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Using the Web in Instruction

Like many other adults, adult learners are trying to figure out how to make good choices when buying a computer. A group of educators from Boston area decided to address this need by developing a web-based virtual visit to a computer store that can be used for self-study or as part of a class with adult learners. Their web site “How to buy a computer” is one of several web-based projects completed by adult educators who participated in professional development on using the Web to augment instruction and supporting learners who might benefit from self-study. Practitioners from Massachusetts and Rhode Island focused on developing and supporting online learning options while Connecticut and Vermont practitioners learned how to build Web sites with students as a project-based activity.

These projects were undertaken during the spring and summer of 2005 under the auspices of the New England Literacy Resource Center at World Education, with financial support from the National Institute for Literacy’s LINCS (Literacy Information and Communications System (http://www.nifl.gov/lincs/). World Education’s Steve Quann provided the training and technical assistance with help from Janet Isserlis from Literacy Resources/ Rhode Island.

BUILDING WEB SITES & BLOGS AS A PROJECT-BASED ACTIVITY

Teachers from Connecticut and Vermont participated in a full-day workshop covering best practices for project-based activities using the Web and the basics of designing a website. Teachers then returned to engage their classes in projects. In the second workshop, a differentiated professional development approach was used since teachers returned with varied interests and technical needs. During this workshop and beyond, teachers created websites that aided their learners in instruction.

Fun with Fiction
http://nicholsonesl.tripod.com/
Alpha O. Nicholson III created a site providing links to stories, fables, and poems. His class prepared fill-in exercises and vocabulary lists. Additionally the site highlights student reflections and writing. This is an example of a site that integrates the use of the Internet in instruction.

English As a Second Language, Plainville, CT Adult Education
http://plainvilleesl.tripod.com/
Eva Betjemann created this website to help ESL students learn about Plainville and the surrounding communities. In addition, important information is provided to help newcomers acclimate to the country. The site is also meant to help students learn about each other's countries, cultures, and foods.

Minding Media
http:www.mindingmedia.com
Inspired by a voter education project, Kelly Komenda and Jenny Gundy created a website designed to help students sharpen their media literacy skills. Designed to be used with a class, this is an example of a site that covers a topic comprehensively.

The Tutorial Center's Cultural Exchange
http://ttc-student.tripod.com/
This website was designed, by Tsion Avienu and Barbara Keyes, for students to share geographical and historical information with other students. An example of a class project, with a theme, that creates an opportunity for learners to see their work “published” and have it read by others.

WeShare 4U
http://berlinct.tripod.com/
This site gives a description of classes. It is an example of how a program website can support both students and teachers, by providing examples of student work and lesson plans for teachers. Created by Barbara Solak.

Workplace Essential Skills in Hartford, CT.
http://welearntogether.tripod.com/
As part of this project students wrote stories and described how to do the certain tasks. Examples of learner-centered writing activities are based on topics of interest to the writer. Site created by Linda Ashby

DEVELOPING AND SUPPORTING ONLINE LEARNING OPTIONS

The overarching goal of this strand of web projects was to build programs’ and practitioners’ capacity to support learners not participating in regularly scheduled on-site classroom instruction with online learning options. Five practitioners from Massachusetts and three from Rhode Island received mini-grants to pursue web projects to meet this goal. The results of their work are described below.

Distance learning for Rhode Island GED students
http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Swearer_Center
/Literacy_Resources/tondreau.html
Cheryl Tondreau, of the RI Distance Learning Initiative, wanted to increase access to useful online materials for participants in her program – both those able to attend classes regularly, as well as those for whom distance learning in an only option. She made improvements to her program’s existing site, and also explored a new portal, Nicenet.org.

How to buy and use a computer – a plain English resource for ABE students
http://www.sabes.org/technology/buycomputer/
A team of practitioners from Boston developed this soup to nuts guide for adults wanting to buy, use and maintain a computer. Utilizing photos, diagrams and straightforward text, the site provides an overview of what makes a computer run, where to buy one, what to look for, and how to keep it running.

Literacy Volunteers of Rhode Island, East Bay
http://www.lveastbay.org/
Tracy Miyake developed support materials for volunteer tutors utilizing Verizon University’s online literacy course offerings.

Online Resources for Adult Learners and Instructors: Empowerment through Self-Study
http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Swearer_Center
/Literacy_Resources/overview.wood.html

Mike Wood, of Crossroads, Rhode Island, examined web-based resources for adults with limited time for classroom study. He evaluated self-study sites, asked learners their opinions, and suggested strategies for teachers and learners involved in GED preparation.

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