Tips for Distance Learning

Distance Education Strategy Session Resources

Since March, the EdTech Center has hosted Distance Education Strategy Sessions on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. The virtual strategy sessions convene leaders, practitioners, educators and more to share and discuss your distance learning questions.

On this page, you’ll find all of the webinar resources, including session recordings, slides, Q&A notes and more. To explore the resources from each section, navigate to the webinar you wish to view more details on and click on the + button to expand the section.

New 2020-2021 PD Offerings

Every 2nd Friday – Distance Education Strategy Sessions: Held every 2nd Friday at 10 AM PST, 12 PM CST and 1 PM EST via Zoom, the EdTech Center convenes leaders, practitioners, educators and more to share and discuss your distance learning questions. Register here. 

Webinar Recordings, Resources & More

Click on the webinar you are interested in to explore resources. Individual lightning talks are available in a playlist here.

January 14, 2022 - A Focus on Equity

Equity, providing all people with fair opportunities to attain their full potential to the extent possible (CommonHealth ACTION, adapted from Braveman and Gruskin, 2003), impacts the adult learner and their learning. In this Distance Education Strategy Session, Cynthia Peters, Editor of The Change Agent, and Kamala Red, Instructor at the Mid-Manhattan Learning Center in NYC, will share how racial equity can be addressed in distance education classes. Penny Pearson, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network’s (OTAN’s) Distance Learning Projects Coordinator, and Neda Anasseri, OTAN’s Coordinator of Technology Projects, will focus on how accessibility features can support equity for programs, instructors, and learners.

December 10, 2021 - HyFlex Model in Adult Ed: Tips on Technologies & Strategies

The Hybrid-Flexible (HyFlex) course model allows students to choose how they learn: in-person, synchronously online, or asynchronously online. In this session, the EdTech Center’s Jen Vanek briefly introduces key characteristics of the HyFlex model; then, two practitioners from the great state of Arizona will share tips for implementation. Jennifer Duclos from Mesa Adult Education will cover strategies for supporting learner engagement, and David Howden of Arizona Center for Youth Resources will describe the technologies needed to implement Hyflex courses. Following the lightning talks, each presenter will be available for informal small group discussion.

November 12, 2021 - Supporting Strategic Tech Integration

Inspired in many ways by the innovative ideas that have been shared by practitioners during the past 18 months through our Distance Education Strategy Sessions, the EdTech Center is excited to introduce the EdTech Integration Strategy Toolkit! Come join ETC’s Jeff Goumas as he shares the toolkit, which is chock full of effective edtech routines rooted in evidence-based strategies, along with over 1,000 curated digital skills learning activities crowdsourced by educators as part of our Spring 2021 EdTech Maker Space! We’ll discuss ways to use the toolkit, as well as upcoming opportunities for you to contribute to what we hope will be a growing, go-to resource for adult educators. For our second presentation, we’ll hear from the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) on the latest updates to make the free USA Learns platform optimized for mobile users and learn how one adult education ESL teacher uses the site with her beginning level students.

October 8, 2021 - Strategies for Remote PD + Instructor Evaluation

Priyanka Sharma, World Education Project Director, created a process and resources for delivering PD through WhatsApp. Come hear about why she chose WhatsApp and the strategies and resources she made use of to implement it. Then learn how Destiny Simpson, IDEAL Consortium Consultant, and Amy Poland, Professional Development Coordinator at Maine Department of Education, Office of Adult Education, worked together to create a tool for teachers and their supervisors to provide supportive review of remote ESOL instruction. The tools provide structure for observation and reflective conversations to strengthen a teacher’s capacity to provide remote instruction. Come hear about the new tool!

September 10, 2021 - Innovative ESOL Career Pathways Instruction

Hear how Fatma Ghailan from Queens Public Library in New York and Danielle Perry from Peninsula Regional Educational Program (PREP) in Virginia have built innovative and scalable models that increase access to English language training, career pathway transitions, and support economic opportunity for language learners. Tadd Wamester from the EnGen team will share more about how their web & mobile platform and curriculum has been leveraged as an effective tool for workforce and career-focused English language learning.

June 11, 2021 - Building Digital Literacy Opportunities + Expanding the Range of Tools Used for Instruction

The Briya Public Charter School in Washington DC has paid careful attention to the skills needed to engage in remote instruction and their learners have benefited. Briya’s structured approach includes a thorough orientation, computer access, and ample support resources and is guided by a checklist that defines targeted digital skills. The result of this approach is the creative use of educational and communication technologies to support video assessments, recorded video lessons, and student-created videos for digital storytelling. During this session, Jamey Sadownick, Briya’s Technology Integration Coordinator, will share a digital skills checklist and other support resources that were developed over the past year to make this approach possible. Following that, Kirsten Wittkowski, Adult Education Coordinator & Instructor, will spotlight examples of the innovative activities and resources that Briya’s instructors use to make technology-rich instruction accessible to all of their learners.

May 14, 2021 - Strategies for Building Program Capacity and Learner Skills

This strategy session will focus on what shifts programs have made in the last year and what is sticking as programs develop reopening strategies. Karen Rivas and colleagues from the Carlos Rosario Adult Public Charter School will share resources and experiences with a human-centered approach that will be key to reopening for the 2021-22 school year. Focusing on meeting the needs of the moment and blending adult-ed student needs, Carlos Rosario is exploring offering flexible learning spaces based on what they learned during the pandemic while adjusting to changing local health guidelines and DC School parameters. Next, we’ll hear how the Ronald M Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning/St. Paul Adult Basic Education (MN) embraced a new approach to make technology-rich instruction more equitable. In the fall of 2020, they started implementing “push-in” digital literacy instruction. Adam Kieffer describes his visits to remote ELL class sessions, where he offers highly relevant, digital skills instruction.

April 23, 2021 - The 7 Elements of Effective Remote and Hybrid Instruction

How do we take what we as instructors have done with students in a classroom and make it work remotely? What benefits and challenges have moving to an online format brought us? In this session, Nell Eckersley, Director of the NYC Support and Technical Center (STAC) & Instructional Technology Specialist and Cynthia Bell, Director, Workforce Development & Numeracy Services for the Literacy Assistance Center, explore seven elements for effective remote and hybrid instruction.

April 9, 2021 - Digital skills framework for supporting adult education practitioners & Digital Navigators

The past year has spotlighted how inequitable access to technology and digital skills development compounds existent inequities. Even as we return to more face-to-face settings, the skills adult learners will need for continued success are increasingly digital. During this session, Stacey Wedlake, Research Scientist at the Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington, will share a skills framework designed to answer the question: What digital skills do people need to learn to participate in today’s world? Then, the EdTech Center’s Priyanka Sharma will share the recently launched Digital Navigator Hub, which includes guides and aligned learning resources organizations can use to provide on-demand tech support to learners; relevant information to secure connectivity and devices; and foundational digital skills, learning and job training.

March 26, 2021 - Collaborative Learning with Google Jamboard

Do you know about Google Jamboard? Pamela Jo Wilson, Adult ESOL Program Curriculum Support Specialist for Palm Beach County, FL loves using them for collaborative learning in her ESOL classroom. Hear how she uses Jamboard and other Google tools to help students contextualize and learn vocabulary; practice asking questions and writing answers; identify parts of speech, and lots more.

March 12, 2021 - Contextualized Instruction Using Google Classroom & Supporting Hands-On Instruction and Demos Done Remotely

Delivering effective integrated education and training remotely can be an especially challenging task. While we continue to gather great ideas and best practices or delivering foundational skill instruction in math and reading from a distance, we’ve had less guidance on how to provide meaningful remote instruction for hand-on training concepts such as occupational safety or how to assemble a toilet. During our first lightning talk, we’ll learn how David Hilder from So Others May Eat in Washington, DC has developed innovative, engaging lessons using Google Classroom to provide integrated lessons that develop occupational skills, math skills, and digital skills all at once. During our second lightning talk, Daryl Robinson and Troy Sockly from Congress Heights (also in Washington, DC) will share how they are using video and a mix of in-person and remote training demonstrations to effectively provide technical skills training to all learners.

February 26, 2021 - Learning Circles in a Virtual Environment

Learning Circles have emerged as a promising practice for bringing together a group of people who all want to learn about the same subject. But, how do they work in a virtual environment? Join the EdTech Center and our partners ProLiteracy as we welcome expert panelists to share how they’ve used learning circles and how they’ve converted them to a virtual environment during the pandemic. Panelists will share experiences, best practices, and resources you can use to start learning circles in your program.

February 12, 2021 - Adult Learner Variability Navigator & “Digital Substitution” Strategies

Build an Evidence-based Strategy Toolkit! Looking to add more technology-centered routines into your practice but not sure where to begin? Join us for this exciting session to learn about tools and tips for building an evidence-based, tech integration strategy toolkit! First, Medha Tare and Sarah Cacicio from ETC partner Digital Promise share their recently released evidence-based Adult Learner Model that can be used to improve instructional strategies.Then, Jayme Adelson Goldstein of Lighthearted Learning will put theory into practice by sharing a guide full of tech integration strategies that includes guidance for how students experience different strategies when using a mobile device.

January 22, 2021 - Accessibility Basics

Implementing basic accessibility principles not only helps ensure that individuals with disabilities and those who use assistive technology can fully participate in distance learning; it also often improves usability for all learners. In this webinar, Dr. Melissa Helquist, Director of the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center and Professor of English at Salt Lake Community College will explore the fundamentals of accessibility—including creating accessible documents and delivering audio and video content—to help make accessibility a more central part of your distance education program.

January 8, 2021 - Science behind Successful Blended Language Learning at Scale & Making It Work in Practice

2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic have brought about significant shifts in hiring demand and have accelerated the future of work in ways that none of us could have predicted. Immigrant and refugee communities have been disproportionately affected by job losses, and also make up a larger percentage of essential workers in healthcare and grocery/retail, among other sectors. IET Career Pathway programs must rapidly adapt to the changing needs of both their learners and the employer hiring demand within their local communities. Katie Nielson, PhD. and Tadd Wamester from the Voxy EnGen team will unpack these issues and also provide insight into how programs are transitioning to blended and virtual IET & career-focused language learning, now and into the future.

December 11, 2020 - Building Open Learning Resource Repositories

Learn how one region in South Carolina has worked to develop effective practices building learning resource libraries at scale. First, Mary Gaston, Technical Assistance Specialist for SCAE, will share how her team worked to rapidly find, create, and share online learning content in the wake of COVID-19 school closures for their region, and over time has developed a coordinated process for making these resources readily available to educators across the state. Then, Kathy Woodson (SC Adult Ed Training Specialist), Kathy LaBegue (Greenville Lifelong Learning Instructor), Anita Wilson (TAN 1 Curriculum Specialist), and Mickey Cox (Oconee Adult Ed Instructor), will share how they have been able to take these reusable learning resources and implement them into their instruction. You will leave with lots of ideas for how collaboration can help you and your colleagues effectively coordinate the curation, creation, and sharing of content to meet the needs of your learners.

December 4, 2020 - Digital Literacy Action Plan

Rachel Riggs, ESL Instructional Specialist, Frederick Community College, will share her Digital Literacy Action Plan (DLAP). Rachel will describe the challenge of supporting learner agency in digital literacy and describe how the DLAP helped her overcome those challenges.

November 13, 2020 - Teaching in a Remote Blended Learning Program – Administrating a Remote Blended Learning Program

Staff from Rio Salado College and Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County will share strategies for how they have successfully transitioned to teaching online when faced with the challenges of pivoting instruction at a moment’s notice. Then, Robert Breitbard from Burlington English will describe how teaching with one comprehensive blended curriculum allows teachers to shift instruction to any learning environment.

October 21, 2020 - Viral Video English – Reaching Students through YouTube at Literacy Pittsburgh

Sara, Nicole and Caitlin will share how they created two YouTube channels: Literacy Pittsburgh English Class and Family Literacy Storytime. They will discuss why they decided to use YouTube for instruction, how they shoot and promote the videos, and how they helped their “actors” overcome nervousness. They’ll also reveal how their videos have increased Literacy Pittsburgh’s profile in their community, across the country, and around the world.

October 9, 2020 - Nashville Public Library’s Ecosystem of Support PD Model & Transforming Distance Education Course

We’ll hear from the Nashville Public Libray and learn about their “ecosystem of support” model, including the professional development resources they developed, community offerings and how they work together. We’ll also look at the newly released Transforming Distance Education course and the lessons related to this week’s topic.

September 25, 2020 - Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach (SOFLA)

Come hear Helaine Marshall from Long Island University-Hudson introduce the Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach (SOFLA). In the SOFLA model, learners independently complete online lessons that provide initial instruction on key concepts. Then students attend class (through Zoom or something similar) with the teacher and other students where they can build their understanding through collaboration, discussion, and application. This lesson model will help you make efficient use of students’ learning time at home, as well as your web meeting time. The presenter will share steps to create lessons, describe an example of SOFLA in practice, and be available for questions.

August 21, 2020 - Reading Skills for Today’s Adults & EdTech Maker Space

This webinar will feature Southwest Minnesota ABE program manager See Muoa-Leske describing Reading Skills for Today’s Adults and how their library of free leveled readers is designed to support literacy development for English language learners. The second presentation will build on RSTA presentation, showing how the leveled readers have been integrated into engaging mobile accessible learning objects. Both Xavier Munoz from the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and Jeff Goumas from CrowdEd Learning will share their work. Following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore.

August 7, 2020 - Five Strategies for Volunteer Success in Distance Learning & Reinventing a 50-Year-Old Program in 5 Months

This webinar will cover issues important to consider when integrating volunteers into your distance education programming and instruction. We will feature lightning talks from two experts on the subject: Rob Podlasek from Literacy Minnesota and Todd Evans from ProLiteracy. Learn how their organizations address challenges like: supporting volunteers, structuring programming to make best use of volunteers, training and onboarding volunteers, and attending to security and privacy issues. Following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore.

July 24, 2020 - Team Teaching Online & Addressing the Needs of Immigrant Latino Frontline Workers during the COVID-19 Crisis using Facebook as a Convenor

This webinar features two lightning talks. First, Ashly Winkle and Claire Gilliam will share how team teaching helped the staff at Literacy Council of Tyler to transition from a face-to-face to remote learning environments by creating opportunities for teachers to support each other with technology issues, instruction, discussion guidance, & overall community building. Then Monica Zambrano and Zazil Rojas from Building Skills Partnership will share how their employer-union partnership work used Facebook as a convenor to help address the Needs of Immigrant Latino Frontline Workers during the COVID-19 Crisis. Following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore

July 10, 2020 - Registration and Placement Over Zoom & Screencasting Your Mobile Device

This webinar features two lightning talks. We welcome Heather Tatton-Harris, from Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, who will share resources and strategies they developed to do registration and intake completely online. EdTech Center advisor Jeff Goumas will share a promising new tech resource – smartphone emulating or “mirroring” – that teachers can use to help students working on mobile devices. Following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore.

June 26, 2020 - Using the Change Agent in Remote Instruction & Data Driven Coaching

This webinar features two lightning talks.  We welcome Riva Pearson, from JVS Hyde Park ESOL Program, who will share remote reading instructional strategies for using articles for The Change Agent, a biannual magazine of student writing published by the New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC) at World Education. Joey Lehrman and Tiffany Thomas,  Delgado Community College will describe their work using student engagement data to provide effective coaching. Following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore.


June 12, 2020 - Designing & Adapting Content for Mobile Instruction & Strategies to Maximize Engagement in Online Classrooms

This webinar features two lightning talks. First, Sherry Lehane from the Rhode Island Tech Hub for Adult Education will share strategies for creating mobile learning content on common technologies (like Google Slides) that maximizes readability and engagement for students learning on phones. Then, Rachael Riggs, from Frederick Community College, will share strategies for maximizing engagement in online classrooms. She’ll share how she creates media and sets up role play activities (among other things) to support learning for English language learners. Following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore. 

May 29, 2020 - Integrating google applications on a Weebly site & online assessment & screening to support persistence

Our webinar on Friday May 29th, 2020 features two lightning talks.  First,  teachers Kristin Klas and Laura Tamali from St Paul Adult Basic Education (MN) will share strategies for using multiple google applications integrated on a weebly site to support distance education. Then, Jessica Wabler from the YWCA – National Capital Area will present resources she has created to make possible the online screening needed to fully understand learners’ needs and the resources required to support persistence in distance education. 

May 15, 2020 - Using Skillblox to organize OER + learning resources & Tips from the AZ Dept of Ed on training & certifying teachers to assign proxy hours

Our strategy session on Friday May 15th features innovations to help states, programs, and teachers that are working to make it easier for teachers to create or curate their own developed curricula. First Jeff Goumas from CrowdED Learning will share a new tool—SkillBlox—designed to make it easy for instructors to quickly find free resources aligned to the College & Career Readiness Standards, as well as a current initiative supporting teacher collaboration in OER content curation and delivery to students. Then, Corina Avila and Kyle Boyson from the Arizona Department of Education will describe their state’s process for training and certifying teachers to assign proxy hours (using the teacher verification model) for online content they have created. A 30-minute discussion follows the presentations. 

May 8, 2020 - Innovative Strategies for Professional Development & Effective Strategies for Learner Engagement

Our webinar on Friday May 8th, 2020 features two lightning talks.  First, Lori Looney and her colleagues from Kentucky Skills U will share their innovative approach to providing resources and professional learning to help their teachers deliver quality distance education. Then, Tamara Thompson from Mockingbird Education will share strategies she has found useful for supporting learner engagement in synchronous online instruction. As always, following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore. 

May 1, 2020 - Learnings from rapidly scaling distance ed in Texas & Using Wakelet to support instruction

This webinar dives into how one state is tackling the need to rapidly scale distance education. This Friday we’ll feature two lightning talks from Texas. First, Texas State Adult Education Director Anson Green will share the critical steps that the Texas Workforce Commission made to make it possible for programs to serve more learning at a distance. Then Ashly Winkle from the Literacy Council of Tyler will walk you through how to use Wakelet to support instruction – making it possible for teachers who don’t have a website to organize digital resources. As always, following the lightning talks, we’ll break into two discussions and you can choose which topic you’d like to further explore. 

April 24, 2020 - Providing remote support & navigation services using tech tools & Cell-Ed's free offerings

Our strategy session this week will feature resources especially helpful for learners who need extra support and alternatives to traditional online learning. First we’ll feature Joselyn Marte, program coordinator and advisor at the Lawrence Adult Learning Center, in Lawrence, MA. Joselyn will describe how to provide wrap around support and navigation services using technology. Next, Dr. Jessica Rothenberg-Aalmi from Cell-Ed will describe how Cell-Ed curricula and personalized coaching can be accessed on a range of devices – including flip phones. One featured resource is a free COVID-19 info course in multiple languages to help youth and adult learners stay safe during the pandemic.Jessica will also discuss the launch of a major initiative April 30th to reach the most vulnerable learners with free programming.

April 17, 2020 - Tips for Using Zoom, Loom & the free WeSpeakNYC ESL curriculum for virtual learning circles

Join us for two lightning talks and breakout discussions addressing strategies for meeting with students at a distance. Jennifer Kleupmen, an Education Specialist with the Community Education and Training Department at Mercer County Community College in Trenton, NJ, will talk about her experience using Zoom to support synchronous meetings. Anthony Tassi from Literacy Partners will describe strategies for using their free ESL curriculum, We Speak NYC, as part of virtual learning circles. 

April 10, 2020 - Innovative Remote Learning Models, Tips for Remote Onboarding & Strategies for Adapting Instruction for Blended & Distance Learning

Join us for three lightning talks and breakout discussions on a virtual workplace ESOL training developed by National Immigration Forum (The Forum) with support from the EdTech Center. Jennie Murray from The Forum will talk about finding employer partners in this challenging time; Ana Negoescu from The Forum and Victoria Neff from the EdTech Center will share the process the project used for completely virtual on-boarding and orientation. Susan Gaer, EdTech Center Advisor, will share strategies for moving usual classroom instruction and activities to an online format. Read about the project in this report: Upskilling New Americans: Innovative English Training for Career Advancement.


April 3, 2020 - Using Hyperdocs to organize & structure lessons & guidance on OCTAE's Distance Ed policy

Ashly Winkle from the Literacy Council of Tyler (TX) will explain how teachers can use Hyperdocs (linked Google Docs) as a way to structure lessons delivered at a distance. Judy Mortrude from World Education will walk through the newest guidance document from OCTAE on policy that supports distance education. 

March 27, 2020 - Using WhatsApp for Remote Instruction & Using the Teacher Verification Model for proxy contact hour counting

This webinar, designed for administrators, professional development leaders and teachers, will feature lightning talks on using WhatsApp as a central instructional tool and a description for how one state is using the Teacher Verification Model for proxy contact hour counting.


March 20, 2020 - Resources on LINCS & Navigating Online Curricula to Rapidly Start Distance Learning

The first webinar, designed for administrators, professional development leaders and other practitioners, will cover a preview of the Tips for Distance Learning site. We will feature lightning talks about LINCS resources and guidance on choosing online curricula. We will offer break out discussion on these and other topics participants have about getting started with distance education. 

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