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Montana ABLE Research-based Instruction:

Research Snippets

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Research #14 Research #15

 

Distance Learning Research #12:  Using Technology for ESL Research of Learners without Educational Experience

With the ESL Conference coming up in about a month, if you haven’t already looked at some of the research that is being done at the ESL Lab School Portland State University, then now is the time.

English Literacy:  A Challenge for Low-Education Students

Kathy Harris writes:  At the ESL Lab School at Portland State University, we’ve been studying low level ESOL students in our classes.  Recently we’ve examined learners who have little or no education in their first language while they attended our lowest level ESOL classes.

The Lab School ’s video recording technology and special analytical software programs have enabled us to watch teaching and learning as it takes place. Each of our two classrooms was equipped with two remotely-controlled cameras focused on a single student who was also wearing a microphone as they participated in class. Each class day, two different students wore microphones and were followed by these remotely-controlled cameras. In addition, fixed-focus cameras were mounted in the four corners of the classroom to record the overall classroom activity. Although the classroom video recordings were made from 2001 to 2006, the analysis of the videos and our research is ongoing.

What have we observed in the videos? For example, it is well known that acquiring English literacy can be a challenge for low-education students, and we have seen that in our data as well. We have also seen that literacy isn’t the only challenge faced by these low-education learners. They must also learn how to “do school.” Learners who have attended school as children or adolescents come to ESOL classes knowing how school “works.” They know how to start activities, how to ask for help, and how to be an expert or novice in a classroom interaction …

NIFL Adult English Language Acquisition Discussion List, Post 5779 by Kathy Harris, 4/12/10

For more information about the ESL Lab School, click here http://www.ncsall.net/?id=987 to access the article, The “Lab School” by Steve Reder.  Also click here http://www.nifl.gov/pipermail/englishlanguage/2010/005865.html to access posts on the Adult English Language Acquisition discussion list.  You may even want to watch videos made at the ESL Lab School.  A specific video, “Li day 5 interaction (October 2002)”, demonstrates the difficulty for a new learner to participate in an activity. Kathy Harris writes: 

To watch the classroom observation clips

You need to:

1.       be using a PC with Windows 98 or later

2.       be an administrator on the machine

3.       have a high-speed internet access such as DSL or cable

4.       use Internet Explorer (no other browser)

If these four things are possible, then go to the address below and follow the instructions:

http://www.labschool.pdx.edu/Viewer/viewer.php?pl=NIFLclips

Question: 

To use a question from Kathy Harris, she asks:

What has your experience been?

Have you seen learners struggle to participate in a classroom activity when you think that they have the language skills?

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

 

Distance Learning Research #11:  Adapting Technology to Content

Springtime in the Rockies is a busy time for all Montana ABLE programs:  Standards in Action meetings, Montana’s Second ESOL conference, Leadership Academy closure, Performance-based Funding meetings, and more importantly, local graduation ceremonies.  Even with all of these things going on, MTLINCS will still continue to provide you with snippets of Distance Learning Research.  If you have a moment, email a post to share with your Montana colleagues!  

Adapting Technology to Content

Technology frees students and teachers from time and space as well as gives them access to unlimited resources. On the other hand, the technology infrastructure is not up to speed and highly susceptible to breaking down hindering the learning process as well as possibly increasing computer anxiety, the amount of time spent on a course, and information overload. These problems need to be addressed and empirically studied to effectively integrate technology into college classrooms. It is not enough to just utilize the technology, instructors must learn to successfully adapt the technology to the content. As Diane Witmer observed, the ultimate purpose of using technology in education is to enhance learning (1998, p. 164).

Layng, Dr. Jacqueline M. “Distance Learning: The Challenge and Opportunity of Online” Technology Journal of Literacy and Technology 75.  Volume 9, Number 3: December 2008, ISSN: 1535-0975 http://www.literacyandtechnology.org/volume9_3/jlt_v9_3_layng.pdf#page=56

Many Montana ABLE programs are using the GED Online series along with SkillsTutor as a supplement for Distance Learning instruction.  There are many challenges that go along with providing Distance Learning for Montana ABLE students other than infrastructure problems.  Besides using various websites for GED instruction in order to “adapt the technology to the content,” ABLE programs are also matching seatwork activities, i.e. workbooks, etc. to meet students’ needs.  Adaptation occurs in many forms.

Question: 

What adaptations have you made for Distance Learning?  Are there any supplemental materials that you recommend other programs try?  

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

 

Distance Learning Research #10:  Can Distance Learning Help Stopout Students?

Montana ABLE staff understand that many times students need to “stop out” for a variety of reasons.  Programs attempt to make contact on a regular basis to re-engage stopouts.  Some programs are using Distance Learning to keep participants engaged.  Since the Distance Learning design is fairly new for most Montana ABLE programs, we may want to look at an example of a program that has been in existence for 18 years in Florida.

WHAT and WHO?

The Seminole Community College (SCC) in Sanford, Altamonte Springs, Florida, has been using the GED Home Study/GED Online for the past 18 years.  Many of the students who choose Home Study have non-traditional work schedules, no transportation options, family obligations, chronic illnesses, or a lack of the funds or the resources for childcare.  Still others have never felt comfortable in a classroom setting … During its first 18 years, SCC's GED distance learning program accepted almost everyone. However, the program's lower-level students were experiencing frustration and failure; almost 60 percent dropped out each term. So, in 2003 eligibility criteria were instituted. To be eligible, SCC GED Home Study/GED Online students must score grade-level 9.0 for reading and grade-level 6.0 for math and language on Form D of the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE). 

 

HOW?

… Nearly one third of the GED Home Study/GED Online program's 115 participants have come from the traditional campus classrooms. Whenever students communicate to their instructors that something has or is going to disrupt their lives, instructors can refer them to the GED Home Study/GED Online Program. Through Home Study, students can keep up with their GED studies while taking care of their immediate or imminent problems.

 

CHALLENGES

The potential of the GED Home Study/GED Online program seems limitless. In reality, SCC's Home Study program is plagued by many of the same problems that traditional classrooms face. The program now has an annual dropout rate of 40 percent. As researcher Alisa Belzer (1998) writes, "The question of how to improve student retention cannot be solved with simple or single answers. The same obstacles or supports can create different outcomes for different students. Since often many complicated and interrelated factors are involved in the decision to continue participation in a program, a simple or single solution may make no difference."

SCC's GED Home Study/GED Online Program is neither simple nor does it offer a single solution to the overwhelming challenge of adult student retention. Although the program eliminates many of the obstacles adult students face, it does not eliminate the need for motivation, self discipline, and the time needed to do the work.

McLellan Schoneck, Lauri.  “Distance Learning as a Backup.” Focus on Basics:  Volume 8, Issue C, November 2006.  http://www.ncsall.net/?id=1153

 

Based on the above information, Montana ABLE can see that Distance Learning still presents challenges regarding student stopouts.   

Question: 

If you have implemented a Distance Learning program or are in the process of implementing one, have you seen similar challenges?  If so, what have you done to problem-solve those obstacles?

 

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

 

Distance Learning Research #9:  Is Distance Learning a Culture or a Tool?

Recently, participants of the Leadership Academy were asked to read the article “Creating a Learning Culture” by Marcia L. Conner and James G. Clawson.  Certainly the article was in reference to leadership; however, the following statement regarding technology was made in the article:

If leaders want to create adaptive organizations, capable of getting better at getting better, they must first look at two fundamental issues: how people learn in the workplace and how to create a learning culture in which technology plays an appropriate supporting role. p.1

Computers, the Internet, e-mail, cell phones, e-learning, and the myriad technologies that will be sold as “the next killer application” can enhance our learning, but in a culture that does not allow people to learn in context, technology adds nothing. Technology doesn’t replace a learning culture; it is one and only one tool to use in the community of learning. The use of technology does not stimulate more learning, but it does reflect how active a learning culture might be. In this way, distance learning technology is a mirror of an organization’s culture with regard to learning, not a stimulus for reshaping it. p.2

Conner, Marcia L. and Clawson, James G.  “Creating a Learning Culture.”  p.1-2.  http://agelesslearner.com/articles/lc_connerclawson_tc600.html 

Many ABLE students have not been a part of an academic learning culture for a very long time.  Some have not even been exposed to that type of learning.  They may enter programs and review skills that are not contextual.  Does Distance Learning make learning contextual? 

Question: 

Reflecting upon the above statement, do you believe that Distance Learning can be successful with ABLE students?  If so, must they first experience a “learning culture”?  How?  Please take a moment and share your thoughts with your Montana colleagues!  Don’t worry.  There are no wrong answers!   

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

 

Research #8:  Can Research Keep Up?

Research Keeping Pace

We are continually reminded how important research is in our field.  We go forth, refer to the research, and then say, “Hey, that’s what we have been doing.”  One of the key findings in Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning states the following:      

Programs’ efforts to implement supplemental and alternative learning options with online content are being documented.  Yet technology trends, access patterns among American adults and delivery platform options develop and change ahead of the pace of data collection, published evaluations, and program planning.  Although not all of the findings below are wholly new to the field, finding them again as the result of a systematic investigation adds credibility to commonly known realities in adult literacy and language learning, such as the importance of work-related skills. 

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.32.  http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf

Since we all need affirmation for what we are doing, the research provides us with that.  We always like to know that we are on the right track and that the light we see is not another train headed our way.

Question: 

If you could share one thing you have been doing with Distance Learning that has worked out well for you, what would it be?  Please take a moment and share your success with your Montana colleagues!   

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

 

Research #7:  Learning from the Field

Learning from the Field

For those of you who have been implementing or designing an implementation plan for Distance Learning, there may not have been any new information that has been posted based on the distance learning research, for the research results appear to be more of an affirmation of what many programs may already know.  The field really does have good insight about the potential of online learning.  What we all know is that it takes time and personnel.

In Silver-Pecuilla and Reder's research, Birru et al. (2004) described several of the challenges that have been resonated by experienced literacy providers and content producers.

Practitioners are not always aware of appropriate and relevant Internet content that is written in easy-to-read language, translated content, sites with embedded text-to-speech features, or sites with instructional videos.  There are few formal channels of information dissemination to literacy and language instructors.

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.29.  http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf

Question: 

With that in mind, what are some websites that you are using in your classroom that you think other Montana ABLE teachers might like to use?

Please send the link to those sites for MTLINCS to post.

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

Research #6:   Language/Literacy Level Summary

Threshold Levels of Language or Literacy

Most Montana ABLE providers are finding that it is easier to deliver online services to students with fairly solid reading and math skills.  As Lennox McLendon would say, “That is a BFO – Blinding Flash of the Obvious.”  However, the research has noted that those at a literacy level are very interested in online learning.

Determining threshold levels of language or literacy associated with successful learning or demonstrating casual achievement gain solely to a technology a technology intervention cannot be done at this time.  Instead, the field is amassing reports, evaluations, and evidence of the catalytic nature of technology-enhanced learning for even the lowest skilled learners.  The motivational draw of learning with and about new technology application energizes learners’ literacy, numeracy, language, and self-development.  It is no longer a question of whether enhancing literacy and language learning with technology is appropriate for low-skilled learners, but rather how.

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.27-28.  http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf


Question: 

For those of you providing Distance Learning opportunities for students, are you making any modifications for literacy students so that they may also participate in online learning?  If so, what are you doing?   

Any thoughts? 

·       Email:  Click here to email MTLINCS.  OR

·       Blog:  Click here to post on the DL Blog.

 

Research #5:  Support

 Support

We in the classroom know that our students need teachers as facilitators.  Although students try several modes of independent learning via technology, they still need guidance and support.  That was confirmed in several research studies.

According Silver-Pecuilla and Reder's, convergence on the following items existed in several of the studies reviewed: 

Online learners and teachers need support -- pure online delivery is not best practice for adult literacy and ESOL learners (AlphaRoute, 2003;Daniels, Gillespie, Stites, & Nelson, 2004; FGRD, 1999; NCVER, 2002; Parke & TracyMumford, 2000; Porter & O'Connor, 2001; Stiles & Porter, 2006).  Support could include:

  • a facilitator for students at least some of the time;
  • student-to-student communication;
  • readily available tech support for both teachers and students; and
  • peer group for teachers of distance courses as teachers learn the new medium.

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.21.  http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf


Question: 

What type of support are both you and your distance learning students needing?  

Any thoughts? 

 

Research #4:  Blended Approach

Numeracy Study

In 2005 Q. Li and K. A. Edmonds contrasted teacher-led without Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) to teacher-led CAI with adults learning math. Final scores revealed little difference between teacher-led and CAI supplemental scores; both groups gained overall with differential gains based on math unit topic.

However, here is one of the positive outcomes.

Student surveys indicated strong positive response to the technology-enhanced experience, expressing appreciation for the immediate feedback and opportunities to practice their skills in an engaging format, but also indicated that the teacher was vital to provide guidance and scaffolding. 

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.18.  http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf


Question: 

For those of you providing Distance Learning opportunities for students, approximately how much time per week do you spend "working" with the DL student?  What role does the teacher have in DL?   

Any thoughts? 

 

Research #3:  Online Learners Part III

Stephen Reder at Portland State University has been working on the Longitudinal Study of Adult Literacy (LSAL) for the past ten years.  As is stated in NIFL's Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning, "this study addresses literacy development, learning, education, and life experiences of out-of-school adults.  The analysis is conducted to determine whether there are threshold levels of literacy associated with patterns of independent, technology-enhanced learning." The main data for the following information was taken from Wave 5, a cross-secitonal cohort, for which 801 individuals were interviewed in 2004-205, representing 86% of the total sample. 

The findings in NIFL's report note the following key point:

Matching the literacy proficiencies of respondents to how they rate their likelihood of using such systems (free service available through the Internet) ... shows a trend among those who do self-study that the lower the literacy proficiency, the more apparent interst there is in using such technologies.  

Key Point

Learners with low skills are seeking and engaging in learning, but mainly outside of formal systems.

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.12-13.  http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf


Question: 

If learners with low skills are seeking and engaging learning, then why are they not seeking services at ABLE programs?  Or are they?   Are Montana ABLE programs providing these students with access to technology? 

Any thoughts? 

 

Research #2:  Online Learners Part II

According to the NIFL research document, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning," in 2000-2001 U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics completed the National Household Education Survey Participation in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning telephone survey.  The study  surveyed 10,873 representative of adults over age 16, not in full-time formal schooling One of the key findings was the following:

Confirmed trends that adults with higher educational attainment and incomes participated in more continuing education activities; reported less than 1% participates in ABE-ESOL classes

A technology-related finding follows:

Technology is increasingly used in instruction, but the Internet and World Wide Web are still a novelty for course delivery.

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009, p.6.    <http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf >


Question: 

So this report was eight years ago.  What do you think?  Have things changed?  Is using the Internet for course delivery still a novelty for ABLE delivery?  If so, why? 

Click here to mail a response to MTLINCS

OR

Click here to post your comment on the Distance Learning Blog.

 

Research #1:  Online Learners

Some of the research that was cited in 2008-2009 recommended that "participants in the GED online program at Vance Granville Community College in North Carolina learners must demonstrate a 9th grade level or higher in order to be enrolled in online courses."  However, that does not necessarily mean that all online learners must be at that level

This investigation (Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning) was undertaken to investigate the threshold levels of literacy and language proficiency necessary for adult learners to use the Internet for independent learning. As the investigation unfolded, it became apparent that the interaction among the learners’ skills, the opportunities they encounter, and the supports available determines those thresholds. Understanding how to balance those elements can create new options and opportunities for learning, instruction, program planning, and content development.

This report is structured around three distinct sections that contribute to the investigation: learning from large-scale surveys, learning from the literature, and learning from the field. Triangulating from the three major data sources affords this report solid footing on which to draw key findings from the guiding research questions.

The search for thresholds revealed that such thresholds did not exist: Learners at even the lowest levels of literacy and language proficiency can engage with online learning content. Moreover, all reports indicate that they are eager to do so and that they benefit in important ways, such as self-confidence, self-directedness, and independence. Adult learners across the literacy and language spectrum show strong motivation to gain computer literacy skills, perceived as key to work advancement.

Silver-Pecuilla, Heidi and Reder, Stephen, "Investigating the Language and Literacy Skills Required for Independent Online Learning."  NIFL, October 2009.    <http://www.nifl.gov/publications/pdf/NIFLOnlineLearningReport.pdf >


Question: 

Have you taught online any Beginning ABE, Low Intermediate ABE, and High Intermediate ABE students?  What kind of success are you finding with these students?

Click here to mail a response to MTLINCS.