ProLiteracy is pleased to highlight “Engaging Technology,” by David J. Rosen, Newsome Associates. This article is featured in Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy, ProLiteracy’s free online, peer-reviewed research journal created to inform practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and funders about best practices in adult literacy, numeracy, and English language education.
An excerpt of “Engaging Technology” is highlighted below.
Each Technology Solutions for Adult Basic Skills Challenges column begins with a common challenge facing adult basic skills practitioners. Solutions offered for these challenges, at least in part through the use of technology, include hardware or software applications such as websites, course management systems, learning management systems, and apps for mobile devices. Each article begins with a description of a teaching challenge, and then examines solutions that involve the use of technology.
Description of the Challenge
When this column was written, most or all adult basic skills education as well as K-12 and higher education were being delivered remotely; many teachers who were new to remote or online teaching were faced with how to keep students engaged. Online courses have a reputation, sometimes but not always deserved, for being tedious, boring, or irrelevant to the challenges of adult learners’ daily lives. Because so much of what else happens online is designed to be engaging or entertaining, such as movies, online gaming, social media, and instant messaging, online teachers have an especially difficult challenge to engage learners.
Some might argue that when students have difficulty getting online and maintaining the access and bandwidth needed for online learning, the technology itself is a reason that some learners do not get engaged. They also point out that the digital divide in the United States, which has received new attention as a result of the pandemic, may be exacerbated for low-income families because of the loss of their jobs that are needed to pay for internet hardware and access from home. Nevertheless, some teachers and adult learners have managed to overcome these challenges and to have engaging online teaching and learning. In this Technology Solutions column, we will look at what technology they use, and what they do with it. If you are reading this when in-person learning is again possible, you may still find this column useful if you are thinking about what in the online part of your blended learning approach could engage your students.