Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

Engineering Design Enters the 4th Dimension

Posted by Duren_Thompson on October 23, 2013

3D chemical model - stick and ball  imageOK, this is really revolutionary!

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a polymer and a process which allows the production of an object fixed in one shape that can later be changed to take on a new shape given thermal, chemical or mechanical forces.  And these shapes are determined at the design stage – essentially adding a “time” component to the 3D printing/production process.

Their real life example:

“…a solar panel or similar product could be produced in a flat configuration onto which functional devices can be easily installed. It could then be changed to a compact shape for packing and shipping. After arriving at its destination, the product could be activated to form a different shape that optimizes its function.”
H.  Jerry Qi, associate professor of mechanical engineering at CU-Boulder

Read more  4-D Printing Technology for Composite Materials Developed

WOW!  So, consider the effects of this kind of production on the jobs of the future:

  • What kinds of skills would you need in order to be a designer? (4-dimensional visualization skills?)
  • What jobs would be changed or lost (fewer truck drivers needed, because boxes would be smaller?)
  • How would this affect consumers/users?  (What would you make with an in-home 4D printer? How about a tent or table that sets itself up?)
  • What are the effects on the environment – can these things be put in a landfill? Can this be recycled?

And, of course,

  • What implications does this have for education?  How do you assist students to think in 4 dimensions?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Old Iron Back On Line

Posted by wrmcnutt on October 22, 2012

These bad boys were just a hair before my time, but it’s nice to see some of our digital history being preserved. Guys, when you need someone to code in Pascal on a PDP-11/44 or in COBOL on an IBM 360, drop me a line.

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We Are More Visually Savvy than Forbes: Death of Boring PowerPoints

Posted by durencls on September 10, 2012

We were highly amused to see this online article by Forbes magazine, published 9/7/2012:

Jeff Bezos and the End of PowerPoint As We Know It – by Carmine Gallo

Basing his article on the powerful presentation made by Jeff Bezos when unveiling the new Kindle Fire last week, the author, Gallo, states:

“… his presentation slides were light on text and heavy on images. This style of delivering presentations is fresh, engaging, and ultimately far more effective than slide after slide of wordy bullet points.

I’ve noticed that many business leaders around the world are adopting the image-rich style including very famous CEO’s such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The style works for any leader, in any industry.” [Emphasis added]

Not only is this article touting the efficacy of this presentation technique two years behind our recommendations, it is SIX years behind the dates of many of the resources we cited in our 2009 COABE presentation.

WE thought we were bringing an established practice to the field of Adult Literacy/ESOL education – which is often somewhat behind major technological changes in the corporate world.   Funny to find we were AHEAD of (or at least on par with) many in industry.

I was also interested by this quote by Gallo:

“I’ve discussed this technique before in more detail but in short, it’s called Picture Superiority. It simply means that the brain processes information more effectively when the information is presented in pictures and words instead of words alone. Neuroscientists have also found that when a slide (or advertisement) contains pictures and words, it’s best to have the picture on the left side of the page or slide and words on the right. [Emphasis added]

That is new news to me – I’d love to see that research cited somewhere. I’ve written the author to see if he can send me a citation.

In any case, one issue is clear – PowerPoints should be VISUAL – not text-based!!!  Join us in the (half-decade old) movement to stop ‘Death by Powerpoint’ and ineffective presentations!

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LAPCAE Materials

Posted by wrmcnutt on June 5, 2012

I’d like to thank everyone who came to my session, Emerging Technologies in the Adult Education Classroom. You were a fun group to talk to and I hope that everyone got something to take away from the session.  As promised, I’ve linked my slide set and handout below.  While you’re here, I hope you’ll take the time to look around and some of the articles we’ve shared in the past.  If you have any questions about the topic, or anything about technology in education, really, feel free to ask.  If we don’t know the answer, we probably should, so we’ll find out for you.

Posted in Changing the AE field, Job Skills, Meta-Skills, Pace of Change, Technology In the Classroom, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rise of the Machine

Posted by wrmcnutt on May 23, 2012

The ultimate nightmare for Tenured Faculty may eventually arrive.  Perhaps, one day, robo-teachers will out-perform flesh and blood instructors.  But that day is not today.  Quite.

In the most recent issue of Inside Higher Ed (May 22, 2012), Steve Kolowich reported out on an experiment at six public universities that randomly assigned students to statistics courses that “relied heavily on ‘machine-guided learning’ software.”  Although the instructor was not eliminated entirely, the participants did get “reduced face time with instructors.”  While the article and the study behind it make for an interesting read, the bottom line is this: the students in the machine-guided learning environments did as well as the students in the control group, and they did it in less time.  “’Our results indicate that hybrid-format students took about one-quarter less time to achieve essentially the same learning outcomes as traditional-format students,’ report[ed] the Ithaka researchers.”

For a long time now, computer-assisted learning has been dismissed by traditional educators as a drill-and-practice tool, or at best a stopgap to be applied to learners unable to participate in traditional education models.  Until now conventional wisdom has been that traditional face-to-face training provides a superior learning experience.  This study, and others like it are showing that computer assisted learning is beginning to catch up with traditional teaching.

Do I think that the bell is tolling for tenured faculty?  Not yet.  But it is past time to take a good hard look at  systematically integrating technology into our instructional approaches.  It may be that the days of teaching off of those curling, yellowed notes are not only numbered, but the number is getting increasingly smaller.

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Online Privacy

Posted by wrmcnutt on January 13, 2012

Want to disappear from the internet?  This article from Popular Mechanics can help show you how:

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Tablet Computing

Posted by wrmcnutt on January 12, 2012

With the advent of tablet computers, all of us in technology are grappling with how to integrate them into business and educational environments.  The iPad is currently the 400-pound gorilla on the block, but there are others out here.  This is a look at Windows 8, the next platform in tablet computing.

Posted in 21st Century Communication, Technology In the Classroom, Technology in the Workplace | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Training Opportunity

Posted by wrmcnutt on December 2, 2011

I thought you might be interested in the material below. It is a commercial training, but the material is relevant to many of us.

Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE and ESOL Classroom

The purpose of this course is to prepare you?instructors and counselors?to implement the Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom

(ICA) Curriculum Guide within the context of your situation. The hands-on activities will increase your level of comfort and familiarity with the curriculum guide and the related topics.

Course Dates: January 25?March 7, 2012

Full Course Description:

Required Text: Integrating Career Awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom

(ICA) Curriculum Guide by Martha Oesch and Carol Bower. To order the CD or download the PDF, go to the National College Transition Network website:

Course Instructor: Martha Oesch

Estimated Completion Time: 24 hours/6 weeks

Course Fee: $249.00


Helping Students Stay: Exploring Program and Classroom Persistence Strategies

When we focus on helping students stay in programs, we address all the ingredients of program quality and effective instruction. Student persistence is, in fact, an indicator of program strength. In this six-week course, we?ll use the six core ?drivers? of persistence, identified in the New England Learner Persistence Project, to organize and review a wide range of successful persistence strategies, and to prioritize the ones that might have the most impact in our own programs.

Course Dates: February 21?April 9, 2012

Full Course Description:

Course Instructor: Andy Nash

Estimated Completion Time: 24 hours/6 weeks

Course Fee: $249.00



Principles of Diagnostic Assessment and Teaching in Adult Reading Instruction

This six-week course has three parts. The first part consists of readings, discussion boards, and self-quizzes on the components of reading and diagnostic assessment. The second and third parts use the case study approach to give participants the opportunity to practice scoring and interpreting adult learners’ assessments in reading.

Course Dates: March 19?May 7, 2012

Full Course Description:

Course Instructor: TBD

Estimated Completion Time: 18 hours/6 weeks

Course Fee: $249.00



Course registration is also open for our other Spring 2012 offerings.


Introduction to College Transition Math

Through the readings and activities in this course, you will reflect on your own and your students? math backgrounds, examine and experience the college placement test your students take, try out math activities and exercises you can use in your classrooms, and explore the math knowledge and skills you will want to present to your own college transition students.

Course Dates: February 27?April 23, 2012

Full Course Description:

Required Text: Unlatching the Gate: Helping Adult Students Learn Mathematics by Katherine Safford-Ramus (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation, 2008), ISBN 978-1-4363-5120-1. Allow at least two weeks for delivery.Bottom of Form

Course Instructor: Pat Fina

Estimated Completion Time: 24 hours/6 weeks

Course Fee: $249.00



College Readiness for Adults: Beyond Academic Preparation!

The overall objective of this course is to assist educators, counselors, administrators and postsecondary partners to better prepare their students for postsecondary education. Together, we will identify, organize, and reflect on the broad array of readiness skills and abilities that adults need to be successful in postsecondary education and training. Then, each of us will consider how to change our practice to incorporate what we have learned. The course was developed and written by Cynthia Zafft, Principal Investigator for the National College Transition Network, World Education

Course Dates: February 9?March 28, 2012

Full Course Description:

Course Instructor: Johnna Herrick-Phelps

Estimated Completion Time: 24 hours/7 weeks

Course Fee: $249.00



Differentiated Instruction

Adult educators almost always face many different levels of learners in their classrooms, with all the attendant difficulties in teaching. In this facilitated, interactive course, you will learn how differentiated instruction can help produce effective teaching in your classes. You will learn to make the strong learning objectives required to keep multilevel instruction on target. Both research and specific strategies will be addressed. By the course end, you will produce your own lesson plan with effective learning objectives and differentiation suited to your own environment.

Course Dates: March 13?May 7, 2012, with 3 synchronous chats scheduled during Lessons 2, 3, and 4.

Full Course Description:

Required Text: How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, 2nd Edition, by Carol Ann Tomlinson (Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2001), Course Instructor:

Wendy Quiones

Estimated Completion Time: 30 hours/6 weeks

Course Fee: $249.00



Questions? Please e-mail <>


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Literacy Learner Stories

Posted by wrmcnutt on November 18, 2011

Here are a few more on-line resources.  The first is a set of four learner stories that give perspective on living with a low level of literacy. The links can be found on the top right hand side of the home page.

For a collection of even more stories, you can refer to:

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Literacy on the Radio

Posted by wrmcnutt on November 16, 2011

I just ran across a notice you might find interesting.  This American Life did a radio story a while back on a truck driver who made it all the way through the training and employment process without letting on that he was unable to read.

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