Illinois Digital Learning Lab Five-day Panel Discussion begins Monday, May 18, 2020

Hello Colleagues,

Today, Monday May 18th begins a five-day asynchronous discussion with our colleagues from the Illinois Digital Learning Lab (IDLL).  This morning, Michael Matos, the Project Manager, will describe the lab and respond to the questions in my next post. We have one of the teaching panelists joining us today, Jennifer Siegfried. I will post some questions for her, and for the other project panelists who will join us this week.

Below you will find some background information about all the panelists, but first I want to encourage you to ask questions, today of Michael and Jenny, and of other panelists throughout the week.

I should mention that I have been part of this project serving as one of the five subject matter expert team leaders, along with Jennifer Maddrell, Joy Pak, Stephen Alderson, and Jeff Goumas. This is my second year with the IDLL, a project that I regard as one of the best investments made in any state to support instructors experimenting with new ways to integrate technology in their teaching, an in-depth and sustained professional development project. I think of the project as teacher research or action research professional development. In both the 2018-2019 and the current year I have seen the IDLL help build adult basic skills (including ESL) teacher expertise and leadership in Illinois, and have seen some participants become technology professional development leaders, supporting their colleagues in using and integrating technology. My hope is that other states that may not already have robust statewide integrating technology professional development projects may benefit from learning about the IDLL.

Below is the background information on our panelists. They will join us throughout the week, but each will be featured on the day in parenthesis following their name.

Michael Matos (Monday, May 18th and throughout the week)

Michael Matos manages all of Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition’s education technology work, including the Illinois Digital Learning Lab (IDLL). He is currently the COABE Representative for Region 4 and on the IACEA Board as Director of Region 1. He is also an Adult Education Tutor Trainer for Literacy Works, a position he has held for over 16 years.  Michael previously held several roles in adult education including Senior Director of Adult Education, Employment and Training; Director, Adult Education and Data; Computer Lab Director/Coordinator/Teacher; and ESL/ABE/ASE Teacher. Earlier in his career, Michael was a classroom teacher in Chicago public high schools, teaching CAD, Information Technology, Art, and Business classes.

Michael works in adult education to help instructors and students/clients succeed. He loves working to innovate education and educate for innovation.

Jennifer Siegfried (Monday, May 18th)

Jenny Siegfried is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Adult Education department at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois, a position she has held since 2005. She has taught adult ESL classes at all levels as well as ABE/ASE/High School Equivalency Language Arts classes. In 2019, she earned her MA in ESL from Hamline University. Her philosophy on incorporating technology has always been to jump in and try it, and participating in the Illinois Digital Learning Lab has helped her be more intentional about the technology she uses with students.

Laurice Hoffman (Tuesday, May 19th)

Laurice Hoffman is with Township High School District 214, Community Engagement and Outreach. She has been working in Adult Education for over 9 years as the Coordinator of Adult Literacy Volunteer Services with the Read to Learn Program, and as an ESL Instructor for low-intermediate adult learners. She is currently participating in a cohort through the Illinois Digital Learning Lab, which has afforded her the opportunity to collaborate with fellow educators throughout the state, as well as instructional designers at Google. She is passionate about experimenting with new digital tools and participating in rigorous analysis of the effectiveness of online and blended learning. She would like to share her experience as a participant in this lab, specifically, the advantages of having introduced technology in the classroom prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, and her use of the G-Suite products to create engaging lessons to measure learning. She believes that digital literacy in adult education plays a vital role in developing self-directed learners, and impacts every aspect of life. By participating in the Integrating Technology group discussion, she hopes to gain insight into best teaching practices, and learn effective curriculum development and implementation methods.

Dawn Brill and Jenna Korenstra (Wednesday, May 20th)

Dawn Brill is an ESL teacher at the YWCA Elgin, as well as the "DAISI person". Her students are Beginning Literacy (Level 1 out of 6 levels at the YWCA), and they are predominantly Spanish speakers. She had the opportunity to be involved with IDLL last year as they piloted it for the first time. She believes that the resources, both through equipment and networking, that IDLL provided for her program were invaluable to their students and teachers. It enabled them to share with their students that digital technology is one more tool in their “toolbox” as they continue to learn and use English as their second language.

Jenna Korenstra is an ESL teacher at the YWCA Elgin, and her students are Level two (out of six levels). Most of their students are Spanish speakers.  They have 10 hours of scheduled class each week, and she dedicated two of those hours for technology use and instruction. She became interested in ESL learning when she taught Navajo students in New Mexico for ten years. She earned her TESOL graduate degree at University of New Mexico, and has taught in a variety of ESL settings since then. She has learned a great deal this year as part of the IDLL!

Anya Enright (Thursday, May 21st)

Anya Enright was born and raised in Russia, in the Siberian city of Omsk. She was the first woman in her family with a University degree, and the first generation to immigrate to this country. Since the day of getting her degree, she has been involved in languages and adult education in Russia, Ireland, and now in the US. Building a highly rewarding career in Medical Remote Interpreting in the World for a leading American corporation, and being a speaker at many National venues, she saw that the key to success in life, especially being new in any country, is education. So, she decided to transition full-time to Adult Education.   

Now, a Cross Cultural Learning Leader, and an instructor with the ESL, Citizenship and College and Career Programs with Illinois Township High School District 214, the biggest in the Country, and a SMART Goal Trainer, she has the privilege of contributing to the success of others. 

She says: “The past year was very tech-driven for me. Being part of the technology project with the Illinois Digital Learning Lab (IDLL) and being a GOOGLE Community College Board Member, has allowed me to integrate and experiment with technologies with my students in class, and remotely, and prove its efficiency in learning. I definitely was more prepared than others to transition learning full-time online.”

Joy Klannukarn Pak (Thursday, May 21st)

Joy Pak has been involved in almost all areas of adult education, from tutoring low literacy learners to ABE learners to teaching various levels of ESL students for almost 20 years.  She is currently the ESL Program Coordinator for Chinese Mutual Aid Association in Elgin, Illinois.  In addition to those responsibilities, She also teaches low beginners to high intermediate ESL students. She’s assisted instructors and administrators on integrating digital technology in their program and classrooms over the years.  It was a perfect fit for her, she believes, to be a part of the Illinois Digital Learning Lab’s first year as a cohort member. This year she is honored to be a Subject Matter Expert for IDLL. She has an opportunity to assist a larger audience of adult educators and administrators with integrating digital tools.

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David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP, Integrating Technology group

Comments

I would like to Welcome Michael Matos, the project manager of the Illinois Digital Learning Lab. Michael, please describe the IDLL for us, including:

1. its origins,

2. how the 2019-2020 year has been organized,

3. how you recruited and selected participants and subject matter experts,

4. how the teams are organized,

5. what a sprint is, and what your expectations are for the teams’ sprints,

6. what has been accomplished so far,

7. how the IDLL may have changed as a result of the current pandemic,

and whatever else you think would be helpful in understanding the project.

Thanks!

David
David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Hello, This Michael Matos the facilitator and project manager for the Illinois Digital Learning Lab. 

1. The origins: 

ABOUT THE ILLINOIS DIGITAL LEARNING LAB

The Illinois Digital Learning Lab is a community of adult educators teaching across ABE, ASE, GED, ESL, HSE and job skills training programs in the state of Illinois. The Lab’s goal is to experiment with digital tools and technology to serve the needs of our students. An estimated 2.2 million Illinois adults or 18% of our population have limited skills in reading, writing, math or English proficiency. Digital tools offer the promise to improve the effectiveness and reach of adult education. The Lab is a community of adult educators focused on integrating new technology into their classrooms. In the Lab, educators explore a variety of topics and software/hardware including: personalized learning, digital literacy, blended learning, Chromebooks, and Google Suite. Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition is undertaking this effort with generous support from the Grand Victoria Foundation. 

THE CORE ELEMENTS

  • Support for adult educators and their programs on how to effectively incorporate learning technology into the classroom, with subject-matter experts (SME’s) and curated resources.
  • A facilitated learning community for educators and administrators to support, advise, and learn from each other and from the resources they find valuable.
  • Capturing insights about the most effective digital tools, delivery models, support strategies, which can then be shared across the state of Illinois.

2. How the 2019-2020 year has been organized:

26 instructors and other staff participants from 23 different organizations throughout Illinois form Community Based Organizations to Community Colleges.

Each Cohort of 5 participants with one Cohort having 6 participants is led by one of 5 Subject Matter Experts

Benefits to Lab participants:

  • $3000 in technology and resources for their program
  • many free learning resources were also procured for organizations to use as pilots throughout the IDLL year
  • Coaching from our Subject Matter Experts
  • experimentation with digital literacy skills assessment and instruction, and technology integration
  • peer learning experiences
  • travel reimbursement to 3 in-person meetings.

Lab participant requirements:

  • Attendance at three mandatory in-person workshops
  • Up to 10 hours a month time commitment including a monthly check-in and survey completion
  • Willingness to share lessons learned at your program and/or organization

Lab participant requirements:

  • Attendance at three mandatory in-person workshops
  • Up to 10 hours a month time commitment including a monthly check-in and survey completion
  • Willingness to share lessons learned at your program and/or organization

3. How you recruited and selected participants and subject matter experts:

Applications were sent throughout the state for participants and priorities were established to choose the candidates. Emphasis was given to organizations that were most in need of digital literacy material and assessment, technology integration and tech tools and resources. We recruited Cohorts so there was a representation of Community Based Organizations and Community Colleges in each and that each represented organization from the cities and small towns from north, central and southern areas of Illinois.

We reached out to experts in the field to recruit for Subject Matter Experts. The application process was sent out throughout the state and to individuals nationally. We wanted our experts to be familiar with instruction, resources, theories and practice.

4. How the teams are organized:

Each Cohort of 5 participants with one Cohort having 6 participants is led by one of 5 Subject Matter Experts

We arranged Cohorts so there was a representation of Community Based Organizations and Community Colleges in each and that each represented organization from the cities and small towns from north, central and southern areas of Illinois.

Each Cohort (5 Cohorts) developed a Cohort Vision Statement that they keep throughout the project.

Each Cohort (5 Cohorts) developed a Cohort Hypothesis that as a team can change at the end of each sprint.

Each Cohort individual (26 individuals) developed at least 3 metrics that they plan to achieve. These metrics can be changed at the end of each sprint or when proven achieved or supported.

5. What a sprint is, and what your expectations are for the teams’ sprints:

A sprint is a period of time for a Cohort to achieve certain individual metrics and/or team hypothesis.

Each sprint and the metrics are arranged to attempt to fit into school terms, but that is not always workable. 

Each sprint is 3-4 months long, with a total of 3 sprints for the IDLL year.

At the end of each sprint, each Cohort can change their team hypothesis if they believe that most of the team has supported the hypothesis and their is agreement of all members.

At the end of each sprint, individuals in their Cohort can change individual metrics that they have proven to have achieved or supported.

Thanks Michael,

I have two follow-up questions.

  • Can you describe some of the free resources the IDLL has been able to provide to participants,  their programs and students?
  • Can you tell us more about the teams' vision statements and hypotheses?

I hope others will have questions for Michael too.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

8. Can you describe some of the free resources the IDLL has been able to provide to participants, their programs and students?

IDLL participants were provided the free use of these resources:

  • Northstar
  • Burlington Core
  • i-pathways

Other resources were recommended through websites, subject-matter documents with resources listed (in many cases these are free resources and the documents are shared so more ideas suggestions can be added), IDLL presentations on resources and webinars that offered free pilots for other resources:

CROWDED Learning - https://www.crowdedlearning.org/  and SkillBlox - https://www.crowdedlearning.org/skillblox

Google Docs Lists:

  • APP Ideas - https://bit.ly/3avisZA
  • CASAS Practice Ideas - https://bit.ly/3bMhlFJ
  • Digital Literacy Mousing and more - https://bit.ly/2WL2gzO
  • Digital Literacy Typing - http://bit.ly/2WhXxFZ
  • Financial Literacy - https://bit.ly/2VLl7cq
  • Grammar, Reading, Writing Ideas - https://bit.ly/2Ko1zFz
  • Math Ideas - https://bit.ly/3bvh22K
  • Science Ideas - https://bit.ly/3eyNbYW
  • Social Studies Ideas - https://bit.ly/2zfk3FT
  • Writing Ideas - https://bit.ly/2LGcnj3

 

The IDLL is starting to see a more rounded look at the resources that we can use digitally. The list is rich with ideas and possibilities.

Top Tools | Categories of Digital Resources from toptools4learning.com

  1. Web resources & apps
  2. News & curation
  3. Web course platforms
  4. Web search engines
  5. Web browsers
  6. Document tools
  7. Presentation tools
  8. Spreadsheets tools
  9. Office suites
  10. Blog & web page tools
  11. Screenshot & screencasting
  12. Image & graphic 
  13. Audio & podcasting
  14. Video creation & editing
  15. Interactive video & content
  16. Animated explainer tools
  17. Forms, survey & quiz tools
  18. E-Learning authoring tools
  19. Audience response tools
  20. Learning Platforms (LMS)
  21. Social networks & tools
  22. Message & webinar tools
  23. Collaboration platforms
  24. File sharing platforms
  25. Email tools
  26. Other collaboration tools
  27. Mindmapping tools
  28. Digital notebooks
  29. Personal productivity
  30. Personal devices

 

9a. Can you tell us more about the teams' vision statements and hypotheses?

Development of the 5 Cohort Vision Statements initially began during the IDLL Launch Event in August 2019 and developed further within each team at the beginning of the project year during their monthly Zoom meetings. 

I will first start here with my summarized Vision Statement that hopefully unites the following five Cohort formulated Vision Statements and says a lot about this project's goals.

Increase learner digital literacy skills and learner confidence and access to technology beyond the classroom, building the independence to pursue learning as a lifestyle.                                       

  • Integrating digital learning and problem solving into instruction accelerates learning for adult students by improving their use of technology to solve problems and communicate with others while increasing their digital literacy and access.
  • Many of our learners have access to some type of technology – particularly mobile – yet lack the confidence or motivation to use it outside of class for learning or for meaningful, productive tasks. Our vision is to increase learner confidence using technology while providing easily accessible and relevant learning resources to extend learners’ learning and use of technology beyond the classroom.
  • Adult learners have various degrees of an educational background ranging from little or no schooling to college degree or beyond. The targeted audiences that we serve are adult learners who seek help with lack of access to technology and a lack of confidence to use the technology. Learners who are given access to technology will struggle less with basic digital literacy skills when there is an opportunity to consistently explore technology. Learners will be more comfortable and confident as their digital literacy skills increase by utilizing digital resources aligned to individualize their specific needs and interests.
  • Our students will have confidence in using digital technology in their lives. Using digital technology, they will find that learning is more engaging, and that digital technology will help them in meeting their learning goals.
  • Engage and motivate student learning through the use of technology by integrating effective digital literacy tools in traditional classrooms. Engage students in a creative way so students will pursue learning as a lifestyle and not as an obligation. Create an online structure to assist and motivate learners to enhance lessons.

 

 

 

9b. Can you tell us more about the teams' vision statements and hypotheses?

A Sprint and Cohort Hypothesis:

A sprint is a period of time for a Cohort to achieve certain individual metrics and/or team hypothesis.

Each sprint is 3-4 months long, with a total of 3 sprints for the IDLL year.

At the end of each sprint, each Cohort can change their team hypothesis if they believe that most of the team has supported the hypothesis and their is agreement of all members.

These are examples of the first sprint hypothesis. Some of these hypothesis were conserved supported either entirely and partially and were changed for the following sprint. Initially these hypothesis required continuous refinement and fine-tuning. The Cohorts’ excellent teamwork helped develop to develop very workable hypothesis.

  • Offering students the opportunity to experience technology devices and different apps in our classroom settings will encourage them to use devices available to them outside of the classroom setting to increase their ability to achieve their learning goals. Participation in IDLL will accelerate student learning through the use of technology inside and out of the classroom.
  • Technology-rich environments in adult education classes can help instructors differentiate instruction while enabling learners to gain 21st-century skills.
  • Through modeling use of technologies and their  relevance within class, combined with providing lessons, assignments, and activities that can be accessed anywhere by technologies that are available to our students, learners will develop the digital skills and fluency needed for increased engagement with learning and use of technology outside of class.
  • We will increase opportunities for learners to overcome their fear/anxiety of digital technology by accessing digital resources. Learners will be able to increase their basic digital literacy skills by using assistive technologies to help them seek vital information, resources, and job opportunities.
  • Helping students build their digital skills will help them develop confidence in using technology in their lives. Using digital tools or online content will make learning more engaging (more visual, closer to students’ daily reality), and will be effective in helping them meet their learning goals such as: preparing for a High School Equivalency test; preparing for college; improving their English language skills or preparing for U.S. citizenship as immigrants; improving basic skills learning such as language arts, numeracy/mathematics, reading or writing; engaging in occupational training; or accomplishing work, family and community tasks.

6. What has been accomplished so far:

Learners have received a lot more feedback on their digital skills and how they could improve them.

Learners are developing more learning independence by being able to download apps and search and complete activities online and mobile.

Learners are remaining in communication with their schools, classes, and instructors more.

Learners are being held accountable more and are encouraged by the immediate feedback that both asynchronous and synchronous instruction can deliver.

Learners are using more of their downtime (waiting for public transportation; doctor's appointment; unemployment lines; work breaks; etc.) to continue learning mobile, laptop, and/or Chromebook.

Learners were given pre- and post- surveys to determine metrics below and results were all considered gains:

  • Frequency of tech use and comfort inside and outside of class increased.
  • Comfort level using the internet to look up social resources, search/apply for jobs, complete forms/applications, and pay bills online was increased.
  • learners utilized technology resources to further your learning outside of the classrooms.
  • Learners reduced technology anxiety and will increase computer satisfaction through guided practice. This was qualitatively measured through discussion and surveys.
Learners increased their knowledge of basic computer terms and functions based upon the Northstar Basic Computer Skills assessment. These are quantitative gains, assessed, scored, and recorded by Northstar Digital Literacy program.

Our instructors are using blended learning, hybrid and at-a-distance approaches using the the tech tools below and more with their learners:          

  • Chromebooks

  • Desktops (touchscreens)

  • Bluetooth Keyboards and other keyboards to attach to mobile devices

  • Digital Cameras

  • Laptops

  • Screen Casting/Screen Mirroring (Digital Media Players)

  • Smart Speaker and/or Display (Google and Alexa)

  • Smartboards

  • Smartphones (Android/IOS)

  • Tablets (i-pads, Galaxy)

  •  3D Printers

  • Virtual Reality (VR Headsets/Handsets 

  • and more....

Pre-and post- surveys conducted of learners on their perception of the technologies used.

Learner feedback on whether the technology helped them.

IDLL Instructor Participants  have gained valuable professional development.

Many Instructor Participants have become ambassadors for digital literacy and technology integration in adult education throughout their organizations, the State and their profession.

 

7. How the IDLL may have changed as a result of the current pandemic:

Changes are happening everyday, the environment is fluid!

IDLL's Instructor Participants have become:

  • professional development presenters
  • Blended, Hybrid and Online Curriculum contributors
  • online education navigators
  • online instruction support specialist

The expectations to use some new technologies like interactive smartboards and virtual reality head and hand sets had to change, but the main vision remained the same- closing the digital divide and building learner independence.

Though this is a tech experiment in the age of a pandemic we continued the learning independence or the learning at-a-distance in a number of non-tech or semi-tech ways:

  • Many instructors were overwhelmed at first, but all managed to regroup and are doing great helping learners and colleagues to continue to help learners online. 
  • Instructors started to realize the tech accessibility gap and worked hard to advocate for access for their learners.
  • Instructors gathered resources and shared them.
  • Instructors attended webinars to learn what was needed to continue. 
  • Because of the lack of tech tools, internet access and cheap smartphones and data plans; instructors have employed other staff and volunteers to gather hard-copies and mail them out toe learners.
  • Learners have responded to assignments via text, photo attachments, phone calls, and mailing back completed assignments and even dropping them off at the steps of the school.

The vision changes a little, but the goal remains that the learner must continue to learn.

Hello Michael,

As I read through your program and the various components. My first thought is how will you handle providing the requited face-to-face meetings?  Many programs are going to virtual meetings moving forward. TCALL(TX) is currently providing a Leadership Excellence Academy and we have had to also adapt as we go. Our face-to-face meeting will now be a full day virtual session.

Any thoughts on how you will adapt? What will that look like? OR Did all of this already occur?

The views vary so much on this.

Yes I have heard of a number of adult education programs going to virtual meetings moving forward. Adapting as we go will probably be the norm for many even if the program may not totally go virtual. 

Some of the Community Colleges in our state are developing new curricula that are built with a blended learning model. Others have decided to go with more of a hybrid approach. Many of these have decided to stay with at least some in-person learning with an online virtual component.

Online/virtual learning:

  • Many organizations do not want to get caught off guard again.
  • Many believe more now than ever that in the long run having this online presence will increase engagement and learning hours.
    • An IDLL instructor told me a story about her ESL student who mentioned to her how much he appreciated the Zoom classes because he can see himself speaking and pronouncing words. He participates regularly.
  • With the right infrastructure (digital equality) online learning can reach more learners than just the traditional brick and mortar. We need to expand broadband everywhere. We need to make internet access free or lost cost with descent speeds for all adult education learners. We need to create hotspot cities everywhere. We need to have funding for distribution of tech resources and tools for all adult education students to use.
    • Online universities are doing well and even traditional successful brick and mortar schools have seen the promise of online study and have opened their own online components.
      • An IDLL instructor told me a story about her ESL student who had to leave her classes because his Visa had expired and he had to go back to his country. When Covid-19 sent all classes virtually, the instructor sent out a notice with the Zoom address to meet for classes. This student was able to join the classes and continue learning from his country.

Our adult education students may still need the in-person face-to-face time in their learning, but it could be reduced.

  • Reduced in-person face-to-face:
    • For instruction or an introduction to a new online resource or how-to with a new tech tool
    • For assessment
    • For some other service, a wraparound service
  • Increased protection:
    • Less students per classroom space (square footage)
    • Masks worn by all
    • The reduction and/or elimination of communal items or learning tools
    • Extra maintenance and cleaning

OK.  Maybe I have totally gone off topic here. I really appreciate your participation in this discussion. 

Hello Colleagues,

I also want to welcome Jennifer Siegfried, a teaching participant in the Illinois Digital Learning Lab.  Jenny, and other panelists, here are some questions that I hope you might be able to address:

1.     Why were you interested in being a participant in the IDLL project this year?

2.     What was your team’s sprint hypothesis?  Did it change during the year and, if so, why?

3.     Tell us about what you have done in each sprint so far, and the reaction of your students to what you have tried.

4.     What have you learned from doing the sprints?

5.     What have you been able to collect as evidence to support or refute your hypothesis?

6.     What have been some of the challenges in this project?

7.     How much additional time per week or per month did you spend on this project?

8.     What unexpected opportunities or outcomes have you found?

9.     How did things change for you in March when your in-person classes ended? What did it mean for you as a participant in the IDLL project?

10.  What have you learned so far as an instructor from your participation in this project?

11.  If you would recommend participation in the IDLL project to other Illinois adult education teachers what would you tell them to expect from their participation?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Hi everyone! I’m Jenny Siegfried and I’m an instructor in the adult education program at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois. (Aurora, Illinois – any Wayne’s World fans out there?) I teach both ESL and High School Equivalency classes, but for the IDLL, the classes I’ve worked with have been high-intermediate adult ESL. Class sizes ranged from 12-25 students throughout the academic year. Our face-to-face classes met twice a week, 3.5 hours each day, for eight-week sessions. We had a class set of Chromebooks to use in the classroom courtesy of the IDLL, and a relatively new building with good Wifi and built-in audio and projection in each classroom. Ah, face-to-face classes…those were the days, right?

I'll be answering David's questions in separate replies for two reasons: 1. In case you have questions about a specific topic, it will (hopefully) be easier to follow, and 2. I, um, tend to get a little long-winded with my responses. Haha.

I think the first question fits well with the "Introduction" subtopic, so I'll include that here:

1. Why were you interested in being a participant in the IDLL project this year?

While I’ve always been good about incorporating technology into my Adult Ed classes, I’d reached a point where I felt like I wasn’t having many new ideas. I knew that IDLL would push me outside of my comfort zone and introduce me to things I hadn’t tried.

Hi, all! I'm the cohort facilitator for the IDLL team with Jenny - aptly named "Team Awesome! It's been an incredible learning experience for me to work alongside the amazing educators in our IDLL cohort. To say they've made lemonade out of lemons during these trying weeks would be an understatement. As Jenny and others in our cohort have shared in our recent cohort meetings, the planning and design processes the educators have been going through to incorporate technology into their teaching within the IDLL Sprints have helped them to transition to this fully online (Covid) world. What seemed like pioneering technologies for Adult Education back in August are now mainstream (e.g., Zoom, Google Classroom, etc.). I'm in awe watching the IDLL educators not only rise to the challenge to support their learners with technology, but also look for ways to pay it forward by sharing their experiences as "teachable moments" to incorporate in future professional development (e.g., the importance of having an online "home base" with tools like Google Classroom, creating virtual lifelines to students with tools like WhatsApp or email, modeling best practices by routinely using the tools that are important for the students' future success like Google Docs ... and so on). I commend Jenny for taking the time to share her experiences this week!

2. What was your team’s sprint hypothesis?  Did it change during the year and, if so, why?

Our hypothesis was, “Technology-rich environments in adult education classes can help instructors differentiate instruction while enabling learners to gain 21st-century skills.” Originally, we thought we’d change it for each sprint, but it ended up being a great hypothesis for everything my team wanted to explore. As the pandemic unfolded and classes moved online, we discovered just how relevant our hypothesis was!

Hello Jenny,

Can you tell us more about what tools you used and how you used them to differentiate instruction for your ESL students? Can you also tell us what tools or resources you used to help students gain 21st century skills, and can you  tell us about and/or send a link to the list of 21st century skills you were focusing on?

Thanks.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

I talk about this indirectly in one of my other responses, but in some ways I think that teaching 21st century skills is not so much in what tools you use as it is the mindset you have. Especially in Sprint 1, I had some students who seemed afraid to even touch the computer for fear of breaking it. A couple of students seemed unable to do anything unless someone else (either me or a classmate) was physically next to them, pointing out every single step. To me, it says that these students have never had the opportunity to explore technology on their own. Maybe they have a kid at home who does things for them, or maybe past instructors were too concerned about students getting lost (ahem...perhaps because they themselves weren't sure how to troubleshoot). For our students, the mindset needs to shift to "I can try this and it won't break anything." For instructors, the mindset needs to shift from "let me show you" to "why don't you try to figure it out before I show you?"

One of the best tools I found for teaching digital literacy while differentiating instruction was Google's Applied Digital Skills (described more in-depth in another response). Everyone gets the same basic lesson, but students have a lot of options to make it work better for them. For example, students can turn on captioning or slow the speed of the video lessons. They can also pause/rewind/repeat the videos as needed. Students with stronger skills can try a number of extension activities with each lesson to continue their learning, while students who need more time can focus on their work without feeling like they're holding their classmates back. 

After we moved online, a few students commented about how it was a "technology class" as much as an English class. That was quickly followed by "it's good," because they know that they need to know how to use email, word processing, spreadsheets, and more in order to achieve their college and career goals.

Jenny has talked a lot about how her teaching strategies and educational resource selection has evolved over these past few months. One comment she made in a recent cohort meeting is that she has become much more purposeful about what resources she has her students use. While her original plans were to incorporate some engaging (and more "fun") options (e.g., Kahoot or Quizlet), she noted her pivot to tools that will not only support the students' connection with a virtual classroom (e.g., Google Classroom), but also to educational resources with practical implications for the students' lives (e.g., being able to use Google-based tools to further their college and career readiness). Again ... earning their "Team Awesome" title :)

Jenny, I like that your Sprint Hypothesis was so versatile that you are able to use it for each sprint without changing it. Its almost like your "Vision Statement". It applies to your project as a whole.  

I'm so glad you took a moment to reflect on these statements. They were carefully crafted by the team during the first month of the cohort and have been a great way to ground our efforts. As a bit of backstory, we started with a discussion about the statements in a Zoom meeting and then moved to a Google Doc to share and compare ideas about ways to refine them. There was some great dialogue in the Google Doc comments section that allowed us to come to a consensus. What's awesome about this team (aptly named "Team Awesome") is the way they model the technology-enhanced learning in their own PD! In other words, they walk the talk :)

We had no idea how relevant this project would be.  Thank you for being part of the project.  Your expertise was critical to the project's success.

3. Tell us about what you have done in each sprint so far, and the reaction of your students to what you have tried.

This is a great question, because you’ll see my progression from “let’s try something new and fun for the sake of trying it,” to “let’s learn new technology because you need it for your lives,” to “holy smokes we need this for our lives; aren't you glad we learned it in the classroom?” (It’s also a really long response; there’s a TL;DR at the end of the response.)

In the first sprint, my students and I got our feet wet. I used a lot of game-show apps like Quizizz, Kahoot, and Quizlet Live, and we did a couple group projects using Google Docs and Slides. Students loved the game-show apps because they’re fun and engaging, but the G-Suite apps had mixed results. Students liked using them, but it was pretty obvious which students had the digital skills to make a snazzy presentation and which students were along for the ride.

Toward the end of the first sprint, I started using Google Applied Digital Skills to help address some of these gaps in knowledge. Students liked this a lot, but the ones with lower digital literacy skills could get overwhelmed with all the new information.

For the second sprint, I started using Google Classroom. I mainly used it as a way to get information or links to my students, but my thinking was twofold: First, if we use Google Classroom regularly, it (and other Google applications) will become a more natural part of the class (little did I know, haha!). Second, using a Learning Management System, even a basic one like Google Classroom, helps prepare them for college and careers. At first, students seemed to like using it but I could tell they weren’t sold on the why.

The third sprint pretty much coincided with the beginning of the pandemic (btw, they're sold on the why now!). With stress levels all over the place and the rapid changes in every aspect of life, I decided that the best way to transition to online learning was to keep things the same, as much as possible. How lucky that my students were already familiar with G-Suite, Google Classroom, and Google Applied Digital Skills! The only new technology I used was Zoom, which my students loved because it gave us an opportunity for face-to-face communication.

TL;DR:

Sprint 1: Game-show apps and G-Suite = happy students

Sprint 2: Google Classroom and Google Applied Digital Skills = slightly overwhelmed but still happy students

Sprint 3: Pandemic! Google Classroom and Google Applied Digital Skills = overwhelmed students who are happy because they are capable of using these resources for learning!

Hi Jenny,

I had to Google "TL;DR" as I have never seen this acronym before. ("What? how can he not have seen TL;DR before?") For the benefit of others who, like me, were mystified, it literally means "Too Long, Didn't Read" but is often used the way Jenny did to summarize the main points of a piece of digital writing.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Aren't you glad you have the digital problem-solving skills to know that you CAN Google an unfamiliar phrase and figure out what it means? This is what our students need to learn so that they can answer their own questions when a teacher isn't around to help them.

Hi Jenny,

Technology "learning to learn" skills and, as you have pointed out, the confidence built from success in learning how to use computer and online tools and resources, is a key theme of the IDLL project -- as illustrated by the team vision statements and hypotheses mentioned earlier by Michael Matos. Perhaps these can be summarized in this alliterated Four C's technology mantra that also resonates with some of the IDLL 4T's team members: Curiosity, Competence, Confidence, and Courage.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP, Integrating Technology group (and IDLL 4T's team leader and subject matter expert)

4. What have you learned from doing the sprints?

After the beginning of the first sprint, I quickly realized that incorporating technology for “funsies” wasn’t enough – my students needed to learn transferable digital skills for work and school. I also learned that my English learners who already had strong digital literacy skills still needed to learn the English vocabulary for technology.

Now that we’re nearing the end of the project, I’ve also realized the importance of giving students a chance to learn digital problem-solving skills through their own experimentation. As we’ve moved classes online, I’ve found myself baffled by some of my colleagues’ inexperience with problem-solving in a digital environment. Now don’t get me wrong – I am madly impressed with my more luddite-leaning colleagues who embraced this challenge head-on – but I’ve spent a great deal of time assisting folks with things that I think could be self-taught just by clicking around a bit. For example, if you’re not sure how to use a feature in Zoom, why not open Zoom and try it out (or look for a YouTube video) before asking for help, or worse, giving up? And I can’t overstate the value of good Google search skills.

Of course, if some of my colleagues are struggling with digital problem-solving skills, it means some of my students are also struggling with that PLUS the added burden of a language barrier. Going forward, it will be increasingly important for me to let my students struggle through some things on their own when we’re using technology – it’s the only way for them to learn how to rely on themselves to solve tech problems. A great tip I picked up from Joey Lehrman at a conference is to show students what to do, but not how to do it – give them a chance to explore a bit before stepping in to model. And a mantra I’ve lived by for years is “help with your mouth, not with your mouse.” In other words, you can tell students what to click on, but they have to click on it themselves. If you control the mouse/trackpad/touchscreen and do it FOR them, they’re not learning.

5. What have you been able to collect as evidence to support or refute your hypothesis?

I’ve done a lot of observation and student self-assessment throughout the project (well, not so much with this last sprint because everything went bonkers), but I’ve also used some of the Northstar Digital Literacy assessments. In Sprint 2 I was able to use Northstar assessments for a pre- and post-sprint metric, and students gained an average of 10 percentage points on their scores during our eight-week class. A couple of students earned certificates, and a couple more were aggravatingly close to earning a certificate!

Students’ self-assessment of their literacy skills has also gone up considerably, and sometimes I think that building confidence can be even more important than the actual learning of skills (see my point about digital problem-solving skills in the last response). In fact, I think the best proof of our hypothesis lies in the fact that almost all my students not only made the transition to online classes, but were also able to successfully complete the tasks they were given!

Jenny, you wrote that "the best proof of our hypothesis lies in the fact that almost all my students not only made the transition to online classes, but were also able to successfully complete the tasks they were given!"

As a participant in a terrific COABE webinar today with World Education's Judy Mortrude, a national expert on adult basic skills education "Measurable Skills Gains" and other adult education policy, I asked if she thought attainment of digital literacy competencies, for example through demonstrating (proctored in person or online) Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment competencies to earn Northstar digital badges and ultimately a Northstar digital literacy credential, could be a legitimate way to demonstrate WIOA performance criteria. She said that in her view it fit the regulations. Had I read your response before attending the webinar I might also have thought to comment that for many adult learners, a real life demonstration of problem solving in a technology-rich environment might be figuring out how to get online, get to one's online line class and successfully complete the assignments.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

6. What have been some of the challenges in this project?

The folks on my team have heard me extol the virtues of modeling Google Applied Digital Skills a great many times. If you’re not familiar with AppSki (that’s what I’m calling it now because it’s just too tedious to type the whole thing every time), it’s a collection of digital lessons that teach G-Suite skills through (mostly) real-life applications. For example, you learn how to make a spreadsheet by creating a spreadsheet for your family budget.

The premise is that each lesson is taught through a series of short videos that explain what to do and how to do it. The idea is that you watch a video, then do what the video showed you. Then you watch the next video and do what that video showed you, and so on. I had several students who, even after I modeled watching the first video and following the steps listed in the video, decided to watch all the videos straight through without actually creating the project/product. I had to alter my modeling to REALLY emphasize that you have to watch the video, AND THEN do the stuff in the video. I did more modeling for AppSki than I usually have to do for new technology, but eventually most of the learners figured it out. And, of course, the more we used it, the easier it got, because we all knew what to expect.

Another small but surprising challenge we ran into was with vocabulary for technology. I noticed that some students were giving themselves pretty low self-assessments on things that I had observed them doing. We quickly discovered that it wasn’t a technology issue but a language issue – they didn’t know the English words for things like “browser” or “drop-down menu.” Once we figured out the problem, it was a pretty easy fix. We also had great fun learning the term "hamburger menu," though it took some effort to convince them that yes, that's what it's really called!

7. How much additional time per week or per month did you spend on this project?

A lot of the work was done as part of my regular teaching and prep time, so it wasn’t really “extra.” The only additional time outside of my normal working hours was mainly for team meetings (an hour each month) and compiling data/completing the sprint surveys (about an hour per sprint). I may have spent some additional prep time at the beginning of each sprint getting to know the new technology I was using, but that's fun for me so it doesn't really count. 

The other big time commitment was our full-day meetings, which we knew about before applying for the IDLL. We had a full-day, in-person kickoff event at the beginning of the project last August, and a full-day midpoint mini-conference in January. Originally, there was a full-day event scheduled for the end of the project in June, but obviously that will be done online now. These events gave us a chance to meet face-to-face and share our ideas and experiences using technology with students.

8. What unexpected opportunities or outcomes have you found?

I think the most unexpected opportunity was having to move my class entirely online! And the related outcome was that I was able to do so relatively seamlessly. A lot of folks outside of the IDLL struggled with this, but as soon as the decision was made, I knew pretty much exactly how I would tackle it. Thanks, IDLL, for inadvertently preparing both me and my students for online learning!

9. How did things change for you in March when your in-person classes ended? What did it mean for you as a participant in the IDLL project?

I very quickly became a go-to person in my program for both technology questions and logistics questions! I spent a lot of time brainstorming with colleagues about manageable ways they could transition to distance learning. That was an interesting challenge because I had to take each instructor’s own technology comfort level into account when brainstorming with them. (I’m also incredibly fortunate that my boss took notice of this – shout out to Adam for recognizing the extra effort!)

As for what it meant as a participant in the IDLL, well, I don’t think it changed much. The experimentation we were already doing just stopped being experimentation and started being our method of delivery.

One challenge we did have in moving online was that I no longer had device consistency among students. In our face-to-face classes, we have Chromebooks for each student in the classroom (courtesy of IDLL!), and they’re all the same. When we transitioned to distance learning, I had to consider the devices that my students had available to them and plan my lessons accordingly. (I also had to be prepared to troubleshoot using different devices!) It became really important to me to plan most lessons so that students could complete them using a smartphone in case that was their only available device.

10. What have you learned so far as an instructor from your participation in this project?

Short version: There are great tools out there. Jump in and try ‘em!

Longer soapbox version: Students need to learn 21st-century skills because these skills are a necessary part of daily life, now more than ever. If you are not teaching your students technology for real-world use, you are doing them a disservice. It’s no longer enough to incorporate technology with fun quizzes or little online games – they need strong, transferable digital literacy skills and an ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments in order to succeed in work, school, and daily life.

Hi Jenny,

After reading your post, I immediately thought of the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 which defines digital literacy as “the skills associated with using technology to enable users to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information.”  WIOA uses this definition, so it should be the metric we use in determining the 21st century skills we teach our students.  As you so eloquently said, the pandemic makes digital literacy skills more vital now than ever.  If we as adult educators put our comfort zones in using technology ahead of our students' learning, we have truly done our students a disservice!  

Thanks for your great thoughts in this discussion!

 

Steve Schmidt

Moderator, LINCS Reading and Writing CoP

schmidtsj@appstate.edu 

11. If you would recommend participation in the IDLL project to other Illinois adult education teachers what would you tell them to expect from their participation?

First of all, I’d say HECK YES! It’s an opportunity you don’t want to pass up. But you should expect to be pushed outside your comfort zone, a bit overwhelmed, and occasionally frustrated…and the same goes for your students. You should also expect to learn a lot and grow as an instructor from the experience…and again, the same goes for your students.

Ha! So true! I remember about 15 years ago during an educational technology podcast I was hosting I stopped to clarify that it's not all sunshine and roses when attempting to integrate technology into the classroom experience. At the time (and I still believe today), the best online experiences are the intersection of messy and magical. Often times ... juuuuuust when you think you've pushed yourself and your students a step too far and it looks like all your best-made plans are going to crash and burn, something magical will happen. Maybe one student will jump in and provide an assist to another. Or, maybe the student will take a short assignment and turn it into a movie. And, of course, there are times we do crash and burn, but those can almost always be teachable moments, too. If nothing else, it's good for students to see teachers struggle, too. Our little failures along the way help to model persistence, I think. So ... here's to embracing the process for those all important "messy and magical" moments :)

Hello, I am Laurice Hoffman and I'm the Coordinator of Adult Literacy Volunteer Services for the Read to Learn program, and an ESL Instructor for Township High School District 214 which is located in Arlington Heights, IL It is the state's second largest high school district by enrollment. Our Adult Education and Family Literacy Office consists of several programs including Basic Literacy, ESL, College and Career Ready, Citizenship, HSE, and a Women and Children's Center. I teach low intermediate ESL and I also coordinate the training for our volunteer tutors in the Read to Learn program.  My ESL class typically meets twice a week for 3 hours in a classroom setting. 

For the sake of consistency, I will address some of the questions in the same format as my cohort colleague, Jenny Siegfried.  If you haven't taken advantage of participating in any of Jenny's webinars I encourage you to do so. She has a wealth of knowledge. 

1.  Why were you interested in being a participant in the IDLL project this year?

According to my strength finder  poll, my number one trait is "Learner". I am energized by projects that analyze the process of learning and I enjoy being on the cutting edge of the next best thing. I have always been a proponent of technology use. 

Our team sprint hypothesis was to determine if offering students the opportunity to experience technology devices and different apps in the classroom setting would encourage them to use devices available to them outside of the classroom, and would this increase their ability to achieve their learning goals. My metrics used to evaluate this hypothesis initially  included a pre and post student survey, increased student usage outside of class and in class observation. After the face-to-face classes were cancelled,  I had to alter my metrics to include project based assessments, and formal assessments utilizing tools available in G Suite. 

Hello Laurice,

I would like to know more about the metrics you used  to measure your team hypothesis. Can you tell us more about the pre- and post-  student survey measures, and/or could you send us a link to the survey? How did you (your students?) record student usage outside of class?  Did you develop a classroom observation tool? If so, can you tell us about it and/or share a link to it? I am eager to hear about the project based assessments too, and the tools in G Suite you used for assessment.

Thanks!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Integrating Technology group


 

 

The pre survey consisted of an assessment of accessibility to internet, device usage, and types of device commonly used for learning. For the post survey I used a combination of a Likert scale to measure feelings and opinions regarding a specific app or tool used. I also developed a quiz using Google Forms which included a scavenger hunt to locate information. Each question had a point value and students could see immediate results.  The form also allows you to link to a website to reinforce the skill if the question is answered incorrectly.

The project based assessment was in the form of a Google Slide. It was developed in accordance with the WIOA competencies developed internally. We created a collaborative slide deck where students had to add text and insert a picture, video, or song into their slide. They then presented their slide in a zoom class meeting.

Tell us about what you have done in each sprint so far, and the reaction of your students to what you have tried. 

For obvious reasons, my sprints have evolved over time. My first sprint was based on the Evidence Based Reading Instruction (EBRI) model I chose to use Readworks  for reading and Voicethread for fluency. Both resources were integrated into my daily lesson plans. I also introduced the Learning Upgrade app. For those of you who are not familiar with Learning Upgrade , they were the winners of the XPRIZE competition and have a LMS which can track device usage, student activity, session data, and most important, time on task. (Who knew how important this would be by sprint 3) You can still request a free pilot for this app and participate in the "Learning Upgrade Challenge". https://web.learningupgrade.com/features/

My second sprint I introduced Google Classroom as a platform of communication and that has been a saving grace. I also used google voice for those who found it easier to receive a text message. A challenge with Google Classroom is that students are required to have a gmail account and many of my students had accounts with their country extensions or other email providers. I introduced this platform as optional, however, I did access the platform at the beginning of every class and encouraged the ease of use. They also downloaded the app to their phone in class.

My third sprint transformed from introducing technology, into using technology that they were familiar with and then  enhancing lessons and expanding their digital literacy skills. I have held several zoom meetings and utilized more gaming for a method of learning. The G Suite tools such as forms, docs, and slides give me the ability to create interactive and collaborative lessons. 

My purpose of instruction was for students to recognize how technology integrates into learning  English. Prior to the pandemic, I think most of my students were not opposed to trying different digital tools, however, they felt their first priority was to learn English, and in all honesty, preferred a paper grammar worksheet to supplement lessons.  In talking to them now and by survey, they realize how technology is essential and enhances the learning process. 

Welcome Laurice. Thanks for introducing yourself and beginning to answer the questions I posted yesterday.

I am interested in learning more about the Read to Learn program you mentioned in your introduction, and whose tutors you coordinate. Is this an adult basic literacy one-on-one tutoring program? Who are the students -- native Speakers of English, immigrants learning English, or both? Is it for new readers, intermediate level readers, or advanced level readers? Are the tutors paid or volunteer? Who are the tutors and how do they hear about the program? Does the Read to Learn program use technology? If so what kinds of hardware or software are used, and how are they used?  And if so, how have you been able to help the tutors to use the technology?

Did you do an IDLL sprint involving the Read to Learn program tutors and their students?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

David, in answer to your questions. The Read to Learn program is a volunteer based one-to-one tutoring program. I coordinate approximately 300 volunteers annually. I am responsible for developing and implementing training to the volunteers and we typically host face to face training twice a year. I supplement the training with lessons from the ProLiteracy tutor training  Several years ago I incorporated an online application process for tutors and a pre service online training platform  Tutors are recruited in a variety of ways including, mailings through District 214 and District 211,  our partnership with Hands On Suburban Chicago which is a volunteer based organization, and word of mouth.  We have a unique model unlike other literacy programs in the state. We have 10 site locations and a Site Supervisor at every site who is responsible for providing lesson plans to the volunteer tutors. Our learners are tested using the TABE CLAS E assessment and are accepted into the program based on their reading scale score. 

With regard to technology in the program, as a result of my participation in the IDLL project, I chose the theme of Blended Learning as the tutor training topic in January this year. Approximately 150 tutors attended the in person session to learn about ways to incorporate technology into the lesson plans and how technology can motivate learners outside of class. All site supervisors have been issued a laptop computer to have at their sites, however, most of our tutors bring their own devices and all of the students seem to have a smart phone. To promote technology usage in lesson plans I develop monthly resource packets for the site supervisors and distribute these resources in a shared drive. 

I did not do an IDLL sprint project with this program specifically however, we do have a pre and post survey that we use for both students and tutors to assess technology usage. 

David, in answer to your questions. The Read to Learn program is a volunteer based one-to-one tutoring program. I coordinate approximately 300 volunteers annually. I am responsible for developing and implementing training to the volunteers and we typically host face to face training twice a year. I supplement the training with lessons from the ProLiteracy tutor training  Several years ago I incorporated an online application process for tutors and a pre service online training platform  Tutors are recruited in a variety of ways including, mailings through District 214 and District 211,  our partnership with Hands On Suburban Chicago which is a volunteer based organization, and word of mouth.  We have a unique model unlike other literacy programs in the state. We have 10 site locations and a Site Supervisor at every site who is responsible for providing lesson plans to the volunteer tutors. Our learners are tested using the TABE CLAS E assessment and are accepted into the program based on their reading scale score. 

With regard to technology in the program, as a result of my participation in the IDLL project, I chose the theme of Blended Learning as the tutor training topic in January this year. Approximately 150 tutors attended the in person session to learn about ways to incorporate technology into the lesson plans and how technology can motivate learners outside of class. All site supervisors have been issued a laptop computer to have at their sites, however, most of our tutors bring their own devices and all of the students seem to have a smart phone. To promote technology usage in lesson plans I develop monthly resource packets for the site supervisors and distribute these resources in a shared drive. 

I did not do an IDLL sprint project with this program specifically however, we do have a pre and post survey that we use for both students and tutors to assess technology usage. 

Good Tuesday, dear Colleagues! 

I am tempted to add to this wonderful conversation. First of all, I really enjoy my collaboration with Laurie within "Read to Learn" Program as a "SMART Goal" tutor trainer and I witnessed all the excitement and positive attitude of the tutors that day in January when it was mentioned that Laurie and myself are implementing more technologies in our classrooms as participants of Illinois Digital Learning Lab. It was great to hear that some tutors have been already using some kind of technology while working with their students 101. Laurie also introduced the iPads we got as a result of our participation in this project and encouraged to use technology even more. Mobile technology is a wonderful solution for the programs like these as they are usually happening not in a traditional classroom set up, rather libraries, churches, etc. 

Hello Integrating Technology Colleagues,

This is the third of our five-day discussion about the Illinois Digital Learning Lab. Today's featured IDLL participants, Dawn Brill and Jenna Korenstra, are from the YWCA Elgin in Illinois. Dawn and Jenna, please introduce yourselves and answer questions I posted for instructors, and other questions that you would like to respond to. Thanks!

Integrating Technology members, you can post questions to any of the panelists throughout the week. Of course, earlier is better.

David J, Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group