On May 11, 2023 AlphaPlus hosted our eighth Community Gabfest.
The conversation starter was “What is your favourite blended learning resource? And why?”
We received a suggestion that the Gabfest may be a good place to share ideas for good resources, strategies and tools for blended learning— the kitchen-tested stuff that practitioners find useful and effective in a variety of settings.
We used a Jamboard to guide our conversation: Wayfinders Gabfest 8 Jamboard.
We started by brainstorming what we are looking for in resource recommendations – what elements are important to us.
We asked three questions:
- What are your favourite blended learning (integrated digital and literacy skills) resources?
- What are your favourite digital skills (teaching people digital skills explicitly) resources?
- What are your favourite digital literacy (learning about ethics, privacy and safety) resources?
And here is the list we came up with:
- Copian is the newer name of what used to be called note the National Adult Literacy Database. There was funding in the 90s and into the 2000s for a national database of all the adult literacy resources from across the country. It is now taken care of by CDEACF (Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine).
- I was working with people who were considering going into the trades. I was using ABC Life Literacy’s UP Skills for Work. They had a section on confidence, but it seemed a little thin. So I went into Copian — there’s lots of writing by learners on Copian — and I found stories by learners, mostly from Atlantic Canada in the 2000s, talking about how they noticed their confidence had changed. We’re incorporating those stories into the activity. It is authentic material by people in adult learning environments. I find that finding learner writing is one of the most powerful ways, no matter what the topic is, to help people to reading or writing or even using it for digital skills.
Breaking News English
- Free English News Lessons in 7 Levels – You can read or listen to the news and do activities at the level that works best for you. There is advertising on this site. It is mostly at the top of the page.
Citizen Literacy app (useful for learning disabilities/difficulties, uses a phonetic approach, can use the app on an Android or you can access the lessons on the website)
- I’ve started using this with a learner who’s been in our classes over the years but continues to struggle. She might have an undiagnosed learning disability. It’s fun and uses a phonetic approach, but not in a traditional way.
- The Citizen Literacy Learner web app* is free to use, does not require user registration, has no adverts, no in-app purchases and takes no personal information. Featuring a voice driven interface suitable for low literacy learners with two virtual teachers that provide instruction and instant personalised feedback. It keeps track of each learner’s progress anonymously to provide feedback. Importantly, the design avoids looking like a children’s learning resource – a strongly demotivating factor for older learners. There is multimedia interactivity and gameplay, together with voice and handwriting recognition. Enabling some of the first online independent learning opportunities for low literacy learners. From a standing start, by the end of lesson 2, learners are beginning to read and write simple sentences.
Diffit for Teachers
- This is a good tool to change up your intake screening passages for reading. It finds new leveled articles and can discourage dishonesty and sharing of reading passages.
Google Applied Digital Skills
- Google Applied Digital Skills is a free online curriculum created by Google that combines real life skills with Google tools in self-paced, video-based lessons that are perfect for independent, hybrid or remote learning. From creating stories and recipes to researching and developing a topic or managing a budget, the curriculum engages learners in problem solving, critical thinking, and hands-on opportunities to develop skills and knowledge. Applied Digital Skills lessons are similar to real world projects and tasks that learners may encounter at work, in their daily lives and in educational settings .
Teach Online from Contact North
- TeachOnline is a place to find resources about the latest trends, best practices, training opportunities, and teaching resources in online and distance learning under the following categories:
- Pockets of Innovation
- Tools and Trends
- Training and Resources
- Upcoming Conferences
- Webinar Series
Linkedin Learning and Gale Learning
- LinkedIn Learning and Gale are online learning providers. LinkedIn Learning provides video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. Gale eLearning solutions provide teachers, students, and adult learners with online learning resources that include 3D virtual learning; elementary, middle, and high school databases; career training; professional development opportunities; and interactive, industry-specific courses taught by world-class instructors.
- You can access these courses and resources for free in some public libraries.
Virtual reality (e.g. Body swaps – Soft Skills simulations): through Contact North centres, literacy programs can use these tools at no cost
- We have a forklift simulator training and hazardous response. We have access to a program called Body Swaps, which is soft skills, so interviewing, preparation, public speaking, dealing with biases. It puts the person in a virtual reality. at first they are answering questions, but then it flips it and you’re hearing your own response and seeing what your avatar is doing. We’re currently working to look to see what we can find to be able to integrate VR more with LBS providers. We have a centre in Toronto and if you are in our centres using our equipment, there is no cost. We are looking to be able to do some more partnerships with community organizations and things like that.
Maps apps (various ways to use them)
- A learner that is in a senior’s program asked about it. We created a lesson about all the different starting points: for example, if someone sends a text with the address, you can tap on the address in the text. and it will open the maps app. I think the literacy part was helping learners understand that with digital devices there’s always more than one way to do the same thing–even though it’s a skills piece, I think the literacy part was thinking of it like a building with many doors and that you can go in in different ways to get the same information. I thought it was kind of interesting. I didn’t plan it. It just kind of happened in class.
Music streaming apps (Lyrics for reading, pronunciation and poetic writing)
- Music is such an easy and less intimidating way for people to engage in learning. It gets away from that grammatical imposition of schooling to learn how to write. You can you can pull up the lyrics on any song you know on apps like Apple Music or Spotify. You can play with a song, look at the lyrics and then try to write one verse of a song without worrying about sentence structure–you can get your words down and then move from there to writing a sentence to writing a short paragraph. Or you can create a poem about something and then create an opinion paragraph about why you think a certain way about the topic. You can do this online, digitally, or it can be in person, paper and pencil.
Podcasts (transcripts for vocabulary development, digital skills, reading skills)
- It is learner driven by the topics they are interested in. You can get the podcast on your phone, but by going to the websites you can get more information and some have transcripts of episodes that are good for vocabulary and pronunciation practice.
- This is a program by the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina. Everything at GCFLearnFree.org is free. There are 125 tutorials on a variety of topics. Most topics are about using digital technology. It is easy to get lost on this site – in a good way – by following links at the end of each tutorial.
- If learners prefer to learn using a tablet, Kindle or smartphone, there are apps available at https://www.gcflearnfree.org/mobileapps.
- There are teaching guides. Here is the technology one: https://www.gcflearnfree.org/gcfteacherguides/technology/1/ . The technology guide includes “eight learning plans you can follow and adapt for instruction in a classroom, with a small group, or with individuals.”
- Some of the tutorial sections are text heavy and some literacy learners may find it challenging to access the information. Some have a video as well as text and some are mostly video.
Fair chance learning (Achievia – Microsoft apps training)
- This is a a government funded program that provides certificates in Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint and QuickBooks.
- I like North Star for assessments. Northstar Digital Literacy tests your computer skills. You can build skills in key areas, and demonstrate your knowledge by earning certificates and badges. Northstar is a program of Literacy Minnesota. You can do free assessments. Under the Build Your Skills there are some free learning modules for Basic Computer Skills; Email; and Microsoft Word.
Digital Skills Library
- Activities from the following list of Digital Skills sites (and more) are also accessible through the Digital Skills Library where they have been indexed and are searchable.
Correct the Internet
- On this site you can see a film about how the achievements of women in sports go unrecognized in best-of-lists and elsewhere and then submit your own corrections. The project began with a girl searching the internet looking for the greatest sportswomen in the world. Her searches revealed many of the greatest male athletes in the world and all of their achievements, but very few women. She was then shocked to discover that when she did search for the achievements of the greatest sportswomen, many of them were superior to the men she was being served in her search results. It turns out, Christine Sinclair has scored more goals in international football than Cristiano Ronaldo. The Black Ferns have won more Rugby World Cups than the All Blacks. And the USA Women’s Basketball Team has won more than double the world cup titles of any men’s team. The facts say that many of the world’s greatest athletes are women, but the internet keeps saying they are men. The reason for this is simple – the algorithms our search engines use are trained on our human behaviour. And now, the internet has learnt our human bias towards men. It’s a problem we created, but one we have the power to fix.
GCFGlobal Data Tracking Video
- Whenever you use the Internet, you leave a record of the websites you visit, along with each and every thing you click. To track this information, many websites save a small piece of data—known as a cookie—to your web browser. In addition to cookies, many websites can use your user accounts to track browsing activity. While this type of browser tracking doesn’t pose a serious risk to your online security, it’s important to understand how your online data is tracked and used.
Informable app from the News Literacy Project
- Test your news literacy know-how with Informable from the News Literacy Project – newslit.org/newslit-nation. You can try out three levels of difficulty in four distinct modes:
- Is it and ad or not?
- Is it news or opinion?
- Is this image evidence of the claim being made or not?
- Is the information checkable or not?
- The app is available for Android and iPhones and you can play as a guest.
CBC Gem Video – You are Soaking in It
- I asked learners to watch and answer questions about “pressure to purchase’ and ‘context marketing’
The video is no longer available on Gem. I cannot find it online anywhere so far. Here is the documentary webpage and press kit.
More recommended resource lists:
Thank you Gabfesters for your energy, generosity, wisdom and friendship. With your help, we won’t fall off the learning curve.