Survey of Adult Learners' Transition to Online Learning

Hello Colleagues,

The Adult Learner Online Transition Survey was developed by David J. Rosen, with the help of Katie Bratisax, Elizabeth Severson-Irby, and Lori Rodriguez. Its purpose is to collect information about how adult basic skills learners, including ESOL/ESL, ABE and ASE students, have transitioned from in-person to online/remote/distance learning. Your students can take this survey directly. It does not ask for their name or any information other than their state. The survey will remain open through the month of June 2020. In July I will provide a link to the results here. The survey has a Creative Commons license that allows teachers to copy or customize the survey form in any way that they wish for non-commercial purposes as long as they attribute the original survey to us.


We recommend:

  •  that the link be texted to learners’ phone numbers, through WhatsApp, Remind or other texting platforms, or by email for learners who regularly use email, and
  •  for low-literacy English language learners and others who might have difficulty reading these questions or writing the answers, that the survey be read aloud to each person and that their answers be recorded on the survey for for them by the person reading the questions.

If you wish, you may share the survey with your students any time from now through the end of June. Please explain that each student should complete only one survey, even though at the end of the survey it says “submit another response.”

Please share this announcement with your adult basic skills teaching colleagues, and contact me if you have questions about the survey.

David J. Rosen


Hello colleagues,

If you are interested in inviting your online learners to take the Transition to Online Learning survey, the customizable invitation template below may save you some time:

Hello (student’s first name),

Could you take five minutes or less to answer a few questions about moving from our (name of in-person class or tutorial) to our online (class or tutorial)? You won’t be asked to give your name or any personal information. The purpose is to help (teachers, tutors, instructors) understand what this experience has been like for students across the country, and to use this information to improve online teaching and learning.

To take the survey please go here. Thank you!

(Your name)


David J. Rosen


Just to be clear, the  Survey of Adult Learners' Transition to Online Learning is not sponsored by LINCS.

Here's how it came about: I am a member of a national program of Literacy Minnesota known as the Open Door Collective, and also an advisor to the Ed Tech Center at World Education. In these roles I have been involved with two recent studies. One study is sponsored by the Evidence-Based Adult Education System (E-BAES) Task Force of the Open Door Collective through which teachers and Instructors, as well as program and state administrators, were interviewed about the recent major shift in aduilt basic skills education from in-person to online/remote/distance learning, The results are to be published in July on the ProLiteracy website. The second study is a survey of (I believe several hundred) adult basic skills teachers and administrators that was designed by the Ed Tech Center at World Education, with the help of several other researchers. In response to providing information about these studies I was asked if anyone was surveying adult learners about the transition experience. I hadn't heard of any surveys of this kind, although I hope there are some, perhaps at the class or program level. I thought learning about the adult learners' experience transitioning to online from in-person learning was a good idea so, on my own as a volunteer and using my own Google Drive, I developed a draft Google Form survey and shared it with others to review and to give me feedback. Some teachers then asked if they could ask their students to use my survey and if I (as an individual) would share the results, which I have agreed to do in July. This is not a scientific survey, but it may (or may not) surface some adult learner experiences that are of interest to adult basic skills researcherss, teachers and administrators.  The survey form, improved with the help of three colleagues, has a Creative Commons license that allows teachers to modify and use it in ways that they wish for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to the authors of the original; so it is possible for teachers to use the survey questions on their own with their students. That data will not, however, be part of the aggregate survey data that I hope to report in July. 

I will be happy to answer other questions about the survey.

David J. Rosen


Hello Colleagues,

The Survey of Adult Learners' Transition to Online Learning will continue through June 30th.

As of now we have nearly 850 responses from adult learners in 41 states. So far, the only states that haven't had survey participants are Wyoming, Virginia, Utah, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Hawaii, Colorado and Alaska. Also, the District of Columbia has had no participants. If you live in one of those states, or in D.C., I hope you will get the word out to adult basic skills (including ESL/ESOL) programs and adult learners there. Also, given their size, California and Texas are greatly under-represented. Although this is not a scientific survey, and does not have a representative sample, I have been monitoring the results frequently, and the patterns of learner responses have been consistent since the survey began the first week in June. Of course, adult learners who do not have access to the Internet and are not comfortable answering surveys (even anonymously) are not represented, so the results are not generalizable to all adult basic skills learners. Nevertheless, the results should give us a good picture, for the relatively few questions asked in the survey, of the experience of adult learners who have been able to transition to an online/remote/distance education learning mode.

To those in states such as Kentucky, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and others, thank you for helping get the word out about the survey to adult basic skills programs in your state.

In early July I will post the results of the survey here in the LINCS Integrating Technology group, and I will present them in the following two COABE Virtual Conference presentations:

  • "How is the Adult Education Field Responding to COVID -19?"  1:30 - 2:30 PM EDT, July 1st, Falkland
  • "Digital Inclusion: Essential Steps to Empowerment" 4:30 - 5:30 PM EDT, July 7th , Salon II 

David J. Rosen

Hello Vincent,

You asked, "Can you disaggregate the survey data based on how the survey was completed? Mobile device/cell phone or computer?" 

I wish I had thought of asking adult learner survey takers what device they were using in responding to the survey, but I did not, so I cannot provide this information. Nevertheless, I appreciate your question. I hope there may be other, more systematic surveys of adult learners about their experience during the pandemic of the quick and massive transition in adult basic skills education to online/remote learning from in-person learning. I hope these surveys might be conducted by the (Literacy Minnesota/Open Door Collective) Evidence-Based Adult Education Task Force (E-BAES), World Education's Ed Tech Center, ProLiteracy, COABE and/or by other national or state adult basic skills organizations or education research centers. If so, I hope the developers will consider adding your question to their survey.

I invite others to look at the simple, convenience sample survey I have designed for adult basic skills learners, and to suggest questions that were not asked that might be asked in future surveys. I also invite anyone who is aware of other current or planned adult basic skills learner surveys on the learner transition to online/remote/distance learning to let us know about them here.

My survey is open, through June 30th. As of now there have been over 950 respondents from over 40 states.


David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


Hello Integrating Technology Colleagues,

The survey of Adult Learners' Transition to Online Learning (during the COVID-19 pandemic, from March through June, 2020) ended on June 30th. You will find the slides describing the results here. If you have observations or questions about the survey, please post them here.

David J. Rosen