for adult ed professional development, at least to help teachers understand and use the Adult Ed College and Career Readiness Standards, and that at least some of the teachers liked their PD use of Schoology so well that they are also using it with their adult learners. The person who could tell you more about this from West Virginia is Cathy Shank.


I used Schoology for a PD opportunity on technology integration for ELL teachers. I found the affordances of the tool matched my needs as a facilitator quite well.  It was easy to set up the site, invite participants, and load content. I had a bit of difficulty getting teachers connected to each other (required so that could post on each other's blogs), but worked it out in the end.  I created a demo version that shows much of the original site.  You can use the following course ID to log in and look around:   CCXKB-G6CQN 


Hi Nell,

The COABE app tutorials are great. Deb's approach of a short video for each step made the task more approachable for me, and I've got the app on my iPhone now. But the android app is not showing up in the app store for my Kindle Fire. Bummer!


I've worked with Schoology in the past. For other colleagues reviewing LMS, I've had good experiences with Moodle ( It's open source (free), and is very extensible. I've seen it used now for higher ed online learning or for local out-of-classroom teaching for small groups. Good tool for the toolkit. Shoot me a note if you need any help with it, too.

Christopher R. Cooper

HI Hallie,

I've used Wiggio with students and also with teachers and program staff, it is an online community with a set number of tools available so there is not a lot of setting up you have to do, and it's free.  Here's a presentation i did on how Wiggio could be used in adult ed


Nell Eckersley

Hi Nell, David, and company -

Wow, all y'all did a great job pointing to resources that address my questions. Thank you! The ABE/ASE students I work with are predominantly acquiring skills in English, so they are all over the literacy/comprehension/fluency map - and they all want to pass the high-school equivalency test in English. I hypothesize that appropriate and moderated use of a discussion board for class will increase fluency, writing, and general communication skills in a way that is relevant to workplace and educational settings. We operate under the umbrella of a community college, but the support does not extend to sharing the college's LMS with our classes or our students.

Youtube is the tutorial for everything. I've marked the COABE and wiggio tutorials to watch in my exploring time.

Schoology looks very robust, even the free instructor account has more than I think I need, but it would sure be great to have an LMS for our program.

Happily exploring, 


Hello Hallie,

You wrote: "I hypothesize that appropriate and moderated use of a discussion board for class will increase fluency, writing, and general communication skills in a way that is relevant to workplace and educational settings."

I am interested in your hypothesis, and wonder if there isn't already some research evidence to support it. Have you posted a question about this on the English Language Learning CoP? Have you contacted the Center for Applied Linguistics adult education staff, for example, Miriam Burt who until recently was the moderator of the LINCS Adult English Language Learners CoP? Have you seen this article on their web site? ? Perhaps our colleague, Heide Wrigley, an adult English language researcher, might know if there is research that addresses this question. Reading the research might give you a way to frame your hypothesis so that you will have some good evidence that either supports or does not support it. I wonder if Susan Gaer, an ESL professor at Santa Anna College could weigh in here, if she has used discussion boards with her students.  Susan? There are others here -- and in the English Language Learning CoP -- who might be able to contribute some ideas or evidence that would be helpful. I, for one, am very curious to know what happens when you try this.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderatoir


Hi, all.

I completely agree with what you wrote about the effectiveness of discussion boards for ELLs. I'd like to suggest that getting learner buy in would likely be easiest if you can use a tool they already use.  Last summer I started a research project at an alternative high school for recently arrived immigrant youth; we taught an English Language Arts unit using Facebook as the venue for online discussion.  Because these youth were all social media masters (actively participating in multiple social media sites, including Facebook) their response was very positive.  The classroom teacher that I worked with said the quality and quantity of the writing surpassed what they had produced for class outside of Facebook.   

I think learners appreciate opportunities to bring outside lives into the classroom and have those identities validated.  Use of a social media tool they are already comfortable using is one way to do this... it sort of legitimizes the tool as a space for use of English.  Facebook worked particularly well because its affordances maximize discussion and positivity.  We set up a secret group and showed the students that their participation was in no way reflected on their own Walls and that they need not friend each other to use the secret group.  I'm repeating/expanding upon the study this summer because it was such a great experience for all involved. 


Hi Jen and others,

Susan Gaer is having difficulty getting back on LINCS, so she asked me to post this for her:

I am not sure it increases formal writing and I do teach ESL at the moment. My board of choice due to student familiarity is Facebook. Students will post on Facebook. Now the question really is does it increase their writing. I believe that the mere act of writing increases writing. Becoming familiar with connecting and communication on a social platform should transfer over to formal writing. I did do a study where we use a wiki and to see if regular posting on a wiki increased writing. I did it with a high school class in the midwest. My class at that time had very sporadic attendance. So we did not find any noticeable improvement. However the high school class which had a regular attendance pattern and regular postings had writing skills go up exponentially. They started out by only using slang (my students did not not understand so they had to explain themselves.) By the end of the semester they were writing paragraphs about Obama getting elected with quotes and references when necessary.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator