Tips to Teach Adult Learners Basic Technology Skills: webinar followed by Discussion

Integrating Technology Colleagues,

Michael Matos's 90-minute webinar today (Monday, 1/14/2019) had over two hundred participants. There were more questions and comments than could be addressed.  Whether you attended or not, you are welcome to join us tomorrow through Friday in a discussion with Michael. If you would like a copy of the slides Michael presented email Steve Coleman at

You are welcome to post questions to Michael at any time, beginning now, through Friday.  Michael organized the webinar with these  topics:

  • Why Teach Adult Learners Basic Tech Skills (Digital Literacy)?
  • Digital Literacy Standards
  • Integrating Technology in WIOA
  • Digital Literacy/Technology: Teaching/Learning
  • Websites & More: Typing, Mousing, & Other    Computing Skills Practice & Resources

We'll begin the discussion with the first topic, and quickly move to the others.

Here's a little about Michael:

Michael Matos is the Senior Director of Adult Education, Employment and Training Programs for Albany Park Community Center in Chicago. He manages the adult education and ESL program. He presents at national, state, and regional conferences on topics related to adult literacy, technology integration, and standards aligned instruction. Michael is a Certified ABE/ASE Adult Education Standards Specialist in Mathematics. He was a Computer Technology Center Director and Instructor from 2008-2012, and he was a colleague of mine in the 2018 Illinois Digital Learning Lab project.

Please join in and post your questions beginning on Tuesday, January 15 - and continuing through Friday, January 18.


David  J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group



Integrating Technology Colleagues,

Today is the first of four days of discussion with Michael Matos about teaching basic technology skills.

Whether you attended his webinar yesterday or not, you are welcome to join us today through Friday in a discussion with Michael. If you would like a copy of the slides Michael presented, email Steve Coleman at Please post your questions for Michael, your own experience about what works in teaching basic (or more advanced) technology skills, tools that you you like that Michael might or might not have mentioned in the webinar, and other ideas that would help your colleagues to integrate technology skills as they teach English to immigrants, reading, numeracy or math, science or social sciences, high school equivalency exam prep, or other basic skills content areas.

To get the ball rolling, Michael, here are two of my own questions for you:

1. You asked Why Teach Adult Learners Basic Tech Skills (Digital Literacy)? This is a great question and, in the webinar yesterday, a participant summed it up by saying that now, in our country and culture, "it is mandatory".  Everyone needs technology to apply for jobs, complete government forms, find information of all sorts, communicate with friends, family and co-workers, and more. Michael, I would like you -- and others here -- to get into the specifics:

Are you seeing some new, or additional, areas of digital literacy that are, or will be, important to adult learners, for example:

a.     Maintaining one's privacy online, 

b.     Regularly using a smartphone or computer to access and use online learning websites, videos or learning apps, 

c.     Remotely providing data to one’s health care team, for example during an illness or because of a health condition, through apps and hardware that monitor one’s vital signs or other relevant health data,

d.     Developing and applying skills -- including non-cognitive skills such as resilience, patience and persistence -- to solve problems that the technology creates for us, for example: while learning how to use a digital tool; solving problems with the technology when things go wrong; keeping up with new tools; replacing tools that are no longer available, etc.

e.  Others?

2. You talked in the webinar about how, with our changing economy and society, ABE evolves with one common theme: Digital Literacy, including:

a.     An emphasis on preparing for transition to employment or higher education

b.     Collaboration with an array of institutions and organizations, and

c.      Involvement with public policy.          

Can you give us some examples of  b. and c. ? 


David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group



I reviewed some of the comments from the webinar Michael Matos did. He asked "Why Teach Adult Learners Basic Tech Skills (Digital Literacy)?"

Here are some answers from participants. Students should be able to:

  • Use a mouse, trackball or trackpad
  • Use a browser and search tools
  • Protect themselves online
  • Access their schedules and administrative information
  • Write an online resume
  • Search online for jobs
  • Apply online for jobs
  • Fill out online forms
  • Do basic word processing
  • Email
  • Use Microsoft Office tools
  • Get an IC3 – Internet and Computing Core certification
  • Get Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification
  • Benefit from online training required for their jobs
  • Store and retrieve files
  • Be proficient in reading, writing and participating on the web (web literacy)
  • Access online entertainment
  • Type at a reasonable speed (for example to take HSE tests online)
  • Communicate using various web tools
  • Do academic research (for post-secondary education)
  • Prepare for college
  • Create and use presentations

Do you have additions to this list?

David J. Rosen, Modertor

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


You may have noticed that a participant in the Tips to Teach Adult Learners Basic Technology Skills webinar suggested that learners need to be able to type at a reasonable speed (I added, "for example, to take HSE tests online"). Another participant asked, "My students know basic computer skills, such as mousing, plugging headphone, turning on/off, clicking the programs to open/close/shut down, but most of them struggle to type, or format the documents. Are we supposed to teach those skills?"

This question is not only for Michael Matos, but for anyone in this discussion. How would you answer this?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

Thanks to Michael, Steve and David for a wonderful webinar yesterday. My institution is currently offering the Microsoft Office Specialist certification to our advanced ELLs. Some issues we run into are (1)  students weren't familiar with the computer. The solution was that we offered a precursor class to introduce the hardware of the PC. (2) Keyboarding/'mousing' was another big issue, again we incorporate keyboarding and the use of the mouse before we got into the certification portion of the class.

The webinar was excellent for me because I can use almost all of what was presented to make the class more productive and engaging. I will also use some of the slides to create a more meaningful lesson plans.

Job well done!

Thanks again.


Lorna, for students who are really challenged by "mousing," Excel can really provide great practice. An Excel sheet can have images and words that can be dragged together, provide right-click information, and much more. The app is offline and students can play to their hearts' content, moving things, inserting things, resizing things, and more. Leecy

Hi Leecy, thanks for your comment. Our students are very new to the MS Suite so we are gradually easing them into it. Our management team felt that MOS is the one most demanded by employers and most widely used as the first in the group. I will search for the app and use it our next session. Thanks a million.

Worth trying, Lorna! Are you familiar with They have fabulous pricing for non-profits from Microsoft, Adobe, and a number of other companies that support the site. It takes a bit of time to get approved, but then the deals are great. An Adult Ed program in this area is in the process of upgrading their Office apps at $25/ea for the whole MS Office suite. Best wishes! Leecy

Internet safety is just as important for adults as it is for children and teens. From privacy concerns to identity theft and cyber-stalking, there are plenty of hazards on the web. A few areas that I cover with my students at all levels are: Consider what you share in profiles; think about photos before sharing; check a company's privacy policy before buying; watch out for phishing, cookies, spam; choose a great password; don't reuse passwords; keep passwords in a safe spot; think before opening email attachments; consider the legitimacy of free programs, songs, games; keep your virus software up to date. One of the sites that I use for activities and to teach some of this technology skills is GCF Learn Free: Online Safety - and Email Basics -  I have also used: Digital Learn: Cyber Security Basics -    and others.

Thanks Michael, Below are two more questions for you. Everyone, only two + days left to ask questions of Michael. Please ask them now! 3. Could you give us some examples of “New technology demands in the workplace” and how to help students meet these demands? 4. The new model you referred to, from supported use of technology to independent use, seems to me to be very important. Is there a curriculum for adult learners for scaffolding digital literacy skills so that at the end of the course, or curriculum, the scaffolding is no longer needed, and the learners have digital literacy skills that they can transfer with confidence and comfort to new contexts, problems, and environments? David J. Rosen, Moderator LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group
Adult learners regularly using a smartphone or computer to access and use online learning websites, videos or learning apps. How can we help as instructors to make this a reality? I read an article online from blog at The title is "The 90 Hottest EdTech Tools According to Education Experts (Updated For 2018)." I have looked into some of the suggestions and most have a cost but some are free, but all very interesting and might have benefits in the right classroom. Here are my favorites: 1) Nearpod (Create, Engage and Assess Through Mobile Devices) - 2) Kahoot! (a game-based learning platform) 3) Buncee ( create, present and share engaging multimedia lessons) 4) ThinkLink (annotate and teach with images and videos in real-time, it also supports 360 degree video and VR/AR content) 5) Wakelet (allows you to quickly organise and share handpicked content with your students, set digital assignments, and create stunning portfolios) 6) Times Table Rockstars (online learning platform, engaging primary and secondary school students in daily times tables practice) 7) Explain Everything (easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard app with real-time collaboration that lets you animate, record, annotate, collaborate, and explore ideas, knowledge and understanding) 8) Quizizz (Free self-paced quizzes to review, assess, and engage—in class and at home.) 9) Padlet (Collaborate better and be more productive. Make beautiful boards, documents, and webpages that are easy to read and fun to contribute to.) 10) Touchcast (Tools to create and stream video that are simple to use.) 11) Puzzlets (Each game focuses on a traditionally “tough” STEAM subject, such as: coding, math, and colour theory.) 12) EDPuzzle (allows teachers to easily customize a video by adding questions and audio throughout the video to have more engaging video-lessons) 13) CommonLit (The best reading passages and tools for the best price: FREE.-create a free account to gain access to a host of standards-aligned, levelled, digital library of short texts including news articles, poems, historical documents and more) 14) Quizalize (100,0000 quizzes to choose from and you can quickly create your own) 15) Desmos (Graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and much more – for free!) Keeping engaging your students with a variety of technological interactive ideas.

“New technology demands in the workplace” and how to help students meet these demands? Our students use digital voice assistants, mostly on their smartphones, but now it needs to be practiced in the workplace. Students need to become aware of the adoption of video teleconferencing and shared whiteboarding in the workplace and how to use and navigate these technologies. Also students have to grasp the idea of big data analytics and how pervasive it is in the workplace..Some websites that could help: 1) CodeAcademyLearn to code for free in HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby, and more. 2) LyndaAcquired by LinkedIn in 2015, Lynda features over 6,000 classes in digital marketing, graphic design, IT security, and much more. 3) UdacityEarn a nano-degree in web development, building mobile apps, or data science, and take advantage of their free online courses to advance your career.



Today I have three questions for you about Digital Literacy Standards.

1.  You said “Basic computer digital literacy standards are guides to developing interactive subject based learning through technology.” Can you explain what “interactive subject based learning” means, and give some examples?

2.  You have given us a link to the Illinois Community College Board adult ed Technology Skills Checklist for Students. I hadn’t seen that before, but it looks comprehensive and includes basic, intermediate, and advanced skills levels. Can you tell us when and how this checklist was developed?  Can you also give the link again in your reply here?

3.  How does the Illinois Community College Board adult ed Technology Skills Checklist for Students compare with International Society for Technology Education  (ISTE) standards? Were the ISTE standards reviewed in preparing the ICCB standards?

Everyone: tomorrow, Friday January 18th, is the last day to post questions in this Integrating technology discussion with Michael Matos.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


Many have asked about a curriculum and how do I start to have students gain their digital literacy independence? I have developed a wiki to help students access everything that is needed in a tech integrated educational delivery curriculum. Explore it at:   These are easy to design and there are tips for completing all over the internet.

Interactive instruction enhances the learning process. Student motivation: Two-way teaching dispels student passivity. Whereas students often lose interest during lecture-style teaching, interactive teaching styles promote an atmosphere of attention and participation. Make it interesting. Make it exciting. Make it fun. As you well know, “telling is not teaching and listening is not learning.” The best way to deliver this interaction is through technology interaction. Think of online interaction such as chat, forums and email. knowledge and practice of basic and intermediate computing skills leads to student subject practice using technology. Lets navigate through learning websites to study English, Math, Social Studies, Writing, and more. Interaction with the website or software with no hesitation or worry. Here are some of my favorite sites by subject: 


Science/Social Studies


• GED Math Classes Online - GED Study Guide 2015: FREE Practice Tests & Video Courses:    • Engage NY Math Studio Talk: Common Core Instruction for 4.NF  

• USGS-The Active Earth - Index to All Our Geoscience Web Pages:

• The periodic table we use today - click on the elements to learn about them.

• BioInteractive – animations, videos, and more.


• Reading Passages and Questions: • Awesome Stories

Videos and stories highlighting famous, unique, and interesting individuals. A pictorial history which includes science and social study subjects.


• Shodor is transforming learning through computational thinking:

• Mental mathematics is a component of the Common Core Mathematical Practices and XP Math Games makes it easy to support it. XP Math allows teachers to differentiate instruction by process and content by providing tools to collect and analyze student data at every stage of their learning.

• Social Studies - The Jamestown Online Adventure: • The new Library of Congress Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Interactive tools let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis. Full teaching resources are available for each set.

• Unique writing prompts that engage students • Azar Grammar and more…

•Read Write Think - Lessons, interactives, calendar activities, and more, right at your fingertips.

Illinois Community College Board adult ed Technology Skills Checklist for Students that I mentioned is widely used and I'm not sure if in its completed form was written by ICCB. There are a number of websites for different state standards where you can find this list. Here is one from Illinois State ICSPS also here is one from Florida:  I do know that the technology skills checklist first appeared in Illinois at least in the State Standards revisions. This is a link to the ESL Standards and they can be found on page 123.  page 123. Here is the ICCB list I used in the presentation:

I'm not sure if the checklist that I had as an example was created with the ISTE Standards in mind, but after compiling some more research, I have noticed that many other Tech Standards Checklists did use ISTE for direction.

Here is another checklist by Intel that includes a list for instructors:

Digital literacy, as defined by Martin (2008), is the ability to use digital tools to find, sort, analyze, and synthesize information and resources, to effectively communicate with others, and to construct new knowledge, in the context of specific life situations that facilitate reflection and social action. 

ABE evolves with one common theme: Digital Literacy, including:

  1. An emphasis on preparing for transition to employment or higher education

A Standards-Based Approach to Curriculum and Instruction Calls for Digital Literacy

Extend ongoing and self-directed learning through a wealth of distance learning, online and other interactive multimedia that may accommodate a range of learning styles

Prepare for success in post-secondary education, training, and to compete for careers with a family-sustaining wage.

The College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education  For example, Writing Anchor 6 states:  Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. Reading Anchor 7 states:  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.  In addition, Speaking and Listening Anchor 5 states:  Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

  1. Collaboration with an array of institutions and organizations,

Experiment with easy-to-use websites or electronic tablet or smartphone apps. Ask students to view online instructional videos. Ask students to bring cell phones (with a text messaging feature) to class to use free or inexpensive online polling software for immediate feedback. Make their own “online presence” of assignments, instruction, practice, assessment and other learning resources that aligns well with what they do in class and with their program or school curriculum or state content standards.

Free platforms for threaded discussions include:


Google Groups:


Yahoo Groups:  

Muut (Moot):  

Instant Messaging (one-on-one, real-time chatting or texting): IM+ Instant Messenger, free smartphone app in the Apple App store WhatsApp (smart phone app), This app allows you to use your smart phone to create a group with your students’ cell phone numbers and send a group text message, voice message, photo, or video. WhatsApp is supported on most Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, and Windows smartphones. Broadcast text or voice messaging: Remind,, (also see a short Tech Tip for Teachers blog article about how adult education teachers use Remind at http://techtipsforteachers.weebly. com/blog/a-reminder-about-remind-101). Google Voice, (also, see an article on how to send students free text messages using Google Voice at

c.      Involvement with public policy.   

Digital Literacy allows for skills to actively participate in civic society and contribute to an engaged community.       

Hi, Michael and All. When it comes to reading, writing, and numeracy skills, "literacy" used to be defined as the ability to function in a given community or environment. Now, that definition has evolved to include more sophisticated levels of performance. I like to define an adult's ability to function in society as "basic literacy." 

I suspect that the same would be true of digital literacy, where basic digital literacy would describe an adult's ability to function to meet basic needs (emailing, writing letters, resumes, and finding basic information on the Web on topics of interest, and so forth.) It would be nice to give our adults, including teachers, I'm afraid, a Basic Digital Literacy Certificate once they meet those functional skills. Later, they can advance to higher levels of sophistication as you mentioned. Of course, what's in a name, right? Just some thoughts. Comments? Leecy

Hello Michael,

Thanks for the thoughtful and helpful answers you have given to our questions. Although today is the last day to pose questions, I do have a few. If you are able to answer them in the next few days, that would be much appreciated!

Integrating Technology in WIOA

1. In your Integrating Technology in WIOA Slide, you provide a link to a document that describes new language in WIOA that includes Digital Literacy. On that page is this sentence, “WIOA requires states to provide technical assistance to providers on the use of technology to improve system efficiencies; and, allows states to use funds for “the development and implementation of technology applications, translation technologies, and distance education, including professional development to support the use of instructional technology.”  Can you give us some examples of how Illinois has used its WIOA funds to support the use of technology?

Digital Literacy/Technology: Teaching/Learning

1.     In your Computer Skills Levels slide, you have written, “These skills should not be taught in isolation but should be applied when meeting learning outcomes in the content areas.” Do you have any advice, or can you point us to documents that would help teachers to incorporate technology in the content areas rather than teach technology skills in isolation?


1.  Could you pick two or three of the resources you showed us and describe how you use these in classes at the Albany Park learning center?

Professional Development

1. You have suggested several resources for professional development. Can you suggest some ways for program administrators and teachers to use these resources effectively?

2. You asked, “How do we integrate the digital literacy skills learned into subject matter (ESL, ABE/ASE) practice?” Can we hear more of your thoughts on how to do this?

What’s Next?

1.  Can you say more about good practices that teachers can use to help students to “become independent learners and self reliant with related life-skills” including of course becoming independent and self-reliant in using technology?


Those are all my questions. Thanks again foir your terrific contributions to this discussion, Michael!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


Question: Can you give us some examples of how Illinois has used its WIOA funds to support the use of technology?

With the following types of initiatives and funding programs have been able to incorporate and integrate technology. Technology or digital literacy for its own is not being funded directly but the need as a whole to address a collective Impact in Adult Learning development opportunities, and other initiatives to support the infusion of digital strategies into adult education and workforce initiatives.

Funded to provide adult educators with technology training and technology integration skills. According to WIOA: “Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) The ICCB has the responsibility of overseeing WIOA Title II activities under the Adult Education and Literacy Act. Services include, but are not limited to, assessment, basic skills instruction, English language acquisition instruction, high school equivalency instruction, career awareness, workforce preparation, online instruction, bridge programs, and accelerated education and training programs.”

“The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) is the most important piece of legislation affecting career and technical education (CTE) in Illinois. Perkins IV focuses state and local efforts on the continuous improvement of programs that facilitate the academic achievement of CTE students. This is accomplished by strengthening the connections between secondary and post-secondary education, by restructuring the way stakeholders, high schools, community colleges, universities, business and parents work together and by increasing state and local accountability standards. The intent of Illinois’ post-secondary CTE is to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the global economy. Career and technical education equips students with foundational knowledge regarding a cluster of occupations and careers. As a student evolves through their educational experience, their focus is narrowed to a particular program. This process allows students to transition seamlessly while providing them with hands-on exploration, rigorous academics and the support necessary to succeed.”

“Integrated Education and Training (IET) The ICCB Adult Education program has developed an IET initiative to provide adult education students with the opportunity to earn industry recognized credentials, college certificates and college credit while studying to obtain the high school equivalency certificate or learn the English language. Through the IET program in Illinois, Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System (ICAPS), many students will be connected to Title I to ensure they have the services necessary to gain access to resources for training and employment opportunities upon completion. Additionally, ICCB created ICAPS Model Two — a non-credit model that includes all of the elements in ICAPS Model One but does not carry a post-secondary certificate. However, it does require a strong connection with a post-secondary institution and also requires the preparation of students to earn industry-recognized credentials.”

Question: You have suggested several resources for professional development. Can you suggest some ways for program administrators and teachers to use these resources effectively?

Teachers’ professional development is fundamental for good technology integration. Teachers need to be always updated. Surveys show that teachers are more likely to use technology on a regular basis with their adult learners if they have the skills and confidence to do so. Teachers need to plan technology integration with specific aims. They should collaborate with each other to share good lessons examples. Technology shouldn't be used because it is just available. The content should be presented using the appropriate technology to enhance the quality and efficiency. Effective professional development related to technology integration: (1) focuses on content (e.g., technology knowledge and skills, technology-supported pedagogy knowledge and skills, and technology-related classroom management knowledge and skills), (2) gives teachers opportunities for ‘‘hands-on’’ work and (3) is highly consistent with teachers’ needs. Effective professional development also focuses on technology-related classroom management knowledge and skills. Some of these rules include the following: (a) no unauthorized installation of programs and (b) no unauthorized change to the features of the computer control panel or desktop.

OTAN provides online resources that include technology-infused lesson plans and offers a hosted site where teachers can create their own online courses.

Some suggestions for mostly free Professional Development Related to Technology Integration and Blended Learning:

  • The Adult Learning Resource Center (ALRC)

Take the DL Challenge4 Online Courses / 3 Professional Development Hours Each

  • Google Forms
  • Email
  • Google Slides
  • Searching the Internet

Using Technology to Support Instruction 6 Professional Development Hours

Creating a Web Page for Instructional Use 3 Professional Development Hours

  • LINCS - Integrating Technology in the Adult Education Classroom

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Question: Could you pick two or three of the resources you showed us and describe how you use these in classes at the Albany Park learning center?

Resources used at APCC, sorry there are more than 3.

Assessment for pre- and post-test for all students:

NORTHSTAR Digital Literacy

ESL Students: Low Beginning to Intermediate completes Beginning Computer pre- and post-test

ESL Students: High Intermediate to Advance completes Beginning Computer, Beginning Email, and Beginning Internet pre- and post-test

ABE/ASE Students: completes Beginning Computer, Beginning Email, Beginning Internet, and Microsoft Word pre- and post-test

**adjustments are made as needed (per student needs)

With results in mind we plan a syllabus to incorporate some direct practice with computer literacy skills and subject based computer interactions that reinforce computing practice. Here are some direct practice with computer literacy skills websites:

Mousing Jigsaw Puzzle Games

New User Tutorial - Mousing in Spanish

Palm Beach County Library System Mousing Tutorial


Keyboarding Lessons and Ideas--by Tonya Skinner

Basic, Intermediate, Advanced skills for all:

Saint Paul Public Library

Some subject based programs:

ESL, ABE or ASE Software/Wesites

Question: Do you have any advice, or can you point us to documents that would help teachers to incorporate technology in the content areas rather than teach technology skills in isolation?

Info from the

ERIC Identifier: ED465377 
Publication Date: 2002-09-00 
Author: Eisenberg, Michael B. - Johnson, Doug 
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology Syracuse NY. 

A meaningful, unified information technology literacy curriculum must be more than a "laundry list" of isolated skills, such as knowing the parts of the computer, writing drafts and final products with a word processor, and searching for information using the World Wide Web.

While these specific skills are important for students to learn, the "laundry list" approach does not provide an adequate model for students to transfer and apply skills from situation to situation. These curricula address the "how" of computer use, but rarely the "when" or "why." Students may learn isolated skills and tools, but they would still lack an understanding of how those various skills fit together to solve problems and complete tasks. Students need to be able to use computers and other technologies flexibly, creatively and purposefully. All learners should be able to recognize what they need to accomplish, determine whether a computer will help them to do so, and then be able to use the computer as part of the process of accomplishing their task. Individual computer skills take on a new meaning when they are integrated within this type of information problem-solving process, and students develop true "information technology literacy" because they have genuinely applied various information technology skills as part of the learning process.

At APCC I have hired a Technology Integration Coach which helps my instructors do what was just suggested into the curriculum and syllabus. I have also developed a number of activities from templates that offer the step by step needs to work through subject matter info while using a number of computing skills.