Saturday, March 02, 2019


I'm attending the OTAN Technology and Distance Learning Symposium for the first time in a few years. This year is the 30th anniversary of OTAN and they invited all past directors of OTAN for which I was also on a panel. You can see the program for the two days here. John Fleischman gave the keynote address about the history of technology in adult education, showing some of the successes and failures of ed tech along the road. Some of the failures, or devices that have fallen by the wayside, in my experience:

WebTV - I did an ESL class using these at a shipyard in San Diego in 1999. We supplied the WebTVs to the students, but they found it hard to use it to do school work because it had to take over the family TV and the rest of the family didn't appreciate that.

Zip Disks - Those things were not cheap, $20 each, and I had so much stuff stored on them, but then Zip drives went away and zip disks became expensive coasters.

Audio cassettes - The whole field of audio has progressed so fast: reel-to-reel players are gone, cassettes are gone, iPods are gone, wired earbuds will be gone pretty soon, so now all I need is my phone and my AirPods.

At the conference I've learned about all kinds of apps and possibilities. Kristi Reyes presented on 50 sites for teaching vocabulary. Farzana Cassim demonstrated a lot of different ways of creating augmented reality, including HP Reveal and Blippar, as well as AR books where things jump off the page and start moving around. All of this was pretty amazing to me! I will have to leave it to those more creative than me to figure out the best applications for adult literacy classes.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Apps for Adult Ed Administrators

I did a fun workshop at the CCAE Conference in Fresno on Using Your Mobile Device to Be More Productive, short name, Apps for Administrators. This QR code will take you to the handout, or try this link for the slides and this one for the handout. In addition to the apps that I presented (Evernote, Dropbox, GoodReader, ToodleDo, Splashtop and Connect, members of the audience suggested these: - JotNot for taking a photo of a document and saving it as a PDF - Juice Defender for saving battery life on your phone, and - PrimoPDF for filling out PDF forms and saving them with the filled out content included. Love sharing apps with other educators!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Voki for my CATESOL Workshop

What topics, up to 60 seconds, could your students create Vokis about?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Virtual Grocery Shopping

The grocery industry tried online shopping and delivering groceries, and it didn't pan out. But this idea by a Korean grocery seems to be doing better (so far). If you could choose your groceries while waiting for the subway or bus, and have them delivered right after you get home, wouldn't that be awesome? I hate stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work when I'm tired and hungry and just want to be home. If I could use some time that is already "wasted" standing around waiting, I'd be a happy camper.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Great presentation by Geoff Stead at the mobile learning conference, mLearnCon, about learning via cell phone worldwide.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

2 Classes of Digital Natives?

This article by James Gee on the Huffington Post suggests that there are two classes of literacy - basic literacy that ends you up in a working class job, which now most likely means a low-paid service job, and academic literacy which gets you through college and maybe grad school and lets you speak the language of "research, empirical reasoning and logical argumentation."

Gee suggests that there is a correlation with digital literacy. There are those who can talk about what they are reading and doing online, and those who can talk about how it all works. "He gives an example from a World of Warcraft discussion site. We are evolving a class of people, often self-taught, who can speak the digital language and function in the digital world in ways that get them employed without having to get formal credentials. His question is - is this a new premium class of literacy, or is it the same people who mastered academic literacy? It would require some research to answer this question, but it certainly raised the question for literacy practitioners of what we are really teaching. In digital skills as well as other literacy skills, there are the basics that help you survive, and then the more critical thinking skills that help you thrive and excel.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Learned Something New about Tracking

I was reading an ePortfolio of a midwife and teacher in New Zealand, Sarah Stewart, which I ran across through a discussion on LinkedIn. I'm interested in how people are creating ePortfolios, both for professionals like adult educators, and for adult learners. Sarah has a page of "citations," which links the viewer to the pages that Delicious users have bookmarked and tagged with her name.

I never thought of looking for myself on Delicious! Come to find out, this blog has been saved 56 times (including the first time by me), and only 4 of those people are in my network. I can explore who these people are, and get a sense of who is interested in my blog. OK, it's not hordes of people, but still. Up to this point I haven't known much about who is reading this, since very few people leave comments, and most of the comments turn out to be spam. So - another nice feature from Delicious.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Language Instruction via Mobile Device

A lot of interesting discussion going on now about mobile learning. What's the difference between c-learning, e-learning, and m-learning? One quote I read from John Eyles described classroom learning as a well-balanced meal, e-learning or online learning as a sumptuous buffet, and m-learning via cell phone or other mobile device as a power snack. And there are a lot of times when you could really use a power snack!

My interest was piqued by a presentation at the CATESOL Conference by Voxy, a start-up delivering language instruction to Spanish speakers using shortened news stories. You can choose from three different story sets - headline news, pop culture or sports. (Personally, I could skip sports, but that's just me.) You download the iPhone app (Droid app coming soon), and then select the headline of the story you want to read (headlines in Spanish), read the story, select vocabulary to see definitions and add to your list to study later, and answer some comprehension questions. There isn't much instruction here, and there doesn't seem to be any organization in terms of grammar, language functions, or vocabulary. But the exciting thing is the experimentation they are doing with the mobile space.

There are several features that I think aren't functioning yet, but they're working on them. One is location-based content. Walk by a bank, and banking phrases in English become available if you click on the icon of the bank. Same for a restaurant or movie theater. This could be a fun homework assignment for students with iPhones.

Another one was item recognition through the camera. The presenter (and CEO), Paul Gollash, took a picture of my shoe. The app identified it as "black leather shoe." How did it do that?? This could be such a useful language app. Although the company wants the app to be an instructional tool, not a utility, the ability to identify items in another language instantly is pretty intriguing.

Searching for Video

Jeff Thomas raises a good point - there is so much video online, but it's not always easy to find the video you want. Just searching on YouTube or Vimeo might not be the most effective strategy. He recommends 10 video search engines, and an iPad app for watching video on the iPad. Video search engines include the usual suspects - Google Video, Yahoo Video, Bing Video, but also some I haven't heard of, like Fooooo, Blinkx, and VideoSurf.

Oh, and if you're looking for those specialized videos about technology in adult education, try OTAN's Video Gallery, which now includes the Captured Wisdom videos about adult education technology-based projects, or the Media Library of Teaching Skills (MLoTS).

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dynamic Views for this Blog

I see that Google has been busy creating new features for Blogger, which is good because I've been frustrated with the layout of my blog. For example, I haven't been able to get the videos from YouTube to size correctly.

Now they have 5 different "dynamic views" that you can use to view any blog that has them enabled. You can see them by adding /view and then/NameOfView to the URL.

For example, to see this blog in FlipCard view, go to

For the Mosaic view:




Which one do you like best? Right now you have to type in the URL to see them, but the plan is that eventually I will be able to choose one and set it as the default. My favorite is flipcard, which you can sort by recent, data, label, or author.

Snapshot looks the best, but it's only pulling graphics so the posts with videos or with no graphics don't show up. This view would be really good for an art blog, or a cooking blog that has a photo of every dish.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

ISTE's Top 3 Priorities for 2011

Here are ISTE's top three ed tech policy priorities for this year:

1. Dedicated funding for educational technology (support the continuation of EETT)
2. Technology must be included in every school improvement initiative (Race to the Top, etc.)
3. Broadband for all as a national priority

Having just come from the California Adult Education Administrators Association conference, it's hard not to feel that dedicated funding for every aspect of education is in jeopardy, but the focus on technology continues to be essential. The good news is that it's not debated much any more. There is general acceptance that students need digital literacy skills, and teachers need professional development in this area. The challenge now is shrinking federal, state and local budgets.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

History of Educational Technology

Love this slide show from NYT. Sadly, I remember all of these from the chalk board, invented in 1890. But the most nostalgic is that rasty mimeograph machine. So glad those days are over!

What is your favorite?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Concept Animation

This video by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), creates a visual representation of a 12 minute talk by Sir Ken Robinson about what's wrong with our current education system. Although I've heard him explain these concepts before, it seemed like the visual support of drawing illustrations of the concepts helped me integrate them better. Does it help you?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Student Videos to Promote Voting

Susan Gaer's ESL class at Santa Ana College Continuing Education made this video encouraging people to vote! It's part of a contest on the Easy Voter Guide site. There are quite a few other student videos from other community colleges in California. Check them out and get your students to vote for the one they like best!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Videos of Teachers using Facebook

Exploring fb for education - a wiki dedicated to this topic, with a page of videos of teachers talking about their fb projects. One popular use is having students create a fan page about a historical character, and take on that character's identity on fb.

There is also a group on fb for educators using fb.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


It's been a while since I've had time to follow a bunny trail. That is not good! We need time to let our curiosity take us down a path without any goal. This morning I followed a Facebook link by Ron Fujihara to an article on the blog Free Technology for Teachers about a tool for creating timelines of news story topics.

The blog is by Richard Byrne, who has published quite a few free books on technology for teachers. I took a look at Google for Teachers, published on ISSUU, which in itself is an interesting site if you ever want to publish a free book or explore beautiful books and magazines from around the world. But I digress from my digression. The new world elevates ADD to an art form, doesn't it?

Back to Google for Teachers. I'm going to embed the whole book here because you can see how ISSUU works, and you can also read the book!
So I was flipping through the pages, thinking that this could be a great resource for OTAN's various Google webinars. I was also thinking that there wasn't much new for me here when I came across his description of PaintMap, which describes itself as "a geolocation-oriented painting sharing website." It's a site using Google Earth where artists can upload their paintings and tag the exact spot on earth where they were painted. As a visitor, you can click on a featured location or just explore the world on your own. I looked at Chicago and found this painting of one of the Art Institute lions, painted at night, with an interesting story about the painting.

It must be a fairly new site, as there are only 388 artists signed up so far, and no paintings of Sacramento, or Los Altos where I grew up. But I enjoyed looking at various artists visions of different locations around the world. It's quite different than looking at a map or a photograph. It would make a good addition to a report on a home town or country, or any location. I hope the site flourishes.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Checking out HootCourse

I'm creating a course called OTAN on HootCourse. The hashtag is #otanhoot. It's a great idea to create an interface that helps teachers conceptualize how to use Twitter for course work and communication. HootCourse relies on Twitter and Facebook for course creation and content, so there is no unique sign in. You can sign in with either your Twitter or Facebook signin. I can write a post on the HootCourse site that will be automatically posted here on Blogger.

Not only that, but I can embed the whole course right here, and post from here. Can you post to Twitter from here too? Oops, I see you don't have to add the course tag, HootCourse does that for you.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Karen Cator at Gov 2.0 Summit

The Department of Education releases the National Educational Technology Plan, and Karen Cator reviews it at this summit meeting. It still kind of boggles my mind to hear federal officials talking about the long tail, supporting personal passion and motivation in learning, universal design and getting every classroom in the country connected, and broadband everywhere, and even the next generation of assessment - beyond the bubble-in, yes!

I haven't reviewed the whole plan yet, but Ms.Cator did mention in her talk that this plan is for "cradle to career" and that we are all lifelong learners, so a glimmer of adult education is in there somewhere.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mobile Screen Technology of the Future

This is a vision of how screen technology will be working by 2014, by a company that does user interface.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Peggy Marcy suggested this site, Storybird. You can create a story using art from various artists. There are many story creation sites, but I like this one because of the art. Different artists post a collection of work here, and you can choose one to illustrate your story. Some of the art is charming, and some is quite beautiful.

My story is for young children, but I imagine your students could get as complex as their language ability allows. My story is about a hungry bear. If your students create a Storybird, please post a link here to share.

Here are some other examples:
A princess who collects too many pets.
Learning life's lessons

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Photo Sharing

I'm preparing for a discussion at the Project IDEAL conference tomorrow about social media tools. All I need to do at this point is add a few examples and links, but it's impossible to do this fast! Every link leads to many possible bunny trails, following one link to another, learning interesting things that may or may not have anything to do with the task at hand. Is this ADD, or multitasking?

I'm reviewing some of the projects created in July and August for the discussion of Social Media in Adult Education, and I'm still surprised at the richness of the discussion. I didn't participate in the photo sharing group, but now I'm looking at their projects linked from the wiki. They created a group on Flickr and had quite a bit of discussion within that group, apart from the list. There are lots of ideas about how to use photo sharing in instruction, especially for ESOL. Illustrations of the alphabet, of everyday interactions (not the happy shopper paying the happy clerk, as one person said), of cooking and canning, of prepositions, of favorite shoes, favorite clothes. The list goes on, and the photos could be collected by teachers or by students. A teacher could create a closed group, where only students in one class could add photos and posts, or the group could be public. Maybe I shouldn't still be amazed at the possibilities of social media, and at the endless creativity of teachers, but I am.

So while I'm at it, I'm going to brag on the blogging group. We had a blog to explore blogging, which has links  to the blogs created by the participants. I had 23 people sign up for this group. About 10 actually responded to messages, and 6 created blogs. When I came back a few weeks later, three blogs were going strong and have posted something new in the last day or two. These are good projects, and they're putting me to shame. I better get busy! This may not sound like a good percentage of success, but it's summer, no one is getting paid (group leaders or participants), so this is all a labor of love.

And there were a couple of wonderful posts from Jayme Adelson-Goldstein about being a lurker. She explained how she followed the discussion, did her own projects, but didn't have time to respond on the list. She illustrated the fact that "lurkers" are not always passive observers. Many are using the materials to suit their own needs and professional development, but not posting about it. There are 1400 people on the adult ed professional development list, so if 6 people actively participated in each of 10 groups, and another maybe 150 to 200 participated in some non-public way, that makes it worth the effort!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Learning so many cool things on the Social Media discussion. Here's a video message left for the group from Steve Quann using Eyejot.

Friday, July 16, 2010

NIFL Social Media Discussion

The discussion of social media for teaching a professional development in adult education is going strong this week! (Thank you, Jackie Taylor and Nell Eckersly!) Despite being on vacation this week and taking care of two toddlers, I've managed to somewhat keep up with the conversation, and have already learned a lot! You can see everything I've bookmarked so far on my Delicious account. Here are some quick examples:

- If you only have time for one link, check out this one. It's a set of slides by Paul Adams who does user research for Google, and reports on what they've found out about how people really relate to their friends, and how they would like to relate to their online friends and acquaintances, and how companies like Google and Facebook could make it easier than they do now. Really interesting! For example, he says that most people have between 4 and 6 groups of friends that are not connected to each other, like friends from college, friends from early in career, friends from kids school, family, etc. Most groups have between 2 and 10 people in them. We don't just have one big group of 183 friends! Social networking sites need to allow us more flexibility, and more control over privacy.

- This article from Education Week describes the burgeoning use of a variety of social media in K12 education, including Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, and others.

- The POST method of choosing the right tech tool for the teaching objective - People (i.e. audience), Objectives, Strategy, Technology. In other words, choose the right tool for the job, not just the coolest tool.

- Emerging Technologies Matrix for Adult Education - Nell put together this list of social media tools that teachers might want to check out.

If you want to see a synopsis of the discussion, Jackie is doing an outstanding job of summarizing it on the ALE Wiki.

Better yet, join the discussion.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Brenda Dann-Messier at CASAS Summer Institute

Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary of Education at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, at the CASAS Summer Institute - 6 points that OVAE is advocating for WIA reauthorization (and no, we don't know when it will happen):

1. Provide incentives to spur innovation, including increasing the effective use of technology and distance learning.

2. Professionalize our field in order to have highly qualified teachers and leaders. (In California we have credential qualifications but some states don't.)

3. Prepare students for 21st century jobs by strengthening our ties to post secondary education and the workforce, providing and linking to career pathways, strengthening ties to the one-stops, and developing standards for college readiness.

4. Maintain EL Civics and expand it to serve immigrant professionals. The White House now has a working group on "immigrant innovation," and our goals fit with theirs.

5. Increase funding of professional development from 12.5 to 15% in order to support staff to move in these new directions.

6. Strengthen correctional education and re-entry programs by requiring at least 10% of funds to be spent on corrections.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tech Workshop at CASAS Summer Institute

Just demonstrating to workshop participants how easy it is to upload a photo from phone to blog. We also talked about wikis, QR codes, mobile learning and Moodle. Slides and handouts are posted.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ABC's of Investing in Adult Literacy Education

I can't resist posting this alphabet of adult literacy instruction provided by researcher and adult literacy advocate Tom Stitch.

ABC's of Investing in Adult Literacy Education

Tom Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education

A - An investment in adult literacy education usually produces "double duty dollars," meaning a dollar spent for adult literacy education usually produces many dollars of returns on investment in improved productivity at work, at home, in the schools and in the community.

B - Better educated parents tend to produce better educated children.

C - Childhood education and adulthood education are part of the "multiple life cycles" of education; adults' education produces an intergenerational transfer of language and literacy to their children.

D - Developing integrated basic skills and workplace skills programs is a cost-effective way to increase higher paying job prospects in welfare-to-work programs.

E - Educating adult literacy students has been found to improve self-esteem, motivation to learn, and overall mental health; thus cost- effectively providing health outcomes along with literacy.

F - Federal funding for adult literacy education does not exceed $220 per student while funding for Head Start exceeds $6,000 per student, K-12 exceeds $6500 per student and higher education exceeds $16,000 per student. This is unfair and unjust.

G - Globalization of work means that America's workforce will need to compete with workforces around the world, and adult workplace literacy programs can help workers acquire new levels of skills as new demands arise.

H - Health literacy programs can produce increases in adults' understanding of medical problems before they become critical and contribute to medical cost-savings.

I - Intergenerational transfer from parents to their children of motivation for learning has been found to occur when adults are involved in literacy programs.

J - Just-in-time basic skills education in workplaces has helped adults retain and advance in jobs that would have been lost to foreign competition.

K - Knowledge development is as important as skill development, and faster to achieve, in adult literacy programs that focus on helping adults meet daily demands for reading, writing, and mathematics in functional contexts.

L - Literacy education in adulthood has been found to be an important contributor to the success of pre-school programs of literacy development in early childhood.

M - Military services have valued adult literacy education since General George Washington ordered chaplains at Valley Forge to convert an old hospital into a classroom and use it to teach the ABC's to illiterate soldiers.

N - Navy research near the turn of the 21st century found that each dollar invested in academic (basic) skills training returned $14-$22 dollars in recruitment and training savings.

O - Organizational effectiveness in the areas of recruitment, training, job placement, job promotion, and job productivity has been found in cases where workplace literacy programs have been initiated.

P - Promoting the Adult Education and Literacy System (AELS) of the United States ought to be a major undertaking for communications media, business and industry, and educators at all levels because of the many benefits that this system provides.

Q - Quantitative and qualitative data from research across the last century show that adults can be learn to read, write, compute, and develop functionally relevant knowledge and that this knowledge and skill has contributed to the growth of democracy in our nation.

R - Renewed commitment to adult literacy education by our federal and state policymakers will return itself in greater national achievements in the education of children and the increased global competitiveness of the American workforce.

S - Social inclusion with increased social justice requires that investments in adult literacy education be increased from present poverty levels to levels comparable to the other components of our national education system.

T - Training programs that help under-educated adults move more quickly from poverty or working poor into well paying jobs are possible using cost-effective, functional context designs in which basic skills and job skills education are integrated together into coherent, supportive, developmental programs.

U - Under-educated adults without high school degrees in the United States number in the tens of millions and are presently under-served by a grossly under-funded and marginalized education system. Policymakers need to provide funds to move this educational system from the margins to the mainstream of education.

V - Volunteers have served adults in need of literacy training ever since our nation's beginnings and they continue to serve today. But the services of hundreds of thousands of volunteers need to be reinforced by even greater numbers of full time, paid teachers if the United States is to fully meet the needs for lifelong learning and transfer across life cycles in this more complex age.

W - Women's literacy education is of special importance because research shows that better educated women have fewer children, get better pre-natal and post-natal care, have more full-term babies, send children to school better prepared to learn, and produce greater numbers of secondary school and college graduates.

X - Xenophobia, i.e., fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners, is being fought every day in the Adult Literacy and Education System of the United States by tens of thousands of teachers in programs for both native born and immigrant adults. Better educated adults are less fearful and more accepting of others and this is conducive to better community safety and harmony.

Y - Young adults who are positioned to become parents and who are school dropouts or just poorly educated in the basic skills can receive literacy education and thereby improve not only their own life chances but those of their children when they arrive. Adult literacy education is a form of early childhood education that starts even before children are conceived.

Z - Zest and Zeal for life, greater health, wealth, social inclusion, social justice, family devotion, greater concern for and caring for the diversity of humanity and a greater chance for success in the pursuit of happiness. All these are the realities as well as the intangibles resulting from adult literacy education.


Thomas G. Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education
tsticht at aznet dot net

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting Ready for CATESOL

I'm getting ready for the CATESOL state conference in Santa Clara on 4/23-25, and hoping there will be good attendance!

There will be two labs for the Electronic Village, and many great tech presentations. I'm on two panels, and creating a one-page handout and a wiki for both.

The first one is on Distance Learning: The Future of English as a Second Language. This panel was organized by Kara Rosenberg, Principal of Palo Alto Adult School. We are covering a wide range of topics, from data on distance learning to creating a distance learning program, curriculum, and opportunities for professional development. All our materials and references are on the wiki. It's on Friday at 9 in Convention Center 204

The second one is for the Adult Level Workshop, and the loose theme is Transition. The four presenters will talk about strategic planning for adult education in California (Vittoria Abbate-Maghsoudi, Mt. Diablo Adult Education), the role of technology in transition (me), transitioning students from non-credit ESL to credit ESL at the colleges (Greatchen Bitterlin, San Diego Community College District), and the importance of professional development (Karen Dennis, Santa Ana College). Right now just my part is on the wiki. The Adult Level Workshop is on Saturday, 1:30 - 3 in Grand Ballroom A.

Other OTAN workshops are:
- Moodle (Penny Pearson, Friday at 10:45 in the Great American Ballroom)
- OTAN Resources (Branka Marceta, 9 am on Saturday in Convention Center 205)
- USA Learns (Evelyn Fella, 9:45 on Saturday)
- Connecting with Picasa (Penny and Branka, 1:30 on Saturday, Convention Center 204)

Hope to see you there, California!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson on Elluminate

Steve Hargadon interviewed Sir Ken Robinson last night on Elluminate, with over 400 people (mostly educators) in attendance from all over the world. A lively chat accompanied the talk, along with a Twitter conversation using #edchat. You can view the recording or just listen to the audio, and the audio would be fine, there wasn't much visually except a grainy video of Sir Ken.

Sir Ken is all about finding your passion and developing it, and how schools kill that passion if it isn't about math or English language arts. He has some good stories, and is promoting his new book, The Element. You can also watch his TED Talk from 2006 which has now been downloaded several million times.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Twitter at COABE

Last year I was the lonely tweeter at the COABE conference. This year, and the combined COABE/Proliteracy conference there were at least 10 of us - progress!! Go to Twitter and search for the tag #chgo10 to check out the conference. #adulted will also give some good results.

Budget Cuts to California Adult Education Programs

Next year, 2010-11, is not looking good for adult education in California. This is the second year that adult education has been in Tier 3 of the education budget, meaning that districts will receive the same amount of adult education funding that they received in 2007-08, but they are not required to run the program. The first year, many districts were able to backfill their budget deficits with reserves, including adult education reserves, and with federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, but this year there is no more ARRA funding and in many districts reserves are already spent, so they are looking for ways to make cuts.

OTAN has created a Budget Cuts Wiki page to keep track of news articles from around the state about how the budget cuts are affecting districts and local agencies. It's mostly sad news, but it's helpful to see that this crisis is not specific to any one program or district. It is pretty much across the board.

Three Funding Opportunities

Here are three funding opportunities I learned about at the COABE/Proliteracy conference in Chicago:

1. Adult Numeracy Instruction Professional Development Program - will be announced soon. Two states will be chosen to participate in the pilot of this professional development. Each state will train a team of two instructors and one administrator from 10 agencies. For more information, contact Kathy Chernus at MPR Associates, kchernus at

2. Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL)- up to 12 states will be selected through a competitive application process to receive intensive professional development and technical assistance on research-based practices in effective instruction, beginning with a focus on proven strategies in writing instruction for ABE Learners. State Directors of Adult Education have received applications by email this month. Applications are due in May. States will be selected by June 2010. There is a wee bit of information online, and the contact for more information is Mary Ann Corley at AIR, mcorley at

3. US Citizenship and Immigration Services is offering $4.5 million in grants to agencies for expanding local capacity to prepare legal residents for citizenship. There are also grants for increasing "the capacity of members or affiliates of national, regional, or statewide organizations to offer citizenship services in underserved communities." These grants must have between 2 and 4 "sub-applicants." There will be five of these $500K 2-year grants.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Daniel Pink on LearnCentral

Just listened to Steve Hargadon interview Daniel Pink about his new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. There were over 200 people (mostly teachers) in the Elluminate room for this discussion, and the chat was going like crazy.

The gist of the presentation was that what motivates us is
autonomy - our desire for self-direction
mastery - our desire to get better at what we're doing
purpose - we want to be part of something larger than ourselves

He is writing mainly for business, but the concepts translate very well to education, especially adult education where our learners are not forced to be in class, but choose to be there because they have a purpose, they are striving for mastery. I'm not sure how well we address autonomy. We talk about project-based learning and students being in charge of their own learning, but how well do we really do that? We remain, I think, mostly teacher-directed, and don't leave enough room for learners to choose their own path through the learning.

The other concept that stuck with me might not be originally his, but he called it a FedEx day, in a company where for 24 hours employees can work on whatever they want in whatever way they want, at home or at work, during the day or all night, whatever. Their one responsibility is to share with their colleagues what they are working on. Now that's tempting!

Here are some links from the chat:

An article on social networking for students, K12, but some good ideas about acceptable use for adults as well.

An article from Harvard Business Review on motivation and what really motivates us - short answer: progress. Is that really true? I guess I do feel more motivated on days when I feel like I''m making good progress on a task, especially a particularly challenging one, because on the days when I'm not making progress I feel very UNmotivated!

Last one, a short video of Daniel Pink talking about the two questions you should ask yourself every day.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Guernica in 3D

An example of what can be done with media - wow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Future of Adult Ed in the New Digital World

I attended this event at Virginia Commonwealth University a couple of weeks ago, convening a group of adult education practitioners and researchers to consider how technology will affect the field of adult education. The keynotes by Steve Reder of Portland State University, who led the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning and is now developing the Learner Web, and me, are now posted on the site.

SixthSense Technology

Dennis Porter sent me this amazing video about work happening at MIT to merge computing with the physical world. It's quite mind boggling!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Goodbye Butts in Chairs

Can't resist this one - to the tune of Candle in the Wind. Thank you, Gina Lobacarro, for posting this on the New Digital World Ning site.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More on mLearning

Mlearning seems to be the topic that is getting the focus of ed tech attention these days. Cell phones in the classroom, or no cell phones in the classroom. Adult education doesn't have the same constraints as K12, so issues like cyber-bullying aren't so relevant for adults. But this blogpost by Rob De Lorenzo made me think, again, about how our ways of learning are evolving so fast, and how education is not keeping up.

Why do we call looking up information "cheating?" We look up information all the time. When we want to know something, we go online and look for information. Is that cheating? No, it's a life skill! We should be encouraging, not punishing this behavior. Rob makes the point that education used to be about memorizing a lot of information when information was scarce. That is no longer the case, information is now abundant. Finding it and thinking critically about it are the skills we need to be teaching now.

Recently, Aug. 3, the Sacramento Bee ran an article about using cell phones in the classroom. Articles like this are a big step towards educating parents and the community about the possibilities of mlearning. Along with interviewing some technology-using teachers and tech leaders, the article provides links to more information, such as Liz Kolb's blog on mlearning. (Liz has written a book on the subject, Toys to Tools, published by ISTE.) It was from her blog that I learned about YouMail, free service to listen to your voicemail online. OK, I'm not promoting it as educational, but I'm really liking it for my personal VM.

This is all to say that mobile learning is happening, ready or not. Arguments that sounded radical a year ago now just sound like common sense. Why shouldn't students look up facts, definitions, locations, using their phones? They should!
(Photo credit: silly_a1804)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

mLearning in Africa

Information from an mLearning summit in Zambia.

A link from the Teachers Without Borders Diigo group sent me to a number of sites about mlearning and other technology in Africa.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

ePortfolios for ABE

California has created an ABE Initiative, supporting adult education programs to look at different ways to support Adult Basic Skills students and to serve them better. We have an online community for the Initiative (not open to the public). I recently received a request from several program administrators to look into the possibility of having some kind of eportfolio system for ABE students.

The things they want to be able to add to an eportfolio are: education plan, personal goals, employment goals, resume, checklist of competencies, work samples, awards, recommendations. The idea is that the student would add to or work with the portfolio maybe weekly, the instructor could check in weekly or monthly, and the student might review their portfolio with the counselor each quarter or semester. The portfolio would go with the student to higher level classes, post-secondary, or employment.

I imagined that there were several free options online, but it hasn't been so easy to find them. I started with EPAC (electronic portfolio action and communication) and their extensive list of resources, which was quite overwhelming, so I emailed Helen Chen at Stanford who was kind enough to talk with me about our goals and the various possibilities. She made several recommendations regarding programs that have implemented eportfolios, including Penn State which has a nice description for students of the steps in creating an eportfolio.

Helen also recommended Helen Barrett, who currently provides information on how to create an eportfolio using Google apps - Google Sites, Google Docs, Google Groups, etc. This might be beyond the comfort level of ABE teachers and students, though.

My current favorite possibility is Mahara - an opensource product from New Zealand that incorporates all the features we're looking for, and is also easy to use, and best of all, free! Students can create a profile, a set of goals, and a resume. They can upload files and media, as well as embedding. They can create different views of their portfolio - one for the instructor, one for prospective employers, another for themselves and their friends. You can create a demo account to try it out.

Research also took me to David Warlick's recent post on ePortfolios as the next killer app. He includes a list of features that he would like to see included. The comments and discussion on this post are interesting, and contain links to other products. I will be presenting Mahara at a meeting this week, and will see what kind of feedback it gets.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Mowing with Goats

This has nothing to do with technology, really, but did you know that Google is now using goats to keep their grass mowed? That's pretty cool! As they say on their blog, "the cost is about the same as mowing, and the goats are cuter to watch."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Twitter at COABE

I want to write about the COABE conference, (national adult education conference) but for now, I'm just going to comment that there was a lot of interest in Twitter. I think Ashton Kutscher and Larry King can be thanked for that! I twittered the conference, and encouraged others. So far I don't think anyone joined me, but I got a number of follows for OTAN.

In my workshop on Web 2.0 Tools for Administrators, the first thing they wanted to hear about was Twitter. Now that's different! I tried to explain how I use Twitter as a professional development tool. I follow links to what my fellow ed tech twitterers are reading, doing, thinking about, arguing about, and I've found lots of interesting material that I never would have seen on my own.

So I will just re-tweet here a post this morning from Ira Socol:

irasocol: Filosophical Friday- If our students could learn as much from a day in school as I do from a day on Twitter we'd be a really educated world.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Social Networking for Professional Development

I'm at the CATESOL conference, and it's been a mixture of wonderful conversations and depressing realizations; wonderful because of the opportunity to see so many colleagues that I don't get to see all the time, and depressing because adult education in California, at least the K12 adult schools, is being cut and curtailed by state budget cuts. The adult level meeting, which is usually full to overflowing, was this time full of empty chairs, and when someone asked how many were from continuing education in the community colleges, more than half the room raised their hands. That means that teachers and coordinators from the K12 adult schools aren't here this year. There was no money for travel. There was also no one from the Adult Education Office of the California Department of Education because they also are not currently allowed to travel.

One of the wonderful parts of being here in Pasadena has been sharing a hotel room with my friend Jan Jarrell from San Diego City College. She used to teach ESL with me at Centre City Adult Education Center in San Diego, and we used to walk at the bay every Thursday and strategize about how to solve the various challenges we perceived in our classes, our program, and the district, not to mention our personal lives. I've missed that since I moved to Sacramento in 2001, and had forgotten how deeply satisfying it is to talk to someone who knows you and your history, and who shares many of your values and beliefs. We don't have to start at the beginning of a conversation, we can start in the middle and still know where we are.

In a year when the opportunities for face-to-face networking are fewer than in previous years, I found myself giving a workshop on Social Networking for Professional Development to a very small audience at the end of a long day. (The slides are posted, and the links on the wiki are just the ones that aren't in the slides.) The audience was small partly because the topic doesn't appear directly related to teaching English to speakers of other languages. But the people who were there, the 3 or 4 intrepid souls who sat up front and really talked with me, were sincerely curious about social networking, and I had the opportunity to share my passion for the subject.

Today I listened to a bunch of episodes from NPR's This I Believe, so let me borrow from their format to articulate here some things I believe:
* I believe we human beings are social animals
* I believe that learning is an innate human drive like sex or the need to find food and shelter - we can't go on for too long without it
* I believe we learn through relationships as much as if not more than through solitary reading and studying
* I believe that we learn through a web of connections between reading, conversations and experiences that interact with each other in some chemical way inside our brains
* I believe that passion is one of the keys to a productive life

In my presentation I talked about Twitter to people who had never seen it, about how many things I've learned from links people have posted there. I talked about Delicious and what an excellent improvement it is to be able to save and tag bookmarks online, and to share them with others and have others share their bookmarks as well. I talked about listservs, and Facebook and LinkedIn, and I realized that I'm still excited and passionate about these things.

I talked about people I've "met" through these networks, like Stephen Downes for instance, someone I will probably never meet in real life, but whose thinking affects my thinking, and my ability to share those thoughts with others. He talks a lot about how ideas are socially generated, and I recently read a biography of Einstein that made me acutely aware of the same thing - ideas are developed socially, feeding off each other, pushing each other, disagreeing with each other. Not to negate the importance of the exceptional brilliance of some minds. I often, in this stage of my life (I'm 61), run smack into the limitations of my own intellect. But Einstein, by putting his ideas out to his field, developed relationships with the other people who were thinking about the same things he was, and through those relationships developed his ideas further. He did that through the social networks that were available to him, but now every one of us has wide social networks available to us. This, to me, is like magic.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I didn't go to TESOL this year, but got a partial experience of it through blog posts, tweets, and photos people posted on FaceBook. Here is an interesting post by Vance Stevens, a person who has been active in the technology interest section and various online developments over many years and always has something interesting to say. I didn't get to hear him speak this year, but here he is recapping a panel presentation he did as part of celebrating 25 years of the CALL (computer-assisted language learning) interest section. He talks about 10 mind-shifts that educators must make to function in the 21st century. I won't repeat them here, but the most Vance-ish one, to my mind, is:
6. Formality – from Trepidation, fear of being exposed as not knowing TO F.U.N. = encourage class to explore despite risk of Frivolous Unanticipated Nonsense

I'm for that, Frivolous Unanticipated Nonsense. We need more F.U.N.!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stephen Downes on Personal Learning Networks

I found this video by following Stephen Downes on Facebook. It is a 20 minute talk to educators about how to think about Web 2.0, and how to make it work for our own personal learning, and that of our students. He is a teacher and researcher from Canada who has a job that lets him focus on technology and education issues full time. Pretty cool! You can subscribe to his newsletter, or read his blog, to get an idea of where he's coming from.

This video (which will only be online until March 30, because Google Video is going away, it says) talks about how to collect and organize information for your own personal learning. He talks about using a blog to take notes on a class, or take notes on the things you are learning from everywhere. That struck a chord with me because this blog is really my notes on ed tech sites/developments/information that I want to remember and to share with others. He also mentions his view that content management systems are bound to be dysfunctional because they aren't built for networking, they are built on a broadcast format - one person broadcasts information to many passive recipients. Yes, there are blogs and chats and discussion boards, but they don't really solve the problem. That framed for me the frustration I feel with the CMSs we have now, they are too static.

Then he goes on to talk about the power of networking, the wisdom of crowds, and how important it is to participate, not just be a lurker, to put your ideas out there, and to respond to the ideas of other people, because that is really how we learn and how ideas develop. Information is not a static thing, it's a conversation. Today I read (in Steve Hargadon's slides) this quote, "Information has always been a conversation, it's just that most of us weren't part of it, until the Internet." Now we can all participate in the conversation, and Downes's view is that it's important to participate.

One of the first rules of participating, Downes adds, is to be authentic. Be yourself, put your real self out there. It's true, that's one of the really nice things about all this participatory media online. I feel like I've gotten to know people whose ideas I'm interested in because I listen to their podcasts, watch their videos, read their posts, and it feels like I'm in a conversation with them. I can't say that I participate back with many of them, but they are still part of my personal learning network. But the personal connection is an important part of the learning, I believe. On the other hand, as he points out, it's hard to do. For example, sitting in front of your webcam and giving a presentation when no one is present, it's hard to just be yourself. Hopefully it gets easier with practice. For example, Loic Lemeur is very used to being himself with a camera pointed at him, since his whole business, Seesmic, is based on people making short conversational videos of themselves and posting them. In the interest of authenticity I will say that personally I'm still struggling with this.

It seems like not long ago (it was last April, almost a year ago) that I first came across and blogged about the PLN concept, and now these ideas are getting much more developed. So what constitutes your personal learning network? I recommend watching Stephen's video and seeing where it takes you.

One issue that I have not resolved, though is that all of this only works for the very motivated learner. That's us teachers - we like to learn, we loved school, we enjoyed the pursuit of new fields of knowledge. But what about that learner who isn't so motivated, who has some learning challenges, for whom school was more of a misery than a joy? Those people, and there are many in adult education, may not experience the personal learning network concept the same way. But, people are motivated to learn many different things, and I can't think of a topic for which there isn't a great quantity of information and networking opportunities online. Maybe the task of the teacher is to help that student find information about the thing they are the most passionate about, and go on from there.
Photo Credit: Luc Legay

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education

You can now see video of Steve Hargadon's presentation at the Symposium, or you can listen to a similar presentation here. This is an earlier version of the talk, but I'm posting it here because it has the audio, and his slides are very visual so you miss a lot without the narration. This version doesn't have the dolphin story, though, so if you want the full effect, watch the video!

Brain Rules for Presenters

I happened upon this presentation AFTER giving 4 workshops at the Technology and Distance Learning Symposium. Good information to remember. Steve Hargadon did a nice job of following these rules in his keynote address - lots of photos, lots of stories, a few cogent points with examples. I promise to do better in the future!

My favorite point from this presentation? Spend some analog time preparing the presentation before you sit down to make the slides. Don't think and write at the same time. This totally goes against my habits, but I will try it.

And, yes folks, I discovered this through a link posted on Twitter. Have you noticed that the term Personal Learning Network has become ubiquitous and referred to as PLN? Didn't take that term long to get into our vocabulary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Online Video Resources

This is a session that I didn't get to attend, but they created a wonderful wiki page with descriptions of a variety of video sites, whether you can upload to them, and what their special features are. Take a look!


The first day of the Technology and Distance Learning Symposium went well, despite rain and budget cuts of major proportions. Those who showed up were fired up and ready to latch on to new ideas.

Gary Lopez from Monterey Institute of Technology did a presentation on Hippocampus, a website that hosts free online course content for high school diploma courses. Although the audience was small, the teachers seemed very interested in the possibilities. The courses can be customized, deleting the content that is too high for our students, or not relevant, and it appears that each teacher can create their own customized course. He didn't talk about tracking results, though, so not sure there is a management side to it.

Although some of the content is designed for AP courses, and written at too high a level for our learners, there is an Algebra course with a lot of movies and interactive activities. This would be good staff development for teachers who now have to teach Algebra after being away from it for years. It's just in time, any pace, which are both helpful. I look forward to hearing more about what teachers think of it, and seeing if we can get something going with online high school instruction.

Here are the slides from the presentation:
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Sunday, February 08, 2009

21 Ways to Reach 21st Century Learners

This page lists 21 ways to use new technologies in the classroom to engage learners and make learning more interactive and self-directed. Each of the items is a link to examples. For example, the item "Make flash cards for phones and iPods" links to instructions for how to put slides on a iPod, and also to a gallery of educational slides sets that you or your students can download to an iPod. Sets include flashcards to practice identifying the states, or a quiz on US Government. There is also a set of response cards. If all your students have an iPod, and they all download these response cards, then when you ask a question they can hold up their iPod with their response on it, such as the green Yes card, giving you another way to check comprehension or poll students.

Here are the first ten items. Go to the Web site to see the rest.

1 Contribute to a wiki
2 Read and write to a live blog
3 Collaborate using a Google spreadsheet
4 Bring YouTube into the classroom
5 Assign roving reporters
6 Students create podcasts
7 Create interactive maps
8 Create online quizzes
9 Connect to the world through Skype
10 Make flash cards for phones and iPods

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Inauguration and Adult Education

Wow, what a momentous day that was! The photos posted by the Boston Globe are really wonderful, showing how people were engaged all over the earth.

Larry Ferlazzo collected some good sites about the inauguration to use with students.

Christina Nivens created some interesting ESL activities, including a venn diagram about Barack and Michelle.

At the Sacramento County Office of Education, which provides Internet service to the school districts in the county, we had the highest demand on our bandwidth ever, twice as high as normal. I think every school in the county was trying to stream the inauguration!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Learn to Change, Change to Learn

Saw this on Twitter, and it supports a conversation at the CAEAA conference this afternoon about what implications changing technology has for adult education.

We as a field are far from the world of education described in this video, but it's important for us to start thinking in this direction. And then, one step at a time...

Monday, December 22, 2008

How to Show YouTube Videos at School

I just read an article on Larry Ferlazzo's blog about how to get around your district's blocking of YouTube. This is a problem for many teachers. There are good reasons to keep YouTube blocked, but at the same time there is so much good content there. This was obvious during the election when Obama was posting videos on YouTube, and his transition team continues to do so.

Larry's article led me to a blog post by Joyce Valenza on the School Library Journal blog called When YouTube is Blocked (eight ways around). Larry suggests bookmarking this article, and I agree. There will be that time when the perfect video that you or one of your students needs for a presentation, and this article will help you download it and convert it to a format you can play from your laptop or from within a PowerPoint.

Joyce also suggests trying other video sites that may not be blocked. TeacherTube is one that many teachers know about, but Larry suggests EduBlogs TV, which is still in beta, but is hosting educational videos, and Larry says he has used it quite a bit in teaching American History. The list of videos on the home page looks intriguing, however, I can't get any of them to play from work. Maybe they are embedded videos from YouTube? In which case. this doesn't not solve the problem.

Other suggestions?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

People of the Screen

Hey, can you tell I'm on vacation? I actually have time to read this article by Kevin Kelly in the NY Times about the ubiquity of video in our culture, and to think about it, and respond to it! (OK, I know, something's wrong with this picture when I only have time to think on vacation!)

The article compares how the printing press made us eventually "people of the book," and how digital media have become so accessible and manipulable that we will soon have a visual language to match our verbal language, and be able to create, manipulate, annotate, and recreate visual images, video, the way we now do words.

There are many ways to do this now. For example, here is an article, with classroom suggestions, about how to add thought bubbles, captions and hyperlinks to video using Bubbleply.

CCAE South

The workshop went well. I spent half the time talking about resources on the OTAN Web site, and there are always plenty of people who haven't explored yet. The other half was about video in the classroom. Useful for the teachers, but I had a mixed audience with a lot of support staff, not sure what they thought of it all. But really, you gotta admit it's amazing how easy it is to show video from anywhere. It took me all of 15 seconds to embed those videos in my blog. How many in my audience had a blog? None.

However, a teacher from Downey Adult School, John Oppenheim, did a workshop on Web 2.0 for the Classroom, and talked about blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking. This is encouraging - it's not just us OTANians talked about Web 2.0 any more! He also posted his slides.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Video as a Writing Prompt

There are lots of funny animal videos online. Here is one with a bunch of cat clips. Any one of these could be a writing prompt for a descriptive paragraph.

Using Video to Teach Math

I'm putting together some examples for a workshop on using video in the classroom. Here is a classic Abbott and Costello using math. Maybe not great for instruction, but will certainly lighten the mood once students have a good understanding of multiplication and division.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wikis in ESL

I attended this event on Saturday purely as a participant, which was a nice change. I had time to listen and observe more than I have in the past. And things have definitely changed. There were two or three presentations on wikis. A year ago, most ESL teachers hadn't heard of wikis, so this was a welcome evolution. One of the most interesting was by Cassie Piotrowski, who teaches academic writing at San Jose State. It was interesting because she was not a high tech person herself, and struggled with some of the technology in her presentation, but nevertheless she was fearless in implementing a variety of Web 2.0 activities for her students.

In her Culture and Current Events class, she has her students divided into teams, and then from each team page she created a student page for each student where they post their slide show, video of their presentation, and other assignments. On her home page, she has all assignments with links to resources and documents.

On her Writing Class wiki, look at the links to the student pages and their assignments, which include Bubbleshare slideshows, Vokis, and Wordle assignments, in which students enter a list of significant words and Wordle creates a graphic of them.

Here is a Wordle of my delicious bookmarks.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Podcasts in Adult Education

My colleague Branka Marceta did a presentation to the staff of the Adult Education Office at the CA Dept of Ed the other day on podcasting in adult ed. We have a wiki page where we collect examples of adult ed podcasts. We have examples from ESL, VESL, EL Civics, and Citizenship. It would be great to have more program areas, but it looks like we aren't there yet.

Questions from the CDE Consultants:
* Are there any administrator podcasts? We haven't heard of any, although we've heard a few administrators who are thinking about it. I think people are a bit intimidated by the idea of doing a radio show kind of thing, unless they have experience in radio or theater. It isn't hard to produce a podcast, but producing an interesting one is a bit more challenging. The interview or conversation format works well, but I've listened to quite a few ed tech podcasts with teachers that have good content but are just boring to listen to because there is too much meandering, inside jokes, off-topic conversation or whatever. Maybe we need to put some resources into this.

* What are the issues of access for our students if these are all online? More and more adult learners every year have Internet access at home, but it is still not 100% and probably never will be. Teachers that are using podcasting extensively either teach in a lab or have access to a lab. But more and more learners, especially younger ones, have mp3 players, and would like to have some learning activities they could listen to outside of school. It's become free and easy to create these, so I predict we will see more and more of them.

Branka ended the presentation by having a couple of people call in to our Gabcast channel on their cell phones and moments later we listened to their podcasts online. This is a fun activity for a presentation because of the instant gratification. We've done it at conference workshops, but still haven't had anyone tell us they're using it in their teaching.

Got more adult ed podcasting ideas? Post a comment!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Just saw a reference to this Web site where you can poll your audience and they can text an answer from their phone, or send it online, and the results show up instantly on your slide or web page, like using clickers in the classroom, only free (for now)!

This would not be a classroom tool, but could be great for presentations.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Reflections on Losing a Mentor

Susan Gaer, a long time TIMAC mentor, sent me this article about her first mentor, who helped her get technology in her classroom and then find ways to use it. I post it here as a testament to the mentoring process (this one was spontaneous!) but more especially it's an example of using Internet to find just the right kind of professional development at the right time, and back in 1994!

Susan's Article

Most people think of me as super mentor. They believe that the "technology mentor" is a higher-level species who understands the technology they inevitably don't. That is not how I see the word mentor to mean. By dictionary definition it is "a trusted counselor or guide". To me my mentors and mentees always ended up being my good friends and trusted colleagues teaching me more than I could ever hope to teach them.

I found out on Monday, July 7, that my very first mentor, Leni Donlan died last year. I want to tell you about Leni so you can know her as I did. I met her in 1994 online with AOL's educational community. I was teaching a class of literacy lao/hmong and lahu refugees most with no writing system in their own language. Most of the people in the school at the time told me they had been in this class for a long time and expectations were low. It was a rural community in Central California and information and training was hard to come by. I found AOL's educational community and met Leni Donlan who showed me how to work the system to get what I wanted.

After I got what I wanted ( a modem, phone line and 386 computer) she helped me developed projects and chats with this particular group of students. The activities were great but the real learning took place as I watched students who were considered to be the most marginal in society start to make a difference. We participated in a post card project with a class in Ohio who we sent lemon grass to. They had never had lemon grass before so my students sent instructions to use
the lemongrass. Next we read an essay about how a blind and deaf girl( I think I remember her name as Christie)could hear popcorn pop by putting her hand over the corn to feel the vibration of the popping.

We made cookbooks which bought us a industrial level stove and the book was purchased by "Legal Foods' in Boston.This led to Kathleen Ferenz and I doing a project where ESL students tasted condiments and wrote down their thoughts. Mustard was not a winner. I moved on to the post card project and then took a step on the wild side. I had my ESL Laotian tribal groups take a trip on Westward HO. I never thought it would work. There was so much culture to learn that the other students were brought up with, but when we all started baking Indian bread and learning line dancing, I knew it was one of the most amazing projects I had every participated in.

Leni would come and chat with my class on a regular basis and she said they could always hold their own language wise. She moved on, I moved on and that could have been the end of the story. However, the lessons Leni taught me have been the base of everything I have done since that time in 1994. Leni was one of the most important influences in my instructional life and she was also a great friend. That is what a real mentor is. Leni encapsulated all that and more for me. My students and I will miss her influence in the coming years.