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Do you integrate technology in your class, tutorials, program(s) or school(s)? If so why?

Teachers or tutors and program, school, or state administrators,

1) Do you integrate technology in your class(es), tutorials, program(s) or school(s)?

2) If so, what are the benefits of integrating technology? What problem(s) has integrating technology addressed, what improvements has this made in what you provide to adult learners, in the instruction you provide, in the professional development you receive, or in the administration of your program(s) or schools(s)?

There are a variety of ways to answer these questions: a phrase such as "improved vocabulary",  "learner confidence and competence" "measurable or observable learning gains" or something else; a story of something that happened with your students that convinced you of the value of integrating technology; a link to something you have written or published about this; a video you have made, or something else that answers these questions.

Why answer these questions? Because they are fundamental to your, and our, understanding of why practitioners in adult basic skills education (including ESOL/ESL) have integrated technology in small ways or big ways, because this is important information that we as a community need to share with each other and discuss.

I eagerly await your reply.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Comments

Edward Latham's picture

1) Do you integrate technology in your class(es), tutorials, program(s) or school(s)?

I find I end up integrating technology with most students today in any of the capacities I fill (Teacher, Mentor, Tutor, Volunteer...) It is important to emphasize that I only offer technology options and none of those options are forced. Students always are given choice. In almost every case though, students have chosen a tech integration option (see reasons below). Interestingly, for those very few that choose to not dive into the technology pool immediately, I have found that within half a year of working with the student, the student starts reaching out to peers, or to me, to start trying some of the technology options he or she observes working so well with others in the room.

2) If so, what are the benefits of integrating technology?

  • Better Access to more information: Students share that they appreciate technology being able to supply so many different formats and means of getting information. Videos, audio, reading (with and without illustrations), assistance for impaired individuals and the ability to get information in many different languages all contribute to student adoption of technology integration efforts. Social media has also allowed individuals to "phone a friend" to find out what friends know or what resources might be available. Tie in a how available the information is on portable devices, tablets, watches, phones, voice home systems..., and the learning becomes even more accessible to any who have a decent Internet connection around. 
  • More ability to self advocate: As learners become more fluent in finding and accessing credible information, the learner also learns more skills that help the learner self advocate when face to face with people. Learning to justify a thought or fact presented online easily transfers to being able to justify a request for help or service one needs in face to face discussions. Learners have shared that they feel more confident that their thoughts or requests are not unique and that others have voiced similar requests as evidenced in many online discussion areas, forums, discussion boards, social media platforms ...
  • More means of expressing learning: Video, sound, speech to text, digital art tools, 3d modeling and even cloud-based typing all offer different ways to express learning to others. With success in demonstrating through different means, learners build confidence to advocate for options with other people. "Would I be able to ... instead of ....? I think that doing it this way would allow me to ...."
  • More confidence in joining today's workforce: Many jobs today are requiring that employees are able to flexibly choose and use technology that best fits a given challenge. Even when technology solutions are firmly established in a workplace, technology does not always behave and learners that have had positive technology integration experiences have seen proficient instructors adapt to any technology malfunctions. Likewise, when technology does not do what we like, learners pick up positive ways to cope which easily translate over to how the learner might deal with people when others do not do what we would like. 
  • Much easier to individualize and contextualize learning: Technology allows individuals to reach out to people that are already in a career field so learners can ask burning questions. Teachers often struggle to find any one resource that will fit every individuals goals, desires or needs and yet with good technology integration experiences, both learners and instructors have a much easier time finding a wider variety of resources that better fit careers or interest individuals have. Trying to individualize learning without solid technology integration skills is a challenge that most of us struggle with. Appropriate technology use can add much efficiency and saves time that allows instructor and individual to put more focus on goal setting and tracking rather than paperwork and processing. 

Just a few thoughts that came to mind from David's post. I am anxious to hear what others think. Do people see similar benefits or maybe they see some of the benefits listed above as detriments in their experiences? Always great to hear from the feelings and experiences of others!

David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks, Ed, for these great observations on the benefits of integrating technology. I want to understand some of them better.

You wrote:

"Better Access to more information: Students share that they appreciate technology being able to supply so many different formats and means of getting information. Videos, audio, reading (with and without illustrations), assistance for impaired individuals and the ability to get information in many different languages all contribute to student adoption of technology integration efforts. Social media has also allowed individuals to "phone a friend" to find out what friends know or what resources might be available. Tie in a how available the information is on portable devices, tablets, watches, phones, voice home systems..., and the learning becomes even more accessible to any who have a decent Internet connection around."

Can you tell us more about how the social media have allowed individuals to "phone a friend" to learn about problem solving resources? Is this an app, or is it a process you have have taught or observed? What does a successful "phone a friend for resources" look like? Is there a step for taking notes on the information? Is there a set a steps for forming useful questions? Is there a step for evaluating the quality and usefulness of the information? How about one for getting better at this process? Is this limited to asking just people you know, or can it be used with experts you don't know? If this is a process, do you model it for the learners you work with? Incidentally, do you know that some libraries are part of a national network of reference librarians so that if you connect online to the reference desk after hours on the East Coast you can get help from a librarian on the West Coast? Best of all, you can see the steps the reference librarians use to answer your question(s) what  sources they go to, how they search those sources, and after the real-time session, they email you a transcript of the search so you can improve your own searching skills. Is there something like this modeling of information searching in "phone a friend"?

You wrote:

"More means of expressing learning: Video, sound, speech to text, digital art tools, 3d modeling and even cloud-based typing all offer different ways to express learning to others. With success in demonstrating through different means, learners build confidence to advocate for options with other people. "Would I be able to ... instead of ....? I think that doing it this way would allow me to ...."

Do you have -- or, if not, could you create -- a list of these great phrases learners might use to have a learning dialogue with themselves? If so, please share them all with us.

You wrote:

"Much easier to individualize and contextualize learning: Technology allows individuals to reach out to people that are already in a career field so learners can ask burning questions. Teachers often struggle to find any one resource that will fit every individuals goals, desires or needs and yet with good technology integration experiences, both learners and instructors have a much easier time finding a wider variety of resources that better fit careers or interest individuals have. Trying to individualize learning without solid technology integration skills is a challenge that most of us struggle with. Appropriate technology use can add much efficiency and saves time that allows instructor and individual to put more focus on goal setting and tracking rather than paperwork and processing."

Can you tell us more about "Trying to individualize learning without solid technology integration skills is a challenge that most of us struggle with"? Specifically, what are the solid technology integration skills needed to individualize learning? Are you referring to the learner's technology integration skills, the teacher's or both?

Can you tell us more about "Appropriate technology use can add much efficiency and saves time that allows instructor and individual to put more focus on goal setting and tracking rather than paperwork and processing" ? Can you give us some examples of the efficient and time-saving ways that you have seen teachers and learners use to reduce paperwork and processing? Include ways you use, too.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

Edward Latham's picture

Sorry for the long post but there were lots of questions smiley

Can you tell us more about how the social media have allowed individuals to "phone a friend" to learn about problem solving resources?

Social media can take many forms from Facebook, Facetime, SnapChat, and even text messaging friends. Those are some of the popular ones people know about, but I would also say there are online forums or “comments” sections like those under Youtube videos, product reviews (Amazon.com), and specialty forums that center on specialized trades (usually I find these only because they show up in a google search on the topic). Posting questions, photos or illustrations in these forum-like resources often gets many options and opinions shared and these suggestions can then be tried by the student or can be compared against other suggestions that might be given to determine which option(s) might be best to use.

What does a successful "phone a friend for resources" look like?

Very often the student initiates a question that I don’t know. We discuss what digital groups might have experiences or information we could tap into. Student fires off a request to a few of those sources we brainstorm and as responses come in, the student may jot down the information and who provided it so we can discuss it. Often a suggestion is given so the student gives it a try and offers clarification questions or extension questions.

Is there a step for taking notes on the information?

As with getting information from any resource, it is helpful to jot down who provided the information and maybe what digital resource was used and having the date can help. EX: “Biker2463 from Facebook on 1/16/18” This helps us go back to that source with clarification questions or follow up questions we might come up with in discussions. Almost all social media platforms keep logs of the conversations so retrieval of information is simply a matter of finding out who we were talking to and maybe what date.

Is there a set a steps for forming useful questions?

At the risk of sounding silly, I find that thinking like a 3 year old full of wonder helps in coming up with questions. “What might you do ….?” “Why does that work…?” and best of all, “What if ….?” These questions are ones we all used ad nausium when we were trying to learn as much as possible in those formative years. They still work in our later years. I would say that the questions are more about experiential, values or application and not so much about facts like dates, formulas or “answers”

Is there a step for evaluating the quality and usefulness of the information?

I think much of the evaluation depends on the type of information requested. If I want to know how a carpenter really uses geometry for instance, no matter what responses I get, they are authentic responses from those in the field so they have value. Additionally, learners have sent out their inquiry to many so multiple responses can be compared and discussed. 

How about one for getting better at this process?

This tends to happen with the cyclic nature of having a digital discussion. A response may help us realize that we were not clear in our request or that more information was needed. As we have more and more digital conversations, we start improving the questions and approaches we use. Likewise, if a resource gets us no responses after multiple attempts, that resource is often discarded until other resources have been attempted. 

Is this limited to asking just people you know, or can it be used with experts you don't know?

As stated above, the use of forums that are used by specific fields can be helpful. When I have a computer question, for instance, I often start with a google search, “Problem with …..” and put in relevant details, and that often brings me to forums that I probably would never have found just by looking for “Forums that ….”. Also, posting questions under relevant Youtube videos or other online forums that have user interaction has resulted in some positive results.

If this is a process, do you model it for the learners you work with?

Even if I know an answer to something, I often ask, “How would I look for information on that?” If time is not sensitive and we can wait a day or so for response, I will post a request on my Facebook, G+, maybe email a couple people I know who know people that might have answers for me, or I may do a search with my question to see what might be out there in forums. We can then talk about what sites might best get us a response and I often encourage students to try the same question requests on their networks to see what results they get. A day later, we often have results we can share with each other and discuss. Sometimes it is just within an hour or so.

Love the reference librarian information East to West coast. Are there online links to this librarian network or is it just a phone network?

Is there something like this modeling of information searching in "phone a friend"?

In reference to having a record of discussions or options from requests, most social networks record conversations. The challenge may be in remembering who we had the conversation with, in which tool, and around what date.

Do you have -- or, if not, could you create -- a list of these great phrases learners might use to have a learning dialogue with themselves? If so, please share them all with us.

This can be highly individualized and often is dependent on the individual’s experience with introspection. Many of us can state what kind of ice cream we like but when asked, “Why do you like that type of ice cream?” our responses and the time it takes to respond varies quite a bit (try it out). I have looked around a little bit for a list of questions but everything I found was more along the nature of questions teacher can use to foster reflective thought in students. I try to get learners into the habit of asking themselves questions because I will not always be there to ask. I don’t have a fully compiled list but here are a few common ones:

  • “What do I really need to know or be able to do?”
  • “I wonder ….”
  • “What resources might have information I could find information?”
  • “How can I get this done easiest?”
  • “Do I know someone that often is able to point me in a good direction?”
  • “I know that did not work, but what could have gone wrong?”
  • “I have no clue what that person did that, why might they have chose to do that?”

Specifically, what are the solid technology integration skills needed to individualize learning? Are you referring to the learner's technology integration skills, the teacher's or both?

I don’t feel there is one size to fit all but I have found much success with the following skills. From a teacher standpoint, I must be able to:

  • Flexibly be able to use tools students have easy access to (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat...)

  • I need to be able to track progress of individuals in a way that helps the student set goals and evaluate progress towards those goals. (Spreadsheets have much power here)

  • I need to be able to organize curriculum goals as well as learning options and have those options easily available to students both digitally and not digitally. (Wordprocessing, cloud computing, hyperlinks...)

  • I need to be fluent in being able to communicate through many mediums (Chat, video, email, phone....) to best facilitate means that work best with each individual.

  • I need to have some way to keep notes or “to do” lists for each student so that I don’t miss opportunities to help individuals take their next steps. (Google Tasks, Digital Stickynotes, Blogs)

  • I need means of capturing sucesses and progress towards goals and the ability to teach students how to do so as well. (Student websites, cloud computing, Blogging)

My learner list of skills can vary quite a bit depending the needs and experiences of the individual. In short they can be summarized by:

  • Ability to communicate with instructor and peers using whatever tool

  • Ability to organize

  • Ability to reflect and self advocate for needs (this is often not present at start but is a constant focus to reach and ideal)

  • Ability to demonstrate learning in multiple ways

 

Can you tell us more about "Appropriate technology use can add much efficiency and saves time that allows instructor and individual to put more focus on goal setting and tracking rather than paperwork and processing" ?

I use tools to organize resources and learning options in a way that I can quickly and easily find and share those options with learners as needed. I also use tools to help track progress and keep track of goals for each individual. Tools are also used to help learners self assess knowledge. These can be as simple as self correcting quizzes or tests to something more complex like simulation environments that allow students to explore and then report out their experiences or thoughts to me. I have been partial to Google tools to make all this happen because the tools are powerful, all integrate seamlessly and they are free, but other teachers may have other systems they use. 

 

Can you give us some examples of the efficient and time-saving ways that you have seen teachers and learners use to reduce paperwork and processing? Include ways you use, too.

  • Attendance records are stored in cloudbased spreadsheets that are customized to track tardies and absenses in such a way that admins can easily spot when communications need to go out to warn learners at different levels.
  • Goal setting and tracking documents are set up such that all teachers that work with a learner have up to date access and can modify or leave notes for others to see.
  • State data and forms have been digitized in a form so that key info fields, such as phone, email … can be pulled together from other intake forms to create one living document that teachers can look at to better connect and communicate with the learner.

 

Deena Welde's picture

I use my iPhone and a projector adaptor, along with chargers, USB cord, and portable wireless speaker to access YouTube videos and project pages of texts, workbooks or handouts on the whiteboard so we can work on them together.  I also use Readworks.org to created leveled reading assignments, and enabled audio settings so they can listen and follow along, and work on vocabulary and comprehension questions because they bring their Smartphones to class.  The non-profit I work for has limited resources, and through technology I'm able to save a lot of money on photocopying while also making lessons more interesting, multisensory, and more closely aligned to individual student reading levels.

Leecy's picture

David and Ed, you've listed excellent reasons for integrating technology in every possible way in instruction. As a teacher trainer, I find that most Adult Ed teachers heartily agree with all of those benefits, and yet, many resist adopting technology in their instruction. Why?

In my very vast rural area, Internet connectivity is often a problem. In one tribal program that has new computers and the latest equipment for online learning and interactive video delivery, teachers simply cannot depend on connectivity, which can drop at any minute, to return at unknown times. Sometimes, people are left without email access for days. 

Instructors' Plan B could include the use of offline instructional resources, many of which I've developed on CDs, including  various uses of MS Office and other common apps. Still, instructors resist. At least in very poor rural programs, Adult Ed instructors are usually PT and  paid very low wages without benefits. The turnover is constant. Often working two-three jobs, they simply cannot volunteer time to become acquainted with all of the goodies offered by technology. Planning with technology integration takes time, something that instructors often simply cannot afford to donate to students. 

I have succeeded in training instructors to plan delivery using technology only when I find funds to pay them to participate. I'm amazed at how providing a few incentives can engage instructors in the process, but without incentives, no way.

I wonder what success others have had helping poor rural instructors effectively adopt technology in their lesson planning. 

Leecy

S Jones's picture

I think the technology is evolving so that things like geogebra can work without connectivity, though I'm not sure everybody would have access to a device that would be sophisticated enough.  Still, the training and figuring it out is a *huge* barrier.   We're not so rural but our adult ed folks are swamped.   I'm across the parking lot and ... comfortably busy as college staff.   It's a challenge to find ways to improve things that aren't a further drain. 

Rachel Baron's picture

Even in a fairly urban program, we sometimes find that getting 10-20 extra people on the wireless at the same time suddenly slows things to a near halt. It can be frustrating for a teacher to spend several minutes of valuable teaching time just getting people online, to the right website, logged in, etc. I understand why a teacher would try an online activity once and then give up.

However, I have found that the more I use the computers in class, the easier it gets--particularly if we keep returning to the same websites. I have had classes where we used CommonLit or Khan Academy once a week or more, and the students learned to log in and get started smoothly. In fact, in my math class (when we used the computers every day), I made sure to unlock the laptop cabinet 15-20 minutes before class, and most students would get logged in before class or during the warm-up. That seemed to make things go more smoothly for everyone, both because the students were connecting to the internet at staggered times and because of the routine: students knew what to expect and how to get started. If you log in to a site twice a week, you remember your password! (...or learn to write it down somewhere...)

When we use the computers in the second half of class, I start turning them on during break so that we don't have to deal with boot up time during class. This also alerts me to any computers that are acting up ahead of time, but I find that I'm much less likely to run into surprise updates and so forth if we use the computers regularly. Any time we have more computers than students/pairs, then I'll have one or two of the extras doing updating/scanning while the students are using the others. This makes it less likely that I'll end up in a situation in the future where all the computers decide to update at once.

Just like anything, integrating technology into classes is something that gets easier the more that you do it. If I was a trainer, I'd give the teachers a challenge: find an activity using the computer (or other device) that you can use every day for three weeks. That could be a particular website, Microsoft Word, or anything. Build it into your routine. After three weeks, decide whether you want to continue the activity, use the computers for something else, etc. At that point, you'll actually be able to assess the usefulness of the activity instead of being overwhelmed by the burden of doing something new and different in class.

Leecy's picture

You are so right, Rachel. As with our students, the more they practice, the easier it gets. Now to get them started! Thanks for the suggestions. Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Rachel,

You wrote: "I have found that the more I use the computers in class, the easier it gets--particularly if we keep returning to the same websites." 

Good point. The opportunity to practice is important -- for teachers as well as learners.  Do you deliberately choose websites, like Khan Academy, that have a mobile interface as well as a computer interface? If so, do you find that your students are accessing the instruction from their mobile phones or other portable digital devices?"

Having a laptop cabinet (or cart) you can easily access at any time, including before class to set it up for students who arrive early, is a terrific strategy. I am working with a group of adult basic skills (including ESL/ESOL) teachers in Illinois who have access to funds for purchasing new technology. I am going to suggest this to them. What laptops (or chromebooks?) do you find especially useful? It sounds like you have Internet access through a hotspot. What is the maximum number of students in your class before the access is too slow to be useful?  Thanks for the tip about having learners log in at staggered times! Please share any other tips you might have.

Everyone: Rachel wrote, "If I was a trainer, I'd give the teachers a challenge: find an activity using the computer (or other device) that you can use every day for three weeks."

Let's take on Rachel's "build a routine" challenge: What computer activity (set of online lessons, HyperDoc lessons, a particular website, a digital literacy assessment such as Northstar, a set of online videos, an online instruction program, etc.) would you choose that you could use with students every day for three weeks, and how would you use it?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

Lyn Michaud Smith's picture

Hi Leecy,

I also serve a rural area, with plots of urban and those are still significantly rural in nature. The loss/lack of connectivity makes using the internet difficult. We definitely need creativity.  The first thing that I did when I started digital integration was survey what technology was available in the community. While I am fortunate enough to work in a district with what could be considered extensive technology resources for an adult education program, there are communities where even the mobile phone service is not reliable. So I asked, what do my learners use and what can we rely on? This can either be for delivery of supplemental material for lessons or to create projects.

Television - my adult daughter travels as extensively as I do and she mentioned that people in run-down homes typically have a large-screen TV. When she was in Mexico she asked one of the residents, "why?" They told her they don't mind heat (no need for A/C), they are accustomed to their lifestyle, BUT they want to know about the WORLD. This could be a good opportunity to have recorded lessons on a CD or html connected device and the teacher provides the interaction. I often interrupt videos to encourage discussion.

Smartphone - create a lesson App specific for the course using a free app designer.

Calculator - while it doesn't have high-tech connectivity an engineering calculator and learning how to use it provides a technology skill. And it's fun to see the look on a person's face when they learn they can calculate "scary fractions" and "creepy exponents" with ease. Once they are confident they have the possibility of getting the right answer, most of my students love to learn the hows and whys of mathematical concepts. Add in a Ti-85 and you have graphing capability.

ATM machines - your local bank or credit union may love to teach people about digital banking etc. or you can make an ATM into a learning experience.

Digital cameras - learners can read text book material and then turn in a video or picture journal that illustrates what they've learned.

Field trips - what can local businesses offer as a means of introduction to technology? In many rural communities there is one large company that the majority of residents rely on for existence. They need a reliable and well-trained workforce. They often attempt to recruit people from "away" to bring their expertise to the area, but they might also be open to developing a training pathway or at least provide tours. 

Local tourism - what brings people to the area? Whatever your rural area has to offer, most likely there is a business that specializes in the technology to make it successful. Outfitters might have fish finders, GPS devices, night vision goggles. Gaming places might have virtual reality gear. Someone in the community might have a drone that they might be willing to provide a one-time workshop. 

Use people's hobbies and interests - One of my students enjoyed crocheting, her math project involved patterns, numbers of stitches, scale (1 inch = 5 stitches). 

I believe digital literacy is a workforce essential skill, but I don't have to be online to make that happen. I can travel with laptops that have document, spreadsheet and presentation software. AND then when I do have internet access, I include research, search engines and more.

I am like you, I try to have resources and lessons that are "grab and go" and that allow for interpretation and individualization by the teacher. I also make sure there are alternatives to having a computer or being online. Printed reading material, stand alone lessons or worksheets, ideas and "survey question sheets,"and games. I have a passion for technology and it shows, but I do need teachers to feel comfortable and limit their technology frustration.

Kathy_Tracey's picture

This conversation reminded me of the joke, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." I think technology integration falls under this category. I am intrigued that we all went to Internet access and connectiviity as a barrer. Technology integration is so much broader than that. Do we teach skills such as Microsoft Office, Power Point, Excel? Do we use movies and documentaries? Even a calculator is technology so how are we getting our students used to these types of tools as learning resources? 

And I believe that we can build engaging, interactive, and meaningful instruction 'one bite at a time'. 

Kathy

Paul Rogers's picture

KATHY - you raised a good point about looking at lack of access as a "barrier". Actually, it isn't. Well, in my case I put many of my texts and a number of audios and videos on a Thumbdrive (USB Port) and simply transferred the information from mine to the students'. Beginning students are often less accustomed to using computers and the internet, especially low-income adults. So gradually -"bit by bit - I introduce my program, which consists of two websites and lessons via the Smart Phone and WhatsApp. Slowly but surely everybody learns more and more.

One of the interesting challenges is the fact that because these students work and have families, their time is limited. Often they are not able to study at home or even watch a video from YouTube. So I am going to try to make videos that they can listen to more easily (i.e. with less chit chat and graphics). 

I teach in people's houses now, and most people own a laptop, which is usually used by the kids. By showing some websites that help children learn to read, like STARFALL, an atmosphere of Family Literacy is created, which is great to see.

My program consists of PUMAROSA.COM and INGLESCONPROFEPABLO.COM, both of which are free for those interested.

Paul Rogers

Leecy's picture

Paul, good for you! We don't talk enough about family literacy, a topic that is listed under our Reading &Writing CoP! I wonder if others here implement family literacy and would be willing to share practices and resources here. Please? Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Kathy,

Another way to look at the "bite at a time" strategy, is to integrate one small activity in every (or nearly every) lesson. It could be a writing activity for English language learners or for HSE extended response students; an information searching question using a browser; or something else.

Everyone: what learning activity/ies using technology would make sense to integrate in your lessons?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Lyn Michaud Smith's picture

All of the responses to this thread resonated with me. However, the one assumption seems to be implied is that "technology" is digital and almost "alien". In the educational world, teachers rarely think twice about using calculators, maps, board games, microscopes, anatomical models and other manipulatives in their classrooms, but "technology" becomes a significant challenge.

Allow me to introduce you to my EDGE (Education through Digital Gaming and Exploration) Lab. I am lucky enough to have a room dedicated to digital/technology learning.

The adult education department in my school district is typically the leader in integrating technology - with grant funding we have acquired a variety of 3-d printing, robotics, computer assisted design and audio/visual technologies and I've been tasked with designing "lessons" and incorporating technology into classrooms. Last autumn, I piloted a 6-week family literacy program "Exploring Technology through Comics and Gaming" (presented at 2017 COABE Virtual Conference). Together, parent and child used our technology to create a character using Tinkercad and print it on our 3-D printer. They built Lego Mindstorms robots for a "Battlebots" competition. They painted murals using Sphero Sprk+ robots. The entire group co-wrote a "super hero" script and voiced it in a table read (that I recorded) to provide the audio for an animated version of their character drawings.

Yes, I had technology issues. Some nights the Wi-Fi network didn't work properly, so we used my school computers. It took slightly longer for the participants to use less familiar technology, but that helps me teach resilience. Some programs run and appear differently on mobile devices. These challenges taught both parents and children troubleshooting skills. My primary takeaway from teaching this course - the parents enjoyed having their child take the lead. The role reversal of child teaching the parent how to be confident with technology was impressive. The parents voiced frustration with some of the technology activities, but they persevered because they were working with their child.

Since that first major event, I and my Sphero Sprk+ robots have been invited to elementary schools for presentations to interest the students in coding and robotics (later this month to a group of K-2nd graders, I love the idea of beginning programming early.) I provide middle/HS teachers with lessons that meet math, ELA or NextGen science standards using the robots for learning projects. While these aren't every day activities, the students love the opportunities and enjoy the challenges. The best part - everything I do with technology is designed to be of interest to both adults and children. The majority of my lessons are tested by my adult students first. They love the idea that they are helping to create lessons that will be used by the children in the district. When I use the lessons with the children, they complete some parts of the activity (programming, gaming etc) easily and quickly and then put in the extra effort on the math, language or science portion and develop a deep understanding of that particular topic. 

Kerry Drake's picture

1) Do you integrate technology in your class(es), tutorials, program(s) or school(s)?

Recently there has been a larger push to incorporate the use of technology in my classroom environment.  The program I teach in uses an online instructional format for providing lecture materials, resources, assignments and at times tests as well.  There is also the use of technology in the classroom for in class tasks, web searches and discussions with classmates. 

2) If so, what are the benefits of integrating technology? What problem(s) has integrating technology addressed, what improvements has this made in what you provide to adult learners, in the instruction you provide, in the professional development you receive, or in the administration of your program(s) or schools(s)?

 The struggles with integrating technology typically surround the student engagement aspect.  With easier access to distracting information, keeping students engaged and task focused can be challenging at times.  In order to address this aspect, I have attempted to increase student accountability with the use of peer reviews on tasks and incorporating work contribution lists.  Another struggle faced is a wide generational gap, socio-economic status and technology literacy in the students that I instruct.  Some students are beyond proficient with the use of technology while others have very little experience or understanding of the tools being used.  Finding a balance between the two is something I have yet to resolve and I am looking for suggestions.

So to you I ask: How do you incorporate technology into your classrooms when not all students have access or the skills to utilize such a tool?

David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks, Kerry, for raising these two important and common teaching challenges with integrating technology in adult basic skills instruction: 1) Keeping students engaged, and 2) the broad range of technology literacy (often related to age, income level, lack of exposure to technology in school, etc.) among students in adult basic skills classes.  I expect that many teachers resonate with your description of the second challenge, that "Some students are beyond proficient with the use of technology while others have very little experience or understanding of the tools being used." The two challenges may be related; students who have low technology literacy, who are not comfortable and competent in using technology, may not be engaged by technology applications that frustrate them.

One promising strategy to address both challenges that allows a teacher to personalize, for example to take into account a student's literacy level and technology experience, is Hyperdocs. Recently in the Integrating Technology group, Integrating Technology member Ashly Winkle did a two-part webinar (that eventually will be archived on the LINCS YouTube Channel) followed by a week-long asynchronous discussion in which she described how she personalizes lessons for each student. Depending on the availability of technology in your classroom, this might be a promising approach. Ashly has found Hyperdocs to be a highly engaging use of technology for her students, and one that embeds a high degree of accountability as it allows her to easily know what each student is doing and where they may need help. (Feel free, Ashly, to reply with more detail for Kerry in a reply!)

Both of these challenges, although further complicated -- but possibly also better addressed -- by the use of technology, are not new to adult basic skills (including ESL/ESOL) education. We often have multi-level classes and, although some activities are best done in small groups, many activities can best address student needs if they are personalized lessons for each student, not ony individually-paced, but activities at the right level of difficulty for the student. Technology itself can make that challenge easier, especially with the use of, often free, curriculum management software or online shell platforms such as Blendspace, Google Classroom, Schoology or Edmodo.

It would be great to hear from adult education teachers here who use a shell platform to personalize learning for their adult learners and who can describe how they do this.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

finnmiller's picture

Hello colleagues, We are starting an English for Health Careers class, and I hope to use an online shell platform for this course. If anyone has tips for best ways to do this, I would love to hear about them.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP

Alison Ascher Webber's picture

Hi Susan, I'm sure I can be of help but can you describe a bit more by what you mean by online shell platform. Do you mean just a website where you can post materials, or an app like Schoology or Google drive to share learning resources or a LMS like Moodle that tracks learner usage, etc. I'm sure a bunch of us would be happy to strategize more once we have a better sense. There are also online courses already with health care vocab we could point you to- some paid some free...

Best,

Alison

 

finnmiller's picture

Thanks for your response and offers of help, Alison. While I have taught quite a few online courses and even designed courses, I have always had an Learning Management System (LMS) available to me such as Blackboard, Moodle, or Canvas.For this health careers course for language learners, I don't have an LMS. Recently, I did create a Google classroom to use with teachers for professional development purposes, but Google classroom is not available to students. I've seen a classroom space created on Weebly, so I think I could use that to archive documents and links for students to access. I'm not sure if students can upload things to a Weebly site or not. If you or any other members have advice for using Weebly that would be helpful.

I'm wondering what other online resources might be out there that are user-friendly and available for free. Thanks for any and all suggestions.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP

David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Susan,

I use Weebly for a couple of websites I have designed. I have known adult education teachers who use Weebly to store pages with links to online resources, to create a class website or class webpages. Here are also some other choices to consider, from the appendix of  Blended Learning for the Adult Education Classroom, a free guide I wrote.

Free Online Filing Tools, Shell Platforms, Learning Platforms, and website buildersfor Creating a Web Presence

Online Filing Tools
 
• Pinterest
is a free, easy-to-use web-based filing system that can be used used
to collect and curate instructional web pages, online instructional videos, or
other learning resources or learning assessments for students. It can also be used
for individual or collaborative learning projects.
 
• Evernote:
 
• Livebinders:
 
• Dropbox:
 
• Google Drive:
 
• Scoop.it:
 
Shell Platforms
 
• Blendspace
(formerly named Edcanvas):
 
• Google Classroom:
 
• Edmodo
is a free online, secure social learning platform that allows teachers
to create online classes or other groups of students, assign homework, hold real-
time or asynchronous discussions, schedule quizzes, host a class blog, and
manage learner progress. Only their students, whom they invite to join, can see
the class Edmodo web page.
 
• Schoology
is a free online learning management system with which a teacher
can manage daily teaching tasks such as organizing courses, posting assignments,
posting instructional content, hosting interactive discussions, offering online
quizzes and tests with immediate scoring and analysis, recording grades,
maintaining a class events calendar, and communicating by email -- all from one
platform and in a streamlined way. Students can also submit their assignments
in an online drop box, where a teacher can provide comments and track revisions.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Deena Welde's picture

I try to integrate/use technology as much as possible in my ESL Intermediate level  classes, and all of my students have Smartphones with internet connections which is a bonus (although we have to be careful, because their data plans can be limited).  I use my cell phone connected to a projector to present YouTube videos to help introduce topics and to provide a multisensory lesson (animated videos seem to be the most fun, and I try to limit choices to 2-3 minute videos).  I've also set up "classrooms" on Readworks.org so students can access reading at their level, and also have the material read to them as they follow along.  Each article comes with vocab and a set of comprehension questions.  This saves on having to make photocopies for reading assignments, and customizes learning to individual student levels.  In addition, I take photocopies of handouts/worksheets/activities, and use a projector to put it on the whiteboard, and we can work on the sheet together as a class.  This is especially helpful in sharing textbook/workbook pages without the need to purchase books or make photocopies.  In addition, I've found free materials for my students on the internet, and post the website addresses on the classroom whiteboard, explaining how they are helpful.  

That being said, in order to use technology, I work from my iPhone, with an adapter for the projector system, a USB cord, a charger, and a portable wireless speaker for videos.  I use my cell phone internet, as the non-profit where I teach does not have access to the buiilding's internet network (we rent space at a high school for evening classes).  At another site, there is also no internet access and no projector, but I do have access to YouTube and a 32-inch TV monitor for videos.  Our non-profit has 25 Chromebooks which are rotated among teachers when needed, and a portable "hot spot," but logins are slow due to the number of people logging on at the same time.

At any rate, I'm not complaining, and looking forward to maximizing on whatever tech I can get!

Ryley Rush's picture

My greetings Mr.David!

Thank you for adding such an interesting question.

1) Do you integrate technology in your class(es), tutorials, program(s) or school(s)?

Yes, I do and i think it is necessary to integrate them as much as possible.

2) If so, what are the benefits of integrating technology?

I will provide my own examples.

Reason #1: Easy and fast

Technology makes a process easier and faster. For example I use a lot of Google Docs. The benefits of Docs are that information is seen by everybody and could be changed/fixed in a real time by group members.

Reason #2: Trackers.

I implemented a programm with an achievement scale and my students can see their own progress and area where they do/don't well.

Reason #3: Simplicity of communication

I created a dashboard with personalized tasks for each student. I assign tasks to them and monitor the progress.

Also I would like to suggest resources which could be used to simplify educational process:

- Pinterest

- Behance

- Biology and architecture essay tips

- Task managers and to-do-lists

- Check grammar mistakes

Ryley Rush.

David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks, Ryley, for your reply to the question, "Do you integrate technology in your class(es), tutorials program(s) or school(s) and if so why?"  You provided examples that interest me and that I hope you can tell us more about.

You wrote that you implemented a program with an achievement scale and that your students can see their own progress and areas where they do/don't do well.  Can you tell us more about the program, the achievement scale, and how the students see their progress? Does this apply to part of a curriculum, or a whole curriculum?  Did you use Google tools to create this, or other tools? Which ones? Is this program an Open Education Resource (OER) that other teachers might be able to use and modify?

You also wrote that you created a dashboard with personalized tasks for each student, and that you assign tasks to them and monitor their progress. Can you tell us more about this? How did you create the dashboard? How do you personalize the tasks and monitor the students' progress? Is the dashboard an OER that other adult basic skills teachers might be able to use, and perhaps modify to meet their students' needs?

You suggested some tools that you use to simplify the education process: Pinterest, Behance,Biology and architecture essay tips, task managers and to-do-lists, and tools to check grammar mistakes. I am interested to know how you use Pinterest, Behance (with which I am not familiar), and task managers and to-do-lists with your students.

Thanks for these great examples.

David

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Leecy's picture

Ryley, you've shared wonderful ideas on how to use technology to have students become more independent learners who have the tools to assess their own performance. I second all of David's comment.

From your post and your profile, in addition to being a researcher, you also work with topics like science, reading, and writing. Do you have added examples of how you track student progress or promote it in reading and writing? Can students assess their own performance using the tools you listed? Thanks so much for providing valuable ideas on implementing technology to increase student learning and engagement! Leecy