Volume #1 Issue #1 March 1997
Published by the Continuing Education
Centre, Ottawa Board of Education, 515 Cambridge St. South, Ottawa, ON, K1S 4H9.
Tel. (613) 239-2656 Fax (613) 239-2429 WWW:
- Editor: Pauline McNaughton. (http://www.obe.edu.on.ca/contweb/)
TECHNOLOGY & ADULT LITERACY
What role can new technologies play in promoting and developing literacy in Canada?
This was one of the questions discussed at a national policy conversation organized by the National Literacy Secretariat (NLS) in January 1995. It was generally agreed that technology could play an important part in supporting literacy programs, but the reality was that there was very little computer equipment available to literacy programs across the country.
A study was then begun to determine the technological needs of the literacy community. Specifically NLS was interested in the kind of technology necessary to:
- help practitioners and literacy organizations communicate with each other and with those who support them, and
- provide practitioners and literacy organizations with ready access to the information they require to do a better job.
The report* concluded that:
"People don't know what the alternatives are, or even how to properly assess their technological needs in order to make appropriate purchases."
A number of barriers preventing programs from using more technology were identified. They include lack of:
- funding to purchase equipment
- awareness of information that is available
- time faced by practitioners and volunteers
- training and support for using technology
- phone lines in some remote locations
Similar conclusions were drawn from a survey of the use of technology in Ontario literacy programs in 1996. (See below.)
Barriers to Increased Use of Technology
(% of respondents) Financial resources (98%)
Time for staff training (73%)
Information about use of computers (56%)
Too many choices, hard to make decisions (36%)
Staff/instructors resistant to using computers (20%)
Source: Computer Technology Survey of Ontario Adult Literacy Organizations
The development of computer-assisted learner resources ranked as a top priority according to the Ontario Survey. Respondents felt it would help in adult retraining and job preparation. It would also enable programs to provide greater service at less cost and to serve a wider variety of learning styles.
The most valuable help that could be given to literacy programs respondents said would be information about the kinds of technology available for adult literacy programs, information about what other programs are doing, and also software and hardware evaluations and reviews to provide guidance in making purchasing decisions.
The idea for a national newsletter on technology and adult literacy came as a direct result of these reports. The mandate of CONNECT was written in response to these areas of need identified by those working in literacy. The mandate is:
- to promote the appropriate use of technology in literacy programs;
- to provide information regarding the use of technology in curriculum;
- to provide information that will help programs:
- determine their technological needs,
- make appropriate and affordable purchases of software and hardware,
- keep abreast of what other programs are doing.
In order to fulfill this mandate we need to hear from literacy practitioners across the country in the form of articles and suggestions as to how this newsletter can best serve you. Please write!
by Pauline McNaughton, Editor
* Copies of the study: Needs Assessment for an Electronic Infrastructure to support the Canadian Literacy Community, conducted by Consulting and Audit Canada (CAC) can be obtained from: National Literacy Secretariat, 15 Eddy St., Room 1 0E1 0, Ottawa, ON Kl A 1K5 Canada
This publication of CONNECT has been made possible through support in the form of direct funding or services-in-kind from the following:
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