Monday, December 9, 2013

All I Want for Xmas are Ed-Tech Books, 2013

With the Year of the Blended Learner mostly behind us (and more hopefully ahead), it's time to gear up for the 2014 GED/HSE tests, developing reasoning skills, and certifying 'College and Career Readiness.  In other words, the Year of the Deeper Learner.   Ed tech books topped my list last year, and they made an appropriate post on an ed-tech blog.  However, the challenges facing the field of adult education in the coming year(s) will blur the lines of technology and redefine some of the notions that underscore the educational process.  To that end, I've compiled a little reading list of books, many of which are on my personal Christmas list.    


Although there are now three high school equivalency tests for each state to choose from, there is a common theme nationally in the updates being made to instructional practice: address deeper levels of complexity. The tests are becoming more rigorous, but only because they're going to be made up of more complex texts. Classwork will need to engage on multiple levels, and workbooks will need to connect with and develop latent skills. To help with that, I'd like to put Essential Education's new Essential Skills workbooks on this list, but that would be too simple and self-serving. Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts looks like just the kind of update for 2014 teaching, focusing on the entry points, to help encourage deeper-level skills that are transferable across all subjects.


I've spent much of the past two years promoting the agenda that digital literacy needs to be addressed as a core skill in adult ed, right alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.  I'm pleased to report that most educators I speak with agree, though approaching computer skills may seem daunting. Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom will probably help.  Media and information literacy are major components on the 2014 high school equivalency tests and they expand the idea of computer skills to provide an entry point that even digital immigrant adult ed teachers will be comfortable with.   


Teaching digital literacy may be raising the bar for some, but not nearly enough for the many teachers who need to bring real technology fluency to bear in their classrooms and for the students who need to transition to modern college and career environments. Literacy is Not Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age promises to help educators deepen digital literacy instruction.  As they say, shoot for the stars and you might reach the moon.


Yes, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns was on last year's list, but I don't think the field of adult education has quite come to terms with its message. By the end of 2014, the conclusions of Clayton Christensen will be front page news in adult ed program newsletters. So, read up now and start making adjustments. Not only are we seeing innovations that disrupt the process of adult education program administration, we've also got multiple exams competing to better serve adult learners. Teachers? Where do you fit in? What will you do different? Change is no longer an option or a possibility, it's a fact. 

This list of recommendations makes it seem like adult education is facing a crisis of relevance.  Actually, I think it's mostly incremental changes that are required (though it IS a lot all at once).  The core of what adult education programs provide needs to be promoted widely and on a shoe-string budget.  The changes coming to adult ed are exciting and need to be promoted to reach further flung target markets and potential partners.  The programs that languish off-the-grid (away from social media and online learning) may not stay relevant or even in business. Community colleges will swallow them up. Sexier services will garner their funding. Jab Jab Jab Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World is Gary Vaynerchuk's third book. You might want to start with the other two. Either way, I hope he lights a fire under your approach to the adult ed mission.      

  • Got a book you'd like to add?  Maybe you've read one of these and want to report your findings? Please post your comments here.

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