Join us at http://edtech.worlded.org/blog!
After four years comfortably located on Weebly.com, Tech Tips for Teachers has moved over to the EdTech Center Website where we plan to continue to grow with more of the hands-on ideas for integrating technology into adult education that you’re accustomed to, updates from the field, and best practices. Past posts will continue to be available here. If you are a current subscriber to the blog, you will continue to receive notices via our newsletter as now posts are added to the site.
Join us at http://edtech.worlded.org/blog!
Re-posted from LINCS.ed.gov:
From October 24-28, the LINCS Technology and Learning Group will host a panel discussion on teaching students practical skills to solve problems in technology-rich environments. The topic is relevant and timely: Of the domains assessed by the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills, Americans performed most poorly in Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (PSTRE). This discussion may be especially useful for teachers, tutors, program administrators, and other practitioners interested in assessing and teaching these skills.
The panel, hosted by Moderator David J. Rosen, includes experts specializing in researching and/or teaching these skills:
Registration is not required, and no resources are needed to join the panel discussion. Digital Inclusion and Digital Literacy in the United States: A Portrait from PIAAC’s Survey of Adult Skills, a research paper by Stephen Reder published by the American Institutes for Research, will be referenced, as will Jennifer Vanek’s new research on helping practitioners teach PSTRE skills, which will be published and available to share publicly this fall.
Questions and requests for more information can be directed to David J. Rosen: email@example.com
By Anna Rozzo
Previously on Tech Tips for Teachers, we explored some of the logistics of setting up YouTube channels and project ideas such as having students use them to create oral journals. Read on for four new ways to utilize student YouTube channels in your class.
One perennial issue in presentation courses is class management. Let’s say I have 16 students and an 85-minute class period. That’s roughly 5.5 minutes per student, which on paper should work, but if students go over their 5 minute allotment or answer audience questions or fumble with technology, inevitably we run out of time. Also, the students who are not presenting are bored or distracted, even if they are supposed to be giving feedback (more on feedback later).
At one point, I had about 30 students in an English as a Foreign Language/academic presentation class that met once a week. Thus, in-class individual student presentations were logistically impossible. I put students into small groups with the following group roles: presenter, time-keeper, recorder, evaluator. The presenters gave their presentations to the small group, the timekeepers timed the presentations with their phones, the recorders were responsible for recording the presentations with digital devices, and the evaluators filled out feedback forms for the presenters. They met outside of class and rotated roles. Then, they posted the videos of their presentations for me to view. In class, I checked the feedback forms to see if they were complete. Finally, I had students reflect on their performance and on the feedback that they received from peers.
With a webcam, a smart phone tripod, or a friend, students can record their presentations. Then, the students upload their presentations to their student YouTube channels where the instructor and/or fellow students can view them. Another advantage to students recording themselves is that they can observe their own timing, pacing, volume, delivery, eye contact, pronunciation etc. I find this to be helpful when assigning reflections.
If you decide to let the fellow students view individual student presentations, you can ask students to bring their tablets or laptops to class, take the students to a computer lab, or reserve a laptop cart. Then, students can view each other’s presentations on YouTube and comment on them. Students can make general comments, post questions or give constructive feedback. Constructive feedback with oral projects is analogous to peer editing in the writing process. Giving constructive feedback is particularly challenging for students from cultures that strive to save face or students from collectivist cultures. Therefore, structured practice is helpful.
Example: “Your topic is interesting; You need better eye contact; I understood you well.”
More advanced: “Praise, where you can improve, how you can improve.”
Example: “Very interesting topic! I think you need better eye contact. If you rehearse more, you won’t need to look at your notes as much.”
Once the students have begun posting and commenting on videos, it is an easy segway to teach lessons on responsible social media use and netiquette. Unfortunately, YouTube has a reputation as a platform for trolls and inflammatory language. However, as teachers we can, “promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.” (ISTE Standards - Teachers) Digital Citizenship Quebec has a number of resources including links, webinars, and videos. Common Sense Media also offers similar materials and while mainly geared towards K-12, most can be adapted or used in an ESL/ABE context.
Here are 3 ways a student YouTube channel can be used in conjunction with or in place of a class debate.
How have you utilized technology while teaching presentation skills, giving feedback, netiquette or debating?
image credits: (Noun Project) Icon Fair, Creative Stall, Gregor Cresnar, MRFA
By Leah Peterson
In honor of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, World Education staff have written blog posts about this year’s theme - income inequality - on our blog The Well. To contribute to this effort, today’s post is a little different from our usual Tips. Instead of focusing our attention on how to integrate technology into instruction, we offer a brief reminder of why we do it.
The digital divide is alive and well in the United States, but it isn’t the same divide it was twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. When the term was first used, in the 1990s, the focus was on increasing access to technology for all. As the cost and availability of computers, mobile devices, and internet access has improved, it has become apparent that mere access to technology does not close the gap. Digital literacy is equally important for individuals to be able to benefit from technology.
Technology continues to become more embedded in our daily lives and in the fabric of American culture. More choices are increasingly offered exclusively online in areas including civic involvement, education, healthcare, entertainment, and perhaps most of all – employment – making the repercussions of being on the wrong side of the digital divide more severe than ever before.
It is no surprise that the people most likely to be at a disadvantage due to lack of access or lack of digital literacy skills continue to be people with low income and low education, minorities, older adults, and individuals with disabilities (Pendell et al., 2013). There was a time when it was hoped that technology would be a great equalizer, but instead it has become another force that reflects and reinforces economic inequality (Warf, 2013). Lack of adequate access among the lowest income groups also contributes to what is now called the “homework gap” - the disruption to learning caused by the high percentage of assignments that are given that require technology to complete.
Even with reliable, high-speed access, digital literacy skills are needed to be able to take advantage of the technology, and with digital literacy comes the need for basic literacy. About one quarter of those who do not use technology struggle with low literacy (Warf, 2013). Literacy skills and technology use go hand in hand. A study by Smith & Smith (2010) demonstrated the correlation between computer use and literacy skills (including reading, numeracy, and using information) finding a substantial difference in skill levels between adults who used a computer and those who did not. A possible explanation is that computer use improves literacy, or it could be that those with low literacy skills are less interested or able to use computers due to lack of access or perceived lack of relevance. Either way, teaching one can help to improve the other.
Once reliable access and basic skills have been addressed, digital literacy skills are still needed to be able to get the most benefit from technology. A report published earlier this month looks at “digital readiness”, showing 52% of adults falling into the category of “relatively hesitant” as far as using technology for learning (Horrigan, 2016). Additionally, the PIAAC identified that only 31% of American adults show basic proficiency on “problem solving in technology-rich environments”, which is the “abilities to solve problems for personal, work and civic purposes by setting up appropriate goals, and accessing and making use of information through computers” (OECD, 2012).
It has traditionally been left to schools to work toward closing the digital divide, but to do so, schools are limited by their own funding issues that further disadvantage the poor (Warf, 2013). For adults who do not complete high school as well as new immigrants, there is a great need for digital literacy instruction. Adult education programs have increasingly been integrating technology into their curriculums, both as separate computing courses and woven into all subject areas. Learners are often highly motivated to improve their skills to create resumes or apply to jobs, to support their children’s education or for communicating with friends and family, among other reasons (Pendell et al., 2013). Often though, teachers do not have strong technology skills themselves, suffer from technology anxiety, or make negative assumptions about their students’ abilities to access and understand technology (McLanahan, 2014).
Images are from The Noun Project.
Why note-taking is important, for you as a teacher and for your students
Note-taking is a way to quickly and concisely record information; if done well, it is also an efficient method to learn and to store what you have learned in your long-term memory. Good note-taking will help learners at almost any level in adult basic skills classes, and will help them prepare for post-secondary education where it is often a key to student success. While research suggests that taking notes may help learners “encode” information, organizing and reviewing the notes -- especially a review that emphasizes critical thinking -- has been shown to produce “superior recall.” [i]
Teacher Learning Objectives
Here’s an opportunity for you as a teacher to learn how to:
Note-taking in the Flipped Classroom
If you are using, or plan to use a Flipped Classroom approach, here are some ways you could apply what you have learned in preparing your students to take video notes.
Video Note-Taking Tips
Preparing to use VideoNot.es:
You will need a free Google email (gmail) account and Google Drive tied to that account. To get these go to Google.com.
Go to http://www.videonot.es
2. Enter this Media Library of Teaching Skills web address in the window on the left that says “Enter the video URL” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Yfz63cU3ao The web address is for an edited six-minute video on teaching writing.
3. While waiting for the video to load in that window, add a title to the notes window on the right, for example “Writing to Learn”.
4. First watch the video without taking full notes. (You should hear sound beginning at 10 seconds into the video. Think about, and jot down on paper, some possible one- or two-word categories for your notes.
5. Watch the video again, this time taking notes in the right window. Near the top of the notes windows, below your title for your notes, is a thin grey window. Begin typing your notes there. At the end of each note hit return.
6. When you finish taking notes on the video, re-read and add to or edit them, and then write a short summary of the video’s key points or what you learned from watching it, for example how you would summarize it in 30 seconds to someone who had not watched the video.
7. If you like, compare your notes with those that I took on the same video (below).
Looking for more information on note-taking?
If this process has engaged you in thinking about note-taking, and you are looking for more, this article, https://theconversation.com/whats-the-best-most-effective-way-to-take-notes-41961 provides a good introduction for teachers to note-taking strategies. If you wonder if taking notes by hand, on paper, is more effective than using an app, there is some evidence that it is, but it is likely that the underlying reasons are that writing by hand eliminates computer distractions and slows down the note-taking process, enabling students to process more deeply what they are writing, which leads to better retention and understanding.
By Anna Rozzo
YouTube, like Google, has become part and parcel of daily internet use for many. Because YouTube is not simply a video hosting service, but rather a social network, it allows students and teachers to interact and collaborate in new ways in and outside of the classroom.
The good news is that if you have a Google account, you already have Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Google Play Music, Picassa, and all other Google apps and products. So, if your students have a Google account, they can make a YouTube Channel and then begin uploading videos without creating any new usernames and passwords.
Although you can use webcams and laptops with built-in cameras, it may be easiest to let students use their own smartphones. “Those with relatively low income and educational attainment levels, younger adults, and non-whites are especially likely to be “smartphone-dependent.” (Pew Research Center) Not only will many students depend on their smartphones for internet access, but it will also be simpler to take a video and upload the video using the same device.
As an instructor, you can use Screencast-o-Matic to create tutorials and then post them on YouTube. Here is my short playlist of tutorials.
Finally, privacy is an important factor to consider for projects using YouTube and when teaching digital citizenship. It might be a good idea for students to use pseudonyms as their usernames and come up with creative channel names. There are three YouTube Settings: Unlisted v Private v Public. I recommend the “private” setting for students and here’s how. That way students’ work remains private, but can still be shared with other students and the instructor.
Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments
Here are some suggestions for projects and activities that you may be able to implement for any level.
A Passion Project is essentially any task-based activity that is centered around the students’ interests. Students are more likely to remain engaged when class materials are applicable to their lives. A Student YouTube Channel can be a means to track progress for a semester-long project and/or serve as a cumulative task in the form of a final presentation video. In a semester-long project, instructors often assign weekly tasks. For example, if a student is researching his/her dream job, Week 1 could be to find out how much education one needs to attain said dream job. Then, the student can make a video to report his/her findings. It can be as simple as finding out the answer to one question each week and then posting the answer in a video. For an advanced class, students can be assigned a news item or current event that interests them. Their job for the semester is to follow that news item and post weekly updates.
Storytelling/ Oral Journals
While many adult students may need assistance with the technology, making YouTube videos is not reserved for advanced students. There are several speaking tasks that low-beginner and even literacy-emergent students can complete. Videos can be any length, at the discretion of the instructor.
If used consistently throughout the semester or year, a YouTube Channel is the ideal tool for an e-portfolio. Students and teachers can track their speaking progress over time through their posts and videos. Students, especially literacy-emergent, can post reflections about goals and growth.
Have you used student YouTube Channels in your classroom? Tell us about it in the comments!
By Becky Shiring
As an early adopter of integrating mobile phones into instruction, Reflector 2 is a tool I desperately wish I would have discovered while I was still in the classroom. As adult basic educators, I believe it is essential that we teach our students to utilize the tools they need to be successful in the real world whether that tool is the English language or a smart phone. And in fact, the two are certainly not mutually exclusive. There are loads of apps that can be extremely valuable in our students’ lives. But in order to fully benefit from these apps, students need to know how to utilize them, from download to daily use.
While in the classroom, when I found an app I wanted my students to be aware of, I can remember painfully trying to walk students through finding the app in the app store, downloading it, opening it, signing in and then using it, all while circulating the room demonstrating from my tiny cell phone screen. It was exhausting. Not to mention that some students used Android and others iOS. This frustration could have been eased with Reflector 2.
Reflector 2 is a wireless mirroring program that allows you to mirror your phone screen onto a computer. Every action you take on your phone is displayed on your computer screen as well. By connecting your computer to a projector, you can easily demonstrate the steps necessary to download an app or send a text message. As a trainer, I use it to lead others through learning how to use smartphones and various apps.
To use Reflector 2, first, visit Reflector 2’s website. Then download the program to your computer. The program is not free, but in my opinion, is worth every cent. One license is $14.99. The downside is when you purchase a license it is specific to one computer. So if you work for an organization and only want to buy one license, my recommendation would be to download it onto a computer that might be utilized by several teachers such as in a tech lab. Reflector 2 also allows you to download a two-week trial in case you aren’t completely sure. After signing up, reflector sends you easy-to-follow instructions for mirroring your phone to your computer based on if you have a Mac or Windows machine.
Another benefit of utilizing Reflector 2 is that it allows you to screencast multiple devices at the same time. So if your students are a mix of Android and iOS users, you can display both. The program also allows you to record your screencasts. The audio can be a bit sensitive so make sure you are in a quiet space when recording.
If you’re not able to commit to purchasing a Reflector 2 license and are looking for a free version, you can check out Vysor. Vysor is a screen mirroring tool that must be utilized through the Google Chrome browser and only works with Android based phones. In addition to this, the device must be plugged to your computer with a USB cord whereas Reflector 2 allows you and other users to connect wirelessly from anywhere in the room. The setup process to utilize Vysor is a little more involved because you must enable developer options on your phone. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t! A really great walk-through for setting up Vysor can be found here.
Besides utilizing Reflector 2 to model smartphone processes for students, here are some other suggested uses in the classroom:
Have you used Reflector 2 or a similar service in your classroom? Tell us about it in the comments!
By Anna Carissa Rozzo
We all know that our students are busy; they work long hours in addition to attending class. Not only are our students holding multiple jobs, they are learning English faster than generations of immigrants before them.
In addition to this inevitable time crunch, many ELL adults may be embarrassed to read to their kids in English, especially if the child is bilingual. However, one strategy for parents raising bilingual children is reading bilingual books to them (Lee et al. 2015).
Furthermore, the returns on parents and caregivers reading to their children is well-documented. Storytelling introduces readers to a rich variety of vocabulary and the acquisition of that vocabulary is dramatically facilitated by the context of the story (Collins, 2010).
Nonie Lesaux makes a distinction between “skills-based reading competencies” and “knowledge-based reading competencies” (2012). The former are the mechanical decoding skills that children whose first language is not English tend to excel at or perform at comparable levels to their native-speaking peers. “Knowledge-based reading competencies” however, require cultural background knowledge and multiple, nuanced meanings of words (Lesaux, 2012). This is why it is imperative that ELL parents read to their children. In order for their children to perform well in both competencies, they need to be exposed to the contextualized vocabulary of stories.
ELL parents or caregivers may not feel confident or know how to pronounce all the words in a given story. Enter YouTube. There are a number of narrated children's’ books on YouTube. The videos consist of the pictures and/or illustrations from the children's book with a subtitled narration. If there are no subtitles, students can borrow the book from the library and “read along” with the videos. These videos allow both child and parent to come together and learn as they read and listen.
Another advantage to these videos is that the parent can pause and replay at any moment checking for pronunciation and spelling. Children can play their favorite videos over and over again with their parents and caretakers.
Here is the YouTube playlist for this list of books.
Do you know other YouTube readings of picture books that you would add to the list? How would you use this list with your students? Leave us a note in the comments!
Collins, Molly F. (2010). ELL Preschoolers' English Vocabulary Acquisition from Storybook Reading. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(1), 84-97.
Lee, Michael, Shetgiri, Rashmi, Barina, Alexis, Tillitski, John, & Flores, Glenn. (2015). Raising Bilingual Children: A Qualitative Study of Parental Attitudes, Beliefs, and Intended Behaviors. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 37(4), 503-521.
Lesaux, N. (2012). Reading and Reading Instruction for Children from Low-Income and Non-English-Speaking Households. The Future of Children, 22(2)
By Chris Bourret
Following up on Patricia Helmuth’s great article on Paango, I’d like to recommend another helpful free resume creation website recommended to me by a colleague this year – SlashCV. The website allows a user to put his or her information into designated resume sections, and once the information is entered, the site creates a PDF of the resume and saves it in an online account, making the resume easily retrievable. I’d recommend this site for students who already have a version of a resume that needs updating, or who have put their resume content down on paper but are emerging digital learners with computers. For example, I’ve had a lot of learners who have come into our tutoring center this year with paper copies of resumes others have created for them, but no accompanying digital file. This of course, doesn’t get them very far as most jobs need to be applied for online. I’ve had a lot of success getting these learners to input their information on SlashCV. Most are surprised with how easy it is to use, and as long as they can remember their username (their e-mail address) and a password, they have instant access to their resume from any computer. And, they don’t have to sign up first and wait for a confirmation email before using the site. They can just start building a resume from the get go, save it, turn it into a PDF, and then sign up through a one step process at the end.
I think students have enjoyed using the site because it’s easy to navigate for emerging digital literacy learners. Looking at the start screen below, students just have to click on the section they want to work on, and then start typing information into the blanks. The blanks themselves indicate what information should go there. There is no other distracting information, and the sections are chunked into discernible separate white boxes.
The sections in bold are what will be included on the resume. What’s not clicked on won’t be included. With a click and a drag, students can rearrange the order of categories on the resume too.
The example below indicates that a Custom Section would come after Contact Info, followed by Experience, Education and then Activities. The order of the section list below on the left is reflected in the resume next to it on the right.
For the Custom Section, you can type whatever title you want, for example a “Qualifications Summary”, a “Personal Profile”, etc.
When typing information into each section, students have easy-to-follow formatting choices of bold print, bullets or numbers, and gray shadow text tells the student what should go into each blank. For example, the Experience section has blanks for company name, position at the company, place of employment and dates worked there. Down below, you can leave the “company website” prompt blank and it won’t show in the PDF. When all the information is entered, a student can click the green “Add more” to add another job under Experience.
When a student is finished, he or she can view and download the resume as a PDF, and click “Save as my copy” to create their online account. Both options are shown in the top right corner of the page, as seen below. When downloading to a PDF, students can choose from many different (though all basic) templates. To sign up, the student just needs to use their e-mail address and a password and they can have easy access to that resume whenever they need it.
Helping students create an online version of a resume is an obviously necessary step in today’s technological world, as most jobs that students apply for are through online platforms, either company-based or employment websites. Many of these online sites, besides being hard to navigate for students, usually ask for an attached resume/CV. Besides the practical aspects of finding a job, helping students put down their skills, abilities, knowledge and experiences can be an empowering and validating experience for them, especially if it’s the first time they have done this. However, in using a resume creation site like Slash CV with students, it’s probably a good idea for a teacher to use a “letting go of the learning” approach, which means presenting good models with the whole class, then working with students to create language together as a group, and finally letting students work with each other and independently to complete the task. For example, when it comes to resume creation, a teacher can present model resume language that the whole class can analyze together. Next, a teacher can give lists of experience and skills that students in pairs and small groups can try to organize/classify and write down in resume style. Then, students can be asked to brainstorm to identify their own skills, experiences, etc, and talk about it with classmates, before putting all their own information into resume language that they can type or write down. Of course you can still make use of rubrics, opportunities for peer and teacher editing, student reflection on the process and opportunities for students to ask questions. Through this process, a site like Slash CV helps alleviate the challenges of typesetting and other tech issues that can arise from resume creation, helping the teacher and learners focus more on the process and resume content.
Facebook offers free private online groups that adult basic skills (including ESOL/ESL) teachers can use with their students. Why, you may wonder, are adult basic skills teachers interested in doing this? Because many or all their students already use Facebook for social purposes, and are comfortable with this online platform. For some students, Facebook (FB) is on all the time, so the best way for a teacher to reach them is through their FB accounts, not by phone or email. Teachers who might be uncomfortable with the idea that anyone could join their classes’ FB group pages are relieved to know that these can be private, where the only participants are those that the teacher invites. Teachers are amazed to see how students can build community and camaraderie using a FB group for education, and to see students showcase their skills and talents in ways that might not have been evident in class. FB is free and ubiquitous, of course, and that makes it especially attractive.
Here are some examples of what adult basic skills teachers are doing with FB groups:
Susan Gaer, co-author of this article, is a professor at Santa Anna College in Southern California. With her pre-college level English language learner class she starts her Facebook group at the beginning of the semester. At first, most all the posts are from her. However, as the semester progresses and students’ comfort level with both the class and the teacher increases, they take more ownership of the posting. Usually by the end of the semester, Susan is no longer posting at all. The group is entirely run by the class.
Ed Latham is an adult basic skills teacher, and teacher educator, in Maine. He says that Messenger, a Facebook chat program, is one of the most powerful features of FB for his students. He writes, “I get much more mileage out of sending a group chat or individual message through FB than I do from using texting or email. Students share that it is just easier to respond to a FB message because they are usually hanging out in FB.”
Paul Rogers is the founder of Pumarosa.com, a free English language website for native speakers of Spanish. He also uses several other online tools together such as What’sApp and FB Groups. He writes, “I use the group feature of Facebook a lot. I created nine groups, which I started a year or so ago to store lessons and articles for EFL students from about ten Latin American countries and the US.”
FB group for adult basic skills teachers:
In a FB group for adult basic skills teachers that we host (to join it, email one of us), teachers and teacher educators such as Ed and Paul have said that FB groups are a better choice than other platforms for discussion, especially for: ELLs who need to practice English writing; teachers’ reminders to students about assignments due, and upcoming events; and scheduling posts in advance. For example, teacher Kathy Olesen Tracey writes, “I like that I can plan a week or more posts and have them scheduled to go out. This helps me create a theme and then organize my time on FB, separating work time from home time and for sharing individual files with students as a group or individually.”
Here are some useful resources for learning more about how adult basic skills teachers use FB groups:
David J. Rosen, President, Newsome Associates firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Gaer, Professor, Santa Ana College email@example.com
We've moved! Find us at
This blog is intended for adult education teachers and tutors looking for straight-forward help on integrating technology into instruction. We hope that you find some inspiration here to try something new!
Cast Your Vote!
Enjoy taking polls? Here's another one from our 100th post!