Volume #1 Issue #1 March 1997
Typically adult literacy programs acquire technology first for administrative use, then for instructional support purposes, and finally for direct training. (See chart below.) This process has been documented in an American report Literacy and Machines by Terilyn C. Turner.*
*Technical Report April 1993, National Center on Adult Literacy, Philadelphia, PA
Typical Process of Computer Acquisition
in Adult Literacy Programs
To maintain records on learners,
budget information and
reports to funders.
2. Instructional Support
To create learning materials,
including games and crosswords.
3. Direct Training
To provide supplemental learning activities
using drill and practice computer programs or
performing real life tasks
such as word processing,
spreadsheet and database programs.
There has been no comparable study done in Canada to find out whether this reflects the general practice here. Nevertheless, in Canada as in the United States, the two factors that generally determine how technology is acquired are:
- program budgets and
- program needs and priorities.
Budget Guide for Technology Planning
The following budget guide, taken from the previously cited report entitled Literacy and Machines, may help set some parameters for planning technology related purchases:
The following estimates may be helpful for budget planning:
Item__________________ % of Budget
Program Planning Priorities
Technology purchases should always be considered in response to identified needs and gaps in programs. In these days of accountability it is important to be able to articulate the specific reasons for making an expensive purchase, and then plan for the results or outcomes expected.
First, make sure there is an informed and shared understanding of the specific needs and outcomes of your program.
Second, determine what program needs or outcomes may best be addressed by technology, remembering that technology is never a miracle cure or solution in and of itself.
Third, investigate and research the specific options which are both affordable and available to meet those needs. Don't forget to consider long as well as short term goals.
In this example we will look at a community based program offering adult literacy programming to a multi-level group ranging in number from 15 to 30 learners. They have budgeted $5000 for purchasing technology. The class is taught by a teacher and a volunteer. The teacher has experience using a home computer.
Identifying Program Needs
In this multi-level teaching situation, where students often come and go on a drop-In basis, it is difficult for staff to attend to individual needs. They would like to be able to provide opportunity for independent work for learners who want to move ahead, as well as extra work for learners who need more practice to consolidate new concepts and skills. Although they continue to add a wide variety of print-based material to their teaching resources, they feel they need to broaden their resources to include multimedia material. They are concerned that there is not enough integration of oral language into their program. They have the use of a TV and would like to purchase a video machine and headset with some video-based learning materials. They would also like to purchase a computer with CD-ROM and some multimedia software.
Most of the learners have no computer experience, and as they will likely be working independently, the programs should be easy to use, require minimal instruction, engage and motivate to the learner, and have some assessment and tracking capabilities to monitor student progress.
Looking into Hardware/Software Purchases After contacting a few computer dealers who offer educational discounts, they have decided to purchase a computer with built-in CD-ROM and sound recording/playing capabilities and a printer. This particular computer package comes with a bundle of software including an encyclopedia and a dictionary.
They also want to buy some educational software, but plan to begin by borrowing software from Alpha Ontario. They are not quite sure of their criteria for purchasing software, but would like to begin to develop one. They will review the borrowed software according to the guidelines on page 4.
by Pauline McNaugnton
See Program Features to Consider when Reviewing Educational Software.
The Center for Literacy Presents
Technology for literacy:
Leader: Chris Hopey, University of Pennsylvania
Date: Thursday, April 17, 1997
Time: 5:30-9:30 pm
Fee: $50.00/session (includes supper & materials)
3040 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, QC., H3Z 1A4
Tel. (514) 931-8731 ext. 1415 Fax (514) 931-5181
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