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Focus On Basics

Volume 4, Issue C ::: December 2000

Technology-Based Projects and Resources for Adult Basic Education

by Janet C. Smith
A wider variety of technology-based projects and resources are available for teachers and adult learners in adult basic education (ABE), English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), and preparation for tests of General Educational Development (GED) than ever before. Adult learners continue to benefit as technology is increasingly incorporated into teaching and learning at all levels. The technology in these projects can be used as part of the curriculum, as the delivery mechanism for the curriculum, as a complement to the curriculum, or as an instructional tool.

This brief article presents some selected projects and resources that can be useful to learners, teachers, and administrators alike. It is not a comprehensive listing, given the vast number of projects/resources that exist today. The selection priorities for the first table included presence on the Internet, broad scope, some level of interactivity, ease of use, and reasonable cost (if not free). The second table includes video, CD-ROM, and print series combinations that are not currently available over the Internet, but widely in use and highly regarded. Some of these plan to have Internet accessibility shortly.

Web-Based Projects and Resources

Learning Resources, CNN San Francisco
Web Site:
Audience: Learners & Teachers (ESOL, GED)
Description: This web site offers students an opportunity to read and react to news stories, both past and present. It includes a searchable index of articles, each available in three levels of text (outline, edited, full). In addition, several are supported with multimedia extensions; for example, each story is also available in audio and video format. Each article is followed by six short-answer activities that provide immediate evaluative feedback. There is also an opportunity to respond to materials via e-mail. A brief teacher's page describes the objectives, lessons, and materials.

Dave's ESL Cafe
Web Site:
Audience: Learners & Teachers (ESOL)
Description: This comprehensive web site includes numerous interactive elements for teachers and learners such as chats, electronic discussion lists, idea exchanges, discussion forums, job information, quizzes, and more.

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab
Web Site:
Audience:  Learners & Teachers (ESOL)
Description: This web site focuses on listening skills, a relatively underdeveloped area on the Internet. It offers audio exercises at varying levels of difficulty, which are coupled with quiz-type activities. It provides learners with a way to improve listening skills outside of the classroom.

Web Site:
Audience: Learners & Teachers (ASE)
This online program is designed for adults and young adults who want to complete a regular high school diploma, issued by a public high school. It includes customized courses developed for online education, interactive teaching and learning with strong teacher support, and portfolio-based learning and assessment. Free to Minnesota residents, available to others for a fee.

Web Site: public/cyberstep.htm
Learners & Teachers (ABE)
This project is developing standards for the development of web and multimedia instructional resources for adults functioning at low literacy levels. Based on these standards, the five Cyberstep partners will create new products for adult learners. will provide multimedia instructional materials targeted to adults functioning at low literacy levels. See box on page 26 for more information.

LINCS (Literacy Information and Communication System)
Web Site:
Audience: Learners, Teachers, Administrators (ABE, ESOL, workplace, and general literacy for all)
This web site features multimedia curricula developed by practitioners, special collections on major literacy topics, the latest literacy-related research and statistics, opportunities for communicating with colleagues directly and through online discussion groups, and peer-reviewed sites.

PBSLiteracyLink (PBS Adult Learning Service, NCAL, Kentucky Educational Television, and the Kentucky Department of Education)
Web Site:
Learners (GED, Workplace), Teachers & Administrators (Professional Development)
Description: Online literacy instruction and staff development system incorporating online technologies (through the Internet), video technologies (digital, closed-circuit, broadcast, and satellite), and computer technologies (including digitized audio and video, computer-generated graphics, interactive multimedia, and text).

Online master's degree program in Adult Education
Penn State World Campus
Web Site: pub/adm/facts/adted_facts.shtml
Teachers & Administrators (Professional Development)
33-credit online master's degree in adult education. Each course is taught using a blend of Web technology, print, and other media to provide an effective balance of flexibility and interaction.

Video, CD-ROM, and Print Series-Based Project / Resources

ALMA (Adult Literacy Media Alliance) and TV411
Web Site:
Learners & Teachers (pre-GED)
This is a series of literacy videos, and accompanying print materials designed for use by individuals in their homes, in literacy classes, as well as in community settings such as libraries, health clinics, employment centers, churches, and banks in urban and rural regions throughout the country. The Starter kit includes 13 TV411 video cassettes and 10 print packages, each containing 13 TV411 Workbooks and one User's Guide. (Internet component planned.)

Connect with English
Web Site:
Audience: Learners & Teachers (ESOL)
This video and print series is designed as a complete ESOL course in secondary, adult education, college, corporate, and community organizations, as a supplemental classroom resource for school, business, and community organizations, or as a self-study course for ESOL students at home or at work.

On Common Ground, PBS
Web Site:
Learners & Teachers (high-level ESOL, citizenship courses)
Video and print series to be used as an introductory course in civics and government; a resource for civics, government, history, contemporary studies, political science and citizenship courses; and a resource in courses with ESOL learners. Uses situations that would take place in a typical American city as citizens deal with everyday life. Includes 15 half-hour programs, print worktexts, and teacher's resource books. 

Crossroads Cafe
Web Sites:
Audience: Learners, Teachers, & Administrators (ESOL/ESOL, adult and family literacy, basic skills [pre-GED], workplace/ vocational ESOL, correctional education programs)
This video and print series tells the story of an ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse group of people who work at and patronize a cafÈ. It includes instructional segments on culture and language, workbooks and photostories for learners, transcripts and resource books for teachers, assessment packages, and a partner guide with activities for native speaker friends, relatives, or tutors.

Captured Wisdom: Stories of Integrating Technology into Adult Literacy Instruction
Web Site:
Audience: Teachers & Administrators (Professional Development)
This is a series of multimedia CD-ROMs on best practices of integrating technology into ABE/GED/ESOL instruction.  The videos of actual classes are complemented by questions raised by adult education practitioners and answered by the cooperating teachers, ensuring that the resource will address the concerns that teachers may have about using technology with adult learners.

About the Author
Janet C. Smith is editor, web manager, and a project manager at National Center on Adult Literacy/International Literacy Institute, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania. She produces publications and is responsible for the website. Her most recent project was the International Literacy Explorer website/CD-ROM.

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL