Finding Our Way: Digital Technologies and E-Learning for Adult Literacy Students, Educators and Programs

October 23, 2011

Finding Our Way from Alpha Plus is a must-have resource for anyone working in adult literacy.

Written by Maria Moriarty, this literature review from 2005-2011 that looks at digital reading; digital skills and employment; learning disabilities and assistive technology; the digital divide; anywhere/anytime learning; collaborative learning; and professional development in technology for literacy educators.

It examines how technology has been used to enhance learning and professional development. It also asks the question: Where do we go from here?

The report includes some excellent discussion and carefully examines how technology is being integrated into literacy today.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


How the Military Promotes Language Learning

October 21, 2011

Dr. Sarah Eaton's blogThe U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) recently released an article about how they strive to preserve and promote language skills. The article talks about how the DOD trains thousands of employees a year in over two dozen languages. They make some interesting points such as:

Recruits often wait 2 or 3 years for assignments in a location requiring a foreign language, in order to get their skills up to snuff.

Language skills can atrophy over time. It’s a “use it or lose it” kind of thing.

The military uses a variety of means of teaching including face-to-face classes, distance education, video training, virtual classrooms and mobile learning teams.

The Defense Language Institute (DLI) has over 26 language training facilities around the world.

Last year the program provided 21,000 hours of instruction to nearly 1,300 students. That’s almost ten times what it provided in 2009, which was 2400 hours of instruction.

I find it ironic that while government ministries, school boards and universities are drastically slashing the budgets for language programs, the U.S. military has increased its language teaching programs dramatically. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if those in charge of education invested in language training for younger students, that those students would become more employable in their early adult years?

Could it be that the military has more insight into the value of language learning than educational policy makers?

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Enrollment in Calgary French classes drops by over 10,000 students

October 20, 2011

Today the Calgary Herald reported that 10,517 fewer students are studying French in our city this year. This came after the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) decided to make French an optional subject. (I blogged about it on April 24 of this year.)

As a result, 24 school principals in Calgary decided to cut French from their school’s programs. That meant that even if children at those schools wanted to study French, they could not. There were simply no French classes offered.

As a result, there was a 30% drop in enrollments and the school board is being critiqued by parents, researchers and ordinary citizens for not allowing our city’s children to study our country’s other official language.

What did they think would happen?

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


12 Things I Did to Build a Following of 2000 Engaged Twitter Followers

October 20, 2011

There’s a myth about Twitter followers. You don’t need more followers. You want more engaged followers.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2009. I spent probably 9 months figuring out what it was all about and how to use it. Then, I started looking at other people’s followings and wondering how they did it. That’s when I learned that some people literally buy followers, by paying into a service. Everyone who pays into the service follows each other. That inflates your following. But to me, those kinds of followers don’t mean anything. And I didn’t want them.

I wanted engaged followers: people who would have online conversations with me, retweet my Tweets, read my posts, make comments, offer suggestions. I wanted to interact with my followers.

I began making a conscious effort to increase my engagement levels and reciprocity.

Here’s how I did that:

  1. I used a service that allowed me to schedule my Tweets and included a dashboard so I could monitor conversations. I use Hootsuite, but there are other ones out there, too.
  2. Be consistent. I Tweet every day. Even if I’m in meetings all day, I still Tweet.
  3. Selective and strategic sharing. I make a point to share resources that I think others will enjoy and find useful.
  4. Regular retweeting. I repost interesting Tweets and give others credit for them.
  5. Original posts. I share my own material on a regular basis — but not too often.
  6. Watch your ratios. It can’t be a constant stream of output. You need to balance your output and asks with responses, acknowledgements and retrweets. Don’t expect others to share your stuff if you don’t share and acknowledge theirs.
  7. Have conversations. I engage with others in conversations about what is important to them.
  8. Block and report spammers. I nip these folks in the bud. I have no problem reporting spammers and neither should you.
  9. Follow back selectively. I don’t follow everyone who follows me. I follow people and organizations who seem to have legitimate profiles on topics I’m interested in.
  10. Vary the Tweet topics – within a selected range. I Tweet about a lot of stuff, mostly to do with education, training, literacy and social media.
  11. Acknowledge and appreciate your Tweeps. They don’t have to follow you, retweet your stuff or give you a shoutout, you know. Showing appreciation helps build good digital relationships.
  12. Random acts of kindness. Promote a good cause. Mention a friend’s business. Give someone you don’t know a public compliment or shoutout.

As a result of these strategies, here’s what has happened:

  1. I’ve connected with people in real life. We go for coffee. We share ideas and laugh.
  2. I get retweeted every day… sometimes up to 20 or 30 times per day. This leads me to new people. If I think they’re interesting. I follow them. Sometimes, they follow me back.
  3. I’ve been offered work. Tweeps have contacted me to ask me to present at conferences and take on projects. Never was I more surprised than when I was offered a contract to build an evaluation system for an educational organization via a connection that originated on Twitter.
  4. I’ve learned tons. I check out new resources and share them freely. In the process, I stay on top of what is happening in my field. I’m current and up to date. Must of it is thanks so Twitter and social media.
  5. My understanding of social media has deepened considerably. Social media changes quickly, but for those who are new to it or still working to really understand what it is and how it can work for them, it is important to know that there are some fundamentals. One of those is that building an engaged following is much more important than just building a following.

If you liked this post, you’d probably like my Tweets, too. Let’s connect on Twitter.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Build Your Own Webinar – 4-week live training program in Calgary

October 17, 2011

I’m so thrilled to be combining my love of technology with adult education. Tonight I start teaching a four-week live course called “Build Your Own Webinar”. It’s designed to help participants take their webinars from concept to delivery. The registrants include a combination of people from the corporate, non-profit and services sectors, including adult educators, health professionals and independent services professionals. Here’s what we’re going to cover over the four weeks:

Build Your Own Webinar: A 4-week Webinar Launch Program for Entrepreneurs, Business and Non-Profit Organizations

Agenda

Session One – Monday, October 17, 2011 – 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Theme: Planning for success

  • Introduction / Course binder / agenda review
  • Types of webinars
  • Why webinars should be part of your overall organizational or business strategy
  • How often you should host webinars and why
  • Why you should outline your webinar
  • How to organize a successful webinar
  • How to price a fee-based webinar
  • Tips on what to outsource and what to do in-house

Session Two – Monday, October 24, 2011 – 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Themes: Tech tips and Presenting like a pro

Guest speaker: Peter Temple

  • Success strategies for virtual presentations
  • When and how to use your web camera in virtual presentations
  • How to maximize the technology without getting overwhelmed: Tips for using mics, web cams, streaming video, screen sharing and application sharing.
  • How to choose a webinar platform provider.
  • How to deliver your presentation in a compelling manner.
  • How to design your materials for maximum effectiveness.
  • Limitations and challenges of different technologies.

Session Three – Monday, October 31, 2011 – 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Themes: Marketing and Promotions

  • How to write an attention-grabbing course description
  • How to develop a social media or digital marketing strategy for your webinars
  • How far in advance to start promoting your event
  • How to use online event registration systems
  • How to record your webinars and what to do with the recordings
  • Professional collaboration – Share your progress with others; give and get feedback to improve your final product.

Session Four – Monday, November 7, 2011 – 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Themes: Maximizing your ROI and positioning yourself for success

  • How to measure the success of your webinar – evaluation and assessment metrics, strategies and tools
  • How to use webinars to do more business (or for non-profits, to do more good in the world)
  • Webinar-day checklist – Things to remember on the day of your webinar
  • Professional showcase – Participants give 10-minute presentations to the group highlighting the best of their webinar program.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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