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Technology Use Trends for Adult Learners, and the Implications of These Trends

Technology colleagues,

I am seeing some trends in the adult education classrooms I visit, from face-to-face and online coversations with adult education teachers, and from blogs. I wonder if you are seeing these, too.

2014 Trends

1. Nearly all adult education students in the U.S. now have cell phones.

2. Many more students, especially ELL students, have smart phones.

3. Portable digital devices such as phones and tablets are the new family technology priority, not necessarily a family computer.

4. Google is not the search engine of choice for younger adults; it's YouTube.

I would appreciate it if you're a teacher, or if you work with teachers, if you could "ground truth" these trends, that is, if you could check it out with your students and let us know what the reality is on the ground where you are. 

If you haven't surveyed your students' access to technology recently, please do. This could be with a show of hands, or a paper-based or  web-based survey. If you are looking for a cell phone survey designed for adult learners here's one: http:// Let us know what you learn from the survey.

What other trends are you seeing? What are the implications of some of these trends. If YouTube is the search engine of choice, does that mean that text is out, or do videos also drive students to learning web sites where there is a wide range of text-based and other learning resources to help them?

What are the implications for what adult education teachers should do in the classroom? Should they welcome cell phones as learning devices instead of prohibiting them as distractions? If so, what are some good ways to do that?

What are the implications of the access devices belonging to students, not the program?

What are the implications for teaching, and for a model of teaching that incorporates these handheld technologies?

David J. Rosen





APetagna's picture

Youtube is owned by Google. Results from Google will show Youtube videos, but not the other way around. Google is a search engine, Youtube is not, it is a social media service. Many times a video is the more fitting method of learning. Students will be able to watch a video and see, let's say a math problem, talked through as its being done. This provides differentiation for the student, who otherwise would only be reading from a textbook. You could also call this differentiation because, even if the same method is being taught in a lecture by an instructor as in a lecture video on youtube or Khan Academy (or TED talks, etc.) it may be a different approach, or perhaps there is some bias towards the instructor from the student.