Author Interview with Diana Satin: Project Care - Health Care Case Studies, Multimedia and Projects for English Language Learners

Welcome to today’s author interview, with Diana Satin.  


Many members already know Diana as part of the LINCS Community.  For those who do not, Diana has worked in adult education for over 20 years, teaching and developing curriculum, on a variety of different topics.  She is a previous Massachusetts Adult Basic Education Teacher of the Year, and has written and spoken widely on the field, across the U.S.  

In 2007, Diana and Steve Quann co-authored Project Care, which is a health care curriculum for high-intermediate to advanced English language learners who want to learn about caring for others while improving their communication with medical personnel.  The curriculum includes four health-related topics, including: alcoholism and alcohol abuse; depression; Alzheimer’s disease; and death and dying.  Each of these resources is available in the LINCS Resource Collection. Each supports the teaching of specific content that can be implemented by Adult ESL educators, and possibly others.

The curriculum’s website provides audio and video for listening practice, vocabulary development, project ideas and links to related-health information. The site is accompanied by a textbook, published by the University of Michigan Press.   

I invited Diana to join us here today to talk more about Project Care, the process that she and Quann used to develop their experience in the classroom into a curriculum, and how she sees it being used in different adult education settings.  I hope that you will join us in the conversation, by reviewing the curriculum, if you’re not familiar with it, asking questions, or sharing your experiences around the topic.

To begin, I’ll ask Diana two questions:

 1.  You’ve had a long career in adult education, starting in the classroom, and now working in professional development.  How did your work with Project Care come about?  What were the experiences that lead you to want to work on this project?  

2. Project Care is aimed at high-intermediate to advanced English language learners.  Do you see it also being useful to native English speakers who’re preparing for careers in allied healthcare roles, or even more generally for health literacy programs at the ABE level?



First of all, thanks very much for inviting me! I look forward to exchanging ideas with you and our colleagues joining us.   The idea came from thinking about what content area had a need for ESOL materials. We thought that many people run up against these four health issues, either with family members or as professional caregivers.    Steve and I for a long time have had a special interest in finding creative ways to help students build their technology skills. As many others in the field, we've wanted to help students have access to the wide world of digital information, and to be prepared for opportunities like study, jobs, and everyday communications.    We also have been fans of project-based learning because research says it's an effective way to integrate many skills, including language, content, and 21st century skills such as teamwork and research - and it's fun! Students enjoy creating a product, such as a poster or slideshow, and they are proud to share it to help others. It's one way students can use their voices.   We mixed all that together in a bowl and came up with this, and we're grateful for the support World Education and the University of Michigan Press gave.    As far as the other audiences you asked about, I'd agree that it could be useful for them because the content, vocabulary, and skills are valuable.
I’m glad you bring up Project-Based Learning (PBL) as an effective way to integrate language, content, and 21st century skills. Project Care seems like it addresses each of these in creative, and practice-oriented ways, thanks in large part due to the integration of the technology.  This leads me to my next two questions:   3.  Can you tell us about the process you and Steve Quann used to collaborate on the planning, and writing of the resources?  What were some of the challenges you faced, and how did you manage them successfully?   4. You make use of written case studies, vocabulary building, video, and listening exercises in each of the four health-related topics.  Can you tell us why you chose to include each of these curricular elements in the project design?  The project was released in 2007, and technology has changed a lot in the past decade.  What, if any, new learning technologies might you try incorporating into this type of project if you were developing it today?
The process: Just to put it out there: Steve is my husband as well as colleague. This made setting up meetings pretty convenient. We talked together and drafted plans for the book and companion website. We wanted to leverage the power of multimedia and choice of topics and projects for their value for UDL (universal design for learning). We divided and conquered the first swipe at the various pieces and parts, and then gave each other feedback. Over many iterations. Steve did the hard-core tech of creating the website. I did the medium-core tech of the documents. We recruited World Ed colleagues who kindly agreed to do the voice recordings. And we are very fortunate to have as friends experts in fields related to the health issues. They gave input on the written case studies, and were the stars in the videos discussing those situations.    A challenge was that we had to learn to produce acceptable-quality videos using a low-budget studio, i.e., our house. We learned about how to choose microphones, creative ways to muffle echoing sounds (involving blankets and nails), and how to get the right lighting.    Why we included those curricular elements was to build academic skills - reading, vocabulary, presenting - while focusing on skills ESOL students need especially, such as listening for information and speaking.    What experiences do others have to share?   New learning tech that comes to mind, some of which is not so new but still very good: 
  • Quizlet for vocabulary
  • Google docs sheets slides for group production, sharing with teacher for corrections, and publication for class and the larger world
  • Google Forms for project evaluations
  • Recording presentations using cell phone and using to evaluate student progress, for example by comparing to earlier/later presentations during course
  • Kaizena tool with Google for feedback in multimedia, including video, audio, links to lesson website.
I'd be very interested to hear about tools others suggest!
A true marriage of the minds! It sounds like you and Steve were able to bring your different strengths and skills to bear on this project. I really like your suggestions for using Quizlet, and the Google suite of tools, if you were developing the curriculum today.  I hadn’t heard of Kaizena before, but I will check it out now.   For our last set of questions, I want to continue with the idea of a ‘living curriculum’, or one that is updated, or added to with time.  Finally, I want to get your advice for members who may be thinking about writing and publishing curricula.     5. Project Care focuses on the four health issues you’ve mentioned:  Depression, Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Alzeheimer’s Disease, and Death and Dying. If you were to add additional topics that you think adult health literacy needs to address for today’s learners, what would they be?   6.  Project Care is partly an OER resource, and freely available in the LINCS Resource Collection, and also has an associated workbook, that can be purchased through University of Michigan Press.  Can you talk more about the decision to provide these materials, as both an OER, and for sale through a university press?   7. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other adult educators in the classroom, who see a need for a curriculum to meet learners where they are, but don’t see it available anywhere?

An issue I might add to the other mental/cognitive health issues in Project Care would be stress. As far as other types of health issues, I'd choose from the top 10 list, including physical health and nutrition, overweight and obesity, other substances people abuse, heart disease, diabetes, and access to health care.

I'd love to know the issues others would select. 

The reason for having the workbook is because we thought that providing it makes it easier for classes to have most materials in one place, and offline. Sales are also a way to support World Education's work in adult literacy. Our overarching goal was to make the resources available to anyone, despite their budgetary limitations, so the OER makes the heart of the materials available to anyone.   I'm glad you're asking the question to encourage others to fill gaps! After doing your research to see what's out there, decide on your audience, and whether you can reach them by self-publishing - for example, on a website or app - or if it's better to approach a publisher. Either is a lot of work. Each of our two books took about a year. Don't quit your day job :-) Do it because you have a passion. And time and energy. Implement research-based best practices, and also standards, especially if you're going for an audience outside your program.   Do others have suggestions to share?    Thank you, Mike, for allowing me to share on Project Care. I hope others find the materials useful. 

Yes, these other health topics would make great additions to what you’ve already done.  I wonder, too, what others would add to the list?  The workbook option is also great because, like you say, it allows those without easy technology access to still be able to benefit from the information. Knowing that the sales of the workbook go to support the work of World Ed also makes it an easy purchase for those with the budget, and a commitment to the adult education field.

Members, what is your level of commitment?  Share your thoughts and reactions to Project Care.  Diana asked several questions that we’d love to hear your answers to: 

What technologies would you suggest for using in curuculum development for ESOL health literacy?

What other health-related topics would you add to the four areas covered in Project Care?

Have you undertaken a curriculum development project? What lessons did you learn, and what advice would you give to others?

Diana, thank you for joining me today to talk about your work in developing Project Care. I enjoyed getting to hear about the process you and Steve used to develop this innovative, and important resource for the field.  Members can still ask questions here, and Diana will answer them in the coming days.  We hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation as much as we’ve enjoyed chatting.

In worker basic education and career pathway projects in NJ and NYC a decade ago, we took what might be called a "whole worker" approach which assumed that workers, to attain, succeed in, and progress in meaningful employment need to not only be able to carry out technical tasks at the workplace but manage the range of human needs (e.g., safety, health, transportation, housing, child- and elder-care, legal) that all adults must deal with.  In job-readiness activities, we included "managing your health" as a theme and dealt with examples of common personal health strategies (e.g., good diet, exercise, stress-management, limiting exposure to toxins, etc.) as well as more job-specific health challenges faced by workers in particular jobs (e.g., for learners exploring jobs as truck drivers, our curriculum discussed the significant health challenges truckers face, including repetitive stress syndrome and bad ergonomics, poor diet, substance abuse, lack of sleep, driving-related stress . .  ).  As discussed earlier in this thread, we also used project-based learning and technology in various ways to engage learners in identifying problems (e.g., via brainstorming, reading, interviewing subject-matter experts, reflecting on personal experience), collecting relevant information (via watching videos on YouTube or reading materials on federal health and job information web sites), and making individual or group presentations of their findings and recommendations (using PowerPoint).  In a program for immigrants who wanted to become home health aides, we identified health-related terminology they might encounter and, as appropriate, went deeper to help the participants not just say the words but understand the health conditions and strategies for preventing or dealing with them. (This had the added benefit of helping the participants better understand healthcare issues that might impact themselves and their families.)  In the graduation ceremony for the eldercare workers, the graduates came professionally dressed and full of confidence and made mini-presentations -- in English -- about the many things they'd learned in the course -- to the applause of family members and other guests in the audience.               Paul Jurmo                                                                       

Thanks for sharing this example of another health literacy/allied health program with us.  I wonder if you know whether it is still in operation?  If so, I wonder how it may have changed to adapt to new technologies, health-related topics, and changes in the employment market?  These programs are incredibly in-demand, and it’s important that we continue to support updates to them, in order to ensure the success of their graduates, in both their personal and professional lives.

Mike Cruse  

Career Pathways Moderator


Hello, Michael and Diana,  Unfortunately, as so often happens in our field, the funding for these programs was short-lived (i.e., depending on one-time grants that really only allowed us to develop resources, pilot them, and then hope we could get more).  This means that it is very difficult for those doing this work to continue developing and disseminating good resources and serving more people (both new ones and the ones we already started serving) with them.  In this case, the good news is that some of those resources are still stored away in my computer and, in some cases, in the Writings section of  If someone can tell me how to make some of those resources available to this discussion group, I will try to do so. (In the olden days, LINCS had a Workforce Resources Collection which was curated by a panel of subject matter experts who periodically refreshed it with useful reports, curricula, etc. developed in the field.  I've been out of the country for the past five years so am not up on whether and where such resources are being housed nowadays!).  By the way, the international development field -- including USAID -- appears to have increasing interest in integrating basic education -- for children, youth, and adults -- into workforce, economic, and other development efforts.  I think that international development field has much to learn from the work-related basic education efforts that have gone on in the U.S. over the past several decades -- and vice versa.    (Too much silo-ization and re-inventing the wheel going on!)                                                                                                         Paul Jurmo

Hi Paul,

Thanks very much for sharing these resources. My recommendation to others is to save yourself time recreating the wheel and check them out. For example, "Eldercare Careers Project at Union County College" gives a pretty detailed overview, including lessons learned.  

I'll leave it to Mike as to the best way is to make them available. 

For another, more-detailed example, go to page 157 in the "TLD Ready" document (under "Career Pathway Curricula for the TLD Industry").  It presents activities that can be used to help job seekers understand specific health-related issues they might face as truck drivers.  In the accompanying "TLD Career Planning" document, learners are encouraged to consider health-related issues they might need to deal with in various TLD (transportation/logistics/distribution) jobs, as part of a larger process of making informed decisions about whether and how to pursue particular jobs.   These TLD curricula were written in a way that they could be adapted to many types of jobs and industries. Though not explicitly presented as "basic skills" curricula, they provide lots of practice in various kinds of job-related basic skills (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, listening, research [on-line and otherwise], teamwork, critical thinking . . .)  We adapted similar activities for a range of learner populations, industries, and jobs.                                    Paul Jurmo                                                                     

Hi, Paul -

Sorry for the delay in responding to you.  I’ve reached out to the LINCS administration team to find out more about how we can proceed with sharing these resources.  Would you please e-mail me so that we can talk more specifically about the resources you’re considering?


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator