Harnessing Technology to Serve Adult Literacy


The free Harnessing Technology to Serve Adult Literacy webpages are now updated and available at a new web address. I hope you will take a look, and send me problems and technology solutions to consider adding. See below for more information about this.

With the proliferation of online instructional tools and content, many educators are overwhelmed, and sometimes feel frustrated that they will never catch up. We need ways to organize and access these tools, and free or Open Education Resource (OER) content, so that they are easy to find, and so that teachers can easily sort the wheat from the chaff.

One way to organize content and tools is by subject or topic (English language Learning, numeracy/mathematics, reading, writing, digital literacy skills, etc.) There are many examples of searchable databases of content suitable for adult basic education, for example:

  • The Literacy List a nearly two-decades, regularly updated list of adult basic education (including basic literacy, numeracy/math, ESL/ESOL, ASE, and transition websites. Websites are suggested by adult basic education practitioners and reviewed by me.
  • OER Commons A large database of K-12 and adult learner lesson plans and resources that indicates that the lessons can be shared for free and in some cases, revised or re-purposed. Each lesson has a creative commons license. Search for lesson plans by Subject, Grade Level (there is a category called Adult Education) or Standard (Next Generation Science, and Common Core State Standards for Reading or Math) All the resources are reviewed using standard rubrics
  • The new LINCS Learner Center, and
  • MERLOT, Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching.  This is a free resource designed primarily for post-secondary education faculty and students. It includes links to online learning materials, some of which may be useful for adult basic and secondary education teachers.

However, another way to organize online tools and content resources for adult basic skills education is by teaching/learning problem: typical problems that adult basic skills (including ESOL/ESL, numeracy/mathematics, adult basic and secondary, and transition to higher education) teachers regularly face. First, the problems are articulated, and then, good technology solutions are suggested to solve the problem. A technology solution might be: computer software; apps for portable digital devices; online instructional videos; online formative assessments; assistive technology or technology that enables Universal Design for Learning; classroom management technology; or hardware, such as digital cameras, multimedia projectors, electronic white boards; photocopy machines, mp3 players, CD-Rom players, tablets, phablets (a tablet with a phone); smartphones and more.

Many years ago, with the help of adult basic skills education teachers across the country, I organized a list of these common adult basic skills teaching problems, and solutions, offered by adult basic education teachers. Harnessing Technology to Serve Adult Literacy is a free, online publication. Recently several colleagues have sent new problems and new technology solutions that I have added. More of these, of course, are welcome!


"What common problems do you as an adult basic skills teacher or

program administrator face for which you have found good technology solutions?"


Please post a problem and at least one technology solution here, or email it to me, with:

  • The name of the product, tool, hardware, software, etc.
  • A web address or other way to learn more about and access it
  • A brief description, for example of how you have used it, or how it could be used to solve the problem you have described.
  • Your name, role, organization, city/town, state or province, if not in the U.S. -- country, and email address.

If I do add it, of course I will credit you.

David J. Rosen




Many people have now looked at the Harnessing Technology to Serve Adult Literacy but, since I posted the web address, no one has yet sent or posted a new problem or technology solution, or a technology solution to an already described problem.

I know this is a busy time, but perhaps you could take 15 minutes today or over the weekend, look at a high interest problem area of Harnessing Technology, and think about a technology solution you use now, and that you think could benefit others. If the problem is already described in Harnessing Technology, just list it and provide information about your technology solution. If it's a new problem, try to state it clearly in a few words and also provide a technology solution for it. Post that here, or email it to me.

When you have more time, look through other problems and solutions noting promising solutions for you to look into further.

If you have comments about a proposed solution, post them here or email them to me.

If it's impossible to do any of this now, perhaps you could write a note to yourself and set a deadline to get to this sometime next week or next month.

This is a great opportunity to contribute to building a useful resource for yourself and for your colleagues locally and across the adult education field.


David J. Rosen