Adult educators do not have many opportunities for training and support when it comes to implementing technology in the classroom. Yet, technology has become a necessary resource.
The authors of the research article “Adult Educators Adopting Technology in Their Classrooms Through Innovation, Collaboration, and Inquiry” look closely at a professional development initiative focused on incorporating technology into the classroom. Three instructors share their firsthand accounts of participating and how it boosted English language reading and comprehension skills and encouraged peer-centered learning.
The article can be found in the most recent issue of ProLiteracy’s free, peer-reviewed research journal Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy.
Read an excerpt from the article below.
Many adult educators are turning to technology as a resource that has potential for anywhere/anytime learning opportunities, meeting learners’ diverse goals, and supporting digital literacy. However, using any new technology in the classroom can also present unexpected obstacles, from technical glitches to learners not participating as intended. More opportunities for ongoing professional development and information about best practices for technology are needed in the field (Rosen & Vanek, 2017).
In Philadelphia, the Office of Adult Education (OAE) worked since 1983 to provide professional development and technical assistance to adult education programs. In 2017, we received funding to implement the PHL Technology in Adult Education Initiative. The project ran for 18-months and was structured around three 90-day sprints for the nine adult education practitioners who participated to completion, with a focus on ongoing peer collaboration. We also provided support as practitioners developed research questions, collected and analyzed data, and wrote reflections based on their findings.
A collaborative, inquiry-based approach has been used successfully as a way for teachers to advance their practice related to technology (Hobbs & Coiro, 2019). To further highlight the learning opportunities that accrue by sharing knowledge among participants, we employed a communities of practice approach. Communities of practice have been used widely in educational settings and emphasize learning and knowledge creation as a social process (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). The research aspect of the project was inspired by the idea of practitioner inquiry, which focuses on knowledge generated by practitioners in their practice (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009). We also drew from general best practices in K-12 professional development, including active learning techniques and time for collaboration and reflection (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017). Finally, certain logistical aspects were informed by a similar initiative (Illinois Digital Learning Lab, 2018).
Download the Article