Distance Learning and Teaching Resources

The following highlights is a set of curated resources to support adult educators in distance learning, ranging from online instruction, to digital literacy and inclusion, to mobile learning via smartphones.

 

Online and Blended Instruction

  • Distance Learning Part 1: Supporting Learner Persistence in an Online or Blended Course (44 min.)
    Archived webinar from April 27, 2020



    Presenter: Marian Thacher, American Institutes for Research
    The presenter discusses why students take online classes, barriers for online and blended courses, and five factors that encourage learner persistence.

 

  • Distance Learning Part 2: Designing Engaging Online and Blended Courses (45 min.)
    Archived webinar from April 27, 2020



    Presenter: Sudie Whalen, American Institutes for Research
    The presenter discusses design considerations in creating courses that are of high-quality, engaging, and equitable.

 

  • Distance Learning Part 3: Staying Connected to Students with Technology (Tech Tools and Tips) (44 min.)
    Archived webinar from April 27, 2020



    Presenter: Melinda Holt, Sacramento County Office of Education
    The presenter discusses a wide variety of considerations in using technology for learning, and she provides practical tips and strategies that support online and blended instruction.

 

  • Designing Engaging Online/Blended Courses (PDF)
    This professional development presentation for adult educators provides an overview of the relationship between learning persistence in an online or blended course and various considerations, such as course quality, effective course design and layout, and designing for engagement. It also highlights indicators of course quality and engagement.
  • Increasing Equity in Online and Blended Learning (PDF)
    This professional development presentation for adult educators provides an overview of key elements of equity in online education and it introduces a cultural competence continuum. It also discusses that what is known about technology and bias and what educators can do to increase equity in online and blended learning.
  • Learner Persistence in an Online or Blended Learning Environment (PDF)
    This professional development presentation for adult educators highlights what research indicates are the biggest barriers for students to online or blended learning and explores five key factors in students’ success in an online learning environment.
  • Additional Online Course Development Resources (PDF)
    This document provides a curated list of hyperlinks to additional resources that can support or enhance online course development. Categories include accessibility checkers and screen readers, an online course quality rubric, and virtual field trips.

Websites Supporting Digital Access and Inclusion

  • Digital Charlotte (www) – a curated list of  several national organizations and training resources that support low-cost Internet access, digital inclusion within communities, and increased digital literacy 
  • EveryoneOn (www) – connects low-incomes families to low-cost Internet access and computers and provides training in digital literacy
  • National Digital Inclusion Alliance (www) – bridging policy makers and the general public, NDIA identifies areas of need for digital inclusion among low-income populations and directs resources to support this goal 

Websites Supporting Advancement of Students’ Digital Literacy

  • DigitalLearn.org (www) – this website of the Public Library Association provides numerous free online tutorials to help students increase specific digital literacy skills 
  • GCFLearnFree.org (www) – supported by the Goodwill Foundation, this site provides free online tutorials, including lessons, videos and interactive games on up to 200 topics
  • Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment (www) – a free program of Literacy Minnesota, Northstar promotes mastery learning in various digital literacy skills and provides testing to certify mastery.
  • TechBoomers (www) – geared toward older adults and others with basic computer skills and limited experience with the Internet, this site provides free trainings demonstrating how  a variety of websites (e.g., social media, online shopping) work and how increased digital literacy may improve users' lives 

Learning Management Systems (LMS)
The following are online platforms available for free use that support blended and online instruction.  Though their designs and interfaces differ somewhat, most feature essential elements such as a calendar, announcements, discussion boards, quizzes, and gradebooks; multimedia files to enhance teaching and learning can also be integrated into the course. These LMS are primarily set up to support asynchronous online learning, in which learners log in at different times to participate in required or recommended activities and assignments;  the platforms may also accommodate synchronous learning opportunities, in which students convene at the same time for a live event, such as a webinar.

  • Canvas (www) – an open-source LMS that supports online learning for students of all levels and grades. 
  • Google Classroom  (www) – an LMS developed by Google for educators, which interfaces with many other free Google products and services. 
  • Moodle – an open-source LMS that supports online learning for students of all levels and grad
  • NEO (www) – NEO's free LMS provides all of the typical features listed in the LMS introduction above, and also integrates well with external sites, games, tools, etc. 
  • Schoology (www) – Schoology's Basic LMS, available free of charge to teachers and students;

Webconferencing Tools

  • FreeConferenceCall (www) – A free service that supports audio-conferencing of up to 1000 participants, and supports free video conferencing for up to 5 participants. 
  • Google Meet (www) – A webconferencing platform that supports video- and audio-conferencing and screensharing for groups up to 100 participants; privileges for hosting vs. joining a meeting differ according to one’s credentials (e.g., has a Google Suite for Education account associated with their school domain) but the account is free. 
  • Google Hangouts  (www) – A screensharing conference tool featuring video-conferencing for groups up to 25 and audio-conferencing for up to 150 participants. Hangouts is free but requires that the host have a Google (gmail) account, which is also free. 
  • Skype (www) – Supports free video-conferencing, screensharing and group chat for up to 50 participants per session 
  • Zoom (www) – A screensharing conference tool featuring video and audio conferencing. Zoom’s free version allows up to 100 persons to join in an online meeting for up to 40 minutes and unlimited meetings with 1-3 persons.  

Mobile Learning Resources
Many adult learners lack a computer and/or Internet access in their home environments.  Their sole means to access the Internet in many cases is a smartphone, and their access to mobile learning may be further limited to spaces with free wifi, such as found in public libraries, schools, cafes, etc.  Also, some students may not have an email address or may access it rarely.  Finding ways to connect and communicate with them via text messaging can be helpful.  The following highlights several mobile applications that support using smartphones.

Applications that Support Individual and Group Texting

  • What’s App –  mobile messaging app can be used with individuals or groups up to 200; can send texts, pictures, and videos; can also do video chats with individuals
  • Remind – can be used to send mass text messages to a large group (whole class)
  • Google Voice -   requires a gmail address for initial account set-up; allows teachers to leave and receive voice messages with their students, using a number other than the instructor’s personal cell phone number
  • Talking Points – text messaging application that does not require display of students’ personal telephone numbers; supports multilingual translations
  • Facebook Messenger – requires a Facebook account by users; supports texting with individuals or with groups up to 7 at a time; can send pictures, videos, or other attachments
  • Skype – messaging application to use with individuals; also supports video chat

Additional Resources for Adult Educators in Response to COVID-19

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