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Adult Literacy and New Technologies - Federation of American ...

Adult Literacy and New Technologies - Federation of American ...

Chapter 7–Technology

Chapter 7–Technology Today: Practice vs. Promise | 207 Box 7-E—Project SALSA: Sending Computers Home With Learners SOURCES: LimIa h et al., S/USA (Southvut Adwnce$ Leunabg Sy#em@r AdWtr) Piios Projec! Rerturc h Report ~AzxUosalsdoGmmllm“ly collegq April 1991); Jhlll%asicr, mlm4gerof6dacMoarwca@% Motada~* permnal camumbWQ 1992; snd Karm M@ ssmdate &m of~ . ~ -~ -$- Wmmbmn, 1992.

208 I Adult Literacy and New Technologies: Tools for a Lifetime the most basic level, there is far less use of computer networks than is possible or desirable. Although there are numerous examples of networked systems that combine electronic mail, bulletin boards, and other capabilities to create exciting learning environments for children, 51 these methods are not being employed in adult literacy programs. This is paralleled by a general isolation of personnel in one facility from those at other facilities even when programs fall under one central administrative system. Programs often seem to be functioning in an intellectual and operational vacuum. Coordination of services with other agencies is frequently desired, but seldom achieved. Few programs use their technology to identify or access other social services available to adult learners, except for some welfare reform initiatives where such coordination is mandated. In short, the potential for information exchange is singularly untapped in agencies visited, despite their desire for it. Several projects and States are experimenting with networking and data coordination: ■ In Philadelphia ‘‘Power Learning," a pilot project, implemented by the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, is linking together learners and teachers from eight community-based adult education projects. One-hundred learners, each enrolled in a program at one of the eight sites, have been loaned a computer and a modem to take home. The system allows electronic conferencing among teachers and learners, access to PLATO courseware, and word processing. Learners are using the computers in many ways, but writing is the predominant activity. Students are writing about themselves, talking 51 SW R~er, op. Cit., fOOblO@ 19, to each other online, and sending messages to their teachers. 52 The Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN Online Communication System has been set up as part of California’s strategic plan for adult education. This system provides electronic mail through which people working in adult education can contact others in California and throughout the Nation (see chapter 6, figure 6-2). In addition, it provides an electronic database full of resources and information for teachers and administrators. 53 Video technology is surprisingly underused given its familiarity and availability. The virtual explosion of easily accessible and relatively inexpensive video technologies, in particular VCRs and videotapes, offers exciting new possibilities for using video as a learning and teaching tool. Yet video use in literacy programs is limited. Videos are used largely to provide information or stimulate group discussions in class. A few programs have videocameras or other video production equipment, which they use to tape special events or mock job interviews, but producing video or using video as a classroom resource is a rare activity. Examples of innovations include: ■ ■ To help employees who want to improve their reading skills at home, one company is distributing a 5-1/2 hour beginning reader video series called I Want to Read. 54 As part of the service, this company conducts a promotional campaign with an 800 number, mails videos and support materials to interested employees, offers telephone counseling, and helps employees to find a community literacy program. Arlington Community Television has produced a video series called Communicating Survival 52 Dow Cwvr, exmtive ~tor, ~~or’s co~ssion On fit~cy, p~~dclp~, p~ yrsod UMIIIIlllnhtiou W. 26, 1993. 53 J~~ ~eiwb ~d Ge~d H. ~1~~ “~ult ~ucaion ‘I&hnoIogy in the tild~ shk,’ Muff kzr~i~g, January/FeMuary 1993, pp. 15-16. ~ me series was produced by Anabel Newmm of the University of India.m

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