Given the ubiquity of technology in work and civic life, ABE programs must now work to develop learner proficiency with use of computers and the Internet. Directly teaching learners computer skills is only a start; for learners to be able to transfer skills and knowledge gleaned from computer skills lessons, they need to apply them in their academic learning activities. For many teachers the requirement to incorporate digital or online learning technologies into their teaching can be daunting. Fortunately there are online resources that can help.
Teachers and programs can enhance their current efforts by providing access to a range of different learning tools called Open Educational Resources. OERs are free online resources that can be used to support both digital literacy and academic skill attainment.
“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits sharing, accessing, repurposing -- including for commercial purposes -- and collaborating with others” (Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology, 2010, p. 56).
One of the most useful resources for finding OERs is a database called the OER Commons, which includes links to fully-developed lessons plans and discrete learning resources and activities, including a few online learning resources already popular in ABE programs, such as:
Teachers can also use the site to build their own OERs. The Commons’ Open Author tool provides a web-based editor that authors can use to combine text, pictures, audio, and video. Any content created in the Open Author site can be printed or downloaded as a PDF. They are also saved as openly licensed educational resources available to other educators.
OERs represent the best potential of the Internet because they connect us with shared expertise and resources that are desperately needed. Supported and learner-centered use of OERs that get students online can positively support their persistence and engagement because they afford opportunities for ABE students to become proficient with technology and the Internet – preparing them for situations where they can only use technology to access resources and solve problems in the future.
This blog post is adapted from a longer article that appears in the MinneTESOL Journal. Here’s the link to the full article.
Vanek, J. (2014). Open educational resources: New technologies and new ways of learning. MinneTESOL Journal, Fall. Retrieved from http://minnetesoljournal.org/fall-2014/open-educational-resources-new-technologies-and-new-ways-of-learning
Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. (2010). Washington DC. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010