Social Networking Sites for Professional Development

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					Building the Skills
Adult Learners Need
to Succeed as
Online Learners
• Heidi Silver-Pacuilla,   • Matthias Sturm and
  Sr. Researcher, AIR        Nancy Friday,
                             AlphaPlus Centre,
                             Ontario, Canada
• John Fleischman,
                           • Heather Robinet and
  Asst. Supt., SCOE
                             Courtney McGee, The
                             Learning Hub,
                             Ontario, Canada
   On Their Own: Adult
   Learners and Online
Heidi Silver-Pacuilla
American Institutes for Research
Investigating the language and literacy skills
   required for independent online learning
                  Published at
          National Institute for Literacy
Key Definitions
   • Online: activities for which web-based content and
     Internet connection and interactivity are integral to the
     experience for at least a portion of the engaged time
   • Independent: activities that are engaged in by users
     outside of class time, including supplemental
     activities…; not necessarily alone
   • Learning: activities that are either self-directed
     inquiries and pursuits (searches, leisure/hobby
     perusals) or self-study toward an academic or
     credentialing goal
   • Success: activities that left the user feeling satisfied
     that he or she had fulfilled a question or search, found
     helpful information, or advanced target skills
NIFL Report: Overall Key
   On threshold levels:
      – No threshold levels of literacy and language proficiency
        necessary found for adult learners to use the internet for
        independent learning were found.
      – All reports indicate that low level literacy and language
        learners are eager to engage with online content.
   When engaging in online content:
      – Adult learners report increased self-confidence, self-
        directedness and independence
      – Meets adult learners strong motivation to gain computer
        and literacy skills perceived as key to work advancement
NIFL Report: Overall Key
      – Successful learning requires a balance between the
        task, learner’s skills, and available supports.
      – Social networks (family and friends) have proven critical
        to learning with technology.
      – Targeted sites such as English for All, TV411,
        CDLPonline, and USA Learns are being found and used.
        What is lacking is evaluation and usability data.
      – Rates of access and connectivity are growing but far from
      – The use of emerging technologies is gaining interest.
• Image of CDLP
English for All

                  Image of EfA
English for All

                  Image of EfA
Implications for Practice
   It is the interaction between learners’ skills, the
       opportunities they encounter, and the supports
       available that determines the thresholds for
       independent online learning.
      – How to assess this?
      – How to match learners to opportunities?
      – How to inform learners about opportunities and strategic
      – How to train instructors to support learners in various
      – How to plan and prioritize a programs’ opportunities,
        content, supports, platforms, outreach, etc.?
USA Learns
John Fleischman, SCOE & OTAN
U.S.A. Learns Background
• A Web site designed to teach English to adult
  immigrants (
• Launched on November 7, 2008
• Primarily for learners not enrolled in formal
• For learners functioning at NRS Levels 2 (low
  beginning) through Level 5 (high intermediate)
U.S.A. Learns by the Numbers
• Since launch:
  – Total number of visits: 2.7 million
  – Average number of pages viewed per visit: 63
  – Average time on the site per visit: 28 minutes
U.S.A. Learns by the Numbers
U.S.A. Learns by the Numbers
U.S.A. Learns by the Numbers
USAL Learns by the Numbers
• Bounce rate: 19%
• Loyalty
  – 15th to 25th visit: 230,457
  – 26th to 50th visit: 214,459
  – 51st to100th visit: 128,401
  – 101st to 200th visit: 54,511
  – 200th + visit: 28,888
USA Learns by the Numbers

• USA Learns cost per hour of instruction – 6.3 cents
   – Based on annual maintenance of $76K per year

• Cost for per hour of classroom ESL instruction - $10
   – From: Adult English Language Instruction in the United
     States (July, 2007) Margie McHugh and Michael Fix.
     Migration Policy Institute
What Factors Contribute to USA
Learns Site Loyalty?
• Site design
• Relevant
• Flexible
USAL Site Design
• Simple screen
  designs with
  clear navigation
• Consistent user
USAL Site Design
• Multiple levels
  of help
• Minimal
  computer skills
U.S.A. Learns Content
• Focus on life
• Engaging
• Variety of
  –   Listening
  –   Reading
  –   Speaking
  –   Writing
USAL Flexible Access
• Users can use
  the site:
  – Without
  – Registered
  – Registered
Are Users Learning English?
• They are completing activities, units and
  courses in vast numbers with good scores.
• Many, many messages of praise from learners,
  tutors and teachers.
• Research is desperately needed to validate
  USAL as a useful curriculum for independent
  and supported learning.
Building the Skills Adults Need….
• The common notion, validated by research, is
  that distance learning works best when it is
  supported or blended.
• Recent ED publication: Evaluation of Evidence-
  Based Practices in Online Learning found that:
  “on average, students in online learning
  conditions performed better than those receiving
  face-to-face instruction.”
Building the Skills Adults Need….
• Is it possible, and does the technology exist to
  create an online learning environment where
  adults with limited language and literacy skills
  can learn in a “lesser supported” mode?
  Yes! U.S.A. Learns demonstrates that it is
  possible. But until we have the resources to
  develop the appropriate learning environments it
  will be necessary to provide an array of supports
  to help learners succeed
How Do We Help Learners Build the
• Use or create Web-based instruction designed
  appropriately for adult learners
• Incorporate a variety of asynchronous and
  synchronous communication and collaboration
• Encourage learners to take control of their
  learning by using an environment that offers
  blended (supported) and unsupported
  instructional modes
AlphaPlus Centre
Matthias Sturm, Distance Learning
Nancy Friday, AlphaRoute
Coordinator & eLearning Trainer

AlphaPlus Centre actively supports research and promotes best practice in
adult basic education for adult educators and literacy and upgrading programs
in the Deaf, Aboriginal, Francophone and Anglophone communities in Ontario.

Committed to advancing adult basic education through the effective use of
readily-available Web-based technology, AlphaPlus Centre researches and
evaluates new technologies and tools and provides professional development
and networking opportunities supporting the integration of technology use into
adult basic educator practice.
What difference does online learning make?
 Research Reports

Is online learning for me?
The Learning Hub
Heather Robinet, Coordinator of
Literacy and Basic Skills Program
Courtney McGee, Project Coordinator
for the e-Channel Literacy Initiative,
aka LearningHub
The LearningHub – Who we are!
• The LearningHub is a division of e-Channel Literacy for
  the province of Ontario, offered by the Centres for
  Employment & Learning of the Avon Maitland DSB.
• The LearningHub serves the Anglophone stream of e-
  Channel, providing learners with the opportunity to
  upgrade reading, writing, math, computer and other
  workplace essential skills online.
• The LearningHub hit the ground running in August 2007,
  and has been booming ever since!
The evolution of e-Channel
• Over the years, the Avon
  Maitland DSB has been
  involved with online learning
  projects that have prepared us
                                       1                             2
  to be where we are today:                                      e-Channel
                                                                 Pilot Phase
   – AMDEC
   – myspokes
   – LearningHub

• The e-Channel literacy                              3
  strategy is strongly connected                 Sustainable
                                                Delivery Model
  to the history of AlphaRoute
Learner Benefits
• Learners benefit from our flexible online programming by
  signing up for one of our three learning options:
   – Synchronous Learning (Saba Centra 7.6)
   – Asynchronous Learning (Plato, LearnScape & Moodle)
   – Blended Learning (Any combination of the above listed
• In addition to accessing upgrading that would
  traditionally not be available to them, learners also
  experience increased confidence of working and
  communicating online with their practitioners and peers.
Orientation & Learning Process
•   Step 1 – Learner fills out registration form on the LearningHub
•   Step 2 – Learner competes assessment form to assist with the
    development of their individualized training plan
•   Step 3 – Learner is assigned an online practitioner/mentor.
    Practitioner and learner collectively develop training plan (via
•   Step 4 - Learner is directed to appropriate learning platform to
    start their upgrading
•   Step 5 - Ongoing communication and learner support takes place
    between learner and practitioner (email)
•   Step 6 – Course evaluation/Learner Satisfaction Survey
    information is collected to ensure learners are meeting their goals
    and programming is both current and relevant
Best Practice                 Learner Supports
• Respond to new              • LogMeIn Rescue
  registrations within 3
  business days (or less)     • Email/Phone

• Utilize introductory        • Group/Individual sessions on
  courses to ease learners      Centra
  into online upgrading       • Mentors monitoring progress
• Use a variety of multi-       and connecting with learners
  media programs and            weekly to provide
  keep programming ‘fresh’      assistance/encouragement

• Create a sense of “Online   • Timely response to inquiries
  Community” with learners      to keep learners engaged
Research Projects & Lessons
   – Tim Nicholls Harrison, OSNG Union Public Library ALC Grey Bruce
   – John Thompson, DRJ Consulting
   – Michelle Eady, Eady Consulting
   – Jim McTavish Ed.D., Assessment Assistance Plus
• Summary papers of the above listed research are available
  upon request.
Thank You!
• Please complete the evaluation – it will open in
  a new window after we close this meeting
• Join the DL list if you’re not on it!

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