Members' Introductions

If you haven't yet, please introduce yourself by replying with a comment to this post. You can do that in any way you like, but here are some possible things to mention:

  • Your name
  • Your role(s) in adult basic skills education, and/or in other types of education
  • Your program and agency/organization/institution and state
  • Your interests in using technology -- what you would like to learn, what you would like to share with colleagues here
  • What you are hoping to get from being a member of this CoP

Thanks. We look forward to seeing your introduction.

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator


Hello, I'm Ellen Kersten and have just started a new position as a Digital Health Literacy Project Coordinator at the City of Richmond Library in California. I am working on developing an online curriculum that will enable low-income adults to use the internet and other digital technologies to improve their individual, family, and community health and well-being. This project will also provide free laptops and wireless internet access to participants and is funded by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. I recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and have experience in the fields of geography, public health, population health, and urban planning. I look forward to learning more about tools to support online education, digital literacy, and health literacy. I have already enjoyed exploring some of the resources shared through this community and look forward to learning and sharing more in the future. 

Hello Ellen,

I am guessing that you are part of the City of Richmond's LEAP program, working with some great people who have been working with digital literacy for some time. If so, I believe you have the Learner Web there and, if so, you may know that it has a well-developed BTOP-funded digital literacy curriculum, and lots of experience with using it. You may also know that that the Learner Web project at Portland State University in Oregon is developing an online health literacy curriculum for adult learners.  There was a COABE 2015 conference presentation about that last week. Let me know if you would like contact information for someone who can tell you about this.

Fortunately there are many health literacy experts in our field. Those who come to mind first include: health literacy researcher and practitioner, Andrew Pleasant; professional development specialists, Julie McKinney and Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi; teacher and professional development specialist, Kate Nonesuch; adult learner health literacy advocate, Archie Willard, and Greg Smith and his colleagues at the Florida Literacy Coalition; there are many more, some of whom are on the LINCS health literacy CoP, which I hope you have also joined. 

As you probably know, there are several intersecting sets of skills that learners in a digital health literacy project need: literacy and numeracy skills, digital literacy, and health information searching skills. There are also several good online resources for low-literate adults once they get comfortable with using websites, some of which, such as Healthy Roads Media, have audio files, and often in several languages.

A very useful free compendium of resources, from World Education, with a focus on U.S. materials is Family Health and Literacy 

You will find links to a digital literacy skills assessment, and several free digital literacy instruction sites on The Literacy List at

I learned the most important thing about health literacy many years ago from Archie Willard, who told me that when adults urgently need health care information for themselves, family members or friends they need good, understandable information, not education or training to get it. The urgency of a health situation may require that a health care team provide information in ways that the person can understand, regardless of whether or not s/he can read, use a computer or other digital device, or know how to judge the quality of information from the web. The time for health digital literacy is when it is not a health emergency, so that if there eventually is one, the person has the literacy, numeracy, digital literacy and technology, and comfort with web searching and "judging the source" skills to find -- and evaluate -- the information needed. 

Let me know if you need contact information for the people whom I have suggested.  

Anyone, what have I missed that might be helpful to Ellen?

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

Hello David,

Thank you for your detailed response! I am indeed part of the LEAP program, and we are building off of the successful BTOP-funded digital literacy curriculum to develop a Digital Health Literacy curriculum using LearnerWeb. We are working with the Minnesota Literacy Council to develop the curriculum in the LearnerWeb environment. I have been in touch with Jill Castek at Portland State about her center's great work developing a LearnerWeb curriculum to teach patients how to use an e-health portal (which I understand she presented on at COABE). I am in the process of meeting with local collaborators (city agencies, CBOs, and health clinics) to get their input on the learning objectives and local resources. I will certainly post details as we develop our plan. 

I really appreciate your detailed overview of the digital health literacy field and all of the helpful resources. I am grateful to be part of such an impressive network of experts! I look forward to continuing the discussion.

Thank you,


Hi all!

David, thanks for putting together this discussion as a chance for us all to say hello to one another. 

I've been reading through the various forums on here since joining and absorbing, there's a lot of great info. For me, I'm trying to absorb how best to utilize technology in classroom settings for folks who aren't terribly versed with current technology. This is manageable onsite but significantly more difficult out of the classroom due to lack of access to the Internet in some cases. I've been picking up some pointers here and there to make this more manageable (and deliver offline materials in manageable ways), thank you.

As for me, my day-to-day typically revolves around implementing web technology solutions (especially website CMS solutions) for a variety of clients with most of them in the education sector or related to it. I'm based out of Richmond, VA. I'm often working with small business that provides educational opportunities (certifications for example) and this is where I struggle to help them deliver quality education. In addition, I'm an adjunct professor at GWU (I wrote a bunch about my initial experience as an adjunct professor and some takeaways if you're curious), which means I attempt to solve a different set of educational problems.

I'm just hoping to pick up further tips and guidance and deliver some insight where it seems my industry experience may be useful. Thanks again for the excellent forum.

Christopher R. Cooper

Thanks for a great introduction, Christopher.  

"How best to utilize technology in classroom settings for folks who aren't terribly versed with current technology" would be a great discussion thread here. I am going to post it, and hope you will contribute to describing the challenge. 

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

This is a response to David and Christopher regarding the topic :Helping teachers who are not well-versed in current technology. Northstar is a resource developed in Minnesota and used extensively in Rhode Island to support computer literacy. I have suggested we use it in Vermont for students - but also for staff development. I hope this can be a foundation piece and we will add to it as we get more sophisticated.

The technical aspects of staff development are daunting - but I think manageable with good leadership. What isn't discussed, and I think needs to be, is the resistance to learning and using new technology that I have often seen in my workplace. Am I alone in noticing this?  It is a complicated subject - especially when it comes to the integration of online learning. 

Hello Cindy,

Thanks for introducing yourself. Northstar Online Digital Literacy Assessment is a great (free) assessment designed for adult basic skills learners and, as you point out, also useful for teachers to assess their own digital literacy skills. Do I recall correctly that at least one state -- Rhode Island? -- has teachers using Northstar to assess their own digital literacy skills?

By the way, there are many ways to see what has been discussed in the CoPs, and of course the topics can be discussed again: you can use the "Search" button, in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, to search the whole site; you can go to the LINCS Resource Collection, e.g. from the LINCS home page; and you can read through the discussions, e.g. select the "Discussions" tab from the discussion bar at the top of the Technology and Learning page.

Let me know if you have questions.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Hello! My name is Mary Babcock, and I am a GED(r) instructor. I taught GED(r) preparation courses at a community college, but recently, I moved and accepted a position with La Pine Park and Recreation in their adult education program. La Pine Park and Recreation is in La Pine, Oregon.

My interests in using technology include the desire to implement a blended learning GED(r) preparation program, and I hope to gather information as to blended learning processes that are effective for the very diverse population of individuals who attend GED(r) preparation classes.  

Thank you,


It's great to have you here, Mary. Thanks for introducing yourself. I just looked at your profile and it's very helpful. (I have loved hiking on the coast of Oregon, too. What a beautiful state!) Thanks for completing it. I hope others, too, will soon compete theirs. The LINCS profiles provide a great way for us to begin to learn about our mutual interests.

Speaking of which, in the next few weeks, blended learning will be a topic of our discussion here, and I am hoping that it will then be an ongoing theme of our discussions. 

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator


Hello David and All,

Kate Nicolet has banged the drum and brought more than 50 Vermonsters to the LINCS campfire. My name is Cindy Holden and I have worked in adult basic and secondary education for 20 years through Vermont Adult Learning. I have studied Teaching with Technology through the Marlboro Graduate Center. My current interests: student access to free and open online coursework; artificial intelligence programs such as Core Skills Mastery;the use of social networks for workforce development; technology for industry recognized credentials;technology for civic education and participation; multi-media production. I am interested in the ways that technology can improve the quality of life. I am hoping to share ideas and resources.





Hello Cindy,

Thanks for mentioning the Marlboro College Graduate Center, in Brattleboro VT, a terrific technology professional development center . Many years ago, when the WorldWide Web was very new, colleagues from World Education (Jeff Carter), The Literacy Assistance Center in NYC (Jana Sladkova and Emily Hacker) and I (then Executive Director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute at University of Massachusetts Boston) hosted a week-long summer "web camp" there for adult basic education practitioners from around the country. (I believe Vermont Adult Learning originally suggested the Marlboro College Graduate Center to us.) The web camp was called Spiders at Work. Even then, the Graduate Center had fabulous technology labs that employed universal design principles (e.g. not only was the lab we used completely wheelchair accessible, but in true UDL fashion, this made it easier for the web camp facilitators to easily get to each participant to offer individual help as needed.

As you are interested in free and open online coursework, if you haven't yet, check out the free courses in the LINCS Learning Portal.

When you have a chance, please tell us about your interest in artificial intelligence (AI). How have you been able to connect that to your work in adult basic skills instruction? If so, what have you found that you think is particularly useful; for example, how does Core Skills Mastery use AI effectively?

As you have a lot of interests and, it appears, much learning and experience to share, I look forward to your continuing to be an active member of this Community of Practice.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Technology and Learning CoP

Hello Dr. Rosen and Community.

My name is Carol Nash and I am completing my doctoral studies with a dissertation on implementing critical thinking to adult learners through technology, with an extreme focus on higher education.  I found this site my "happenstance" and have found it a gold nugget for where I plan to go further with my studies and expertise.  I have been a facilitator in an adult learning/college environment for 17 years and find the collaboration of education and technology extremely fascinating.  I have held several positions as a Human Resources Administrator, Network Administrator; Computer Network Engineering professor, Technical Training Center Manager, and Corporate IT Trainer.  I absolutely love education and the varying methods in which tutelage can be delivered. 

I joined this group because I wanted to interact with other professionals who have the expertise and experience I desire to integrate in some of the programs I am targeting to launch by my own organization at the beginning of 2016.  I am open to new ideas and find that learning from others is the best opportunity to determine what is needed currently, and the varying methods to implement similar programs in areas that are under served.

I will check in weekly to see what innovative ideas have been posted to the site and what I propose to bring to the adult learners in the 21st century as well.


Carol Nash



Hello Carol,

Glad you found us, and that our discussions here are helpful to you. I look forward to your participating in these discussions.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP

Technology and Learning Colleagues,

There have been over 1,000 views of the introductions to the Technology and Learning Community of Practice since April. That's terrific, but we only have a dozen or so actual introductions. I hope you will take a few minutes and introduce yourself, even if you are a long-time member of this community, but especially if you are new.  Here are some possible things to mention:

  • Your name
  • Your role(s) in adult basic skills education, and/or in other types of education
  • Your program and agency/organization/institution and state
  • Your interests in using technology -- what you would like to learn, what you would like to share with colleagues here
  • What you are hoping to get from being a member of this CoP
  • What posts or discussions have been especially interesting or useful to you and why.
  • What topics you would like to see us discuss here.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and L:earning CoP


My name is Terese Prena.  I am new to teaching adults.  For 14 years, I taught language arts in a middle school outside of Chicago.  I am currently taking a break from full time teaching to be at home with my young children.  However, to stay current, I joined the instructors  in the Adult Basic Education Program at a community college, College of DuPage.  For a year and a half I have taught both ELL and GED(r) preparation courses.  Within both courses, we strive to prepare students for success in the workforce and/or in higher education.

I'd like to learn new and improved ways of incorporating technology within my classes so that I can engage and motivate my students to learn.  As an ELL teacher, I know how important it is to use various forms of media.  Technology that I once relied on is no longer available to me.  So, I'd like to become familiar with other forms that my students and I can use.  Therefore, I hope to get lots of great ideas to try in the classroom from being a part of this group.


I have been an ESL teacher for more than 25 years, and have developed a program for Spanish speakers.

My texts were used for the free website, Pumarosa, which was sponsored by STARFALL. The cell phone version is soon to be available.

During the past year I have been working on adding lessons to my Facebook page and to my Wiki Spaces and a WIX sites. Through these sites, I have met thousands of students and teachers from the US and other countries, particularly in Latin America. In general, I believe that technology is very important for ESL programs directed at Spanish speaking immigrants, particularly women.  The cell phone has the potential to revolutionize adult education, I believe. I look forward to further discussions. Thanks! Paul Rogers


First, I would say that nearly everyone has a cell phone. Many schools may not have enough computers, but all the students in the US and other countries have cell phones.

A student can study any time, any place, and in many ways via cell phones.

I now have a website through WIX where I put a lot of lessons and YouTube videos, and now I am slowly converting all of them for cell phone use. In place of textbooks, students can access the lessons with their cells. Soon Pumarosa will be ready. 

Many adults, particularly women, are not able to attend ESL classes regularly, and some not at all, but with the use of a cell phone they are able to participate in a class or at least have easy access to the "homework". 

What do you think the consensus is, David? Are others "on board" with the new technology?





Paul, when you say you are converting lessons and YouTube videos for cell phone use it sounds to me like that means for smartphones (and tablets?), since plain feature phones (without Internet access) cannot access videos, and can only access text in small pieces through SMS Text Messaging. If so, yes I am seeing more publishers of proprietary websites, and and some teachers who are developing their own class websites, designing content to be accessed by smartphones. Perhaps it is time to have a discussion here in the LINCS T&L CoP on what kinds of content are best suited to portable digital devices such as smartphones and electronic tablets, and what kinds are best used on a computer and why. Would that interest you? Would it be of interest to others here?

I think it is important to distinguish plain cell phones/feature phones from smartphones, because there is at least one English language learning content developer that specifically designs content for delivery by SMS text messaging on feature phones (and that can also be accessed by smartphones.)

David J. Rosen

Moderator, technology and Learning CoP


I agree that it is important to distinguish plain phones from smart / android phones, tablets, etc.  So, yes, in my post I was talking about the use of smart phones or androids, which are gradually replacing plain phones. Lessons on plain phones are more limited than those on smart phones, etc. 

Lessons on smart phones include audio, video, and text. In my program Facebook serves as the matrix, where I have four groups of lessons for students and teachers, with about 2000 members altogether.

About 5 years ago the term "ubiquitous" was used when talking about the use of technology, and I think it applies to smart phones very well. With smart phones "Free and Universal Education" becomes a reality in adult education. Presently too many adults are not able to attend classes, a problem that will be remedied with smart phone technology.

I see adult education programs providing phones to students as part of the course, just as a library lends books to patrons. I am sure that funding for such an approach is readily available.

When we talk about content, etc., as you suggest, it would be good to distinguish between "for credit" courses and "non-credit" courses, because the requirements are not the same. 

Distance learning can be merged with Blended classes with smart phone use. Students can participate wherever they are via their phones and feel part of the class. 

I see smart phones as a method to reach out to the community and provide a service that cannot be provided at the present time, which is my reason for using the term revolutionizing.





One of the most interesting developments in Technology and Education is the international proliferation of courses on all subjects via YouTube and other websites. English as a second or Foreign Language, for example, is growing in popularity due primarily to the fact that it has become the most used language internationally. On Facebook there are a lot of ESL/EFL teachers' groups, one of which is called:

Technology in English language teaching  -

Out of this I expect a network to grow, where we all can gain good information.






Hello, my name is Karen Hill.  I am the program coordinator for Parke-Vermillion Adult Education in Parke and Vermillion counties in Indiana.  I am new to the adult education side of education.  I taught in public school for 35 years.  I was an elementary special education teacher.  To say I loved every minute of it would be a stretch.  But I did enjoy my teaching experience.  I had some awesome students and some not so awesome.  I learned a lot about what it takes to be an educator but it was definitely time for me to retire.  I still love teaching so this was the perfect position for me.  I still get to interact with students but I am also the program administer.  I have 2 great kids, a son and daughter.  Both married with babies of their own.  This job allows me to keep my finger in the education pie but I can also spend lots of time with my sweet babies.  I am interested in all things technology.  I am always looking for ways to integrate technology in the classroom.

I'm Kathy Walker from Red Oak, Iowa.  I am the High School Equivalency instructor for Southwestern Community College's Red Oak campus.  Additionally, I'm a director on our local school board where we have recently provided laptops to all of our students grades 6-12.  I live in a beautiful small town of about 6,000 but we have lost many jobs over the past several years and we are becoming very much a lower middle class community with declining school enrollment.  This is being felt at both the college (where there are fewer students enrolling in classes) and at the public school (currently with over 70% of our students qualifying for free and reduced lunch).  I'm interested in ways to better integrate technology in our public school as well as utilizing it more effectively in my HiSD  and ESL classes with adult learners. I look forward to learning from all of you!

Hi everyone, glad to meet you virtually! My name is Alecia and I recently transitioned to adult basic education after working in higher education for several years. I live and work in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. My career combines a mix of instructional design, learner experience, and technology. I have used a number of digital tools including LMSs such as Canvas, Moodle, and Blackboard as well as Voicethread, Zaption, Thinglink, and Branchtrack among others. Currently I'm working on a project called Illinois Digital Learning Lab. The lab is founded through a collaboration between Grand Victoria Foundation and The Joyce Foundation. We are building a learning community for educators and administrators across the state of Illinois to support, advise, and learn from each other.

I am excited to be a part of this CoP. I would like to learn about the use of different digital tools and their effectiveness, as well as connect with educators in the area. In addition I hope to explore how other states are supporting educators and experimenting with new strategies in the classroom.

Hello to the group.  I am with Learning Upgrade, based in San Diego.  Our team develops the smartphone-based app “Learning Upgrade” for adult education, with 900 English reading and math lessons aligned to CCRS standards.  We want to work with the adult ed community to scale-up access to quality instruction that can “move the needle”, particularly with underserved populations.

One area of focus for our team is how to blend smartphone-based independent instruction by learners at home with instructor-led activities.  Another is how to rapidly onboard large numbers of learners into a smartphone learning app.  Also, we are interested in how instructors can manage and motivate learners remotely with tools such as text messaging, social media, and video chats.

Learning Upgrade is exploring many of these issues as a semifinalist in the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition. We are gaining experience from the over 1,000 learners enrolled in our app across the U.S. as part of the competition.

We also have deployments in adult ed and literacy programs including Queens Public Library New York, READ/San Diego, and Bunker Hill Community College MA.  If you want to try our smartphone app with your learners, just let us know (Pilot Request at

Look forward to being part of this community!

Best wishes,

Vinod Lobo, Learning Upgrade


Vinod Lobo, as you know from his introduction, is new to the LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group. Thank you, Vinod, for introducing yourself.

I am delighted to let everyone here know that Vinod will be one of several panelists in a discussion with the Adult Literacy XPRIZE director and representatives of several of the semi-finalist teams that have developed adult basic literacy and adult basic ESL/ESOL apps. The discussion will be held in April in the Integrating Technology group with cross-posts to Teaching and Learning and Professional Development groups,

I hope that other Integrating Technology members who have not yet introduced themselves will do so by going to and selecting "Add New Comment".

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology Group


Hello everyone,


My name is Ginette Chandler.  I strive to help adult learners accomplish academic, social, and economic goals.  Prior to working in the field of adult education, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry.  I am happy to say that my first experience working as a volunteer tutor was so positive, that I immediately knew that I needed to switch careers.  I also knew that I was burnt out from working within the healthcare industry. 

The young woman that I had been paired with to tutor was from another country, and had already had a college degree from her native country.  Watching her start over in a new country was so humbling, and being a part of helping her improve her English language proficiency skills prompted me to pursue a career in education. 

Years ago I had thought about becoming a teacher but wasn't interested in teaching K-12 students, so I never pursued it; at least until I watched the excitement and accomplishment of this young woman achieving the academic goals she had set for herself and her family.  The experience was so profound for me that I decided I would work with adult learners in any capacity that would allow me to support achieving their academic goals and dreams. 

I now work in Manchester, NH at the Manchester Adult Learner Services Program, as the Adult Learner Services Coordinator.  The premise of the entire program is to help adult learners achieve their academic, social, and economic goals.  My role is to get to know adult learners, assess their needs, desires, and current abilities, and then match them with a volunteer tutor that I feel can help them achieve their goals. 

The program has been popular; almost too popular.  We now have more adult learners seeking services than I have tutors readily available to help learners.  That being said, we are exploring technological options for incorporating distance learning into the program, to reduce wait time for tutor/student matches.  Not all meetings and conversations need to be face-to-face, so we are adding online options, such as Skype, Edmodo LMS, phone conversations, texting, etc.

I am interested in learning how others have been incorporating technology into and outside of their classrooms to support distance learning.  Do you feel that adding technology components outside of the classroom or face-to-face time supports learner academic progress?  If so, how? 

As a member of this CoP, I am hoping to learn what others are doing with technology inside, as well as outside of the classroom.  Incorporating technology in the classroom is not an option, but a necessity.  Regardless of whether learners have access to technology outside of the classroom, instruction on how to use technology should still be incorporated into every classroom, at every level (for learners to practice with; not just teachers to use).

I look forward to learning from everyone.

Take care,

Ginette Chandler

Hi, Ginette.

I'm the director of the IDEAL Consortium, a project of the Ed Tech Center at World Education. We support a network of leaders and practitioners from our members states and provide PD and technical support to help them develop, enhance, or expand effective distance and blended education programs for adult learners. We also facilitate access to a network of experienced practitioners who do this work across the US. I’ll put some links at the end of this comment so you can read more about the work, if you’d like to.

Now, on to your questions. Just last week, the Ed Tech Center at World Education hosted a webinar titled Innovative Digital Learning Models for ELL Immigrant Adults. Heide Wrigley and Alison Webber highlighted innovative program models that rely on technology to support adult learners. You can see the webinar and the slides at the link.

Regarding the issue of using tech to alleviate a waitlist, there is a very interesting program in New England designed to do just this. It’s called English Now! In the program, learners on waitlists meet regularly, and with the support of a tutor, work online studying English. For more info about the project, check out these links:  

Priyanka Sharma at World Education can also get more info to you.

I’d also like to point you to a White Paper published last year titled “How Investment in Adult Learning can Accelerate Collective Impact in Adult Learning”  The paper provides many real examples of how technology is leveraged to reach new learners and, once found, intensify and personalize instruction.

Finally, I’d like to suggest that you check out this free IDEAL Consortium publication, The IDEAL Distance Education and Blended Learning Handbook. The handbook serves as the backbone of the PD we have created and make available to teachers and program administrators in our member states. In our current program year, we are supporting this work in: Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, northwest area of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas.

For more info about IDEAL please check out  a copy of our registration information for 2018 - 2019, the IDEAL Consortium website (, and  the IDEAL Institute newsletter, which shows the topics the group addressed last year.

Feel free to reach out directly (

Good luck!

Jen Vanek

IDEAL Consortium Director, Ed Tech Center at World Education


My name is Jeannie Huyser. I live in Irving, Texas, and I teach ESL to adults. I am interested in learning how to integrate technology into the classroom.

Hello Jeannie,

Thanks for introducing yourself. LINCS has lots of resources to offer you on integrating technology, and many discussions on this theme. Use the LINCS Search feature  in the Resource Collection tab  and then in the Community tab, and type in "ESL" or "ESL and technology". One of the best resources to get started is ESL Pro , in particular the section written by Kathy Harris on integrating technology in ESL lessons.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Integrating Technology


Hi all

I joined last year and have dipped in and out... but it's time to introduce myself properly and ask for your thoughts on my research project!

I have been teaching literacy, ESOL and basic IT (both on its own and embedding into literacy and ESOL) in the UK for a number of years but I've recently dropped most of my teaching and embarked on a PhD. I'm volunteering at a centre that provides education and training opportunities as well as advice (on jobseeking, housing, immigration etc) to asylum seekers and refugees and it's here that I'm planning to find my research participants. 

 The centre has a computer room with five computers that is open one day a week as a 'drop-in' where learners/clients can drop in to use the computers and get help from a volunteer if they need it. My role as a volunteer in there is to try to get more people using the computers and doing more things with them. When it was set up the volunteers and teachers were aware of a small number of online resources for learning English which they directed most learners to. They also offered help with jobsearch, and helped people sign up for and follow a food hygiene course which is recognised by employers and useful for those seeking certain types of work. I'm trying to encourage the centre to allow BYOD, and gradually raising awareness of different types of resources, engaging people in discussion about different uses they could make of the drop-in.

Anyway, that's one thing, but the other thing is my PhD research. My broad area of interest, if you hadn't gathered by now, is in supporting people who are in some ways 'digitally excluded' to use and to benefit from the internet more. For my research I have decided to focus on those who struggle in particular with literacy (this has always been my interest) but who speak enough English to discuss the project and their experiences with me (this is more for practical reasons - so that I don't need to use interpreters!) I'm interested in exploring speech technologies with them to see whether or how text-to-speech and speech-to-text could help them engage with the text-based internet resources and services more.

I'm basing my plans on a lot of assumptions; I probably need to refine my research question; and, I am still unsure of my theoretical frameworks and all that! So, I would love some ideas from those of you working with these kind of learners (known as LESLLA in some of the literature; I'm calling them 'semi-literate immigrants' for now but I've changed my terminology a gazillion times as it's hard to find something that's concise, understandable to people outside of the ESOL-literacy field, and not disparaging).  What do you think of my first attempt at a 'conceptual framework' (I'm not even entirely sure what this is supposed to be) and a 'research matrix'? They're here:    (I hope the link works when not logged in - if not I'll have to upload it elsewhere. I can't see a way to attach to this post).

Do they make any sense? What am I missing? What should I explore and what shouldn't I explore? Any spontaneous reactions, suggestions, relevant experiences you'd like to share... would be most welcome!  Thanks :-)  



Hello Jo,

I have read your conceptual framework for your dissertation research and have some comments and questions for you.  Most important, I like your conceptual framework, and the questions you are asking.

Although I like your overall research question I am not clear if you are interested in what technologies, or what practices, best support low-literate adults' digital inclusion. Both? Something else? Are you interested, for example,  in what software is used on what hardware devices with what accompanying hardware peripherals? That might be part of the answer to your overall research question, but the learners' practices in using these may be more important and have more generalizable impact. If this is your interest, then your question might be adjusted to "What practices in using speech technologies support the digital inclusion of semi-literate adults immigrants in the U.K.?

How are you defining "speech technologies"?  Text-to-speech software? Software that helps English language learners correctly form certain sounds of English? Both? Something else?

In the U.S -- although perhaps not in the U.K. -- an important part of digital inclusion is reducing the high cost of Internet access and, as a result of it, the unreliability of access for learners who from time to time or often,  cannot pay their monthly ISP access fee. Is that a barrier for some semi-literate immigrants in the U.K.? If so, could your research also focus on effectiveness of available solutions to that problem?

Have you thought about what instrument(s) you will use to measure growth in digital inclusion ?

There has been some research on digital inclusion in the U.S. by colleagues at Portland State University (Oregon), including for low-literate immigrants who come for digital literacy help to public libraries, English language teaching programs, and other work preparation and community based programs. The lead researcher, Kathy Harris, and several of her colleagues, are members of the Integrating Technology group here. I will email you with Kathy's contact information.

If you are not a member of the LESLLA Organization, you might consider joining. You could check out their publications and symposia on their website. When you have finished your dissertation, you might want to present your findings at a LESLLA Symposium.

I hope my comments are helpful, and encourage other members of the Integrating Technology group to give you their comments.

If you haven't yet, you might also want to also post your request to the English Language Acquisition LINCS group.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group







Hello David and thank you so much for taking the time to respond with such useful questions and suggestions. Here are some responses which I hope will prompt further reactions from others. I was very anxious about making my ideas public as I know the questions etc are not quite right yet, but (as others have told me) it is absolutely the best way to move forward. I feel like I've just broken free of a hamster wheel I was going round and round in...! :-)

"I am not clear if you are interested in what technologies, or what practices, best support low-literate adults' digital inclusion. Both? Something else? "

Basically I’m interested in practices and need to make that clear in my question (thank you, you are spot on with your suggestion). I need to look at what hardware and software is used and is available for practical reasons, and I hope that one outcome of the research could be an overview of what’s available, what it does, how to get it etc for practitioners but this is not the main outcome in terms of my thesis. Technology changes so fast that I think if I focus on specific tools my thesis will be dated before it’s finished.

"How are you defining "speech technologies"?  Text-to-speech software? Software that helps English language learners correctly form certain sounds of English? Both? Something else?"

Text-to-speech and speech-to-text. My question was motivated by two contrasting approaches I had been seeing to digital inclusion work: increasingly, people with recognised disabilities that affect their ability to read and write are encouraged to use text-to-speech and speech-to-text to assist them. But in the contexts I was working in, this did not seem to be the case for many adults with great difficulties in reading and writing but no diagnosed disability. For a long time I think that the software was prohibitively expensive to use widely outside of full-time education and employment, and that that may well have been a good reason, but now a number of free options exist.

I thought at first maybe the problem was simply lack of awareness, but when I started talking to people about it, there seemed also to be an attitude that people (without disabilities) should learn to read and write so they could use the internet. I think I’ve mentioned in a post elsewhere that I was dismayed when a library I was working in would not consider adding a free browser extension that would read webpages aloud to all their public computers because they already had their one VIP (visually impaired people’s) computer with a sophisticated screen reader and didn’t think there would be any need for additional software on the other computers. So, initially I thought I might undertake a sociological study involving practitioners (teachers, library staff, volunteers – people working on the front line in digital inclusion). I thought maybe the barriers were to do with people’s attitudes and beliefs about literacy (and disability) -  this idea that, unless you have the right disabled label, you should learn to read and write and then you’ll be able to use the internet like the rest of us do. Or possibly concerns amongst teachers of ESOL and literacy that using such software would mean that learners wouldn't bother to learn to read (decode) and spell better.  But I also realised that I didn’t know for sure how acceptable or useful people with low levels of literacy (but not disabilities) would find the sort of tools I was trying to persuade people to encourage them to use, so I came round to the idea of starting with the learners. I need to be able to show people that learners want and benefit from the technology in order to make a case for installing it and using it (or, alternatively, if I find out they don’t want it, don’t use it, and don’t benefit from it, then I can stop worrying about it!)

I was intending at first to look only at text-to-speech software, but I want to be guided by the learners’ interests and needs. I have started to meet potential participants and talk to them about their current ICT use, their (perceived) barriers, and what they want to be able to do with ICT, and my initial conversations make me think that a lot of learners are far more concerned that their spelling is too poor to write messages than they are about reading online information, so I think I will be looking at speech-to-text too. I was not actually thinking of looking into software that is designed specifically for learning the sounds of English or anything like that. I was thinking of the sort of tools that are generally considered ‘assistive technologies’ for disabled people and than convert written text to spoken and vice versa, but also limiting my explorations to freely available tools, not the specialised and expensive software that has featured in the majority of TTS research (e.g. Kurzweil). So, yes, of course I need to define what I mean, and perhaps I need that to be clearer in the question.

"an important part of digital inclusion is reducing the high cost of Internet access and, as a result of it, the unreliability of access for learners who from time to time or often, cannot pay their monthly ISP access fee."

This is definitely a barrier to some, but it is also one of the aspects of digital inclusion that receives a fair amount of research attention (though not, perhaps, in relation to literacy). Though I don’t feel it’s what I want to set out to explore, I think my research will inevitably touch on it - it may well come up as a greater barrier for some people than literacy and if so, as I said, I’m open to being guided by the participants. If there’s no interest in the technologies I would like to explore with them because they are far more bothered about not being able to get or stay connected then I will revisit my research questions and reconsider my research design! Thus far (and I’ve only spoken to a handful of learners) I’m getting a rather mixed picture but although some don't tend to have mobile data and hence no limited mobile internet (or no mobile internet as they don’t necessarily know where and how to connect to hotspots), most seem to have wifi at home. I’m not specifically looking at recently arrived asylum seekers for whom this may be a bigger issue.

"Have you thought about what instrument(s) you will use to measure growth in digital inclusion ?"

I have of course started to think about this but not sure that I have the best answer yet!  I don’t think I can realistically ‘measure’ it in any statistical way. Firstly, I think other research with marginalised, digitally excluded groups suggests that the kind progress (in confidence, changes in attitude, small steps towards doing things) that people may make over 12 months or so does not register on the sort of frameworks currently in existence for measuring digital inclusion. Secondly, I don’t think I can expect to retain enough participants to work with me over a period of time. So, I’m looking at a qualitative study, perhaps in-depth case studies of several individuals, looking holistically at the barriers they face to doing what they want or need to do online, and the steps that they take (with a tutor’s support to introduce new tools and new skills as appropriate to their needs) to overcome them, and how or whether text-to-speech/speech-to-text can play a role in this. I want to focus mainly on the role of the TTS/STT technologies – I’m doing this whole project because I believe people should be using them more! – but I don’t think there’s any point in trying to prove they could be useful if I ignore the other barriers people face -  what’s the point in having TTS, and knowing that it would really help you get the online information you need, if you can’t get online for other reasons (e.g. as you suggested, cost)? 

I want to create a list of possible outcomes that could indicate progress towards digital inclusion; things like:

  • becoming interested in trying to do something online that they hadn’t wanted to do before
  • finding it easier to do something they had been doing with difficulty
  • undertaking certain online activities more often
  • doing something independently that they previously did only with help from others …

This list might be something else that I need to seek others’ input on (including from the participants themselves – what will make them feel more digitally included?) Perhaps the list will also grow as the data is analysed…

I need to use a combination of (imperfect) methods to try to capture evidence of these indicators from each participant, including:

  • initial interviews about what they use the internet for and how they use it outside of the setting in their everyday lives – covering all the things they do, how often they do them, what sort of difficulties they have, if they get someone to help them...
  • Observations – in interviews encourage learners to show me what they do outside of the training setting
  • Participant-generated screen recordings, photos, videos, audio recordings of them using the internet outside of the training setting in their everyday lives (I think this is going to be challenging! I don’t know how much people will be willing to let me in to their real lives, but I would like to try to encourage them to become volunteer data collectors for the project and bring me their own evidence of what they’re doing which, depending on the quality, could be retained as data or could at least serve as prompts for follow-up interviews).  
  • Observations and recordings of conversations as individuals start to work with a volunteer tutor to try to develop their internet skills (at a volunteer-led IT drop-in at a centre that provides training and advice to asylum seekers and refugees). I hope to use screen recording to capture the activity on the screen as well as conversation around it and repeat these 'observations weekly or as often as they attend for as long as they attend up to a max. 18 months
  • repeated interviews, continued data collection by participants to build up a picture of how (whether) things are changing over time in terms of how they are using the internet on their everyday lives. 

In terms of analysis, well, to be honest I think this still needs a lot more thought - I suppose I'm thinking of having this initial list of things to look out for and letting it grow and then looking again for the new things that emerge...a kind of 'grounded theory-inspired approach'.  


Finally, thanks for the suggested contacts. I would love to make contact with Kathy, and I do have my eye on what the LESLLA people are up to. It looks like there were a few more digital-related presentations at their last symposium and I need to investigate, though generally i feel that a lot of what is out there is to do with developing software and websites that are more accessible to LESLLA learners, or developing digital tools that focus explicitly on language development, whereas what I want to see is whether there is a place for assistive tech in enabling LESLLA learners to do more of what they want to do online NOW, while continuing to develop their reading and writing skills but without waiting for their reading and writing to improve before they can do it. Or is tech developing in such a way that they don't need to anyway? So, for example, I met one gentleman who says he receives text messages from friends he only writes an answer if it is something really short like 'where r u'. if he wants to say more he either records a voice message or just calls them. So, does he need/want to write more if he can say more in other ways anyway? Yes, because sometimes his friend can't talk or can't listen to a message straight away. Reading is silent and discreet - but the same goes for writing, so maybe voice input doesn't solve the problem if the sender also can't do something that makes a noise e.g. while at work, or just feels self-conscious speaking the message.  It might solve the problem sometimes but not all the time. 

Right, I think I've run out of steam and out of time for now and there's a danger this message might just be too long for anyone to want to read anyway!

Thanks again David!

Best wishes all

Jo :-)

PhD student and ESOL/literacy teacher

University of Southampton, UK

Hi, Jo.

This sounds like a fascinating study. I'll look forward to reading more about what you find. When I read your ideas about knowing about progress toward digital inclusion, I though of Steve Reder's PIAAC paper. Here's the link:   I think the framework makes good use of PIAAC data to show a process  that might be useful for you.  

My diss research uncovered some findings about the impact of explicit vocabulary instruction in digital literacy workshops and drop-in lab settings.  Essentially - tutors and facilitators can't forget that they are also language teachers.  I'd be happy to send you slides from my 2017 LESLLA presentation on the topic.


Good luck!


Dear Jen

Thank you so much for replying and I'm so so sorry I overlooked your reply until now!  I am an infrequent visitor to this community I must admit,  and only looked up my own introduction now (and noticed your reply) because David Rosen prompted me to do an update on my research. 

I have read some of your earlier publications and Steven Reder's too. This link looks interesting and I'm going to look you up to see what else you've published more recently (over a year has passed since you offered to send your LESLLA 2017 presentation - maybe I can find it on the web by now anyway?!)

I'm now wondering if there's a setting I can tweak to make sure the LINCS community system notifies me of responses to my own posts as this would be very useful (no replies needed on this - if it's there I'll find it, I just haven't looked) ... and I still have not got round to doing the update I've promised David! :-)

Best wishes



Hi Jo,

You wrote:

"My question was motivated by two contrasting approaches I had been seeing to digital inclusion work: increasingly, people with recognised disabilities that affect their ability to read and write are encouraged to use text-to-speech and speech-to-text to assist them. But in the contexts I was working in, this did not seem to be the case for many adults with great difficulties in reading and writing but no diagnosed disability. For a long time I think that the software was prohibitively expensive to use widely outside of full-time education and employment, and that that may well have been a good reason, but now a number of free options exist.....I thought at first maybe the problem was simply lack of awareness, but when I started talking to people about it, there seemed also to be an attitude that people (without disabilities) should learn to read and write so they could use the internet. "

I wonder if you are familiar with the term "auding." It means getting meaning from text by listening to it read out loud. At the time the term was coined, it was in connection with recordings for people who were blind. Skip forward to the 21st century and, as you are aware, there are free as well as commercial software programs that will read digitized text out loud at speeds that are as fast -- or faster -- than people who want to get meaning from text may be able to read in traditional ways. Users of this software might be legally blind, have specific reading disabilities, or might be perfectly good traditional readers who just want to have books, articles and other texts read out loud to them, often at amazing speeds. (I know people who can aud much faster than I can read in traditional ways. They have to train themselves to understand texts read out loud at those speeds; to my untrained ear this is incomprehensible.)

Adult education researcher Tom Sticht, who has published in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., has been interested in auding for some time; he might take an interest in what you propose to research.

Auding has been discussed, on and off, in LINCS groups from at least 2014. Here's a thread you might like to look at In it I re-posted a very useful reply from Tom to a post in another adult education discussion group  that cites some research you may want to know about.

Email me if you would like to get in touch with Tom Sticht directly.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating technology group



Greetings everyone, 

My name is Erin Watters. I met a number of people at the COABE conference in Phoenix last month and am happy to finally reconnect with you and all those I missed here as well.

Technology has always been a part of my daily experience. As a child, I participated in virtual exchanges via satellite with Russia and the Cook Islands, which lead to my development of a similar virtual exchange program in 2006, which morphed into my graduate school project of a Global Citizen Workshop Facilitator's Guide. So, when I moved from the business/tech world into education in 2007, those skills became a tool I was able to integrate into my approach to learning and teaching. From 2010-2013, I worked with the Literacy, Language & Technology Research Group (LLTR) supporting the development and implementation of online digital literacy  learning plans for the Digital Literacy/Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)  grant at Portland State University.  This project really allowed me to take my background in Internet technology and services and use it in an educational setting. Most recently, I have been working as a Curriculum Coach at Rio Salado College in Surprise, Arizona, where I provide PD opportunities to GED and ELAA (English Language Acquisition for Adults) instructors in a blended learning setting. I also have recently had the opportunity to manage a pilot run of the Burlington English blended learning curriculum as a framework for our ELAA classes. 

When not at Rio, I write test items, evaluate and set assessment response standards, rate student work, and provide distance learning in an entirely online environment across a number of platforms. I enjoy the flexibility that online opportunities provide, but have also encountered a number of challenges associated with connectivity and limited learner access. My current technology interests involve digital literacy, educational games, technology in the classroom, distance learning, and hybrid course and curriculum design. I am also very interested finding ways to get online platform functionality in limited or unreliable Internet connectivity to work for learners and educators. I love innovation and re-purposing of old technology and ideas.

I am excited to see what is happening with this creative group of thinkers and doers and jump in on the activity.


Hi everyone,

I'm Nicole. 

My previous career training was as a therapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) in a community mental health center, but once I started my family, I found that being the kind of therapist I wanted to be, and the kind of wife and mother I wanted to be, were mutually exclusive.  So I made a change,  I was home with my kids for ten years and then once my youngest started school, I started teaching  human services classes at Ivy Tech Community College.  Over the last  7 years, I've taught a variety of courses in several formats.  Currently, all of my classes are offered completely online, so I've used both Blackboard and Canvas in that capacity.

Then three years ago, I also started teaching Adult English Language Learners at McDowell Adult Education Center.  It's been wonderful.  This past year, I started using Google Classroom with my ELL students more, it's been a bit of a challenge as many are very "low tech" .  I was encouraged to join this group as part of the Hyperdocs webinar presented through LINCS that I just completed.  I participated in that webinar, and I'm joining here now, as just another way to expand my skills to better facilitate the best learning experiences for my students.   I'm particularly interested in developing distance learning options for my adult English learners, as well as continuing to foster high levels of engagement for my Ivy Tech students.  

Thanks for introducing yourself Nicole.  I'm delighted that you were able to complete part one of the HyperDocs webinar today, and hope you can also join in tomorrow for part two. As you know, Ashly Winkle, our HyperDocs presenter, will also be joining us next week to answer questions about HyperDocs. 

I'm wondering if the distance learning options you have in mind are: 1) online learning that is supplementary to your face-to-face ELL instruction; 2) a hybrid model in which they are an expected part of your curriculum but not necessarily integrated with your face-to-face curriculum; 3) a blended model in which the face-to-face and online components are integrated; or 4) if you want a pure distance learning model for students who cannot (or no longer can) come to class. Depending on what you have in mind, I -- and others here -- may have some suggestions.

All the best,

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Cop Integrating Technology group

Hello! My name is Millie and I am the Learning Resource Center Coordinator of the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in Rochester NY.  We have both academic and vocational training and I assist instructors in identifying useful tools and implementing them into the classroom.  My time is very limited and having an online group like this may help me to identify useful tools and more easily find ways to help instructors implement those in the classroom.

Hello Millie,

Glad to have you with us. Feel free to post questions, and perhaps some of our colleagues here can answer them. There are lots of great collections of adult basic skills digital tools, software and apps . Here are two to start with:

1. The Literacy List -- a collection of websites and tools for adult basic skills educators that I put together and update.

2. CrowdEd Learning - a relatively new database of adult basic skills open education resources (free, OERs) made by a member of this group, Jeff Goumas. Go to the Skill Directory to see the resources.

There have been many conversations here over the years that you might find of value. Some recent ones on HyperDocs, for example, might be worthwhile for you and your teachers. Search for "HyperDocs" in the LINCS Search feature and you should be able to find them. If not, let me know.


All the best,

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology  group

My name is Christina and I am a teacher at the Adult and Community Education in Bucksport.I enjoy working with my students to get them ready for their HiSET, diploma or CT. 

I am not very versed in technology, but I am very motivated to learn. There are always so many new tech items that learning never stops.


Hello Christina,

Welcome to the Integrating Technology group. You have summed up the dilemma for everyone here interested in integrating education technology, "so many new tech items that learning never stops." I hope that the LINCS Integrating Technology group, for you and others here, can help to sort out the wheat from the chaff, and help with identifying the best online tools and software for particular kinds and levels of adult basic skills: ESL/ESOL, adult basic literacy, adult basic education, adult secondary education, and transition to post-secondary education. Tell us what you teach, to whom and at what level(s). Then please feel free to ask questions. Someone in this group of over two thousand adult basic skills educators may have some suggestions or answers. If not, you may at least find out that you aren't the only adult basic skills teacher to have that question!

David J, Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


Hello everyone, my name is Royce Miller. I am the Coordinator of the small Distance GED Program in South Dakota. I also teach the ESL class in the small town in which I work.

I work for Cornerstones Career Learning Center, which is a 501(c)(3) that offers adult education to 22,000 square miles in eastern South Dakota. As you might have guessed, we are a very dispersed group, with only about 350,000 people in the whole service area. (We're the dense part of the state! The average is about 10 people per square mile!)  Cornerstones then also has the grant to administer the Distance GED Program statewide.

Our students struggle to reach a town of 10,000 or greater where they might receive services, and rural internet access is another barrier. However, when our students do live in a town or have internet access, we still suffer from the retention issues that you are all familiar with. I'm mostly here, then, to learn (and perhaps share) some best practices for delivering distance learning.

My name is Roslyn Trezevant Haley and I am a curriculum Development Lead for the new California Online Community College where I develop rubrics and curricula for 21st Century Employability Foundational Skills for Career Program Pathways. I have a wide range of educational leadership experience in career services, counseling, enrollment management, matriculation, and student success programs. For the past seven years, I have worked internationally, implementing innovative student success initiatives at the College of Medicine, American University of Antigua, and at Zayed University in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I previously served as Dean of Counseling and Matriculation at Antelope Valley College and Director of Student Counseling at UCLA. I earned a Master of Public Administration from CSU Los Angeles, and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from UCLA. As a post-doctoral student, I also completed the University of British Columbia’s International Faculty SoTL Leadership Program.  I look forward to participating in this important group and am anxious to share ideas and access tools and resources that will enhance our ability to develop our programs.

Welcome, Roslyn, to the Integrating Technology group,

I am sure some of our members would like to hear more about the new California Online Community College where you work. Is this available only to residents of California, for example? Is there or will there be a relationship with adult schools and programs in California? Is career pathways a major focus of the Community College?

We also welcome your questions to colleagues here, some of whom work in higher education but a larger number may work in adult basic skills (including English language for immigrants) education.

We'll look forward to your participation in our discussions.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Cop Integrating Technology group


Hi David,

Thanks for your interest in the California Online Community College.  It is exciting to see that the Integrating Technology Group is interested in this new and exciting venture in California. Your questions are thoughtful and engaging and I apologize for the delayed reply but I wanted to make certain that our group have the benefit of a more comprehensive response.  Accordingly, I am inviting our CTO and Program Director to join the LINCS Integrating Technology group.  I have sent them invitations that you should be copied on along with a copy of your questions on behalf of the LINCS Integrating Technology Group.  Thanks again!