Updating Transition Student Portfolio

Dear Colleagues,

Over ten years ago, the National College Transition Network posted a Promising Practice titled Transition Student Portfolio Model by Pat Fina, an adult educator in Massachusetts.  The portfolio helped students complete important steps and stay organized so they could successfully transition from adult education into postsecondary education.  The final portfolio demonstrated their readiness and served as a reference as they moved forward.

Times have changed but students may still need a Transition Student Portfolio.  Take a look at the Promising Practice.  What do you think an updated portfolio should include?


Moderator, Postsecondary Completion


I love the results, Cynthia. Can't argue with those! I suspect that folks in the Reading and Writing group will have some interesting comments on how the practice can improve reading and writing skills on the way to college. Leecy

Leecy Wise
Moderator, Reading and Writing Community

Not all of our learners have a desire to use technology, but many of our millennials thrive in a digital environment. Many businesses are realizing some efficiency in using technology, especially as part of the hire process. I believe there are a number of tools out there (Wikis, Blogs, the whole Google Drive Tools...) that allow our learners to store collections of their work and present their accomplishments professionally in a digital environment. I have been experimenting with instilling these skills in learners for a good number of years with good results. 

Learners share that they never fear loosing their important work they did semesters ago. They marvel at all they have really accomplished when they see their digitized evidence all there in their collections. The convenience of being able to upload evidence from their phones (images, voice, video ...) and automatically add those works to their collection makes it very easy to motivate learners to capture their accomplishments. As we work through the development of cover letters, resumes, interviews and those soft skills so needed to make these all work, learners are always innovating new ways to integrate their digital collections into real, working portfolios. They are proud that they have not only accomplished something awesome, they now have at least one link they can share with a prospective employer that highlights just what the learner can do. Employers are finding out much more about learners through these digital portfolios than any transcript might convey. 

I agree with Cynthia that learners need Transition Student Portfolios, maybe even a bit more today than a few years back. With so many negative vibes out in the "real world" towards many educational efforts, it is rational to expect that employers and admissions people will value demonstrations of accomplishments and evidence of thinking or learning when evaluating a potential applicant. "What can you do?" or "How did you do that?" become much more important than "What did you get for a grade?" or "What courses did you take?". 

It seems that some of the biggest challenges include gaining access to the technology and the teacher support to help teachers become comfortable with the skills and processes available. I am blessed to be in Maine, where technology access, even in adult education is at a very high level. Even with all the technology out there, the challenge of getting staff, many of whom are part time, trained and comfortable remains a large obstacle. We have another thread going that is discussing this very problem (https://community.lincs.ed.gov/comment/11142#comment-11142) Perhaps our professional development resources for adult educators can start adopting more structured digital resources to help get teachers more comfortable. 

I have seen learners adapting to these transitional student portfolios at a much higher rate, with much more engagement than I have experienced with more traditional paper collections and models. What experiences have others had with introducing or implementing digital portfolios?

Thanks for the detailed response and question to us all about digital portfolios, Ed.  How about others in the group?  Any experience with digital portfolios?

Ed, you mention phones, which I find interesting because I have worked with older students (beyond the millennials) that are very good at sending pictures, texting, and emailing from their phone.  I'm hoping that bodes well for their ability to be comfortable with some technology that they meet up with in postsecondary education (MS Office, online learning platforms).  Since some high school have students take an online course before they graduate, I'm hoping we can help adult ramp up so they are ready, too.


Moderator Postsecondary Completion

I try to do a digit project in one of my math courses - because I want my learners to connect what they are learning to the real-world - "see" that math has a place and it can be "seen".  There are a few motivated learners who truly love this part of my courses - but the majority just see it as yet another task I want them to do.  I came across this interesting article, "Why Technology Will Never Fix Education," in which the author introduces this idea of the "Law of Amplification".  Tell me one take away you had from this article - let's discuss this idea of living in world of vast information but little education.


Hello Brooke and others,

I found Kentaro Toyama's article stimulating. I agreed with much of what he argued, but he missed something extremely important. I'll try to explain.

Years ago, author Ivan Illich, in Deschooling Society, made a clear distinction between learning and schooling. We often think of education as including both, but unfortunately, and as Illich argued, sometimes schooling is in conflict with learning. Although Illich would have had us throw out formal education altogether because, as he put it, our society is "all schooled up",  I would not argue for that, but I do think in all teaching and learning educators need to be clear about what is learning to meet society's requirements, i.e. schooling, and what is learning for other reasons such as curiosity, need for information to solve a problem one cares about, pride of knowledge, and others. Teaching usually takes place in formal learning environments, schools, but learning (non-formal, informal learning) may not. Or, as Mark Twain once put it, "My whole life was an education, except of course for the years in school," Toyama's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, not surprisingly, takes as a given the importance  of learning to meet requirements, i.e. formal schooling, but ignores other, sometimes equally or more important powerful motivations for learning.

I wonder, Brooke, if the "few motivated learners who love the technology part of your courses" are strongly -- but at least for this part of the course -- differently motivated. I have seen adult learners, on their own, spend limitless hours learning how to solve technology-related problems because of the satisfaction, skills, and power they gain. They are strongly motivated, not for meeting external requirements, but for meeting personally-driven -- or job-related or professional -- needs. Toyama misses this dimension of learning almost entirely. For example, in describing people who succeed at completing MOOCS, he only mentions the factors of privilege, gender and level of education (he's right about those) but fails to note the importance of powerful, non school-related motivation, some of which is personal, and some professional. Most people who have completed graduate level MOOCs, according to the research I have read, do so because of their engagement in the content (deep curiosity) and/or the work-related skills and knowledge they feel they need or could benefit from.

Our challenge in adult basic education is to achieve a balance between students' very real needs and motivation to meet requirements for credentials (the HSE, for example), and to nurture their other motivations to learn. For some students, especially younger ones, starting with the digital tools they use and love -- social media, smart phone apps, and games -- may be a way to restore some balance between schooling and learning. Well-designed learning games and simulations, for example for language learners, and perhaps in other realms of learning, may be another kind of technology that can help to achieve this balance. The current National Education Technology Plan, that incidentally tries to some extent to include adult basic skills, emphasizes what some call "web 2.0" skills, what others call skills acquired through project-based or constructivist learning. The phrase "maker activities" has crept into some education circles, especially in K-12 and higher ed, as a way to name this kind of learning. The concept is not new, and was especially well articulated by American philosopher educator, John Dewey, in several of his works as "learning by doing". Technology offers some great opportunities for project-based or constructivist learning, for learners who want to make things, solve problems in the process, and acquire useful new skills and knowledge, for learning by doing.

David J. Rosen





' We confuse business success with social value, though the two often differ."   That's one takeaway... 

The other one is that people who comment on the articles like to blather on and on about tangential things... and that distractibility might be a part of the "amplification" problem (a.k.a. "Matthew effect:  The rich get richer, the poor lose what they have."    It's a common theme when talking about special education, too.  Hmmm.. )   

This fixation on MOOCS as "not the answer after all" seems to be suffering from current culture's binary thinking.    I know some people are trying to design ways to make "massive" courses work better -- building in feedback, etc.    One of the things our admins are talking about here is finding a good math open course that's "out there," and using it for a facilitated course where people would sign up and there'd be a teacher to do the deadlines and explanations and encouragement and what have you.   

And on a complete tangent, *my* find of the day was this quick and elegant animated explanation of how lattice multiplication, area-model multiplication and "Standard Algorithm" multiplication compare with where they're putting those ones, tens, hundreds and thousands at http://www.stevewyborney.com/?p=521 

Cynthia, I agree that for many learners there is difficulty in transferring skills learned from one platform to another. In my experience, much of that difficulty is compounded in our methods to teach with any particular tool. For example, an instructor may teach Word in a way that is very procedure oriented. Basically, let us practice and memorize where each button is and which menus contain what. In contrast, teaching learners about word processing and the basic operations that are in all word processors, then having them experiment with that conceptual understanding in multiple products prepares them to take the core essential understanding of word processing and apply it to any interface much more easily than the procedural instruction. For example, changing the format of text is a universal function in all word processors. Learning where one might look (symbols, menus, possible screen locations...) to find those formatting options and knowing how all word processors use them (highlight text - click on changes or set up formats first then type) now enables learners to go explore many types of interfaces to see how they are similar and different. 

A funny story about phones and one example of how they increased access. My father is in his late 60s and has been technology resistant for a number of years. With much fuss, he finally agreed to try to learn this computer thing so he did not get left in the Internet dust. He was given a laptop which was quite old (it still used 3.5 floppies for OS installs) and that did not work out quite well. He pushed so hard and really became fairly competent in the DOS environment, but it was much too much work for his time. Then a few years pass and he hears how this Windows thing is supposed to be much easier. Another computer, another set of hundreds of hours trying to push past challenges with not enough reward. Someone suggested to him that his Windows was a much earlier and clunkier version, so yet another attempt with technology ended with results that did not leave him feeling engaged. Finally I got him on my phone plan and got him a smart phone. If you did not gather from all these attempts, my father was never lacking in persistence, it was just that the interfaces, the vocabulary, and the methodologies of how things are organized out there just did not make sense to him. The digital phone opened up his access to the Internet in some ways that encouraged him to really get involved. He now uses most of a 2Gig/month plan every month looking up specifications for this tool, reading reviews on this product, finding the cheapest gas on his trip, scouting the road ahead for traffic jams ... 

For those of you that work with the middle and older generations, you may want to explore introducing smart phones into the learner's experience as it really does appeal to some in a way that laptops and computers do not. 

Daphne - I've been thinking about this a bit lately, and I think there are 3 main reasons smartphones are "easier" than desktops or laptops (or even ipads):

1) Input ease - they remove the "barrier" of the 'separate' mouse and keyboard. Your fingers and your eyes are essentially working in the same space, and you are in direct contact with what you want to manipulate. It is a more intuitive interface design (true of any touchscreen really).

2) Interface ease (which Susan mentions above) - unless you spend a lot of time customizing, smartphones give you only a few simple choices on the home screen and each 'button' opens only one thing. You can only be looking at one thing at a time. IN addition, most apps are 'simpler' than what you work with on a desktop/laptop. Many complaints I hear about phones are that you 'can't do' x or z that you can on a 'regular' computer (or tablet).  This is a DESIGN FEATURE not a bug.  Phone screens are small - and designed to do commonly needed/used things quickly and easily. If you want to do something more complex, the phone is not your best tool.

3) Access/Ease for Regular Repeated Practice - Phones are more likely to go everywhere and so they are much more likely to be *on the spot* when you want to know something (or want to kill time). This FOSTERS regular, repeated use.  In addition, the interface ease above makes folks MORE likely to use the phone to do things - which also fosters repeated use. In my experience, *regular, repeated practice* makes almost ANYTHING easier to use.

Just this morning, Inside HigherEd's Technology and Learning had a brief review of some interesting stats including this:

"From 1995 to 2014 the number of mobile phone users went from 80 million (1 percent of the population) to 5.2 billion (73% of the population)."


Wow!  Many of us are getting comfortable with mobile phones.  For adults who want to transition to postsecondary education and careers,  laptop/desktop skills are still essential.  The "original" Transition Portfolio (Pat Fina is the author of the Promising Practice) included: completed computer skills inventory, short presentation using PowerPoint, school budget and data project using Excel, and email address.  I wonder how comfort with a phone can translate into comfort with laptop/desktop technology.


Postsecondary Completion Moderator

Cynthia, and others,

I've been thinking about what "smartphone literacy" could mean. In addition to basic smartphone literacy: knowing how to turn it on; creating, remembering and entering one's password; two-thumb keyboarding; and knowing how to download, update, and organize apps, some of the most important skills are these:

1. Knowing what your smartphone can do for you beyond communication -- voice, text messaging, and email; and information searching; for example, managing your contacts, and calendar, scheduling meetings and responding to others' meeting schedulers, learning online through websites and apps, purchasing -- for example without hard money or credit cards but only a smartphone,  and banking, etc.

2. Deciding what you want  it to do for you, and why. For example, for some people buying food has become complicated. Was that fish wild-caught or farmed? Where are those shrimp from, and does it matter (it does!), are those really organic vegetables, and does this food contain gmo's ?  Someone close to me has resisted buying a cellphone but now thinks she needs a smartphone to help her with these basic food shopping decisions. Increasingly, foods have QR codes that take you to web pages that answer questions like these, and print labels on food don't.

3. Learning how to make your smartphone do what you want it to do. YouTube videos (in English, Spanish and increasingly other languages) are often one good way; asking a friend, family member or classmate who has the same kind of smartphone is another, or a combination of the two.

4. Knowing what kinds of learning smartphones are good for, and what kinds a computer would be better for. A smartphone vocabulary app, especially one that uses "spaced" learning strategies, is an ideal way, in 5-10 minute sessions, to learn new words. Learning how to write -- and writing -- a resume, perhaps not. Reading a streamed or downloaded short story is fine on most smartphones (you flip paragraphs instead of pages, and you generally can enlarge the text to meet your needs) but you might not want to read War and Peace this way. Some online course activities might be okay on a smartphone -- indeed some are designed to be done quickly on a smartphone -- but others, especially those that require having more than one page open at a time, no thanks. 

In summary, we all need to learn what smartphones can do, what we want to do with them, and what they are and aren't good for. Of course if you only have a smartphone, no computer, you might get good at using it for things it wasn't intended for!

I'd love to hear others' thoughts about what smartphone literacy should include.

David J. Rosen



Hi Cynthia and others,

I know I am late to the party, but I found this discussion valuable since my 17, 18 and 19-year-old literacy learners in high school use cell phones for nearly all their reading and writing assignments. In fact, they perform most of their journalism work on their phones, including producing our award-winning monthly newspaper. Many have no computers at home, or lack Internet access, but they brainstorm, take notes, compose rough drafts, edit, and revise--plus take photos and design advertisements--all on phones! Sadly, while handwriting is an option for articles but not for publishing, they would have no opportunity to practice journalism or produce media if not for their mobile devices, yet how many schools ban such tools? The students I see meet with the most success, and go on to college for journalism, are my ELL and ESL students, so what does this say about today's digital literacy and Literacy 2.0?


Hello colleagues, Thanks for your post, A. Cybart-Persenaire, about how your students are using cell phones to great effect. These students illustrate the incredible potential of cell phone technology.

I would love to hear your thoughts as well as other members' ideas on a recent publication about the role of teachers in supporting students to use technology in the same productive ways as your students. Kentaro Toyama, a professor at the University of Michigan, insists in a brief article in The Conversation that "Without teachers all the tech in the world will be useless."

Toyama talks about his experience with kids in an after school program, although he has also been involved in technology initiatives with agriculture and healthcare, presumably with adults. How different, if at all, do you think the issue he raises about the importance of teachers might be with adult learners?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment, AELL and CCR Communities of Practice

Daphne, I know that in my father's case the smart phone interface was a big issue. The act of hitting an icon once (and not double clicking .. or was it click and dragging or was that a right click?) to launch a program was very useful for him. The forms of input and output were equally transformative. The phone he has allows him to simply speak commands and text and the phone does all the work. He CAN enunciate, he can't type or spell to save his life. So a simple "Send text to Bumblehead: Hey, when are you going to return my tools? Send" and poof he just sent me a text message in the amount of time it would take him to turn on a laptop. 

I have seen with some ESL learners that the phones allow any text to be read to them in English. Not only that, with a phone you can scan in almost any math problem and all of the steps in solving that math problem appear on the screen including the answer. This applies to any text and any math problem in print on any medium. This type of technology raises important questions about literacy. One can always argue that if the technology fails, humans must still retain those skills, but how many of us could really slaughter and process a cow to make that hamburger today? Anyone still making paper at home from tree pulp? Armed with the ability to help others communicate and view the intricate details of many processes will transform our educational environment very soon.

I have been shocked to see the ways these technologies remove some of our academic "sacred cows". After I get over the dismay and shock, I forced myself to see what happens beyond the person circumventing classical algorithms or procedures. Surprisingly, people like my father, who have really bad dyslexia are now able to write a book and put their stories out there by simply telling their story into a device. Math students that really want to understand a process before committing it to memory can now pull up a sequence of steps for ANY given problem and reflect on each step to assess their comfort with each part. This liberates them to learn to communicate exactly where in any math process they are stuck and can now ask for specific help instead of "I just don't get this?" or "I don't remember the steps at all". Like it or not, the power in these digital devices will force us all to start thinking about literacy and numeracy in drastically different ways in just the next couple of years. Fascinating stuff that is moving very quickly. This rapid evolution will likely push educators into a quick role reversal of discriminators of knowledge to career coaches or academic mentors  that help the learner decide directions, options and applications for the students' efforts. 

Hello Ed and all, Ed you raise some fascinating issues related to how technology is affecting the basic fundamentals of teaching and learning. It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds-- and as you note -- is actually beginning to unfold now! The pace of change is incredible. We've been moving away from teachers as purveyors of knowledge, i.e., the sage on the stage, for some time.  I agree with you that "the rapid evolution" in technology is driving necessary and unavoidable changes in a teacher's role. Observing how learners take more and more responsibility for their own learning -- as your dad has done -- is and will continue to be amazing to watch.

That being said, the teacher's role will always be vital. I recently watched a most remarkable documentary about the jazz great Clark Terry and his impact as a teacher, Keep On Keepin' On. If you want to be inspired check it out!

Exciting times!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Readiness Standards CoP

Thank you for the reference to the movie Susan. I just finished watching it. I think the movie really highlights what good teachers are after. Good teachers want to be able to help people find their passions and help each student take a few steps towards expressing those passions. In spite of our education system (seat time, subjective grading, standardized testing ...) we have good teachers out there really transforming lives and making the world a better place. So many teachers have this outstanding potential to make a positive impact on others and I don't think that spirit or opportunity will ever die. 

I question if some of our educational norms inhibit a teachers power to help learners discover their passions and develop those passions. Many have shared this concern like Sir Ken Robinson http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?language=en and others. I have found that in adult education, the normal boundaries are less in the way, but there still remains an educational norm that seems to linger and very slowly change. With life changing so quickly and those educational norms often so slowly changing, I am quite curious to see how the role of the educator transforms. Does it get to a break point where teachers wake up tomorrow and suddenly their jobs are quite drastically different? Does the system evolve too slowly and parallel systems begin to spawn off and thrive to eventually replace existing norms? Although education may lack appropriate funding for those dedicating their life to the betterment of others, we certainly don't lack for excitement in our daily work with learners :)  Your expression of "Exciting times!" really got me thinking about how many things must change in our near future and yet the heart and soul of good teachers remains the same old powerful backbone of our society. 

Thanks Susan,

I have just added "Keep On Keepin' On" to the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) Wiki pages, Books and Films which Inspire Teachers,  http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Books_and_Films_which_Inspire_Teachers , on the Films page http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Films.

Teachers and others looking for inspiration over the summer, or after, might find these lists of adult education peer recommendations useful.

If you know of books or stories, films, TV films or series, Internet Videos, TED Talks, or readings for adult education professional development that should be added, please register for this free, online adult basic skills resources wiki http://wiki.literacytent.org, and add them yourself (it's a wiki!), or email them to me to add.

David J. Rosen



Hi Ed and all, I've used online portfolios for my own professional purposes, and I think it would be excellent to have students create their own. What portfolio resources have you used with students, Ed? Michael Cruse recommends using LinkedIn, which is a great suggestion. What online resources can other members recommend?

Cheers, Susan

LINCS Moderator: Assessment, CCRS, AELL CoPs


I drank the Google Koolaid back in 2005 and have worked extensively with the tools that have been provided for free by Google. The integration of their tools combined with the cloud (any where, any device) access, continues to convince me that these tools have much power to offer the educational community. 

In sites, I have created a template to get learners started in thinking about what they might include. Please note that this is just a basic framework. Many learners will delete some of these pages and will add in completely different ideas that are better in line with their experiences or in a better context for the careers they wish to continue on with. If you go to google sites and try to start a new site, you can choose Browse Template Gallery and then type in my name Ed Latham into the search box and you will see the template for student portfolio there. Additionally, this link my get you to the site as well https://www.sites.google.com/site/templatestudentportfolio/ . I find that I change this template a tons based on individual needs. The beauty of sites, like many other wiki based resources is that if you can type and highlight, you can create a webpage painlessly. 

I'm interested in what technology is used in ABE classes to help with transitions to the work world.  What a learner develops in an academic portfolio may need to be translated for employment purposes.  Many professionals use LinkedIn to network and demonstrate their skill set with potential employers, but I'm curious whether the platform also would be a good resource for ABE graduates? 

It has the potential to serve the purposes of an electronic resume, and also provides the space for recommendations and professional skills endorsements.  I think this is a great start for the new worker, as much as it is for the seasoned professional, so what's stopping more ABE educators from using this free and readily accessible platform with learners?

As more and more of education and work move to an online format, there's a pressing question of whether and to what extent adults with low literacy skills and who have low income can access, use and benefit from electronic platforms. Does anyone know of any recent technical reports or journal articles on this topic?

Hi, Dolores -

Dr. Helen Barrett has some interesting research on this topic on her website: http://electronicportfolios.org/   Her work is primarily within K-12, but considers the spectrum of learners' aptitudes.

Another research article - although from 2008 - is available through Science Direct at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131507001455  -   It is based on a project for residents of Minnesota.  Here is the abstract.

Audience, Integrity, and the Living Document: eFolio Minnesota and Lifelong and Lifewide Learning with ePortfolios

Policies and programs focused on using ePortfolios to support lifelong and lifewide learning should be informed by research. This article presents the results from research on eFolio Minnesota, a project that makes ePortfolio software available to all residents of the State of Minnesota in the United States. The most active portfolio authors of all ages are using eFolio for a wide range of interconnected purposes, with educational planning at the center, over time in multiple roles as students, educators, and workers. In the process of composing a portfolio, the authors who say eFolio has had a highly significant impact on their learning move from an experimental stage into a living document stage. In this second stage, authors are likely to have a strong sense of and connection to audience, real and imagined, and to see their portfolios as having integrity, as being faithful representations of their lives across roles and over time. Portfolio projects committed to supporting learning throughout life should enable access, foreground planning, promote findability, cultivate audiences, capture activity, enable layering, foreground the personal, cultivate collaborative contexts, and promote integral introductions.

Hi Delores and Health Literacy Community of Practice:

The Pew Research Institute follows the issue of the digital divide over time. This is definitely the basis for initiatives like EveryoneOn/Connect to Compete and their push for low cost internet access and equipment.  One place where you might find studies is in the healthcare arena with the concern about the use of eHealth tools and internet-based patient portals by individuals with lower levels of literacy.  I'll be back at my desk on Wednesday and can look through database of health studies but in the meantime, I'll send this along to the Health Literacy Community of Practice.



Moderator, Postsecondary Completion



Thank you, Michael and Cynthia, for the resources you provided. I am unfamiliar with e-portfolios and would be interested to know exactly what they are, in a sentence or two (!) - I did go to the ePortfolio website but among the many resources offered I could not see exactly what the phenomemon of interest was, athough I may have missed it. Is it like a dropbox in the cloud or something like that? It sounds like a promising direction on the face of it. And I was interested in the statistics on the Pew Digital Divide site, eg over 2/3 of 18-29 year olds have smartphones, and over half of households earning $75K+ have a tablet. I wondered about the rest - do low-literate/ low-income adults predominate among the have-nots? They must, but what can be done...

Hello Dolores, and others,

There is a range of definitions of e-portfolio, but what they all have in common is that e-portfolios are online, and include learner work. It might be useful to distinguish learning progress portfolios from presentation portfolios (that sometimes are the "end product" of a learning progress portfolio). Think of the learning progress portfolio as an online collection of evidence of learning. Sometimes it is organized chronologically, sometimes as a list of test results or other assessment results. It may be organized in other ways, but is intended to enable a teacher or tutor and student to systematically assess learning progress. Think of the presentation portfolio as a culling of evidence of learning from the progress portfolio. Often a learner polishes it so that it is evidence of one's best work, designed to show (prospective) employers and admissions officers what one can do.

Micro-credentials (e.g. digital badges) are a recent phenomenon that is sometimes associated with e-portfolios; they present a crisp way to summarize one's demonstrated knowledge or skills. They sometimes appear in a learner-controlled  "digital backpack" webpage, and if a learner gives someone (e.g. a prospective employer) permission, s/he can look at the badges, click on them to determine exactly what they mean, who has awarded them, what the awarding authority's credentials and reputation are, etc. The micro-credentials are sometimes "stackable", that is, they add up to a recognized industry certificate or other certification.

Mike Cruse and I are planning a discussion on both e-portfolios and micro-credentials for the Career Pathways and Technology and Learning CoPs in which we'll describe all this in more detail and, we hope, have some guest presenters to describe how they are using these in adult basic education.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning and Program Management CoPs Moderator





David, I have been a big fan of digital badges for quite some time and I even started outlining a number of badges I thought might be useful in looking at CCRS roll out efforts. These included badges for both teachers learning, adopting and implementing the standards as well as for learners in their educational progress and experiences. The difficulty with badges is that they need to be cooked. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, cooking a badge is a process of vetting a badge so the badge holds some validity. Anyone can make a badge, but a cooked badge has all the data integrated into the badge and is issued by an educational body. Are there public agencies set up to cook badges for adult educators? I have found that many of those issuing badges are all from one university or another. I am assuming that we would need a central agency (and set of norms) if all of us were to collectively work together to create a set of badges. It would be nice to know if there were a education issuer that would accept badges from the public. If so, I would very much like to know of such a resource. I look forward to future conversations in the LINCS about digital badges because I think we have some opportunities to add a powerful tool and increase collaboration in our field through this technology. 

Hi Dolores:

I think cost is a big factor in terms of access to the internet for adult education students so initiatives, like EveryoneOn, are critical.  OCTAE has arrange with EveryoneOn to pre-qualify enrolled adult education students, teachers, and programs for low cost internet service and computers.  So, students can have access in their homes and at their program through EveryoneOn.  It's a way to reach some adults.

More about EveryoneOn


In many political arenas there have been some discussions starting up centered on the increasing divide among those that have Internet access in the home vs those that do not. If you think about many of our utilities like water, electricity, septic... these industries were determined to be vital to the common citizen to be healthy, productive and safe in our society. Current arguments are pushing that access to Internet is just as vital in today's digital and more global world. Would you agree? What are the negatives in legally transforming Internet access into a public utility as we have with many other systems to the house?

Hi Ed:

It was great to meet you at this week's Maine Adult Education Association/COABE Region 1 conference and to attend one of your sessions (and it was amazing to see the model/structure you are developing to align resources to the adult education CCR standards).  At the LINCS table and throughout many of the conference sessions, technology was either an overt focus or played a key role in access to resources.  I think the public/private collaboration of EveryoneOn.org/adulted is showing itself to be a viable model for many areas.  Rural areas, however, seem to be left out of the mix -- either they appear to have no private internet service providers in the area or teachers and students are on dial-up.  Serving rural residents might take another model.


A pilot project started up in the Down East area of Maine (impoverished,  remote, sparse population). In this pilot, students that can show inability to get Internet (financially or physical location) can go to the local access point and sign out a laptop and a Hotspot WiFi box. Now the student can plug in the box at home and get internet provided by the cell phone companies for FREE to do their school work at home. This pilot project has gathered an awful lot of interest in how cell phone companies and other technology providers can help adults and students participate in the educational opportunities. I feel that in the next few years there will be an increase in access to technology to those underserved in many creative and innovative ways.


Hi Ed and others,

Great to hear about solutions for getting students connected. I know libraries and some literacy programs in New York and Rhode Island have been leading out laptops and recently Wifi Hotspots.  I would like to collect exemplary lending practices and plan on creating a tool kit geared specifically for adult education programs. If you know of material that is already out there or experiences that you are willing to share, either post them here (or email me directly steve_quann@worlded.org and I will share what came together with this group). 


Steve Quann

World Education, Inc.

Steve, and others,

Collecting examples of program solutions for helping students access the Internet is a great idea. I am glad that you have asked the members of this CoP for help with solutions or strategies that they are aware of or have used. I hope as many people as possible will help with this. I look forward to seeing the practical, local solutions that people in rural, urban and other areas can suggest. Sharing our knowledge is very important in a community of practice. It's how we can all improve what we do.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator



Hi Dolores and Colleagues,

The move to eHealth has prompted studies of websites and the literacy levels needed to comprehend the information they provide -- almost all bad news for people with low levels of literacy, I'd have to say.   But, you are asking a much more comprehensive question that includes all the steps from affording equipment and internet service to learning how to install and use equipment to accessing and successfully using internet websites and portals.

There are studies that focus on portions of that trail.  For example, here is Internet Usage by Low-Literacy Adults Seeking Health Information:  An Observational Analysis.  If this is the kind of information you are looking for, others in the health literacy group can probably suggest additional studies that include literacy along with health literacy as part of their focus.  Would that be helpful?


Moderator, Health Literacy Community

Cynthia, I am so glad you shared the site  Internet Usage by Low-Literacy Adults Seeking Health Information:  An Observational Analysis. It also has studies dealing with diversity and learning, which I will share in that CoP.

I have been in the business for a long time of creating low-level, contextualized curricula to help adults succeed in training, especially for health careers. The more low-reading-level sites we can suggest to each other in that regard and in any field, the better. As soon as I have permission to publish the digital content as OER, which is now on CD's, I will publish it as an additional resource here. It is called Reading, Writing and Math for Health Careers. I am in need of a proofreader and content reviewer before putting it out there for everyone. Know of any students that might be interested for a small fee? Leecy

Moderator, Diversity and Literacy and
Reading and Writing Communities

Hello Cynthia and all, There are clearly some important implications from this study. For example, the finding that "seven out of 8 [adult learners in this study] selected 'sponsored sites'-paid Web advertisements-over search engine-generated links" suggests a real need to teach effective internet search skills.

What strategies are members using for teaching these essential skills effectively?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, CCR CoP

Hello Cynthia and others!

I am the Career Counselor/Transition Specialist for the High School Completion Programs at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA. My colleagues and I have been piloting an e-portfolio requirement for our high school diploma students and are getting ready to implement this as a requirement for all HS diploma students starting July 1. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the process and components of the portfolio we have created. Thanks!


Kelly Scanlon

Hi, Kelly. My only question relates to the success you have observed. Since you are about to implement the strategies employed in the pilot, you must have outcomes that  support that implementation. What have you found? Leecy

Leecy Wise
Moderator, Reading and Writing, and
Diversity and Literacy Communities


Hello Cynthia and others: I am Dan Bubon-teacher in the Adult HS Completion Program at Kirkwood CC in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. To give you some background on the evolution of our portfolio requirement at Kirkwood, I need to go back to my career at a public high school in Cedar Rapids. I was a high school special education teacher for 23 years and the last 12 years was an Associate Principal at Prairie HS. Student population grades 10-12 was 1,100. Prairie High School was the first in the state to require a portfolio and senior presentation as a graduation requirement. This requirement has been in existence for over 17 years. It has continually been revised and changed as needed over those years.  We entertained many school districts from across the state over the years as the Portfolio/Senior Presentation became something that many districts have looked at and adopted for their own use. Upon my retirement from Prairie HS in 2012, i started work part time as an instructor in Kirkwood Community College's Adult HS Completion Program. What started to be troubling for me were the comments by students as they tried finishing their work for our HS diploma was "What is the quickest or easiest class I can take to meet the Language Arts or Elective requirement to finish". I started to become concerned with the thought-What can we hang our hats on as teachers that makes us feel good about what they were taking away from us --that was of value to them in this transition to post secondary opportunities after earning this HS diploma? Why could we not require them to really look at some 21st century skills that could be included in the requirement. Most importantly too was their own reflection of where they have been to get to where they are today--on the verge of earning this HS diploma that has eluded them. after all the presentation itself as part of my experiences at Prairie HS were the most moving and our students stories now are very moving. That is how this project got underway at Kirkwood College in Adult Ed.   

Hi Dan:

Thanks for joining in the discussion.  It is quite an edifying journey and we really appreciate hearing from you. Right off the bat, I have two questions -- one broad and one fairly narrow.  The first, broad question is:  How did you (or do you) decide which 21st century skills to include?  And the second, narrow question, how did/do students demonstrate those skills through an electronic portfolio?



Postsecondary Completion Moderator