Skills for the 21st Century

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

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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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 »

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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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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More Online Resources

Posted by wrmcnutt on November 16, 2011

Registration deadline has been extended for the 3 EFF Online Mini-courses being offered in Nov 28 -Dec 12, 2011.

Register online now! *****Extended Registration Deadline: Midnight tonight! (Nov 16th, 2011).*****

Each course provides participants one-on-one attention from a content-expert facilitator, and is designed to be completed on your own schedule in 8-10 hours over just 2 weeks. Course completion certificate and CEU credit available and included in the $189 course fee.

Designed for adult educators, these online mini-courses offer immediately applicable strategies on topics targeted to the needs of adult learners.

**** How Close is Close Enough?: Improving Estimation Skills  (for all levels of learners)

**** Standards-based Writing for Adult  Learners: Getting Started

**** Using Text Structure and Graphic Organizers: Strategies to Enhance Reading Comprehension

For more information on these courses see the Course Descriptions  or contact us via

Cost:  only $189/person for each course – check/money order/purchase order only. Group invoicing available.

Information on Course Assignments and Completion information:

Please review our Course Technical Requirements before registering!

Register online via:   Registrants will be invoiced at time of e-mail confirmation, payment (or proof of payment processing – PO#, e-mail with check #, etc.) must be received before course start.

For questions about these or other EFF services please contact us: or visit our web site at

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Online Hosted Discussion on ELA

Posted by wrmcnutt on November 15, 2011

The Adult English Language Acquisition (ELA) list will host a discussion on November 21 and 22, and 29 and 30. Dr. JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall will facilitate a discussion of “Issues in the Preparation and Professional Development of Practitioners Working with Adult English Language Learners”

Discussion Description

Dr. JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall and colleagues from the Center for Applied Linguistics conducted a survey of teacher certification and professional development expectations for adult ESL teachers. The results of the survey revealed that although there are differences among the states, in general, states are paying more attention to issues of teacher quality. During this online discussion, Dr. Crandall will facilitate and discuss issues of teacher quality as they relate to the initial preparation and professional development of teachers of adult English Language Learners (ELLs) from initial preparation and expectations of newly hired teachers to issues related to more experienced teachers, including those who may be experiencing near burn-out from the stresses of several part-time jobs without contracts or benefits.

For a brief biography of the facilitator, guiding questions for the discussion, and a link to a reading related to the discussion, go to

If you are already a member of the ELA list, you may simply post messages at

To subscribe to the ELA list, go to

Miriam Burt

Moderator, Discussion List for Adult English Language Acquisition (ELA)
Center for Applied Linguistics

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What If…Computers Could Converse Like Human Beings?

Posted by durencls on July 1, 2010

In our original presentation, and in at least one subsequent post, we brought up the idea of the computer surpassing the abilities of the human brain by 2040 – referring to Kurzweil and the Law of Accelerating Returns (which is based, in part, on Moore’s law regarding the growth of computing hardware).

Well, according to this article in the New York Times, it seems IBM thinks it is one step closer to making this a reality – it has a computer that can play, and win Jeopardy:

Code-named “Watson” after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, the IBM computing system is designed to rival the human mind’s ability to understand the actual meaning behind words, distinguish between relevant and irrelevant content, and ultimately, demonstrate confidence to deliver precise final answers. (From the IBM web site)

For more information on Watson – read the entirely of the NYT article – it is quite long.  You can also “play” Jeopardy against Watson  if you’d like (I won, but only barely). 

In addition to the NYT article (which came from a blog post I found in my reader when I returned from vacation), I was interested to note this recent article (through Twitter) from the Pew Research Center: Imagining Life in 2050: Public Sees a Future Full of Promise & Peril; Amazing Science, Familiar Threats

In this article, and in the full report, I found some interesting public opinions about the future and technology 40 years from now:

Fully 81% [of Americans] think computer science will have progressed to the point where a computer will probably or definitely be able to carry on a conversation indistinguishable from that of a human being – passing the so-called “Turing test” – by mid-century.

40% [of Americans] think computer chips will be embedded in Americans for identification [by 2050].

In addition, over 60% of Americans say by 2050 paper editions of newspapers will no longer exist; paper money will definitely or probably cease to exist, with all financial transactions being electronic; and almost no one will send personal letters in the mail .

And this got me thinking – what would be the effect of these kinds of changes on skills needed in the workplace?  What would happen if:

  • You could phrase questions to a computer just like you would a human? And get back a response that included intuitive leaps?
  • Computers had  processing power equal to or better than the human brain? Without all our frailties, tendency to get emotional or distracted? Without our biases and prejudices?
  • The world was generally paperless?  Most reading is done online? Would reading itself be old-fashioned? Would you listen or ‘view’ things rather than read?
  • People all had an embedded identification chip? (With a GPS? Or even direct connection to the internet at all times?) Hmmm… I suspect these will be voluntary to start – limited only to the very wealthy to start. When would they be mandated, do you think?

How would these types of changes affect what cognitive and “technology” skills you would need? As an amateur futurist, I predict (for 2050, mind you):

  • Humans would be needed to do fewer “routine” or “basic skill” jobs. Computers could handle most human-interaction tasks at a fast-food restaurant, for example, or customer service/tech support calls/tasks.
  • Computers would begin to design more innovative computers faster than humans could. Meaning the pace of technology advances/changes would increase even further.
  • Writing things by hand will seem old-fashioned and quaint. No one will write in ‘cursive’ any longer – just as no one writes in Copperplate now.  (Some folks will be able to write in cursive – but they won’t bother.)
  • Reading (or writing) long blocks of unbroken text – 100’s of pages – will be uncommon and limited to older, previously written materials.  New stories will be told in computer generated images. Visual literacy skills will be very important. (Hmm, this means a new employment opportunity might be ‘converting’ old materials to visuals.)
  • People will begin to have a more and more personal relationship with computers/technology. They will begin to feel it is a part of them, and ‘naked’ without a connection to ‘the network.’

In short, cognitive skills – the ability to think, reason, decide, evaluate, innovate, create, etc. – will be even MORE important than they are today. The ability to read and write would be less important than it is today.  With technology interfaces more intuitive and pervasive, what we traditionally think of as “tech skills” will likely be less important. Between now and 2050?  Folks will still need to read, write, type, and ‘figure out” non-intuitive technology tools, but more and more of these types of tasks will be done by the technology around them.  Employers will be looking for folks who can do what computers still cannot – be creative, innovative, collaborative, and/or provide a caring, human connection.

Before you dismiss me as  just a wishful thinking geek or radical technologist, think for a moment on this time line:

  • Today our focus for the 21st century is on *everyone* having Technology skills, post-secondary education/training, or career-readiness skills.  If you don’t have SOME specialized post-secondary training, you are struggling to make a living.
  • 40 years ago, the focus was on getting folks HS diplomas and into college. Those without a HS degree were shifted to lower paying, less attractive jobs.  College degrees got you the REALLY good jobs.
  • Only 90 years ago, in America, everyone was legally required to learn to read and write (and calculate) – those that could not, began to hide their lack of skills or worked lower level  jobs.
  • 150 years ago, in America, the ability to read was considered so powerful and so enlightening that it was a CRIME to teach reading to slaves – over 1/10th our total population in 1860.
  • 500 years ago, distribution of the printed word to the common man became cheap and easy, and non-secular writings began to flourish – the ability to read and write made you superior as an employee for many work sectors – but these abilities also caused suspicion and conflict for 100s of years to come.
  • 1000 years ago, only scholars read and wrote, and most of it was secular (in the western world at least) – you could gain great wealth and power without ever reading or writing a word. 
  • 2500 years ago, Socrates argued the written word as inferior to spoken discourse for learning and thinking – what skills were thus needed for academic success? 
  • 5000 years ago, the first alphabet was created – what workforce skills were important then?  What skills were needed to “succeed?”

The scary part is – I could still be alive in 2050.  I’d be 89 – what WILL I see then?  My daughter would be 43 – same age I am now.  What will SHE live to see?

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Welcome to Skills for the 21st Century Workplace

Posted by wrmcnutt on March 9, 2010

COABE is still going on, so if you’re here already, you’re a little ahead of the game. We should have our handout and our notes available within a few days, and hope you will return and participate in the discussions to come.

Duren and Bill

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