Keeping Career Training Current: Technology at Hacienda La Puente

By Alison Ascher Webber

In the “Inside California Education” short documentary on Hacienda La Puente Adult Education, autoshop instructor Mike Rojas shows computer software used to teach students how to build and test electrical circuits in a simulated environment before they ever touch real circuit boards.

Intrigued by this example, I asked Hacienda La Puente Adult Education what strategies it uses to keep more than 365 training programs current with rapidly evolving technologies. EdTech Center partner, John Fleischman, who helped produce the segment for KVIE TV, introduced me to Matthew Smith, Director of Career & Technology for Hacienda La Puente.

“Technology has us on our toes,” affirmed Smith as he described the financial and pedagogical challenges of keeping their trainings current. Building on Rojas’ example, Smith explained how auto-shop instructors now need to teach how to run the computer programs behind cars’ electronic systems. Smith then shared the two most important strategies they at Hacienda La Puente, California’s second largest vocational and adult education campus:

  1. Ongoing training of teachers: Smith emphasized the importance of providing continuous training of teachers so that they can stay up to date on industry trends and new technologies. He gave the example of appliance repair, an industry in which instructors used to focus on teaching things like re-siding the door of a refrigerator. But now, Smith said, almost all appliances run on chips that regulate eight or more controls. This means that instructors must now have the digital skills to master and teach the new systems. He also shared how their professional development includes cross-departmental meetings on technology bringing together instructors in industries ranging from welding and culinary arts to business, pharmacy, dental and healthcare careers. They share the technology tools and instruction strategies and identify opportunities to share the cost of technology investments across departments.
  2. Employers on the Advisory Board: Smith underscored the critical role corporations such as Pet Boys, LG Electronics and Cisco Foods have in advising Hacienda La Puente staff on how their industries are shifting. Industry leaders advise on curriculum and technology purchasing. Employer partnership has also helped lessen some of the expense as all of the appliances and much of the other equipment used in training are donated by the corporations. Most importantly, close corporate partnership is essential for lining up jobs for their students upon graduation. That’s the end game for Smith, who shares in the video the goal of moving families in communities affected by poverty into better living situations through living wages.

Do you Kahoot? Gamification for Learner Engagement

By Grazia Mora

Kahoot! can make class fun while helping teachers check for understanding. Finding ways to make our classes at Building Skills Partnership (BSP) engaging is essential as our students are immigrant janitors across California who often juggle multiple jobs, attend class tired having slept few hours, and are less comfortable with formal classroom instruction.

Through this game-based student-response tool, Sandy Cutshall, our Citizenship teacher in Mountain View, helps students practice the 100 Civics questions. Every week, she creates multiple 10-question quizzes and uses them to help students measure their readiness for the interview. With suspenseful music and instant scoreboards, Kahoot! keeps learners engaged in the activity. At the end, both the teacher and students can identify topics or questions that need further review. Our students are excited to play the game every week and enjoy reviewing what they know in a playful, competitive way.

Grazia Mora with a student.

Grazia Mora with a student.

Students with tablets

Photos courtesy of BSP.








To play Kahoot! in class, our students use tablets, and the teacher has access to a projector and an active Internet connection. These requirements have made it difficult to expand to all of BSP’s worksite classes. However with the prices for mobile projectors (that connect to cellphones) and mobile WiFi hotspots dropping daily, we may be running Kahoot! competitions in all our classes soon.

It is very easy to create quizzes on Kahoot! Teachers can create an account for free at and create their own quiz in less than 10 minutes. To play a game, students go to a different website: and enter in the game pin.  Teachers can also use hundreds of ready made quizzes created by others and available on the public Kahoot! menu.


Sample Kahoot! civics question by Sandy Cutshall

Sample Kahoot! civics question by Sandy Cutshall

Kahoot! has recently added a picture database with Getty images for use in creating or editing quizzes. Susan Gaer, EdTech Center Partner and Kahoot! enthusiast from the Santa Ana College of Continuing Education, has her low literacy ESL students use the Getty images to create their own Kahoot! games for each other. She has posted a new YouTube video showing her students how to open a Kahoot! account. Additionally, her past Tech Tip post offers a step by step guide for using Kahoot! To witness how much fun adults learners can have on Kahoot!, check out minute 51 of Susan’s OTAN training video, “Mobile Devices in Adult Education: Mobile Apps”.

Grazia Mora is Curriculum and Digital Literacy Coordinator for Building Skills Partnership (BSP), a statewide labor-management training program between the SEIU-USWW union and leading building service employers and clients across California.

Digital Literacy: Consume, Create, Curate!


Nell EckersleyEdTech Partner Nell Eckersley gave adult educators a compelling “Call to Action” to go beyond consuming technology and become ambassadors for curating and creating information online. Read on for a synopsis of her keynote speech given at OTAN’s annual Technology & Distance Learning Symposium Conference held this Spring in Anaheim, CA.


In this time of challenges for adult education programs, one positive thing is that WIOA actually includes a useful definition for Digital Literacy: “The skills associated with using technology to enable users to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information” (Museum and Library Services Act of 2010). I would contend that in adult literacy programs we have always been working to help our students to develop skills to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information. Now we are must think about how technology can be used to support these skills.

When we talk about technology and digital literacy today we are talking about information and communication technology. And while for many of us the struggle at first is access to hardware and internet, and figuring out how to get our devices to do our bidding, once those hurdles are taken care of the real work is in how we deal with all the information coming through our devices. When I ask how many people have ever watched a YouTube video or read a Wikipedia entry, usually everyone raises their hand. But when I ask how many people have ever created their own video and posted it on YouTube or edited or created a Wikipedia entry, the numbers go down dramatically. And then if I ask how many people have created a playlist in YouTube or developed a system for saving bookmarks on their computers, the numbers are low again. We are generally pretty strong in our consuming of information via technology, but for many creating and curating are not skills that are practiced.

If teachers are creating with technology, they often think that they have to be the creators and the students are the consumers. But one of the most powerful aspects of the technology today is that students can be creators too. They can make the YouTube video, the Google quiz, the blog post. For students to create using technology is not only powerful as a way for them to demonstrate learning but also for them to gain skills that they will need in their careers and post-secondary education.

My call to action is for adult education teachers to deepen and broaden their own skills around consuming, creating and curating information online, to be ambassadors for their colleagues to help them also find what is useful and exciting about using technology in instruction, and for teachers to support student digital literacy skill development and practice.



Watch the full speech: 

Google Quizzes

By Alison Ascher Webber 

Many of you may already use Google Forms as a survey tool or to pose questions to check for student comprehension. Now formative assessment is all the faster as Google has added the feature of Quizzes to Google Forms. Student responses can be automatically compiled and graded, saving teachers hours of repetitive grading. Teachers can also select correct answers and even enter explanations and review materials for when a student gets an answer wrong.

To use the Quizzes features within Google Forms, click on the Settings button in the top right (the circular gear icon), and choose Quizzes. This short video tutorial by Shawn Beard at The Techy Coach also walks you through the process.

Badging in Action: Becoming a Tech Integration Coach in Texas

Apprentice badgeTo catalyze the use of technology in workforce and adult education instruction across Texas, the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning, TRAIN PD, at Texas A&M launched in April a 7-level badge program for certifying Technology Integration Coaches. Badges 1 and 2 cover basic digital literacy aligned to the ISTE Standards for students and include Northstar Digital Literacy Assessments. Starting at Level 3, participants start to receive training to be Tech Integration Coaches and must complete 10-12 activity badges per level on training and mentoring their peers.

“We’ve come to the realization that while a teacher can participate in a face to face training and be all excited about the content, there’s really no way we can confirm that they’ve actually implemented what they learned back in their classroom. Having a Tech Integration Coach at each local program to coach and guide teachers will make a huge impact on how effective the training was on student success in the classroom.”

— Deb Hargrove, Director of PD, Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning

Serving a large state with diverse urban and rural areas, the Texas Workforce Commission is focused on developing local leadership. As John Gilbert Stevenson with Adult Education and Literacy at the Commission said: “We’re using the coaching model to build local capacity so we develop experts out in the field all across Texas, not just here in Austin. This is a model we’re using also for other statewide projects, including career pathways mentors, distance learning mentors and instructional coaches for content standards implementation. We want to know that our teachers can rely on local resources for the support and training they need.”

Journeyman badge“Having programs and teachers not integrating technology into instruction is just not an option any more. Badging offers a fun and scalable way to develop Technology Integration Coaches.”

— Glenda Rose, PD Specialist and Project Chief Designer, Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning

This effort is in its infancy, but project leads are happy to provide more information. Contact Debra Hargrove at or post your thoughts and questions in the comments.

Texas is a member of the IDEAL Consortium, a project of the EdTech Center at World Education. Glenda Rose and AnneMarie Molinari will be representing Texas at this year’s summer Institute where they will be presenting on their badging system. Additionally, Debra Hargrove is a partner of the EdTech Center. Subscribe to our newsletter to get updates about the work our partners are doing to benefit from technology in their states. 

Facing the Tech Revolution in Adult Education

By Alison Ascher Webber

Marcus Shingles, CEO of XPRIZE Foundation

Marcus Shingles, CEO of XPRIZE Foundation. Photo courtesy of XPRIZE Foundation

In the closing speech at COABE 2017, XPRIZE Foundation CEO Marcus Shingles gave a wake-up call to adult educators warning that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change learning at speeds and in ways we could never imagine.

Showing a chart similar to Ray Kurzweil’s on the growth of computing, he illustrated how digital technologies develop exponentially.

Exponential Growth of Computing Chart

Courtesy of Ray Kurzweil and Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. (en:PPTExponentialGrowthof_Computing.jpg) [CC BY 1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Their biggest impacts occur relatively overnight and tend to blindside whole industries. Whereas it took 100 years of technological advancement for $1,000 to be able to buy the computational power of an insect, the speed of change nowadays is mind-boggling. That same $1,000 will soon buy the power of one human brain. In the next 25 years, $1,000 will likely buy one billion times more power than all human brains combined.

How can we as educators even start to imagine ways to incorporate such computational power into our teaching? This morning I’ve just begun processing how we might use the new Augmented Reality tools Facebook announced today for our phones – and eventually to be projected onto our glasses and retinas. Increasingly, this computing power will merge with other technologies such as nanotechnology, robotics, and genomics, and eventually even merge into our own bodies. Technology will dramatically change what we and our students do (our work) as well as who we are (our identities).

A bit shaken by Marcus’ speech, I checked in with Shlomy Kattan, leader of the The Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, an app development competition for literacy instruction. I asked what he would say to me and other adult educators feeling overwhelmed. He responded, “Rather than being terrified and frozen by the speed and scale at which technology will change education, we can take action to harness these exponential technologies for the social good – to increase access to education and accelerate learning for the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

Shlomy’s call to action proved comforting to me – perhaps because it aligns so much with the mission of our EdTech Center at World Education. It also addressed the biggest needs I see in our field – to extend learning to those we currently don’t serve and improve learning, opportunities and outcomes for those we do.

But perhaps most reassuring was the optimism he and Marcus shared after meeting adult educators from all over the country at COABE. They both felt that the fact that new technologies have not yet made their way into many adult education classrooms doesn’t mean that adult educators don’t have what it takes to harness their power. On the contrary, they were impressed with adult educators’ openness and creativity.  

Again Shlomy’s words gave me comfort. He is right. We do adapt constantly. We use our creativity daily to meet the unique and changing needs of each of our students. We adjust to the shifting needs of our communities. And technology can enable us to do this even better.

Trying out Apps

Photo courtesy of XPRIZE Foundation, Trevor Traynor

It is an exciting time to be an adult educator. There are few things about which we can be certain, but one is that we’ve got a wild road ahead. We’re going to need the collective power of all of our minds to help navigate the upcoming speeds, curves and bumps. Now more than ever we need to collaborate and advocate to ensure new technologies help close skills and other divides rather than deepen them. Please share with us at the EdTech Center your successes and failures, your ideas and concerns, and opportunities for advocacy in leveraging new technologies to advance adult learning.

Alison Ascher Webber is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the EdTech Center at World Education. You can contact her at Read more about Alison and the EdTech team. 


Coding Clubs for Adult Learners

By Karisa Tashjian

In the past ten months, our team at Providence Public Library (PPL) in Providence, Rhode Island, has been repeatedly reminded to never underestimate the potential that lies in each of us. As my colleague, Don Gregory, Technology Instructor at PPL, likes to say, “we are polishing diamonds.” Since launching our beginning software coding “Rhode Coders” Clubs, we are witnessing first-hand the unique and powerful ways that each of our minds tackles problems and develops solutions.

Our Rhode Coders Clubs are free for any adult with an interest or curiosity about software coding. We don’t have any prerequisites – no entry language level, no prior skills. Our goal is to foster exploration of the world of computer science without the barriers of cost, fear, or lack of knowledge. We teach the basic steps of coding with a focus on Web apps. Participants increase their vocabulary and language about coding, explore possible career paths, learn the various usages and purposes of coding/programming, increase their analytical and logical thinking skills and join a support community of learning around coding.

RI CodersThe Rhode Coders Club model was designed by Don and RIFLI ESL Teacher, Larry Britt. Participants get to try web and game development programming in a fun and collaborative environment. We have now run five cohorts and 75 adults have participated in these ten-week sessions. The Clubs meet once a week for an hour and a half. 40% of the participants have been women. Rhode Coders have ranged in age from 18 to 64. We have non-native English speakers who are part of the group and supported by an ESL teacher. The ESL teacher provides language support as needed, however, we have found that coding is a “universal language” and learners catch on quickly.

We now offer two levels – a “Web Basics” section which focuses on HTML and CSS basics. There is also a “Scripting Basics” section which focuses on JavaScript basics and, if time permits, an introduction to Python. Don has developed a 20-week curriculum that includes use of Mozilla’s Thimble IDE, and A typical session includes warm-up logic puzzles, followed by some direct instruction on a particular coding topic and ends with time for participants to work on individual projects. Each 10-week session concludes with participants sharing their projects.

RI CodersRhode Coders has caught the attention of our state’s workforce development system as it fills a gap between the need for more coders and the lack of skilled workers for these positions. We have partnered with TechHire Rhode Island which is “a network that connects employers seeking IT talent with Rhode Islanders who possess unique backgrounds and can get the job done.” TechHire is an initiative “powered by Opportunity@Work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, [and] is a nationwide, community-based movement that helps underrepresented and overlooked job seekers start technology careers.” TechHire is now located in 72 communities in the United States. We also partner with LaunchCode and other structured coding programs to help Rhode Coders seamlessly enter these programs. We have had six Rhode Coders enter these more formal programs.


“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer … because it teaches you how to think.” ~ Steve Jobs


Not everyone who joins a Rhode Coders Club does so with the intention of pursuing coding as a career. While we do link participants who embrace coding to “next steps,” we have found that some Rhode Coders just want to know what this “coding thing” is all about. In the past year, our Governor has set the goal to have Computer Science (CS) taught in every Rhode Island public school by December 2017. She launched CS4RI which is a coalition approach that combines  “national leadership with homegrown talent to reduce barriers to providing quality computer science education and professional development, and will bring CS learning opportunities to all Rhode Island schools in the years ahead.” At PPL, the opportunities for adults to learn about coding help to prevent or decrease another type of digital divide: parents needing to be aware of CS as their children learn coding. PPL has also launched an afterschool Rhode Coders 2.0 Club for teens where they earn .5 high school credit.

We have found that public libraries, adult education organizations and other community organizations are especially well suited to offering coding. Rhode Coders is now offered at three other libraries in RI with plans to expand to 4-6 more as well as a public housing development.

We welcome inquiries about our program. We can be reached at Karisa Tashjian, Director of Education,; Don Gregory, Technology Instructor, and Larry Britt, ESL Instructor,


Karisa Tashjian serves as the Director of Education for the Providence Public Library and the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative. Karisa is a member of the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Technology Advisory Committee for Adult Education, a board member of the New England Literacy Resource Center and a partner of the EdTech Center.


Evaluating Online Tools and Resources Micro Group

By Ed Latham

Adult educators, especially part-time teachers, are often frustrated that there are so many digital tools and resources available but never enough time to learn which ones may offer positive learning opportunities for their students. Last year, in a new LINCS micro group, we created an evaluation framework that helps teachers to easily review online tools or resources, and to share their evaluations with other teachers. The framework is now ready for adult educators across the country who can join the Micro Group to identify online tools and resources, try them out with their students, evaluate them, and share them with each other first in the Micro Group, and then with other adult education teachers.

What the Micro group Accomplished Last Year

Screenshot of the Diigo tags

Screenshot of the Diigo tags.

Micro Group participants needed a way to store the tools and resources they found on the Internet. We chose an easy tool called Diigo. (Link to short introduction) Using it, participants could quickly and easily find and tag online resources to evaluate. (“Tagging” resources is marking them with keywords so they can be categorized and easily found). As participants reviewed our Diigo collection they found tools or resources they wished to evaluate with a simple evaluation form we had developed that enabled them to share their experiences and recommendations with other teachers, first in the Micro Group, then in LINCS communities, and eventually, everywhere.

Sample of part of the evaluation form

Sample of part of the evaluation form.

When at least two teachers had evaluated a tool or resource we compiled the data and produced and published the evaluations for other teachers to use. This process offered teachers a collection of peer-reviewed resources, and enabled participants in the Micro Group to easily share their experiences using the tools or resources with their students, and their opinions, with other teachers.

The Evaluation

The Micro Group evaluation tool we created includes many important evaluation criteria without, however, making the process cumbersome. We chose the following nine criteria:

  • Usage: How was — or could — the tool or resource be used?
  • Engagement: How engaging is the resource for learners and/or teachers?
  • Ease of Use for Teachers: How easy is the tool or resource for teachers to use?
  • Ease of Use for Students: How easy is the tool or resource for students to use?
  • Challenges: What challenges do you see for teachers using the tool or resource? What solutions or  workarounds do you suggest for these challenges?
  • Suitability: In what kinds of environments can this resource work well?
  • Basic Skills: What basic skills can this tool or resource be effective in building?
  • Work Readiness Skills: What work-related skills might this tool or resource help students to improve?
  • General Skills: What personal skills might students improve in the use of this resource?

Growing and Sharing

Last year, the Micro Group’s purpose was to explore different evaluation methods and create a framework that could easily be used by adult educators. In 2017, beginning in March, we hope to have many more adult education teachers from around the country join our micro group, add to and share our list of digital tools and resources, and evaluate and share the tools and resources with the adult education field. To participate in this rewarding work join the LINCS 2017 Online Tools & Resource Evaluation Micro Group. 

David Rosen, the moderator of the LINCS Technology and Learning group, has offered a very nice set of instructions to join the LINCS site and to then join the Micro Group. Here are his instructions:

Registering for the LINCS Community

  • To create a new account, go to the LINCS Community: and select “Log In / Register” at the top of the page (on the far right in the blue menu ribbon). Then select “Register for a new account”.
  • Complete the “Create An Account” screen (passwords need at least one number, at least one capital letter, and at least one special character). Check the box indicating that you agree to the Terms and Conditions, then click “Submit” at the bottom. An automated email will be sent to the email address you entered, with a link to verify that you’re the same person. Be sure to check your Spam / Junk Mail box if you don’t see it! Until you’ve clicked the link in that email, your account doesn’t exist. Once your email has been verified, you should get a “verification successful” email message.
  • A LINCS staff member reviews every new account request to prevent spammers or anyone else untrustworthy from accessing the Community pages, so before you can use this account it’ll need to be approved. If the account is created during business hours, this will usually happen within an hour or two; but it should never take more than two days. They will email you once your account’s been approved.
  • From then on, you can always login from the LINCS Community page ( Once again, select “Log In / Register” at the top of the page. Enter your email address and password, and click “Log In.”
  • Enter a User Name that you’d like others to see in your LINCS Community activities, then select the Send button to save your changes.

Joining a Group

  • Once you are logged in, click the  “Join Groups” button, or “Groups” tab in the blue horizontal navigation bar. You will be directed to a list of groups you can join. Chose the one(s) that interest you and, for each, select “join” to become a member. You may want to start with only one or two groups, and add others later if you wish. In any case, be sure to join the Technology and Learning — soon to be called the Integrating Technology — group and the 2017 Online Tools & Resource Evaluation Micro Group.
  • When you choose a group (or micro group), you will be redirected to that group’s home page. On the right, you have the option to set your Email Subscription.
  • For each group you join, select “Immediate” from the drop down menu. You can always change this to another setting later, to  “12-hour digest” or “24-hour digest”. Then you will get LINCS email less frequently, and with batched messages.
  • Click Submit. Each time someone posts a message, you will receive it in your email.

These steps may make it look complicated but it’s relatively easy. If you have any difficulty, a LINCS staffer can help you if you contact them at

Thank you, David, for these detailed instructions. David can be reached at

It will be rewarding to explore many online tools and resources with teachers in this new micro group. If you have questions about this exciting opportunity, please contact Ed Latham, the group moderator, at

Celebrate Blended Learning on Digital Learning Day!


Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day started in 2012 as a way to highlight and celebrate the ways that technology is being used in K-12 education. Technology reaches all levels of education and can have a huge impact in the adult education world as well. Which tech tools would you like to celebrate this year? If you’ve used technology to extend your classroom opportunities beyond the face-to-face environment, you might have already used blended learning. Here at the EdTech Center, we’ve been spending a good amount of time thinking about best practices for blended learning.

In honor of Digital Learning Day, we will be sharing our 3-hour self-paced multimedia course, Introduction to Blended Learning, to any who wish to try it out. The course will be available from February 23 through March 2. Watch for our email on the 23rd, or mark your calendar to visit the course page next week for instructions to get started.

Introduction to Blended Learning is one of three Special Topics courses that are part of the IDEAL Consortium’s member resources. The IDEAL Consortium, a project of the EdTech Center, brings together states interested in developing distance and blended education programs to meet the online learning needs of adult learners who need to study at a distance or wish to extend learning beyond the classroom. To learn more about the benefits of IDEAL Membership and to see if your state is a member, visit

But you don’t need to wait until Digital Learning Day to get started!

  • Visit our webinar archive to listen to Blended Learning in the Adult Education Classroom. This webinar explored questions such as: What is blended learning? Why could blended learning be useful to your adult education program? What are some different approaches to adding an online learning component? Participants are introduced to a new, free, online guide to the blended learning classroom, written by webinar presenter David J. Rosen and published by Essential Education.
  • Register for a facilitated online course!
    • Blended and Project-Based Learning
      March 7 – May 2, estimated completion time: 30 hours
      Can you remember how much fun it was to do a project for school – some of my fondest grade school memories were projects. If you haven’t been using project-based learning (PBL) in your classroom, join us to refresh your understanding of project-based learning, while exploring how it could be done in the context of a blending learning approach. Combining new technology tools with project-based learning allows teachers to introduce their classes to problem-solving tasks, enhance learners’ critical thinking, and improve students’ research and communication skill, leveraging both face-to-face and online learning options. Gather together your colleagues (learning is always more fun with a partner) and
      register today!
    • Blended Learning for English Language Learners 
      April 26 – May 23, estimated completion time: 12 hours
      Explore how and when to use blended learning to enhance your work with adult English language learners (ELLs). Investigate ways educators have structured their curricula to include one or more blended learning approaches. See examples of how blended learning can be implemented using the free USA Learns website as an example. Leave the course with a draft lesson that uses blended learning in either face-to-face or distance settings.
      Register today!


Using Smartphones with WhatsApp to Teach English

By Paul Rogers

Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are replacing laptops to the point that the students of any adult education class can access lessons online immediately, without depending on a computer at home or in the computer lab. In order to have a good understanding of how a teacher could include smart phones, we need to examine specific models. In this regard, I would like to share my own experience.

Almost by accident, I started depending more on the phone beginning nearly a year ago, when my ESL website, Pumarosa, became mobile friendly. I had begun study groups on my Facebook page, which is also mobile friendly, three years earlier for people to join to access lessons. I have three major groups: songs, pronunciation, and readings – stories, poems and essays. I also put lessons, texts and my YouTube videos on my WIX page,

Often I would post a lesson from Pumarosa and the WIX page on the Facebook groups, usually to answer questions, or to submit a lesson. Then, last year, some students suggested I form WhatsApp study groups. I created three different groups – Beginning, Intermediate and a Chat group. The response was incredible! The chat group was the most popular, and actually became addictive, until I realized I was spending a great deal of time on it, and decided to leave it, making a student the Administrator.

The success I have had with the use of smartphones has led me to the conclusion that we can solve a number of vexing problems in adult education. Those students who are not able to attend classes, for example, can now be included in a program.

woman using cell phone

My Program

First, my program is totally Informal and free. There is no registration or test to take. Most of my students are older adults who live and work in various Latin American countries. Everyone can access lessons on Pumarosa and my Wix page. And everyone is a member of my WhatsApp groups.

WhatsApp is a free downloadable app that allows the user to keep in contact with other WhatsApp users. Anyone can send texts, photos, videos, and audios and also make a call to someone personally – from anywhere in the world. It is fast and easy and free.
About one year ago I started three study groups, Beginner (mostly Spanish), Intermediate (mostly English) and a Chat group (90% English). People can write in Spanish or English. Membership varies, and right now there are about 30 in each group.

When I started my WhatsApp groups, I posted my “Rules”:

  1. Be polite – No making fun of anyone.
  2. Don’t worry about mistakes.
  3. Avoid discussions of politics and religion
  4. Ask questions

Usually I just need to remind people of the rules in case conversations get too ‘personal’. A good example of what happens can be seen in a session I had just before I wrote this. Several people from the Beginners’ group began by telling me about their day, and one said he was listening to some rock and roll songs. And then we started to chat about prepositions, so I sent a link from my Wix page. An Intermediate student had a question about the pronunciation of the past tense (..d, …t,…ed), so I sent her a link to Pumarosa Intermediate. I signed off telling everybody I had to write this paper for teachers, and they all wished me well!

At times I will post a link from Pumarosa that I call “Homework”, usually a grammar lesson. Or I will ask people to record something to practice their pronunciation.
But the main focus is on people’s questions. Often the sessions are lively, but sometimes there isn’t much participation. If students are interested in inviting friends to join, they can become Administrators.

I work out of my home, as an independent teacher. This year I am going to devote some time to promoting my program through articles like this with the intention of becoming affiliated with adult education agencies that would like to try my approach in their classes, especially in a distance learning course. It seems reasonable to assume that a smartphone/WhasApp addition to any class would increase its popularity, decrease the drop-out rate and accelerate learning.

Paul Rogers has been an ESL teacher for over 25 years and developed a bilingual and phonetic course which became the basis of PUMAROSA.COM, a free website for Spanish speaking adults, beginning in 2004. Pumarosa has been available for use on smartphones for about one year and Paul has been using and promoting the site as part of his program, working as an independent teacher, unaffiliated with any school or non-profit agency. You can reach Paul at