Assessing and Teaching Adult Learners’ Basic and Advanced 21st Century Digital Literacy Skills
Posted by Jessica Gilmour on July 23, 2020 in categoryFacts & ResearchcategoryAdvocacycategoryMember Tips

This week we are spotlighting the article “Assessing and Teaching Adult Learners’ Basic and Advanced 21st Century Digital Literacy Skills,” by David J. Rosen, Newsome Associates. This article is featured in ProLiteracy’s research journal, Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy, in a special issue titled Broadening the Lens on Adult Literacy Education Outcomes. The journal’s mission is to publish research on adult basic and secondary education and transitions to college and career programs.

An excerpt of “Assessing and Teaching Adult Learners’ Basic and Advanced 21st Century Digital Literacy Skills” is highlighted below.

The focus of the Technology Solutions for Adult Basic Skills Challenges column begins with common challenges facing adult basic skills practitioners, expressed, for example, in the LINCS Integrating Technology group for which I am the moderator, in other LINCS groups, in my national and state conference or webinar presentations, or privately in face-to-face discussions or by phone or email. Solutions to these problems, at least in part through the use of technology, include: hardware such as desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, electronic tablets, VR Goggles, and electronic whiteboards; and digital software applications such as websites, course management systems, learning management systems, databases, and apps for mobile devices. Each article begins with a challenge and examines one or more possible technology solutions.

In the technology solutions column of this special issue of Adult Literacy Education, that focuses on Broadening the Lens on Adult Literacy Education Outcomes, I want to challenge our field to expand our view of digital literacy. Of course, basic digital literacy skills must be included, but we have to look beyond to the digital skills and attitudes adults need in order to research their questions; judge the quality of information they have found; and to solve problems at home, work and in their community that require or can benefit from the use of digital skills, comfort, confidence and fluency. These define the digital literacy capacity adults need to solve new problems facing us in a changing society, including the new problems created by ever-changing technology itself. As adult basic skills researcher, practitioner and administrator Dr. Jen Vanek put it in a January, 2017 PIAAC Commissioned paper,  “Using the PIAAC Framework for Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments to Guide Instruction: An Introduction for Adult Educators.”

The increasing complexity and number of technology tools in our communities has altered the nature of work, schooling, and daily life. This, and the attendant increased complexity in tasks and problem solving, positions learners (as well as teachers!) as life-long learners. To truly prepare learners to succeed outside the classroom, we need to teach more than academic content. Our instruction must also help learners develop the resilience they need to address future changes. By building a learner’s ability to employ the problem-solving process, we can support their continued learning in a dynamic world.

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