Good morning and welcome to the first day of our discussion on How can technology transform adult education and current practice?”  

We are very lucky to have adult education and technology experts Art Graesser and David Rosen to facilitate a discussion aimed at answering this question in the LINCS Community’s Technology and Learning group.

Drs. Graesser and Rosen will share their reflections on the draft report recently released on LINCS: Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) for Adult Education, produced through a contract with the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

To guide the discussion, we will concentrate on different sections of the report on each day of the discussion

Detailed Schedule of Discussion Topics:

·                     Tuesday – Wednesday, August 13-14 – Topic: Learning (discussion will be cross-posted to Disabilities in Adult Education group)

·                     Thursday, August 15 – Topic: Assessment (discussion will be cross-posted to Formative Assessment group)

·                     Friday – Saturday, August 16-17 – Topic: Teaching (discussion will be cross-posted to Evidence-based Professional Development group)

·                     Sunday – Monday, August 18-19 – Topic: Productivity and Infrastructure (discussion will be cross-posted to the Program Management group)

Please join us in the LINCS Community to share your comments! Those who are not yet registered for the LINCS Community will need to create an account to join the discussion.

Related Documents and Resources:

·                     Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) for Adult Education

·                     National Education Technology Plan 2010: Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology

·                     AIR’s Open Education Resources to Support Adult STEM Teaching and Learning Project

About the LINCS Community Discussion: The report has been reviewed by two experts in adult education and technology: Art Graesser and David Rosen, who will initiate a discussion about the report during the week of August 13-19, 2013 in the LINCS Community’s Technology and Learning group. Dr. Art Graesser is a professor in the Department of Psychology and an adjunct professor in Computer Science at the University of Memphis. Dr. David Rosen, president of Newsome Associates, conducts education and evaluation consulting for adult education. Please join the Technology and Learning group in the LINCS Community to actively participate in this important discussion.

 

About the 2010 NETP Report: The 2010 NETP report titled Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, upon which the NETP Implications for Adult Education report is based, was produced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. The 2010 report outlines five goals and describes corresponding recommendations to address Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, and Productivity.

 

About the Project: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, through a contract with the American Institutes for Research for the Open Education Resources to Support Adult STEM Teaching and Learning project, is pleased to announce the Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) for Adult Education (2013). The purpose of this project is to develop new and innovative ways to improve the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content in adult education using open educational resources (OERs). The project also aims to increase awareness of and access to quality STEM OERs for adult educators by gathering appropriate resources and developing courses to train educators on STEM OERs. You can find the project decription at http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/sectech/factsheet/open-education-resources-stem-teaching.html (OVAE's web page) and to the project description document directly:  http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/AdultEd/factsh/open-education-resources-stem-teaching.pdf.

For more information about the Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) for Adult Education report or the OER STEM project, contact Project Director Dahlia Shaewitz at dshaewitz@air.org.

 

Bios:

Dr. Art Graesser is a professor in the Department of Psychology and an adjunct professor in Computer Science at the University of Memphis. Dr. Graesser received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at San Diego.  His primary research interests are in cognitive science, discourse processing, and the learning sciences. More specific interests include knowledge representation, question asking and answering, tutoring, text comprehension, inference generation, conversation, reading, education, memory, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction. He served as editor of the journal Discourse Processes (1996–2005) and is the current editor of Journal of Educational Psychology. He is president of the Society for Text and Discourse and past president of Artificial Intelligence in Education. In addition to publishing approximately 500 articles in journals, books, and conference proceedings, he has written two books and edited nine books (one being the Handbook of Discourse Processes). He and his colleagues have designed, developed, and tested cutting-edge software in learning, language, and discourse technologies, including AutoTutor, AutoCommunicator, HURA Advisor, SEEK Web Tutor, MetaTutor, Operation ARIES!, Coh-Metrix, Question Understanding Aid (QUAID), QUEST, and Point&Query.

 

David J. Rosen was the Director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute/SABES Greater Boston Regional Support Center, sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston, from 1986 to 2003. As an independent consultant since 2003, he has provided consulting and professional development services to:

•          The Philadelphia Youth Network, Youth Essential Services and the Center for Literacy for workshop presentations on GED2014®

•          The Massachusetts System for Adult Basic Education Support to design and offer for teachers in central Massachusetts technology training and professional development modules on integrating technology

•          Portland State University (Oregon) as a Regional implementation Advisor and trainer for the national Learner Web project, a blended learning model used by community colleges, One Stop Career Centers, and ABE programs in 10 states.

•          Literacy Partners, a community-based adult literacy program in New York City, to assist with a shift to managed enrollment, and to integrate instructional technology

•          Georgia State University’s Center for the Study of Adult Literacy

•          A partnership of international funders of children’s literacy on the design of an international competition to advance children’s reading skills through the use of technology

•          YouthBuild International for a multi-year vocational training program for out-of-school youth in Haiti, including establishment of digital literacy centers in YouthBuild vocational training centers

Dr. Rosen has also made many presentations and keynote speeches at national and state adult education conferences on integrating technology in adult education. A complete list of these will be found in his resume at http://newsomeassociates.com

 

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Comments (62)

Art Graesser's picture

For starters, I applaud the vision of the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP).  Technology is destined to play a central role in helping all groups in our society.  The question is how? How can the right content and the right instruction be used by the right person at the right time with the right technology? 

I have been struggling with this question for three decades.  I am researcher who has been developing learning technologies for children in K-12, college, the military, and now adult learners with literacy problems. Helping adult learners read better with computer technologies is a mission of my involvement in the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy (involving Georgia State University, University of Memphis, University of Toronto, and Brock University, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences). I also served as a member of the National Academy of Science panel for Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Most of the technologies my research team builds are intelligent tutoring systems, including those that implement natural language tutorial dialogue (such as AutoTutor) and pedagogical agents (talking heads).  I edit the Journal of Educational Psychology, so I keep up on empirical studies that assess the effectiveness of learning interventions in different contexts for different populations.        

Educational researchers frequently emphasize the need to build technologies around principles of learning and instruction rather than vice versa. This is absolutely essential to take this learning principles approach because many technologies have failed.  It is not enough to put books on a computer, with page turning software, because most adult learners will find that boring and will disengage.  Testing them a lot will also be dispiriting.  Extensive information delivery and testing, in the vintage of traditional computer-based instruction, is similarly inadequate for most adult learners.  There needs to be more inventive ways to motivate the learner.  It makes sense to optimize motivation by organizing the learning around an individual learner’s passions, but there would need to be scaffolding (they don’t know how to do that) and it takes a serious investment to develop the material (perhaps millions of texts and learning objects).  We know that a small percentage of the population is capable of self-regulated learning, so how can an open-learning environment and e-Portfolios be productively managed by an adult learner? It undoubtedly would not be by the adult alone, but rather with the recommended blended learning – periodic coaching by a human expert or peer. 

Ten years ago my collaborators and I submitted a large ($25 million) grant proposal to National Science Foundation to develop a one-stop shopping web portal that provides an electronic Personal Assistant for Learning (ePAL).  The ePAL would provide an adaptive, intelligent, learning environment that launches the right instructional content and strategies at the right time. It would have mechanisms that try to be sensitive to the learner (skills, knowledge, interests, and various other psychological attributes), to maximize learning and motivation, and to minimize training time and costs. The NSF proposal almost got funded, but we did not quite make it.  Interestingly, some groups in the Department of Defense have adopted the ePAL vision.  The NETP Report is also moving in this direction as one approach.     

Many reports have appeared in the last few years that summarize the research on educational technologies and good principles of learning and instruction.  These have been advocated by researchers and practitioners in different fields, such as education, educational psychology, cognitive and learning sciences, military training, computer based training, artificial intelligence in education, computer supported collaborative learning, educational data mining -- the list goes on.  A common ground has been emerging from dozens of reports prepared by interdisciplinary research panels that were funded by the government and research organizations, as illustrated below:

A Roadmap to Educational Technology (2010, National Science Foundation,                                                                                              http://www.cra.org/ccc/docs/groe/GROE Roadmap for Education Technology Final Report.pdf)

The Army Learning Concept for 2015 (2011, United States Army,                                                                http://www-tradoc.army.mil/tpbs/pams/tp525-8-2.pdf)

Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education (2011, National Academy of Science, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13078)

Assessing 21st Century Skills (2011, National Academy of Sciences,  http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13215#toc)

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction (2012, National Academy of Sciences, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13242)

Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning (2007, Institute of Education Sciences of the United States Department of Education, http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/practice_guides/20072004.pdf)

Lifelong Learning at Work and at Home (2007, American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Sciences,  http://www.psyc.memphis.edu/learning/whatweknow/index.shtml,

Design Recommendations for Intelligent Tutoring Systems - Volume 1 - Learner Modeling.  U.S. Army Research Laboratory,

       https://gifttutoring.org/documents/35

The above reports emphasize instructional strategies that are supported by empirical tests with scientific methodologies. Therefore, the strategies are grounded in science and are evidence-based rather than relying entirely on the opinions of educational experts.  The effectiveness of some of the strategies and associated technologies has been supported in research (often meta-analyses over dozens of studies), but there are many gaps in the empirical landscape, particularly for adult learners.  It is extremely important to develop a research initiative to empirically assess what technologies work for particular groups of learners as they try to master different skills and knowledge.  Effective instructional strategies differ tremendously for learning facts, acquiring perceptual-motor procedures, solving match problems, diagnosing equipment malfunctions, and reasoning about social conflicts. 

Most instructional strategies are too difficult to implement by human teachers.  It will take educational technologies to implement the complex mechanisms.  Consider the following 7 principles recommended by the Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning report:

1. Space learning over time.

2. Interleave worked example solutions with problem solving exercises.

3. Combine graphics with verbal descriptions.

4. Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations of concepts.

5. Use quizzing to promote learning.

6. Help students allocate study time effectively.

7. Ask deep explanatory questions. 

 Consider further the 25 principles presented by Lifelong Learning at Work and at Home.

1. Contiguity Effects: Ideas that need to be associated should be presented contiguously in space and time.

2. Perceptual-motor Grounding:  Concepts benefit from being grounded in perceptual motor experiences, particularly at early stages of learning.

3. Dual Code and Multimedia Effects: Materials presented in verbal, visual, and multimedia form richer representations than a single medium.

4. Testing Effect: Testing enhances learning, particularly when the tests are aligned with important content.

5. Spacing Effect: Spaced schedules of studying and testing produce better long-term retention than a single study session or test.

6. Exam Expectations: Students benefit more from repeated testing when they expect a final exam.

7. Generation Effect: Learning is enhanced when learners produce answers compared to having them recognize answers.

8. Organization Effects: Outlining, integrating, and synthesizing information produces better learning than rereading materials or other more passive strategies.

9. Coherence Effect: Materials and multimedia should explicitly link related ideas and minimize distracting irrelevant material.

10. Stories and Example Cases: Stories and example cases tend to be remembered better than didactic facts and abstract principles.

11. Multiple Examples: An understanding of an abstract concept improves with multiple and varied examples.

12. Feedback Effects: Students benefit from feedback on their performance in a learning task, but the timing of the feedback depends on the task.

13. Negative Suggestion Effects: Learning wrong information can be reduced when feedback is immediate.

14. Desirable Difficulties: Challenges make learning and retrieval effortful and thereby have positive effects on long-term retention.

15. Manageable Cognitive Load: The information presented to the learner should not overload working memory.

16. Segmentation Principle: A complex lesson should be broken down into manageable subparts.

17. Explanation Effects: Students benefit more from constructing deep coherent explanations (mental models) of the material than memorizing shallow isolated facts.

18. Deep questions: Students benefit more from asking and answering deep questions that elicit explanations (e.g., why, why not, how, what-if) than shallow questions (e.g., who, what, when, where).

19. Cognitive Disequilibrium: Deep reasoning and learning is stimulated by problems that create cognitive disequilibrium, such as obstacles to goals, contradictions, conflict, and anomalies.

20. Cognitive Flexibility: Cognitive flexibility improves with multiple viewpoints that link facts, skills, procedures, and deep conceptual principles.

21. Goldilocks Principle: Assignments should not be too hard or too easy, but at the right level of difficulty for the student’s level of skill or prior knowledge.

22. Metacognition: Students rarely have an accurate knowledge of their cognition so their ability to calibrate their comprehension, learning, and memory should not be trusted and they need to be trained to improve important metacognitive judgments.

23. Discovery Learning: Most students have trouble discovering important principles on their own, without careful guidance, scaffolding, or materials with well-crafted affordances.

24. Self-regulated Learning: Most students need training on how to self-regulate their learning and other cognitive processes.

25. Anchored Learning: Learning is deeper and students are more motivated when the materials and skills are anchored in real world problems that matter to the learner.

Virtually all of these principles are applicable to some, but not all, adult learners and types of material.  More research is needed to sort out what is best for what learners. 

The NETP Report identified five types of teaching and learning methods as an alternative to classroom lectures.  All of these should be pursued, but I would advocate some additional ones. 

Active learning and problem solving. I agree that learners should be empowered with technologies that promote active learning.  That includes writing, communicating with peers, social networking, engineering and design, Facebook – the list goes on.  One challenge is that generating/creating is difficult, if not painful, for difficult useful tasks.  Most adults avoid generating content, particularly when there a large number of constraints.  Therefore, scaffolding is needed to show them how. 

I recommend expanding the set of learning technologies for active learning and problem solving. There are currently a variety of intelligent tutoring systems that promote active learning and problem solving for mathematics, such as the Cognitive Tutors (Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center), ALEKS, and ASSISTments; these were developed with substantial investments from NSF, IES, and DoD.  These are used already in thousands of school systems and could be expanded to scale up further to include adult learners. Interestingly, learning by these intelligent tutoring systems is particularly effective for students with low ability and knowledge! 

Another approach pursued by my collaborators and I has been to develop intelligent tutoring systems with pedagogical agents (talking heads) that interact with the human and with other agents (i.e., groups of agents interacting with the human). The agents model good actions and skills in addition to interacting with the human to help them do it also.  This gives the human fine-grained feedback in addition to getting the learner to do things.  There are a variety of systems systems with agents that do this for different tasks and skills: AutoTutor (computer literacy, science reasoning, many other topics), DeepTutor (physics), Why/Atlas (physics), Guru Tutor (biology), Crystal Island (biology), Betty’s Brain (different science topics), MyScience Tutor (science), iSTART (deep reading strategies), Writing-Pal (writing), Tactical Language and Culture System (foreign language learning in a virtual world), MetaTutor (self-regulated learning), Operation ARA (scientific reasoning), the list goes on.  Some of these are already developed on the web, but investments need to be made to scale these up for use by many thousands, if not millions of users. 

Games and Simulation. We live in a world where many hours per day are spent by children playing games compared to the minutes of doing homework.  Games are also ubiquitous in the lives of adult learners.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the games are frivolous games rather than serious educational games.  Many gamers are skeptical of any game with content to help them learn academic material.  Thus, there is a schism between formal and informal learning, with the latter winning in many educational circles. How can we smuggle educational content into fun games without the human knowing it?

Simulation games can often keep students absorbed in a state of flow for hours. How can that be done to help students learn about engineering, design, urban planning, and complex systems in the 21st century?  Agents provide one solution, particularly when students are lost in the simulation and don’t know what to do next.  Another is social networking and computer assisted collaborative learning.  Collaborative problem solving will be having a healthy future, particularly now that there are plans for collaborative problem solving skills to be assessed in 2015 by OECD in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment); dozens of countries will have 15 year old students being assessed on collaborative problem solving skills. Corporations are also pushing for better training in CPS. 

MOOCs.  This is a growing technology and low cost comparatively.  But as the NETP Report accurately points out, there is a huge dropout rate (95% in one estimate).  In fact, many of the people who finish the MOOCs are teachers.  MOOCs are fine for knowledge/skills that are shallow or intermediate in difficulty, but not deep knowledge (e.g., causal reasoning, complex systems, trade-offs between factors) which require intelligent tutoring and scaffolding.  Medium to high paying jobs require deep knowledge, which is not fun to master.  Efforts need to be made to make MOOCs more engaging and also to have a recommender system to push learning objects that are suited to a particular learner.  Learners generally have poor to modest skills of self-regulation, as is particularly the case (presumably, we don’t know) for underachieving adult learners. 

One approach is to have a facility that lists many different jobs and the associated knowledge/skills needed to get those jobs.  The Job-Skill matrix could be accessed on a web portal for the adult learner to use and peruse.  They will quickly learn how important it is for them to read and do math better, for example.  Some adult learning software on the web has pursued this angle, but it is an open question how many adult learners are using it (and how often). 

One challenge we have faced in our Center for the Study of Adult Literacy (CSAL) is with digital literacy.  Our goal of CSAL is to help students read better.  Wouldn’t it be great to have them learn by interacting on the web! Unfortunately, the existing MOOCs on digital literacy on the web require them to read at a higher level than many adult learners can understand.  So we need to develop a DL facility in our learning technologies that our adult learners can handle.    

YouTube video’s provide a powerful way to create motivating learning objects.  One could imagine creating a literacy program around YouTubes that the adult learner finds interesting.    

Mobile technologies.  This is a revolutionary step in technology.  The only challenge is to have a handheld device with a large enough screen to support more content.  The smart phones are too small for most tasks requiring deeper knowledge.      

One final technology to mention is a facility that houses a repository of texts, videos, and other learning objects that are scaled/classified on topic categories, text difficulty, learning difficulty, and other characteristics.  As the e-Portfolio of the adult learning grows, the computer system can select and suggest learning objects that match the interests and skill level of the individual adult learner.  The selection would follow the Goldilocks principle: not too easy and not too difficult, but just right. The selection would also follow principles of motivation -- practically useful and/or matched to the person’s interests.        

S Jones's picture

  I was reading along, pondering the lists of Good Stuff to Do ... lookin' at the 25 and thinking "okay, that's a really good checklist, but I think we're imposing old-fashioned limitations on things...

... so I was downright excited to read the next paragraph suggesting we scratch deeper, and look for challenging ways of engaging learners ... I looked forward to reading about these ideas.   

... and then I was starkly disappointed. We're supposed to do this with  likes of ALEKS, Cognitive Tutor, and ASSISTments?   I know two of the three are entirely procedure-focused (the first two) and... suspect the third to be, as well.  And "periodic coaching" is your focus for blended learning...  

ALEKS  *does* provide lots and lots and lots and lots of procedural practice, to which our students have said "hey, I really know this stuff now!" -- but those students used ALEKS as one element of a mathematical literacy course that is very concept-based with lots of group work and is mostly face-to-face. 

  Our math folks were highly disappointed in their success rates using it with our pre-pre-algebra (lowest level) course, and have abandoned it. Starting with #1 -- contiguity -- with ALEKS students get to choose whatever piece of pie they wish, and they're usually jumping around.   (Not only that, never, ever are connections made between one procedure and the next or procedure and concept.   Problem sets simply Go To The NExt Step.)   

    The Goldilocks principle may be its strength thankst o its assessment... oh, and "multiple examples," but even that is referring to different *kinds* of examples for a single concept and while that may be present in ALEKS at no point are teh students informed of the conceptual grounding.   There's a fair amount of research indicating they're not going to make those connections on their own (and I thought that the *point* of bringing in technology was to address things like that).  

   Think I'll get back to, yea, generating my own content.   I keep wondering if I'm the one who's missing the boat... but then I look at things like the mismatch between the 25 principles and the realities of the ALEKS content, specifically numbers 1,3, 8,9, 10, 17,18,19,20,22,23,24 and 25.   

   If the programs mentioned afterward have fundamental differences, I'd like to look at 'em.   In the meantime, people, I'm not sure what successes with the "low knowledge and low ability" students looked like but it didn't happen here. 

   

         

RKenyon's picture

Hi Susan,

Your comment 'spoke to me.'  People subscribed to this Disabilities group have experience with students that have low levels of ability and knowledge and disabilities among other challenges.  I would like to ask the speakers if they can wrap the topic of disability into the question of 'How can Technology Transform Adult Education and Current Practice' - and into the other questions too.

Thanks,

Rochelle Kenyon, SME 

S Jones's picture

Dorothea Steinke is coming out to our college to talk about conceptual development.  

In Colorado, from where she currently hails, they talked at teh GettingPastGo convening about the cool stuff they're doing with technology so that they can serve the underprepared students... well, except that students who struggle in math are getting their classes cut and there is no "soft landing" as there is in reading, where if you don't qualify for college level, you can at low or no cost sign onto one of those technology programs and try to build your skills. 

So, she is putting together some "five minute math" videos aimed at building concepts.   SHe's going to come to Champaign on October 10 to present to us The Big Picture in Math: Four Concepts the Books Don’t Teach

 

Math books assume certain understanding by students, even at the lowest level. Concepts introduced early in elementary school may not be presented in enough detail later on for people who did not get the concept in the early grades. Participants will learn what the concepts are (1: the meaning of =; 2: counting spaces on the number line [needed to understand negative numbers and coordinate grid]; 3: part-whole thinking; 4: properties of 1 [needed to understand equivalent fractions]) and will practice introducing them with physical examples that connect to each student’s life and experience.

Everybody's invited :)    It would be great if she had a crowd!  Regardless, I'll be doin' some heavy blogging about it... 

Art Graesser's picture

Thanks for sharing.  It will be interesting to consider what can be accomplished in a 5 minute video.  How will the far transfer be?

Sometimes a lesson given at the right time (the Time to Learn view) is golden to a student, particularly if they are struggling and the lesson addresses their precise impasse.  That's why intelligent tutoring systems are needed, not scripted examples.

Art Graesser's picture

Our colleagues at CAST have a history of building systems for universal design.  Our CASL team has been communicating with them.  Regaring other disabilities, we need more research on the many forms of cognitive, motivational, social, and personality disabilities that adult learners have.  It is likely that the interventions and technologies will need to be sensitive to such individual differences.

Art Graesser's picture

I was of course using these systems as example successes in helping middle and high school students learn mathematics.  There are successful cases of ITS technology that adult learners could piggy back on in a fashion that is economical.  So instead of starting from scratch, why not build on systems that have shown some success. Costs are one of the issues of concern we were asked to address.  The basic idea is to pull together software that has been proven successful and to include this in a portal for adult learners.  There can be other systems as well.  We can then test to see how these exiting technologies help learning and minimize attrition. As a note, my colleague Xiangen Hu is currently developing ALEKS modules with conversational agents to make them more engaging.  The Cognitive Tutors and ASSISTments in mathematics are alternatives for consideration.  The Cognitive Tutors also have agents.

Your point of having the lessons being currently related to one another is indeed a concernin ALEKS.  I agree that every effort should be made to optimize the coherence of the curriculum.

 

S Jones's picture

"Most instructional strategies are too difficult to implement by human teachers. "

Words fail me. 

Art Graesser's picture

The logistics of implementing many of the effective pedagogical strategies are too difficult for teachers to put into practice, so technology is needed to handle that part.  For example, optimally spaced distributed practice, selecting materials at the zone of proximal development, building explanations on unfamiliar subject matter, scaffolding self-regulation, and a host of other princples are rarely implemented by human teachers and are to tedious to implement if they tried.  Teachers prefer to work on other dimensions of the learning experience that have other dimensions of complexity that are currently impossible for technology to handle.  Some aspects of learning are best handled by technology, but others by humans.  We need to sort this out. 

The aptitude-intervention interactions and precise conditions in which a learning method is best applied adds an additional level of complexity that it would be cumbersome for a human teacher to keep track of.  The science of learning is sufficiently complex for a computer to come in handy.  

S Jones's picture

Well, right now computer attempts at measuring that "aptitude" are rather harmfully flawed.   Humans actually do keep track of that all the time in the classrooms here; it's been being practiced for centuries.   It's *especially* important for folks with disabilities, who tend to measure much lower than their honest aptitude.  

I did have a "transformation" experience with technology these past few weeks, though. There are some really neat insights into the conceptual frameworks of math in the online MOOC I just finished It's at https://class.stanford.edu/courses/Education/EDUC115N/How_to_Learn_Math/about and will be there for another month or so; it's set up so anybody can register and poke around, and the videos are generally short and sweet.   I really like the conceptual framework and it gets beyond the limitations of so many "coursewares" liek ALEKS and Cognitive Tutor that are essentially a textbook on a computer, with lots of practice and procedural feedback but lacking true intelligence.  I look forward to when teh computers will do that, but in the meantime, my students do *not* need another experience of failure.   

I learned a lot of ways to frame math conceptually --- things like "math talks" and "dot cards" that help students realize that math can be understood, not just "passed."   

I also thought the course was a really good model for online learning.   She had short videos (3 - 20 minutes) and then a place to answer a question and submit the answer.   Now, you were really submitting for yourself -- but it 'taught' that metacognitive process of reflecting on what is being explained, all while teaching us that there's more to learning than lecture :) Then there were opportunities for "peer feedback," tho' I think that didn't go as well technically (there are some folks who are still waiting for feedback, and I noticed there wasn't any of it for the last two or three of the eight sections).   

I'm going to frame my lessons similarly, tho' I don't have OpenEdX to work with ... I've invented the Mary Ellen Carter Academy... links soon :) 

Art Graesser's picture

The intelligent tutoring systems in math are adaptive to what students have mastered and know.  They also try to explain the conceptual underpinnings of math procedures.  They are not simply exercides that have students execute mindless procedures.  However, much of this work is not fun for most learners.  Systems like the Jasper Serious out of Vanderbilt (an old pioneering system) puts math in real world contexts, such as planning how much food and water to bring on a trip into a forest with a group of people. Such situated examples are promising, particularly when interwoven with inttelligent tutoring systems that have numerous exercises on math relevant to real world problems.  These different types of learning environments promote cognitive flexibility; students can use particular systems that are suited to them.  The general point is that we can make these different systems available and they are better than most commercial alternatives.

As a note, some computer systems track particular student attributes (e.g., knowledge, emotions, skills, interests) equal to or better than human teachers and tutors.  For others, human tutors and teachers are much more accurate.  It is a research question that continues to be explored.  

S Jones's picture

That has not been my experience.   All the computer systems I have been shown have been procedural.     There is so much room for real multimedia demonstrations of concepts -- so please, if you have examples, share... but forgive me if I am weary of unfounded claims

I google "Jasper Serious" thinking maybe you meant something different than the Jasper Woodbury videodisks I remember well from my days at the U of South Carolina's Instructional Technology Lab back in the 1990's.        They were quite promising then -- do let me know if that promise is being fulfilled! I guess that's one of the things that I find frustrating.   Back in the 1970's we had things like this -- go to 1:49 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Un9eAM3yzo   -- and... now, we have ALEKS and Cognitive TUtor drilling students in procedures, with "click to explain" that shows a math textbook with a procedural explanation,  and calling themselves cutting edge.  

 

Art Graesser's picture

Let me refer you to the Pittsburgh Science of Learning site called LearnLab (www.learnlab.org). You will see software and publications that explicitly attempt to integrate explanations with the procedures.  There also is the LIFE center in stanford (Learning in Informal and Fomal Environments) that is another NSF center in the science of learning (life-slc.org).  The success of these is a matter of point of view.  Others may be better.  But again, my point has been let's piggyback on these existing systems in order to get a quicker delivery of intelligent learning environments to the adult learners.  It took a decade or more to build these systems.   That's save time and use these.  Note that there are commercial systems that are not empirically tested sufficiently whereas these systems from the PSLC are supported by research in science. 

David J. Rosen's picture

Good day all. It is delightful to be part of this discussion on the National Education Technology Plan, and how it can be useful to adult learning.  I look forward to our discussion and hope to see lots of ideas, comments, concerns, and questions.

I am also pleased to be joined by Art Graesser, whose comments I look forward to seeing in our discussion.

To start, here are my thoughts about the overarching questions:

How Can Technology Transform Adult Education and Current Practice?

  • How can the adult education field realize the vision and goals of the NETP, given its limited resources?
  • Which NETP areas should be the field’s immediate focus, and what are the implications for policy and practice?
  • How can the vision of connected teaching and personalized learning be applied to the adult education field and for adult learners currently unconnected to an established program?

Technology by itself, of course, cannot transform adult education. Adult education practitioners who want to transform adult education and their current practice can do so, and digital technology – including hardware such as computers, multimedia projectors, electronic white boards, electronic tablets, and smart phones; and software, including Internet software -- can be enormously helpful if practitioners and learners have the technology available and if they know how to use it well.

How can the adult education field realize the vision and goals of the NETP, given its limited resources?

There are real limitations to what can be done to realize this vision when, in most states for the last several years, already under-funded adult education has been dramatically reduced or eliminated or at best level-funded.  Adult education programs or schools that do not receive adequate funding cannot purchase hardware or software. Teachers cannot get adequate professional development in how to use the technology and often, when they do, they may not be able to afford to stay in our field, so post-secondary and K12 education benefit from their expertise, not adult education.

However, there is potential good news in learners’ access to technology at home, public libraries, community computing centers and, increasingly, through their own smart phones and tablets.  Unfortunately not many programs are taking advantage of this by:

  • Surveying students to see what technology they may own (feature phones, smart phones, electronic tablets, laptops, desktops, etc.)
  • Encouraging adult learners to bring their web-access devices and use them for learning in class
  • Helping students to learn how to use the technology they have for their learning
  • Adopting a WAITT (We’re All In This Together) teaching/learning paradigm in which teachers are not technology experts, where the expertise is in the class as a whole and volunteer technology tutors, and where students, teachers and volunteers learn from each other how to use the various kinds of hardware and software.

Here’s a tantalizing thought. In May 2012 a colleague and I posted on YouTube a short Media Library of Teaching Skills (http://mlots.org) video that we had made of a Massachusetts adult secondary education teacher, in which she showed a few students in her GED class how to write a five paragraph essay. The authentic classroom video was not intended for learners, but rather as professional development for GED writing teachers. However, as of today, over 72,000 people, nearly all apparently preparing for the GED writing test, have viewed it.  How did so many people find it? The second most widely-used search engine in the world is YouTube.  Apparently many adults prefer to get instruction by video, perhaps in addition to, but also possibly instead of text, class or tutorial. In your survey of your students, you could ask if and how they use YouTube for learning, and please let us know what you find.

Which NETP areas should be the field’s immediate focus, and what are the implications for policy and practice?

It’s hard to choose among them.  All five areas: learning, assessment, teaching (I interpret this area as primarily meaning professional development), infrastructure, and productivity, and also research are all important to our field. In the Learning section, this sentence from the NETP Recommendations Report (page 5) caught my attention: “The personal attention of a teacher remains important in our technologically oriented world, but new types of learning materials, new instruction methods, new facilitation methods, and new modes of communication can enhance engagement with content, provide students with new skills, and help reach a wide range of students with varying needs. “ One of the field’s immediate focuses should be to know and learn how to use these new materials, methods, and communication modes. That, of course, implies expanded professional development for teachers.

The report refers to the need for research. As a teacher educator I would like to see this get a higher priority. Sadly, we don’t have good answers in our field to basic research and evaluation questions such as:

  • What hardware and/or software is effective in helping which student populations achieve which of their learning goals?
  • Under what circumstances is pure distance learning effective for adult basic skills?
  • What are the most effective kinds of blended learning for which adult learning populations?
  • What is the best use of online learning in teaching numeracy and mathematics, writing, science, and social studies?

How can the vision of connected teaching and personalized learning be applied to the adult education field and for adult learners currently unconnected to an established program?

There have been several efforts to provide learning for adults unconnected to an established program. Two are cited in the National Education Technology Report, Learner Web and USA Learns, both of which have been supported in part with public funding. There are private efforts too, such as Khan Academy, Pumarosa.com, Dave’s ESL Café, Live Mocha, and many others. To achieve this vision we need a new publicly-funded national effort that supports those who enroll in programs, those who learn on their own, and those who -- in sequence or simultaneously-- do both. At the state level this needs to be a partnership of adult education programs and schools, libraries, and workforce development entities such as Workforce Investment Boards and Career Centers. At the national level it needs to be a partnership of federal agencies whose responsibility is education, libraries, workforce development, commerce, and health, and other agencies.

One good example of a state adult learning and technology effort is in Minnesota, the NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment developed by a partnership of state and local education, library and workforce development agencies. It would be great to hear about this here, as well as about other effective state agency partnerships to support enrolled and unconnected adult learners using technology.

I am looking forward to hearing others’ ideas about how technology can transform adult education and current practice.

David J. Rosen, President

Newsome Associates

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Nell Eckersley's picture

Hi all,

One of the underlying issues in how technology can transform adult education and current practice that David refers to is the lack of adequate professional development compounded with a lack of access to hardware and software in adult education programs.  How have you ocme either of these obstacles, or in what ways are you tackling them?

 

best,

Nell

 

Art Graesser's picture

Nell,

It is widely acknowledged that improvements in professional development (PD) is seriously needed for adult learning.  Interestingly, technology can play a role in improving PD.  Part of teacher training would be observing, using, and modifying computer technologies to help students learn.  In essence, the technology would model good practice.

It is an open question how much access adult learners have to software and hardware.  This is an open empirical question that the CASL center is investigating.  Some statistics indicate substantial access of adult learners to the internet, mobile devices, and other technologies.  Access to the internet could of course be broader.  

Paul Rogers's picture

David, et al

I would like to jump in with a few thoughts. I have not read the full report and so, at this time, I can only raise a few issues based upon my experiences and observations.

I specialize in teaching English as a Foreign Language to immigrants from Latin America. I am an independent teacher and have used my website - PUMAROSA - with kids as young as 6 and with adults as old as 90. The website is free and often my labor is also.

First- there are many issues, but the principal one, as David mentions, is funding.

In the field of adult education for immigrants funds are being slashed all over California, classes are being discontinued while at the same time millions of people wait in near despair.

The immigrant community is particularly affected in the field of ESL Citizenship, and GED.

Then developing in the background, so to speak, are numerous courses, classes and programs offered at low cost or for free on the internet.

As we speak millions of adult learners are pursuing their education....without the assistance or guidance of us Professionals.

Funding can come from grants from the government and from charitable foundations, like the Gates Fundation. There are hundreds of these foundations. At the same time there is no reason not to engage in creative fundraising events such as concerts, benefits, outreach to the local business community, etc., etc. I remember reading years ago about an ESL class that had a bake sale to raise money for their texts. As a matter of fact a charitable foundation is more likely to give a grant to an organizaation that does sponsor these kinds of events.

And foundations are also more likely to give grants to organizations that work together.

And, in my opinion, that is the rub.

To serve the community we need to work collaboratively so as to be more eligible and even worthy of adequate funding.

That is to say: "It takes a whole community..."

I look forward to subsequent discussions.

Paul Rogers

pumarosa21@yahoo.comm

 

S Jones's picture

... I am attempting to read the draft report ... "Through the smarter use of data, programs and teachers can 

direct their own learning, participate in online and hybrid communities of practice in their areas 
of interest, and seek assistance from peers or mentors far removed from the classroom" 
 
Programs and teachers are going to direct their own learning?  
 
(back to reading...)
David J. Rosen's picture

Susan Jones, quoting the Introduction to the report, "Through the smarter use of data, programs and teachers can direct their own learning, participate in online and hybrid communities of practice in their areas of interest, and seek assistance from peers or mentors far removed from the classroom" wrote “Programs and teachers are going to direct their own learning?”

Hi Susan and others,

I interpreted “programs and teachers can direct their own learning” as practitioners using data for program improvement. If this interpretation is correct, there are some examples of this in our field. In Pennsylvania, at least when Cheryl Keenan was the State ABE Director there many years ago, there was a mandate that all publicly-funded programs produce an (I think annual) program improvement plan, based on their own goals and data they proposed to collect and use to determine if they were accomplishing their goal(s). I understand that some programs used this mandate well and that it did lead to program improvement. In my state, Massachusetts, the state entity responsible for adult basic education has made many attempts to provide training for programs on how to use data for their own program improvement that they collect and report to the state accountability system. No doubt these efforts could be improved, just as the kinds of data collected and ways of collecting and using data could be improved.

If your interpretation of the sentence you quoted (as I understood your interpretation) is correct, that is, that it focuses on teachers directing their own professional development, I also think there is merit in having teachers participate in directing their own professional development. There are many good reasons for this, but the one I like best is engagement; teachers who are facing a teaching/learning problem in their classes that they care about, that they are perhaps frustrated with, also care about finding a solution. This is a good starting place for teacher/classroom/action research, a powerful way in which teachers can grow professionally. Sometimes examining learner outcome data can provide teachers with an awareness of a pattern, for example that some students understood a set of concepts with one teaching approach while others did not, or that some methods are more effective with some kinds of students. Having these kind of data readily available, from a good learning management system, and spending some time looking at and trying to interpret the data, can often itself be a good professional development experience. Not always, of course, and not all management information systems collect the most useful teaching and learning data. However, I like the vision in this introduction, that data may be useful to teachers for program improvement and for their own professional development, even if examples of this in our field at present are not widespread.

David J. Rosen

S Jones's picture

... though ... "the data may be good" -- or it might not be.  I want to know just what teh "data" are measuring.

It is through the technology of this community that I learned about the "Focus on Basics" materials, which have been invaluable and inspiring!  (http://www.ncsall.net/index.html@id=31.html  ) 

David J. Rosen's picture

Susan and others,

What the data measure is an important question, and one that adult education teachers should weigh in on. We know what data funders need; however, what data would teachers like to have about student learning in addition to pre- and post- standardized test scores and demographic information?  Susan, what do you think? Others, please weigh in too.

Regarding Focus on Basics, I agree. Fabulous contribution that NCSALL(Harvard and World Education) made to our field, and FoB issues, I believe, are all available free online. You might also like another World Education publication, The Change Agent. The next issue focuses on technology.

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

 

 

Art Graesser's picture

Technology gives us the opportunity to measure a large landscape of psychological attributes -- far more than standardized test scores and demographs.  The field of educational data mining gleans dozens if not hundreds of measures from the log files that are collected from students over hours and days. The measures include persistence, boredom, study time, confusion, self-regulation, active learning, subject matter knowledge,  mastery of skills, the list goes on.  These measures are automatically tracked as students learn. One could imagine the day when students engage in learning all of the time and there are no tests at all -- that's perhaps idealistic but actually feasible if it were accepted by stakeholders. Stealth assessment, formative assessment, and other theoretical labels are used for data that is collected while students learn. Moreover, students can take a look at their own profile in the E-Portfolio and see what they need to work on.  The tutors and students can look at the profiles together and plan next steps. But again professional development training is needed for that.

One challenge is to find ways to train teachers to use the data that are electronically available to them.  Even when the data are available on the computer, easy to access, and easy to interpret, the use of the data by teachers is very disappointing.  Teachers need training on the use of the data.  That inspired the National Science Foundation DRK12 initiative; this is also relevant to the teachers/tutors of adult learners.  

SusanW's picture

Dr Graesser and all:

I am a bit intimidated to jump into a conversation with so many scholars, but I can no longer stay silent.   I am an adult educator who works with low literacy adult English language learners in Virginia.  These are the students I refer to below.

What about privacy issues for the student?  Students have a right to be fully aware of what is taking place with data mining;  how each keystroke is being captured;  and most importantly, that this data is being  interpreted by someone for some purpose. 

What about the student's right to "opt out" of data collection?  It is not the data mining that bothers me so much, it is the way the data can potentially be interpreted and used.  Data is never neutral.  Indeed, I would want to know who was using the data if I were the student.

Who speaks for the student in the technology transformation of adult education?  How is the student represented in these scenarios and discussions?

I'm submitting this reply with the utmost respect and goodness of intentions.  I realize I sound critical, but I believe my questions (the answers)  are a valid part of this discussion.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to reply.  Susan

.

Art Graesser's picture

The research with technologies and human interventions that are conducted by universities require "informed consent" from the students who participant.  The same holds true for our Center for the Study of Adult Literacy (CSAL, with Daphne Greenberg as Principal Investigator, and Maureen Lovett, a coPI who is developing the curriculum to help adult readers read better). The students know their data is being tracked, with the objective of improving the learning process.  Similarly, commercial learning systems are often purchased and the learner typically signs an agreement. However, I am not sure about the free MOOCs.  And we have read the newspapers about Google and its data mining. 

Another issue is the right to "opt out" and "drop out" of an experiment at any time.  This is a standard policy in research that is conducted at universities, where there is an Institutional Review Board. Often there is a substitue activity in courses for students who do not want to participate. 

Another ethical principle is to protect the anonymity of students who participate in research. 

Adult learners who want to benefit from learning with the technology are encouraged to contribute their data, but they don't have to. 

The informed consent for that the adult learners sign also has a description of how the data will be used.

 

   

hglass's picture

Hi Art,

I agree with you that the challenge is to provide PD to Ts.

I teach adult ESOL part-time and whereas I may have some time to do the research and find more information to better my teaching and assessment skills, I do not know if that is true for others.  PD is needed on so many levels and yet not enough time (or money) is provided by institutions that subsist on grants.

I think the advent of technology as a tool to assist Ts is a boon. Until now that has not been mandated but with the new Common Core requirements I see a bright future for technology.  More software engineers and writers will apply their skills to education and hopefully, more specifically, Adult education.

However, to increase technology's use, PD for Ts is a must.

That said, Art, do you know of places on-line and off- that provide PD?

Best regards,

Harry

Harry Glass
New York, NY, USA

 

Holly Dilatush's picture

Online suggestions:

http://edupln.ning.com/

http://shellyterrell.com/2011/01/30/so-the-journey-begins-30-goals-challenge-for-educators-30goals/

http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/creating-a-pln/

http://webheads.info/

http://webheadsinaction.org/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A667plNCzwA

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/twitter-expanding-pln

--

To name a few!

Offline suggestions: Encourage as many peer to peer observation opportunities as you can, open inquiry, fun, with non-mandated challenges. Celebrate the learning journey, laugh along the way. Thrive!

Start a fotobabble parade / collection http://www.fotobabble.com/

Fotobabble is easy and fun for everyone I've introduced it to so far.

Use fotobabbles to share what you're trying, what you're questioning, what you're frustrated with, what you're excited about.

Make it fun, and start. 

Share inspirational quotes, tips (tips related to technology and tips on balancing our lives in this changing world). Share!

Finding time to participate in this discussion is challenging, but I am so grateful it's taking place. Must go, another class is about to start!

Holly 

 

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Harry,

You ask where you can find online and face-to-face PD.

In New York City, of course, a good place to start is the Literacy Assistance Center.

Another place to look is in the Professional Development section of the Adult Literacy Education Wiki, http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Adult_Literacy_Professional_Development  I especially recommend: http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/AlePDOnline

Another place, for ESOL professional development, is the Center for Applied Linguistics, CAL. http://www.cal.org/solutions/profdev/ht/index.html

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Michelle Carson's picture

Hi Harry and David, 

Also, my understanding is that all of the rich resources from the ELL-U project are still available on the LINCS website and learning portal.  Maybe someone who worked on that project can share more about the kinds of things that are available?  Here's a link to some information about the initiative and resoruces.   http://lincs.ed.gov/programs/ell-u

 

Michelle

Jessie Stadd's picture

Hi Michelle,

Yes! Several key resources from OVAE's ELL-U initiative are available on LINCS. The link you provided, http://lincs.ed.gov/programs/ell-u, is the best place to access all ELL-U resources in one place. Five free, self-paced online courses are available through the LINCS Learning Portal including: 

  • Second Language Acquisition: Myths, Beliefs, and What the Research Shows
  • Teaching Adult ELLs who are Emergent Readers
  • Formative Assessment to Inform Quality Adult ESL Instruction
  • The Role of Culture in the Education of Adult English Language Learners
  • Principles of Second Language Teaching: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction

Additionally, many training events and study circles were also developed and offered through the ELL-U initiative. If you are a state or program interested in offering one of these professional development opportunities, please contact your region's RPDC

 

Art Graesser's picture

David Rosen has already provided a good answer about finding professional development (PD) training for adults.  However, more traioning facilities are clearly needed.  Also, it is acknowledged by the Institute of Education Science that the PD could greatly improve with more research and communication of good practices.  A web portal could be a central location to house this expertise. 

I like the idea of teachers learning from the exemplar technologies (which are originally based on the wisdom of a community of practicianers in addition to science).  And also vice versa -- teachers comment on the technologies so that the technologies change.  So PD materials evolve by a reciprocal interaction of the technologies and teachers learning from each other.  It's a win-win situation over the years of evolution.

Paul Rogers's picture

The NETP report is a broad outine and description of the situation in adult education.

It mentions that of the 40 million adults who need various course, only 2 million are currently enrolled, or ….5%.

I would suggest that we have a discussion of how to meet those needs in a practical, day-to-day way.

The report  focuses on “formal education” – meaning education that takes place in government funded schools.

But there is a huge informal network of education taking place in churches, social service centers, libraries, etc.

What is needed is the development and the implementation of a network of community learning centers to create spaces and means to study throughout any given community in an organized and coordinated method.  

We need to sew a Big Tent and invite everybody in.

The following is an example of how a coordinated network could work in Anytown, USA:

The local Community College can serve as the umbrella or “hub” of all the adult education classes provided throughout the city by:

Community centers

Churches

YMCAs

Public schools

Companies and factories

The CC can help train tutors, write grants and engage in local fund-raising activities, such as concerts, events, and sponsorships.

The CC also can submit articles to the local newspapers in various languages, and produces PSAs and some programming to the local Public Access Television and radio stations.

How it would work:

A recent immigrant from Mexico, Maria, arrives with her husband and 2 children and decides to study ESL. Her husband, Carlos, is not able to attend classes due to his work schedule.

She looks through a directory of city-wide classes, written in Spanish, that she has obtained at her local church. The directory shows all the classes available and she enrolls at a class at the local library two blocks from her house.

She learns that not only can she attend classes at the library but that she will be shown how to access lessons on the internet so that she can study at home.

As part of the ESL class, the library provides  basic computer instruction, and also provides texts and a computer which she can borrow and bring home.

There is a Computers For Families program, which provides low-cost computers to eligible patrons.

After a while, not only has Maria learned a lot of practical English, but she has been able to help her husband learn some English, and to be able to read English story books out loud to her children, both of whom are in elementary school, and who are also beginning to use the internet in their classes.

At a certain poin in her education, Maria decides that she would like to take more advanced classes at the local Community College. Her “transcripts” are sent over to the CC and she is enrolled in an evening class.

The above scenario is my concept of a practical method to provide a variety of educational opportunities to those who need them most.

Nell Eckersley's picture

Hi all,

Welcome to Day two of our discussion on “How can technology transform adult education and current practice?”  

Today we continue to reflect on the Learning section of the draft report Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) for Adult Education, produced through a contract with the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

 

To start us off today below is a quick overview of what the discussion contained yesterday:

 

Art Graesser started us off

It is extremely important to develop a research initiative to empirically assess what technologies work for particular groups of learners as they try to master different skills and knowledge.  Effective instructional strategies differ tremendously for learning facts, acquiring perceptual-motor procedures, solving match problems, diagnosing equipment malfunctions, and reasoning about social conflicts. 

Expanding on the methods suggested by the report:

Active learning and problem solving.

Learners should be empowered with technologies that promote active learning. 

Most adults avoid generating content, particularly when there a large number of constraints.  Therefore, scaffolding is needed to show them how. 

Expand the use of intelligent tutoring systems that promote active learning and problem solving for mathematics, such as the Cognitive Tutors (Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center), ALEKS, and ASSISTments. These are used already in thousands of school systems and could be expanded to scale up further to include adult learners.

Develop intelligent tutoring systems with pedagogical agents (talking heads) that interact with the human and with other agents:  AutoTutor (computer literacy, science reasoning, many other topics), DeepTutor (physics), Why/Atlas (physics), Guru Tutor (biology), Crystal Island (biology), Betty’s Brain (different science topics), MyScience Tutor (science), iSTART (deep reading strategies), Writing-Pal (writing), Tactical Language and Culture System (foreign language learning in a virtual world), MetaTutor (self-regulated learning), Operation ARA (scientific reasoning), the list goes on. 

Investments need to be made to scale these up for use by many thousands, if not millions of users. 

Games and Simulation.

Simulation games can often keep students absorbed in a state of flow for hours. How can that be done to help students learn about engineering, design, urban planning, and complex systems in the 21st century?  Collaborative problem solving will be having a healthy future, particularly now that there are plans for collaborative problem solving skills to be assessed in 2015 by OECD in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment); dozens of countries will have 15 year old students being assessed on collaborative problem solving skills. Corporations are also pushing for better training in CPS. 

MOOCs. 

Huge dropout rate (95% in one estimate).  Efforts need to be made to make MOOCs more engaging and also to have a recommender system to push learning objects that are suited to a particular learner.  

Need to develop a Digital Literacy facility in our learning technologies that our adult learners can handle. 

YouTube video’s provide a powerful way to create motivating learning objects.  One could imagine creating a literacy program around YouTubes that the adult learner finds interesting.    

Mobile technologies.  This is a revolutionary step in technology.  The only challenge is to have a handheld device with a large enough screen to support more content.  The smart phones are too small for most tasks requiring deeper knowledge.      

Repository of texts, videos, and other learning objects that are scaled/classified on topic categories, text difficulty, learning difficulty, and other characteristics.  As the e-Portfolio of the adult learning grows, the computer system can select and suggest learning objects that match the interests and skill level of the individual adult learner.  The selection would follow the Goldilocks principle: not too easy and not too difficult, but just right. The selection would also follow principles of motivation -- practically useful and/or matched to the person’s interests. 

 

Susan Jones responded with concerns regarding how effective some of the active learning tools are in reality

ALEKS  *does* provide lots and lots and lots and lots of procedural practice, to which our students have said "hey, I really know this stuff now!" -- but those students used ALEKS as one element of a mathematical literacy course that is very concept-based with lots of group work and is mostly face-to-face. 

“Our math folks were highly disappointed in their success rates using it with our pre-pre-algebra (lowest level) course, and have abandoned it.” 

“Dorothea Steinke is coming out to our college to talk about conceptual development (and what) stuff they're doing with technology so that they can serve the underprepared students. She is putting together some "five minute math" videos aimed at building concepts.   SHe's going to come to Champaign on October 10 to present to us The Big Picture in Math: Four Concepts the Books Don’t Teach

 

Al Graesser agreed that 5 minute videos can be effective and pointed out “Lesson given at the right time (the Time to Learn view) is golden to a student.”

Rochelle Kenyon reminded us to include disability when we look at how technology can transform adult education and current practice. 

Al Graesser mentioned Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and that technology can respond to individual learning needs  

Al Graesser responded to Sharon Jones' question about "Most instructional strategies are too difficult to implement by human teachers"

"The logistics of implementing many of the effective pedagogical strategies are too difficult for teachers to put into practice, so technology is needed to handle that part.  For example, optimally spaced distributed practice, selecting materials at the zone of proximal development, building explanations on unfamiliar subject matter, scaffolding self-regulation, and a host of other princples are rarely implemented by human teachers and are to tedious to implement if they tried.  Teachers prefer to work on other dimensions of the learning experience that have other dimensions of complexity that are currently impossible for technology to handle.  Some aspects of learning are best handled by technology, but others by humans.  We need to sort this out." 

David Rosen looked a the report through the three overarching questions

1.      How can the adult education field realize the vision and goals of the NETP, given its limited resources?

·         There are real limitations to what can be done to realize this vision when, in most states for the last several years, already under-funded adult education has been dramatically reduced or eliminated or at best level-funded.  Adult education programs or schools that do not receive adequate funding cannot purchase hardware or software. Teachers cannot get adequate professional development in how to use the technology and often, when they do, they may not be able to afford to stay in our field, so post-secondary and K12 education benefit from their expertise, not adult education.

·         However, there is potential good news in learners’ access to technology at home, public libraries, community computing centers and, increasingly, through their own smart phones and tablets.  Unfortunately not many programs are taking advantage of this.

·         The power and reach of  YouTube videos

 

2.      Which NETP areas should be the field’s immediate focus, and what are the implications for policy and practice?

·         Expanded professional development for teachers.

·         The report refers to the need for research. As a teacher educator I would like to see this get a higher priority.

 

3.     How can the vision of connected teaching and personalized learning be applied to the adult education field and for adult learners currently unconnected to an established program?

·         Learner Web and USA Learns, both of which have been supported in part with public funding. There are private efforts too, such as Khan Academy, Pumarosa.com, Dave’s ESL Café, Live Mocha, and many others. To achieve this vision we need a new publicly-funded national effort that supports those who enroll in programs, those who learn on their own, and those who -- in sequence or simultaneously-- do both. At the state level this needs to be a partnership of adult education programs and schools, libraries, and workforce development entities such as Workforce Investment Boards and Career Centers. At the national level it needs to be a partnership of federal agencies whose responsibility is education, libraries, workforce development, commerce, and health, and other agencies.

·         Technology by itself, of course, cannot transform adult education. Adult education practitioners who want to transform adult education and their current practice can do so, and digital technology – including hardware such as computers, multimedia projectors, electronic white boards, electronic tablets, and smart phones; and software, including Internet software -- can be enormously helpful if practitioners and learners have the technology available and if they know how to use it well.

·         To serve the community we need to work collaboratively so as to be more eligible and even worthy of adequate funding.

 

David Rosen responding to Susan Jones question: Programs and teachers are going to direct their own learning?  

Program improvement plan, based on their own goals and data they proposed to collect and use to determine if they were accomplishing their goal(s). I understand that some programs used this mandate well and that it did lead to program improvement. In my state, Massachusetts, the state entity responsible for adult basic education has made many attempts to provide training for programs on how to use data for their own program improvement that they collect and report to the state accountability system. No doubt these efforts could be improved, just as the kinds of data collected and ways of collecting and using data could be improved.

Susan Jones

It is through the technology of this community that I learned about the "Focus on Basics" materials, which have been invaluable and inspiring!  (http://www.ncsall.net/index.html@id=31.html  ) 

Paul Rogers:

It mentions that of the 40 million adults who need various course, only 2 million are currently enrolled, or ….5%. 

There is a huge informal network of education taking place in churches, social service centers, libraries, etc.

Develop and implement a network of community learning centers to create spaces and means to study throughout any given community in an organized and coordinated method.  

_____________________________________

As we start today, consider your own experience with technology and how it has supported your own learning and teaching.  What has been successful and where have the challenges been?  Do the observations made in the report and from the discussion yesterday, ring true for you?

Steve Quann's picture

Dear Art and David,

First of all, thank you for a truly marvelous kick-off of this discussion, the most informative and thought-provoking one I can recall. I would like to hear a bit more of your thoughts on mobile technology, in particular, Art, why you said:

“The only challenge is to have a handheld device with a large enough screen to support more content.  The smart phones are too small for most tasks requiring deeper knowledge.”

Is this based on research? I ask because years ago some of my colleagues felt that they could not read on screen and so printed things out.  (I know that is still true with longer pdfs and such but less so, it seems). And now my (usually older) friends and colleagues say that they would not want to read on a smart phone, but nevertheless they read thinner columns of text in newspaper with little effort. I assumed you mean other activities.

Granted there are *some* tasks that  I choose not to do on a phone but with all the things apps do well, I am having a hard time imagining how tablets as mobile technologies present obstacles. But perhaps you can explain more about the kind of tasks for deeper knowledge that would be challenging.

I have to say that I left with the impression that the field should not consider using the devices that most already have (or soon will) and carry with them. I just don’t want to discourage the field from their potential, for not only apps and reading text and such but also as a tool of constructive projects and problem-solving, or accessing and production of media such as audio and video for ELLs, for instance.   

I am looking forward to more thought-provoking discussion!

Steve Quann

Senior Advisor for Technology in Education

World Education, Inc.

David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Steve, and others,

As Steve knows -- he's a member of the M-learning (mobile learning) Wiggio that I moderate and which others are welcome to join -- I think we need to pay a lot of attention to mobile devices in adult learning.

Last year I interviewed students preparing for the high school equivalency exam in California, Florida and Pennsylvania. I asked students if/how they were using technology in their preparation. Older students weren't, and were terrified of taking the GED(r) test on a computer. Younger students told me they went to instructional web sites that their teachers had told them about or that they found themselves using YouTube. I asked if they had computers at home. Some did, but a large number of younger students didn't, and accessed instructional web pages from their smart phones. When I asked if they found it difficult to navigate on a small screen or if they found that some web sites designed for computers lacked functionality on their smart phones, no one said these were problems. I also know, from some research I am doing for a COABE Journal Web Scan column, that educational apps for smart phones (Androids as well as iPhones) have mushroomed this past year or so.

Since we are discussing the learning section of the NETP report today, I want to introduce a vision of a technology-enhanced adult ed classroom for adult education. Let's leave aside students trapseing to a computer lab once or twice a week (although that might still be useful for some things.) Let's look at technology in the classroom. Here's what I would hope to see: a network of a half dozen computers around the outside wall of the classroom with high bandwidth Internet access; students with their own portable Internet-access devices (electronic tablet, smart phone or whatever these may look like in the future -- electronic paper, for example), a smartboard or some other kind of electronic white board or white board projector and/or multimedia projector, and a couple of networked printers. I know there are issues now for students who want to bring their smart phones to class, and often these are banned because they can be distractive. However, we need to approach this differently. We need good, enforced appropriate use policies for smart phones that do not allow uses during class other than for education purposes and we need to ask students to bring them to class, and lend portables to students who don't own one.

I expect that there are some things portable electronic devices will not do, or not do as well as desktop or laptop computers, and will eagerly read Art's response to Steve on this question, which is why I think the adult ed classrrom still must have computers.

All this, of course, costs money. It's impossible now for most adult education programs to realize this vision; however, with a clear vision and with determined advocacy, I believe in some states legislators will see the wisdom of such an investmnent. It makes sense for building a state of the art workforce, for helping parents become good education supporters for their children, and for helping all adults get access to essential services they need such as applying for jobs online, completing local and state government forms online, and most important, continuing to learn throughout their lives using good information search skills and online learning.

What's your vision of technology and adult learning?

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Art Graesser's picture

Steve,

There are human factors studies on the amount of information that can be put on the screen interfaces of different computer technologies.  There are also human factors guidelines (and sometimes standards) for the size of print.  There sometimes are problems with handhelds with small screens (like iPhones, somall androids, etc): the screen is too small to put the targeted content on it and still have large enough letters to meet human factors guidelines.  So the print is too small to see, particularly for the aging population or those with poor eye sight.  One solution is to put only a subset of the information on any small screen (which is often done).  But that sacrifices a broader context of the targeted text and some pictures get dropped.  The small handhelds are fine for small amounts of information, spoken interaction, and chat interaction.  But they are cumbersome for reading lenghier text, solving complex problems,  simulation, and many other difficult tasks in the 21st century.

Tablet PC's and iPads with larger screens are better. They are suitable for the more complex tasks -- as long as people carry them around and have access to wireless.   

We need research on how much adult learners use these various mobile devices.  And just important, how much this is changing over time.  How does 2013 compare with 2012 and 2011?

 

Art Graesser's picture

I resonate highly with building a social community through social networking to include more adult learners.  Indeed 5% is low.  In Memphis the percentage is even lower.  Leaders of adult learning and literacy centers in Memphis are indeed building such a network among the practicianers, with hopes of spreading it more to adult learners. As adult learners reach these centers, they can be trained to use technology at home in addition to visiting the center periodically for training with human teachers and tutors.  This is the blended model that the NETP Report advocates.  Of course we all know how hard building a community can be.  It will take effort, persistance, and some  financial resources. 

Adult learners need access to the internet of course.  This can be as low cost as $10 per month in some parts of Memphis.  Wouldn't it be great if it were free in some sections of the city.  And the band width needs to be adequate.  Once again, the adult learners will need scaffolding on how to use the digital technologies effectively.  

Literacy MidSouth in Memphis (a partner in the CASL center grant) has a major presence in the city library and is speading to other locations in Memphis.  This distributed approach is important because bus transportation is inadequate in Memphis and is experiencing additional budget cuts.  

 

Linda DeRocher's picture

I have been following this thread because I work for a literacy council that serves five counties and we are looking at ways we can serve learners in the more rural sections of our service area.  A blended teaching/learning model--face to face tutoring with computer supported learning in between those meetings--may be a way to reach those learners. The problem there is the lack of computers in the home, poor internet access, or inability to get to a computer at a library due to distance or lack of transportation. However, I would like to comment on Paul Rogers' "model of organization."   I heartily agree with him that there are many community- and faith-based organizations that are providing both basic literacy and ESOL to adult learners--and often with very little, if any, public funding.  In our service area, community colleges teach GED prep classes and administer the test.  Our network of providers often provide remediation for adults who do not have the level of basic literacy skills necessary to take the classes and study for the test.  In most cases this teaching/tutoring is done free of charge to the learner.   Community colleges in our state receive and administer funds from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education--funding that is practically unavailable to non-profit community and faith-based organizations.  Most of them simply do not have the capacity or the desire to manage the documentation such funding requires.   As regarding training tutors, I am the trainer for our literacy council and I am qualified to train both basic literacy and ESOL tutors--and and there are trainers like me in most of the larger literacy councils in the U.S.  And these councils all write grants, conduct fund-raisers and recruit learners and tutors on a regular basis--activities that would be considered by community colleges as outside their purview. Most non-profit literacy agencies develop relationships with local broadcast facilities for PSA--a great tool for learner recruitment.  As for public radio--they are also non-profit and will not give "free" air unless they have a fund endowed for such benevolent activity. To address "Maria" and her family, I applaud her desire to learn English.  She is just like learners I and my tutors meet every day.  I must say, though, that unless Maria is documented, her chances for secondary education are slim--but that is another subject for another interest section.

David J. Rosen's picture

Linda,

You wrote, "The problem there is the lack of computers in the home, poor internet access, or inability to get to a computer at a library due to distance or lack of transportation" and I bet a lot of adult education practitioners reading this would agree that it's is a problem for their students. I don't have a perfect solution but I do have two suggestions:

1. Adult education teachers can survey their students (this could be an oral survey with a show of hands, and could be in the student's first language) at least annually to find out what technology they have and how they are using it. If anyone is interested I can send you (or post a link here) to a cell phone survey originally developed by Susan Gaer, an ESL professor at Santa Ana College, and modified by me. Perhaps others can suggest good surveys adult education teachers could use to find out what technology students have and use. Sometimes teachers find out that their students have more access than they thought.

2. In many states Comcast and other Internet service providers offer low-income families (those whose children are eligible for free or reduced school lunches) broadband Internet access packages for around $10 a month. They also offer reduced-cost desktop ($150) and laptop ($200) computers. A national campaign initiated by Connect2Compete, called Everyone On http://www.everyoneon.org has more information about this, and also a map of where organizations such as public libraries offer free digital literacy training.

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Art Graesser's picture

To Linda,

In Memphis faith-based organizations and community colleges are important hubs for training adult learners. It is expected to grow in the future.  It is an interesting question how much adult learning centers are broadcasted on radio and TV in either ads or news stories.  The latter is essential for those adult learners who don't have access to the internet. Of course, public funding continues to be a challenge.  The hope is that some of the reports (such as the NAS report on Adolescent and Adult Literacy) will have some impact on government funding allocations.  According to many of us, a greater investment is believed to save more money in the long run by virtue of a more capabable workforce, health care cost reductions, more educationed and socially adjusted children, reduced welfare costs -- the list goes on.  The government needs to invest such money in order to save money in the long run. 

 

Nancy Labonte's picture

Thanks David for sharing your vision of what the physical space of the tech enabled adult ed classroom looks like, but I think the field needs a lot more guidance on what they should be doing with this equipment.  Can you or others share some models for implementation, perhaps in alignment with CCSS/CCR?

David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Nancy,

I see that you noticed I avoided the tougher part of this question : - ) The hardware is easy. The software choices, and the what-do-do with technology question are much harder because they depend on the kind and level of teaching and what the teacher wants to do.

For example, a teacher preparing students for the GED(r) 2014 exam might benefit from this kind of model of hardware and software:

Hardware

  • Desktop and laptop computers (ideally in the classroom, not only a lab) with GED2014(r) practice items (e.g. tabbing, drag and drop, extended response, hot spot, math items with multiple windows to manipulate)
  • Portable keyboards (e.g. alphasmart keyboards -- second-hand around $60 each on eBay) so students who don't type at 40 mpm can practice their keyboarding skills, and a free online keyboarding program. You'll find a list of free keyboarding programs at http://home.comcast.net/~djrosen/newsome/litlist/typing.html .
  • A multimedia projector or smartboard.

Software (standalone, networked, and web-based)

Integrating the Technology

A GED(r) preparation teacher (or team) might tell students that to make good progress, to prepare for the tests within a one-year time period, they will need to use a blended model, face-to-face classroom time and online time outside class, that some will need to practice keyboard/typing skills to be prepared for the extended response RLA and Social Studies tests, and that they will all need to practice using the new test items on a computer so that they feel comfortable and confident in using them when they take the test.

This is just one (basic, incomplete) model of how technology might be used for one kind of adult education teaching. What we need is many more models, some for every kind of adult education teaching and level.

A creative teacher might make PowerPoint, screencapture video, or TouchCast presentations for their students on how to use these items well. Teachers in Minnesota have alreadycreated some great screen capture videos on some of the GED 2014(r) test items. http://hubbs.spps.org/uploads/ged_computer_skills_video.swf and http://hubbs.spps.org/uploads/tabbed_browsing_example_quiz.ppsx

I am working with a group of GED writing teachers now from across the country who have reviewed short, free adult secondary education and transition to college writing instruction videos; these reviews will be available sometime this fall so that RLA teachers and other GED(r) teachers who teach writing can incorporate these in their curriculua.

Perhaps there are other ways to use technology that Art, and others here can suggest; and, of course, there is much more that a teacher will need to do that has nothing to do with technology, but these are some of the highlights of how technology might be used.

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

 

Art Graesser's picture

To all,

David's suggestions on adult education classroom technology is excellent and comprehensive.  David's recommendation on flexibility makes sense at this point when it comes to research on best practices.  In Memphis on the CSAL research, we will be trying out many different arrangments.  One way is to have a teacher give a pwerpoint to a group of students.  Another is to have the teacher interact with the technology in front of adult learners.  Another is to have a teacher-learner put on a an interation to show to others, where the adult learner works (on a display so all can see) on the software and the teacher comments, gives feedback, and gives other scaffolding while the other adult learners watch (and ask question).  Another is to have a lab with a set of computers for adult learners to work individually (or assign a pair of adult learners to each single computer so the students can collaboratively work and learn from each other).  There is also individual tutoring where the adult learner and tutor work one on one.  It will be interesting to investigate how often these different arrangements are implemented by educators and what works best for different categories of adult learners.   

Paul Rogers's picture

Reading through the discussions it is clear that the major problem facing adult education is funding.

But it is my opinion that, in order to secure the funding necessary, significant changes need to be made in the over-all system in the first place.

I have outlined what I feel is an effective model based upon close collaboration and cooperation of all the agencies in any given city that provide classes to adults.

Such a model provides the basis for a more effective and more efficient “delivery system” and would therefore be more economical. It would, in my opinion, give the funders “more bang for the buck”.

This model, utilizing all aspects of technology, provides the means by which all adults can access classes and instruction at any time, any place, and by many means.

It also provides a matrix by which all or nearly all of the different problems that have been mentioned can indeed be solved.

To illustrate:      

1. As many have mentioned, there is a real need to provide computers to low-income students.

This problem has already been solved in some communities by a “Computers For Families” program, which involves providing refurbished computers either free or at a low – cost.

Agencies such as Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army already sell used computers in their second-hand stores.

All that is required is that an adult education organization establish a working relationship with Goodwill or The Salvation Army, or any other second-hand store in the community.

In addition, these two organizations already provide classes for low –income adults, usually job training programs. Therefore they would become an important part of a community network of adult education.

2. If getting connected to the internet is a problem for many students, then various companies that provide courses online can be contacted to see if there are CD Roms of their classes. In this way, the public library can be the site for these CDs and textbooks, etc. And again, the library is also an important part of the community network.

 3. Publicity of all the available classes needs to be done in different languages throughout the city. This can be done through the local newspapers including those in the diverse communities published in different languages. Public Access TV is free community TV and is very useful, etc.

A Community College could serve as the publicity center for all the participating agencies in the community.

4. Fundraising:

Grants from the government or from foundations can be written in a coordinated way. Each funding agency has its own requirements and “rules” which do not universally apply to all adult ed organizations. Community colleges, for example, have to follow the Minimum Daily Attendance requirement and engage in testing. Churches, libraries, etc. are not under these requirements.

BUT- and my main point – funding agencies are much more likely to give grants if they see that there is a concerted effort to establish cooperative ventures by the applicants. In other words, if a community college, library, social service agency and church, for example, should apply for a grant for a joint project as outlined above, then the probability of receiving funding increases dramatically.

At the same time – there are many other forms of fund-raising: benefits, concerts, door-to-door campaigns, bake sales, etc. etc.

And ….funding agencies are much more likely to fund organizations that have proven that they are willing to engage in these types of fund-raising activities.

In short, by modifying, changing and improving the current system of adult education, the vast majority of the community can be better served and major problems, including funding, can be solved.

Art Graesser's picture

I agree with everything that Paul Rogers has recommended. 

Perhaps we can identify some model cities that are pursuing most or all of Paul's recommendations.  Proposals for Federal government funding can spring from these cities.  Then other cities can follow similar processes. 

Problems of adult learning and the financial consequences appear to be getting more attention by the public and government these days.  The social networks need to exercise their impact so that better decisions are made on funding allocations. 

Debra Burdman's picture

First of how all: how much do these programs cost?  Adult Education is facing cutbacks everywhere.  Second of all, if they involve conceptual thinking what is the reading grade level or CASAS reading level?  Third of all how difficult is it for students and teachers to use these programs. How much time do they take?  I teach a combination of ABE/GED for 8 hours a week and I am responsible for all levels of instruction for all GED tests( Reading, Science, Social Studies, Writing and Math) How well do they match the goals of the Common Core Standards. I am not finding answers in these discussions that lead to te real problems schools face in integrating technolgy into GED or ABE. I hope this discussion will talk about some real concerns teachers have. 

 

Thank you!

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Debra,

You are right that for many states there have been serious adult education funding cuts for the last few years, and for most others (except a couple like Arizona and Iowa) there is at best only level funding. That makes it difficult for programs to purchase new equipment or software, or for teachers to get the training they need to use it well.

Paul Rogers has suggested a couple of times in this discussion that there can be technology and other adult education funding support from foundations if programs collaborate. One example of this is in Wisconsin where I believe the Johnson Foundation has given adult ed programs a grant to buy computers to help students prepare for the GED®2014 exam. That’s a funding idea that programs in other states might use too.

You ask how much these programs cost, but I am not sure what programs you are referring to.

  • Online GED preparation programs? If so, the cost varies and depends on how many students will be served with the program; the more students to be served, generally the lower the cost per student -- another good reason for programs to collaborate. Generally the cost per student per year, in any case, is under $100.
  • Online digital literacy assessment? Free.
  • Online typing/keyboarding programs? On the link I provided all those on the list are free.
  • Something else? Since you mention CASAS reading levels I wonder if you are referring to online ESOL/ESL software. There is a wide range here from free to quite expensive. 

It isn’t clear yet how well publishers’ materials match Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The GEDTS has a web page that indicates when several major publishers plan to have their materials ready, and all three high school equivalency tests – GED® ,TASC®, and HiSET® are aligning their reading and math assessments with CCSS, so publishers producing materials to help students prepare for these are trying to align to the CCSS, too. How well they are able to do that we will all see in the coming year or two.

What do you see as “the real problems schools face in integrating technology into GED or ABE”? Which ones do you think the NETP Report does not address, and should?

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Heidi's picture

Thanks everyone who is contributing and reading this week's discussion on ed tech in adult education. It's a great discussion and we are definitely tuned in from OVAE. The write-ups of what creative solutions looks like and what the ground-level barriers are in your communities is very informative for us. Keep it coming!!  Heidi

Art Graesser's picture

Heidi

 

Thanks for the kind words.  I am learning so much from this event sponsored by OVAE and hosted by AIR.

Art

Art Graesser's picture

Debra and others,

First let me address the costs.  A number of us have suggested a portal on the web (one stop shopping) that is supported by the government and that has learning technologies free to the public.  MOOCs are free already and would be linked to the portal.  But most MOOCs are not systematically designed to optimize learning and motivation, so more well designed learning modules are desired. Other advanced technologies (intelligent tutorig systems, social media, collaborative learning environments) have already been developed (but would need to be tailored to adult learners) and could be licensed in the budget that supports the portal.  More sophisticated commercial software could be linked to the portal; the adult learners would purchase these as desired.  The commercial software providers would pay for advertising, which would help cover the costs of the portal.  Note that Google and other technologies started out being free to the public (it still is), built a business plan on advertising, and has many markets connected. 

Next consider Common Core.  The Common Core (CC) is now only a few years in existence.  However most states are adopting the CC standards.  The learning technology grants funded by the government (National Science Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Defense) and Foundations (e.g., Gates) attend carefully to whether the software is aligned with CC standards.  Competitive proposals have a much higher likelihood of being funded if they are aligned with standards.  One of my own experiences has been developing automated text analysis systems that scale texts on difficulty (or the opposite  -- ease).  The systems developed by myself and colleages (Danielle McNamara, Zhiqiang Cai, and others) is CohMetrix  and cohmetrix Text Easibility Assessor (http://tea.cohmetrix.com).  It is free to the public on the web.  You input a text on the web site, and it produces measures like narrativity, cohesion, syntactic ease, word concreteness, and overall readibility.  There is also a web site that scales texts of the Common Core on CohMetrix dimensions.  Teachers, adult learners, the public, and so can use this resource for free.  Aside from this, it is fair to say that everyone development technolgies today are very sensitive to the Common Core and other standards. 

David J. Rosen's picture

Art, Jen, and others,

I also like the idea of a government-supported national adult education sotware portal, one where adult education teachers could easily find and try out software applications (for computers, tablets, and smart phones) that they could use to solve problems as they see them.

One way of organizing the software on the portal would be in terms of problems and issues that adult education teachers already feel they have and that they would like to see technology solutions for. To understand these problems well, from a teacher point of view, we would need to do some research: surveys, focus groups, interviews with teachers to develop the categories, and also to understand the problems in the language that teachers use to describe them.

This portal could link to (reviewed) software that qualified reviewers believe has the potential to solve the problems as teachers -- and also researchers and other experts in the field --  understand them. This would be a tall order to do well, and to be fair to software publishers, but if it could could be done it might be very helpful to teachers at all levels of interest in technology.

It would also be useful to accompany this with online or blended professional development courses that show teachers how to use the portal and also focus in on certain problem areas and -- using the portal as one tool -- help teachers to solve them.

 

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Art Graesser's picture

David and others,

I totally agree with the vision of a portal you have sketched.  We are in perfect harmony on this. 

The CSAL Center (Daphne Greenberg) is taking some initial steps by conducting some of the surveys of the teachers and tutors of adult learners.  The Portal would need a comment facility for practicianers to provide feedback, as well as the adult learners and researchers. CSAL is a research center rather than a service center so there needs to be a government sponsor or group of sponsors (no doubt including OVAE).

Prue's picture

Debra,

I too teach a multilevel ABE/GED class it is a struggle

I have tried and failed on a few online freebee programs some are good.  i.e. Khanacademy.org, MyEFA.org and a growing list of others.  I tell my students that they are a special class that is helping me discover and test programs for GED students that can be used by other classes in the district. So far they are buying it and it keeps them somewhat engaged.

 My needs are:

  1. Track their progress not just worry if it meets their NRS levels.
  2. Find a platform that becomes a virtual homeroom for them.
  3. Provides scalable content that allows them to grow with it as they progress.
  4. Most of all meets them at their own technological level and keeps them engaged.

Prue

 

JenVanek's picture

Prue,

I think you've identified a reasonable list of expectations for a national online portal/tool for ABE skill building. I am especially drawn to the idea of the virtual homeroom because I think it could provide an opportunity for collaboration amongst learners in discussion boards/chat rooms, especially important if your list describes what is needed of an online distance learning environment. 

Effective distance learning requires a range of diverse interactions including both social interaction and individual independent work. Interaction could/should include learner-to-learner and learner-to-instructor interaction in addition to more independent activities provided in most proprietary online learning tools (Askov et al., 2003, p. 67).  This idea comes from constructivist learning theory, where “the learner actively imposes organization and meaning on the surrounding environment and constructs knowledge in the process” (Driscoll, 2012, p. 40). Constructivist learning is a desirable approach to online and distance learning because it places the learner in the center of making meaning. For this to occur, two things need to be present: opportunities for interaction with other learners and a high degree of involvement of the instructor in the role of facilitator. Interaction with other learners creates socially constructed knowledge and can occur when students interact with classmates in working groups via email or on asynchronous discussion boards (Askov et al., 2003). Like what we are doing right now!

Similarly, in a study of adults studying Spanish online, Furnborough (2012) found that collaborative interaction builds interdependence, and that interdependence (rather than complete independence) best builds the autonomy required for persistence and motivation in distance language learning courses. The idea is that learners learn by watching and engaging with others who participate, and they are (hopefully/perhaps?) more motivated to participate in such learning.  Consequently, the goal of online courses and their facilitators, Furnborough asserts, should be to foster interdependent autonomy, rather than independence, by encouraging opportunities for interaction amongst learners. Teachers become facilitators who encourage collaboration. No one gets to hide or just click through m/c and fill-in-the-blank exercises.

I think this is an attainable expectation for online learning opportunities for ABE learners. Face-to-face support in labs can scaffold tech skills needed to support such interaction (Silver-Pacquilla and Reder, 2008).  As a bonus, learning how to communicate online while learning academic skills might prepare learners for the real-life web tasks in which web-proficient adult workers and college students engage.

Jen

 

Askov, E., Johnston, J., Petty, L., & Young, S. (2003). Expanding access to adult literacy with online distance education. Cambridge: National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.ncsall.net/fileadmin/resources/research/op_askov.pdf

Driscoll, M. (2012). Psychological foundations of instructional design. In R. Reiser & J. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (3rd ed., pp. 35–44). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Furnborough, C. (2012). Making the most of others: autonomous interdependence in adult beginner distance language learners. Distance Education, 33(1), 99–116. doi:10.1080/01587919.2012.667962

Silver-Pacquilla, H., & Reder, S. (2008). Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning.

 

 

 

hglass's picture

Jenifer,

Thanks for your research and comments.  I will refer to it.

I just finished teaching an Intermediate ESOL class at the Queens Library in LIC, NY.  The results were an eye opener and it will guide me in my next class in the fall.  I am happy that I have a supportive manager that allowed me to teach this class with laptops available to them so that blended learning was possiblle.  The goal of blended learning is to empower the students to continue their English practice outside of the classroom.  In our next teachers' meeting, I will discuss my findings and also provide tools so that other teachers can use them.

This LINC conversation that we have been having in the last few days, I think is great and I thank David and Art (and Nell) for having it.  But are we preaching to the converted?  The question to ask is, how do we engage the non-techie teachers that will be the facilitators for their students?  CCSS is coming to ESOL/ABE/Pre-GED/GED, if it is not here already, with its requirement for integrating technology.  The technology and the choices that are available are overwhelming.  I know in using a wiki for my class, I kept asking myself, was that the best one? Or should I have used a blog? Or should I have used "Schoology" or some other all-in-one system like that?  Too many choices for me to evaluate.  And yet I expect my associates to be asking me for best practices and help in their getting started.

I think this discussion should continue and maybe expanded beyond commenting on the AIR "Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning" report.  And more importantly, how do we bring along all the teachers (and associated infrastructure, i.e. managers) on this journey to "flip the adult classroom" (personalized learning) with blended learning (ICT v2.0)?

Regards,

Harry

 

David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks Harry, and of course, you are right. The people in this discussion are at least interested in incorporating technology; many are doing it well; and some are experts. Since we are on the topic of professional development, since you asked about this in an earlier message, and since I have devoted many years to providing professional development myself, I have a few comments on this.

When I was first becoming interested in using computers in adult/out-of-school youth education what skyrocketed my interest, and the interest of a handful of colleagues, some of whom are probably in this discussion today, was intensive, sustained, hands-on professional development over time. Once a month, all day, for many months we went to a K-12 technology center where in the morning a fabulous professional development and technology expert demonstrated software that he thought had potential for adult education. In the afternoon we each had access to a computer with all the software loaded, where we could hands-on, individually or in pairs, learn more about the software we were interested in. It was a costly model. The Massachusetts Department of Education at the time apparently could afford it. It may not be replicable for many adult education teachers now, but I can tell you it worked!

We need professional development models in integrating technology that are sustained over time, hands on, and that include demonstration, practice, time for trying them out with students and opportunities for individual and group reflection. Perhaps this professional development can now be done at a distance, or as a blended model. There is a need -- and for many adult education teachers now -- a hunger for these models. I hope the NETP Adult Education report might address that head on.

If we don't address professional development in a serious way, and if we do get funding for hardware and software, I can predict -- based on others' experiences in K12, higher ed and adult ed -- the hardware and software will be a disappointment; it won't be used, or at least used well.

While I admire the NETP, and think this report on it is substantial, it is critically important that we see some new resources as a result, or the time spent may have been wasted. Of course, hardware and software is important, but equally important -- and more likely to be ignored by funders -- is sustained (and costly) professional development.

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates,com

 

Art Graesser's picture

Harry and others,

The number of alternative technologies has become overwhelming.  We need a Consumer Reports for software, with lists of alternatives, features, capabilities, and feedback from teachers and tutors.  Ease of use needs to be considered if the technology is to be used by a large number of people.  Newcomers are frightened off when the systems are too complex to install and use.  As expressed earlier, some systems are motivating but don't help learning of complex material.  The different forms of media are also changing rapidly, which adds to the complexity.  My generation uses email whereas the young generation uses chat.  Few people blog, more tweet, and many do Facebook.  Wiki is too complex for some folks.  Who knows where the social media will be a year from now?

Drawing new people in can be accomplished by the peer approach mentioned in the NETP Report and the comments of many of us.  So pair a learning tech savvy teacher with one who is not.  The community can grow that way.

 

Dahlia's picture

Hi Art et al:

This has been a great discussion so far and I really appreciate everyone's input to the report, in particular the challenges brought up by teachers on the front lines who actually have to implement the technology. I think that what has been mentioned in this particular line of posts--the overhwelming amount of technology--demands an approach to:  searching for technology, identifying the right tool for a given situation, managing those tools and resources in some type of sharable web-based format, evaluating those tools for applicability in the adult learner environment, getting those tools into the hands of learners to support self-directed learning, and updating those resources in a fast-changing technological environment.  There are tools that are approaching this, like the social bookmarking sites, personal blogs and websites, etc.  But we haven't figure out the best way yet.

I think having an oline portal such as that mentioned above, perhaps sponsored by OVAE, would require ongoing updates by a crew of not onlyl tech-savvy trend-watchers, but a slew of teachers providing input to the evaluation, use, applicability, etc. of those resources. I can imagine a colalborative place like this--much like wikipedia--where some folks spend a lot of time, some just come to visit and learn, etc. 

Thanks for some inspiring conversation!

Best, Dahlia

Dahlia Shaewitz

dshaewitz@air.org

Nell Eckersley's picture

Hi all,

There are a couple of sites that can help when looking for new online tools to use.  They don't focus on adult ed and the need for a repository for more specific information on using tech for adult ed is a much needed addition to the field.

But for now three sites I have found useful are: 

http://www.iear.org/ "A community effort to grade educational apps" (for iPads)  Teachers write their own reviews of apps including grade level adn subject areas

http://www.go2web20.net/ A web application index with rich tagging process that makes the search process less arduous.

http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/ Top 100 Tools for Learning as voted on by educators around the world.  Includes descriptions of how people have used the tools.  Twitter has been number 1 for several years.  And you can help the selection for the top 100 tools for 2013. http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/voting/.

 

best,

Nell

Art Graesser's picture

Jen,

Collaboration and interdependence (rather than independence) is indeed an activity that helps motivation and lowers attrition.  It also helps learning if done in productive ways.  Collaborative learning and collaborative problems solving have only recently been explored in depth.  This should be an important research initiative.  Again PISA is assessing collaborative problem solving in 2015 -- several dozen countries.  How will US compare to other countries?

Excellent references. 

 

 

Art Graesser's picture

Prue,

Yes indeed these needs need to be filled.  Not only a learning management system, but also facilities for social networking, commenting, sustaining a community, E-Portfolio's, and so on.  

One important addition are messages from peers, techers, tutors, or "the system" that nudges them or engages them when they are dropping oput.  Retention is a problem with the adult learners.  We know that attrition is extremely high with MOOCs.  So the adult learners need to be nudged and when they do become active there needs to be a response by someone or the system (interactivity).  The system could act when people don't through intelligent agents.  

 

David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Art,

Could you say more about what intelligent agents are, where someone might see an example, and how these can be used?

David

David J. Rosen

djrosen@newsomeassociates.com

Art Graesser's picture

David and others,

Great question.  Let me start with the simplest of intelligent agents and get more complex.

1. The simplest of agent is just a message that is sent by the computer system in email or chat under specific conditions. For example, the learning management system at the University of Memphis and elsewhere (Desire2Learn) has afeature called "Intelligent Agent" that automatically sends an email to student under conditions decided by the instructor (not attending for 3 classes in a row, a reminder of an upcoming paper being due, a student who misses and exam).  This is the most likely use of intelligent agent agents in the near future.

2. A more complex intelligent agent would look like a person (perhaps a static image) and be a print message.  For example, there is some cyber agent called Dave in a recent operating system by Microsoft.  Dave sends messages under a complex set of conditions.

3. Another layer of intelligent agent is the conversational agents, with talking heads and possibly full bodies (Microsoft Agents were among the first, but now there are much better text-to-speech engines and visual depictions). I mentioned some examples of these the first day, such as AutoTutor, ISTART, Operation ARA, Deep Tutor, Guru Tutor, and so on.  Some of these hold conversations with the learner in natural language.  Also groups of agents can interact with each other and model patterns of social interaction.  The virtual humans also respond to learner emotions and display emotions.

4. Yet another level is intelligent agents in virtual worlds.  The Institute of Creative Technologies at USC (http://ict.usc.edu/prototypes) has many of these and has been funded by the army for nearly $100 million.  The Tactical Language and Culture System by Lewis Johnson has been used to help people learn languages in other cultures.  It is an open question as to when these virtual worlds will be more accessible, but virtual worlds with avatars already are widespread in commercial games.  The avatars in virtual world games are more scripted than intelligent currently, but this is changing.

 

 

     


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