Archive for August, 2007

Online Technology Teacher Training Resources

August 26, 2007

Looking for Technology Teacher Training Resources online?

The Adult Literacy and Technology Network (ALTN) and Sacramento County Office of Education sponsor the National Institute for Literacy Technology Training Special Collection. You’ll find it and all the free resources online at


Also, check out Tech Savvy, a free online assessment (with an professional development planning process and with online and face-to-face teacher learning resources) This is for adult education teachers who want to improve their knowledge and skills in integrating technology in their classes.

Photo Logs (Phlogs)

August 26, 2007

Phlogs (Photo logs, or blogs with photos) have a lot of appeal for adult education/ESOL. They could be used as part of a classroom virtual visit, for example. Students using regular, digital, or even throwaway cameras could do phlogs of their neighborhoods. (I did one of my neighborhood several years ago called “from my window .” Every photo was taken from a window of my house or car. Then I wrote short captions underneath — a perfect beginning level ESOL activity.) You’ll find it at

Picture taken from window in home of David J. Rosen

Students at project Hope in Boston a few years ago did a history phlog, Dorchester Now and Then, comparing photos from their neighborhoods now — and earlier. You’ll find it at

Codman Square then and now

Immigrant students could also document their passage from their first country to their neighborhood in North America — scanning photos which were taken earlier. All students could document what they like — and don’t like — about their communities. And phlogs could be used for action research/social change projects — documenting urban or rural environmental hazards, poor public services (trash not picked up, street signs missing, giant pot holes, etc.)

Software Publications

August 26, 2007


I am the author of Harnessing Technology and The Literacy List , two Web-based resources for adult basic education (including ESOL) practitioners. I update both from time-to-time, and would welcome your recommendations. Have you bought software in the past two years that you especially like? Do you (and your students) have favorite instruction/learning Web pages? Email me your recommendations at

Australian Project-based Distance Learning

August 26, 2007

For those who are interested in project-based distance learning I
recommend Eunice Askov’s chapter on Australian Distance learning in the
NCSALL Publication on adult education DL, _Expanding Access to
Adult Literacy with Online Distance Education_

For example, at the TAFE (Technical and Further Education) Institute in New South Wales, students use WebCT to do Webquests, just one of many
interesting examples Askov describes. Also, the appendix of this
publication has an excellent set of descriptions of major DL products.

Project-based Learning: The International Classroom Virtual Visit Project

August 26, 2007

In a post to the National Institute for Literacy Technology discussion list on July 17, 2003, Irshat Yusupovich Madyarov wrote:

I’m looking for a platform to be used for an internet-based intercultural communication between two schools with kids from different cultural backgrounds. This would involve user-friendly message board, posting pictures, etc. There will be a web site as a part of this project, so we could as well integrate all communication tools we need into this website. i know some websites that offer this type of service. I would like to hear about your experience.

I replied:

One example of project-based (constructivist) distance learning, which involves matched classes, groups or schools from different countries is the International Classroom Virtual Visit project. Susan Gaer, an ESL instructor at Santa Anna College in Southern California, and I developed the project in 1999. Since then we have helped teachers and their classes, from various countries, to match up and exchange information about themselves and their cultures. Students introduce themselves, their class/school and their communities through student-and teacher-made Web pages. They ask each other questions using group or individual e-mail. Most of the classes are adult ESL/ESOL students, but some are K-12 students, and some are adult basic skills students. Some of the matches have been cross-generational.

It’s a great way to encourage production of writing, cultural learning, and increased comfort and experience with the internet. For some (teachers and students) it’s also an opportunity to learn about web page design, including graphics.

For more information about this project, and to see the Web pages the classes have developed since 1999. you can go to the Virtual School Visit section of Susan’s E-mail projects Web page at:

To join the International Classroom Virtual Visit project, go to:

An inexpensive platform which you might be interested exploring for project-based learning, that has a message board, a place for posting pictures, and many other virtual learning environment features is Community Zero


Supported (Hybrid, Blended) Distance Learning

August 26, 2007

In a post to the National Institute for Literacy Technology discussion list on July 16th, 2003, I wrote:

The term “distance learning (DL),” for many people, suggests
correspondence courses, video broadcasts, or more recently independent
web-based courses. This is what some, Jere Johnston for example, call
“pure distance learning.” Hybrid distance learning or “supported
distance learning (SDL)” (Lennox McLendon used “supported distance
learning” in a discussion on the NLA e-list a couple of years ago and I
have used it since) is something different. It is a combination of
real-time learning, usually face-to-face but not always in the same
room (e.g. videophone has been used in Delaware’s adult high school
diploma program,) and independent, asynchronous learning, which is
provided by videotape, TV broadcast, the Web, computer software, and/or
print materials. The face-to-face instruction with a teacher or
tutor provides the “support,” makes pure distance learning into a
hybrid model. Supported distance learning is, of course, for people
who cannot, for a variety of reasons attend classes. But it is also
for those who do attend classes but want more instruction (greater
“intensity of instruction”) than is available through their class-based
learning. Supported distance learning can be provided by schools,
education programs, and higher education but it can also be offered by
companies and other employers, organized labor, libraries, and other

Given the long ESL/ESOL waiting lists in many parts of the U.S. (L.A.,
Boston, New York, and in other cities and towns) it seems to me that we
should consider ESL/ESOL which may be provided in this innovative way
as one way to help us reduce waiting lists. But we also need to look
at how effective DL or SDL is — for whom, and under what circumstances
it is and is not effective, and how much it costs to deliver it

How Low-literate Adults Read and Navigate Web Pages

August 26, 2007

On the National Institute for Technology Technology list in May, 2003 there was a discussion with health literacy researcher, Christina Zarcadoolas, about her study Unweaving the Web, in which she and her co-investigators, Andrew Pleasant and Mercedes Banco, looked at how low-literate adults read and navigate Web pages.

The discussion began with this post, #2825, and ended I think, with #2855.

Discussion moderator Emily Hacker wrote:

In preparation for our discussion next week on “Unweaving the Web: An
Exploratory Study of Low-Literate Adults’ Navigation Skills on the World
Wide Web,” Christina Zarcadoolas e-mailed me the following introduction and
some questions to think about. We will get officially get started with the
discussion with Christina, Andrew and Mercedes on Monday. Please get ready
to jump in with your comments/questions/ideas so we can have a rich, active


Hello all,
Thank you for taking an interest in our work and more importantly, in the web and literacy. Emily said it might be useful for me to post some questions related to web based comprehension that we think about. These questions certainly have propelled our research. We’ve only begun to answer our own questions. I have asked 2 co-authors, Andrew Pleasant, a communications expert (Brown and Cornel) and Mercedes Blanco ( Maximus Inc., a cultural competency expert, to join the discussion. I am a sociolinguist ( studies how people use all forms of language – spoken, written, visual) to make meaning. I’ve spent the last 30 years working in literacy and health and environmental issues. With so many people online and going online it’s clear we need to know far more about the usability of this stuff. N. Jakobson’s wonderful work ( is ongoing and rich. However there is very little research getting published on how less literate people manage on the web nor on how literacy and web reading interface. Here are some questions you might want to keep in mind for our discussion next week. We look forward to your questions and the dialogue.
* How are print and web based information similar?
* How are they different?
* What can web based info do that print material can’t?
* What “principles” of readability may defy what we know about reading in hard copy?
* What do we assume users can do when they’re using our websites?
* What are common problems in websites?
* What characteristics of the web do “we” like – are these preferences shared by low literate users?
* What are some principles of written and spoken language at work on the web?
* What are some technology fixes to the barriers that the web presents?
* Who should be on a web design team?
* What areas of future research and discussion are needed to identify how to tailor web sites for comprehensibility?


Christina Zarcadoolas, PhD
Center for Environmental Studies
Director, Environmental Literacy Initiative
Box 1943
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
(401) 863-7347
fax (401) 863-3503

I replied:

The “Unweaving the Web” Study is very helpful. Below are some of my
initial thoughts about it:

The study confirms the widely observed importance of (and my 1995-1996
research on) content interest such as: health information,
school/homework information, child care/parenting, Web-based job
searches, Web-based apartment searches, and home country information.
“News” “weather,” “history,” “church/religion”, “maps,”
“literature/poetry,” “real estate/finance,” “languages” and
“chat/e-mail” did not show up in my early research.

The observations on the kinds of assistance Web users sought was
interesting: e.g. reminders needed to scroll, and to look for action
buttons. The scrolling and action button problems are not a surprise to
me, but it was good to see these issues are confirmed.

I was reassured to see that unlabeled graphic links was found to be a
problem. I have observed this problem with many new Web users,
especially low literate users.

I hadn’t thought about pull down menus as a problem. But, of course,
they would be if one had not seen this feature before.

I didn’t know back arrows were a problem for some people. Of course,
typing Web addresses is a problem for many people — especially for
those who do not write well. The observation that typing Web addresses
was experienced as a difficult transition, the ‘dynamic jump from the
body …to the small URL address window,” was new for me.

Searching, of course, has many challenges, some of which your study
documented, as does judging reliability of Web information.

Your study supports the Children’s’ Partnership study findings that busy
Web pages are not attractive to low literate adults, and that they
present multiple barriers.

The problem of translation mirror sites which you raised was interesting
— I hadn’t thought about this.

The whole Further Study and Recommendations Section was great — I
especially liked the user path history suggestion.

The Literacy List

August 26, 2007

Periodically I post messages about one of my publications, in this case The Literacy List:

You will find an updated version of _The Literacy List_ at

The Literacy List is a large collection of free Adult Basic Education
and ESL/ESOL Web sites, electronic lists (“listservs”), and other
Internet resources for adult basic skills learners and teachers. The
resources have been suggested by adult literacy and ESOL practitioners.

If you would like to recommend a high-quality, free Internet resource to
include on _The Literacy List_ please e-mail me the URL and briefly
describe why you like it.

I would be delighted to see your comments, questions or suggestions.

David J. Rosen

A Guide for Teachers who do Web-based Learning Projects

August 26, 2007

Jeff Carter posted to the National Institute for Literacy Technology discussion list on December 5, 2003

My comments on his post:

I just downloaded and read _Under Construction…._ “cover to cover” .
(What is the Web equivalent when you are reading a PDF — top to bottom?) It’s terrific, just what we’ve needed for teachers who want to use the Web in project-based teaching but need some guidance in how to do it.

Jeff had written:

Folks, “Under Construction: Building Web Sites as a Project-based Learning Activity for ABE/ESOL Classes,” is a new book published by World Education designed to provide adult literacy and ESOL staff developers and teachers with some simple, user-friendly tips on building Web sites as a classroom activity. Based on what we have learned over the years about developing a site in an adult education setting, each chapter discusses the major steps in the process, from planning and building a site to reviewing and testing it.

The book is also the centerpiece of the new LiteracyTech web site. In addition to the new/revamped Web publishing material, the site includes a new weblog, as well as a comments/feedback feature on many pages. Materials from our old site(s) will be migrating over soon, as we consolidate and move some things around, going back to our days as the keeper of the original Eastern LINCS hub.

<> –> Home page

<> –> Web Projects / “Under Construction”

<> –> Weblog

The Web Projects section is essentially a Web-based expansion of the print version of the “Under Construction.” It includes all of the text from the guide plus many other additional resources.

The book is not intended to be a complete, step-by-step, “how to” manual or a technical guide to building Web pages. Instead, it’s meant to be a companion to those kinds of books, specifically directed at adult literacy and ESOL staff developers and teachers who are thinking of building Web sites as a classroom activity.

There are three ways to obtain “Under Construction:”

-Download a PDF version of the entire guide (see site for details);

-Contact us for information about ordering hard copies; and/or
-Use the Web version (, which includes all of the text from the printed guide plus many other additional resources.


Student-designed Web Sites

August 26, 2007

Irshat Yusupovich Madyarov asked in a post to the National Institute for Literacy Technology discussion list on December 4, 2003:
Has anyone included website design as a part of an ESL/EFL course?I’d appreciate if you could share your experience. Specifically, I’m interested in online services that offer free space for such student-centered website building projects.

I replied: For several years the Adult Literacy Resource Institute in Boston supported teacher staff development mini-grants which were used by some teachers in the Boston area to develop instructional/learning Websites. In some cases, the grants also included support for ABE and ESOL student website design work. Here are some examples:

• Virtual Visit to a Mill in Lowell, MA (Web page design by GED student)
• Homebuying Web pages in which ESOL students created some of the content
and/or designed the pages
• Queens Community College ESOL Class Queen Bee’s Web Page — students made their own pages.

I added this in a subsequent post:

There are teachers across the world whose students are involved in a
Web-based classroom virtual visit project hosted by Susan Gaer and me.
The classes have a multi-month exchange using Web pages and e-mail.
They introduce themselves, their schools and their communities and
have dialogs. Many are adult ESOL classes but some are ABE or GED,
and some are classes of school children so it can be
cross-generational. For more information, go to:

For more information on project-based learning and examples of adult
ESOL student projects using the Web, go to Susan Gaer’s Online Web Projects