March 2007, Volume 7, Issue 3

Adult Education Learner Technology Standards

Do you address technology standards in your program and in your instruction? Are computer literacy or technical skills listed among goals and objectives for your students or teachers?

I often hear the sentiment expressed, "I would love to be more computer literate. I want my students to use more technology in learning the skills I teach them. If I just had more time! I find that my personal technology objectives often get placed in the To-Do-Soon file, until the stress is not so great. It seems that Soon is always just a step away."


The idea that technology skills take a long time to build still appears to prevail. Yet, learning computer skills does not take much time, just some commitment. Applications have become so friendly that many very useful skills can be acquired in ten to thirty minutes. With a weekly objective of setting 30 minutes aside for applying a new computer tool, all programs and all teachers could readily integrate technology into all instruction in some form.

Knowing what technology standards exist for adult learners entering the workforce might encourage programs to adopt a stronger emphasis on integrating technology into learning. What standards do our adult learners want to achieve for technology? What resources are out there to help meet those standards?

SCANS National Standards

Let's start with SCANS, which remains one of the clearest documents outlining workplace skills and competencies for U.S. workers. The 1991 report What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000 of the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills identified a three-part "Foundation" and five basic "Competencies" that have since come to serve as guiding principles for most career-oriented curricula. One of the five basic competencies includes technology workplace requirements, or standards, if you will, as follows (from ):

Technology: Works with a variety of technologies.
  1. Selects Technology: Chooses procedures, tools, or equipment including computers and related technologies.
  2. Applies Technology to Task: Understands overall intent and proper procedures for setup and operation of equipment.
  3. Maintains and Troubleshoots Equipment: Prevents, identifies, or solves problems with equipment, including computers and other technologies.

ISTE National Standards

ISTE is another widely accepted national standard source for technology. "The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is the trusted source for professional development, knowledge generation, advocacy, and leadership for innovation. A nonprofit membership organization, ISTE provides leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in PK–12 and teacher education... ISTE represents more than 85,000 professionals worldwide. ISTE supports members with information, networking opportunities, and guidance as they face the challenge of transforming education." (

You may access ISTE standards for K-12bstudents at I've included a list for students completing high school.

ISTE Performance Indicators: Prior to completion of Grade 12 students will:

  1. Identify capabilities and limitations of contemporary and emerging technology resources and assess the potential of these systems and services to address personal, lifelong learning, and workplace needs.
  2. Make informed choices among technology systems, resources, and services.
  3. Analyze advantages and disadvantages of widespread use and reliance on technology in the workplace and in society as a whole.
  4. Demonstrate and advocate for legal and ethical behaviors among peers, family, and community regarding the use of technology and information.
  5. Use technology tools and resources for managing and communicating personal/professional information (e.g., finances, schedules, addresses, purchases, correspondence).
  6. Evaluate technology-based options, including distance and distributed education, for lifelong learning.
  7. Routinely and efficiently use online information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publication, communication, and productivity.
  8. Select and apply technology tools for research, information analysis, problem solving, and decision making in content learning.
  9. Investigate and apply expert systems, intelligent agents, and simulations in real-world situations.
  10. Collaborate with peers, experts, and others to contribute to a content-related knowledge base by using technology to compile, synthesize, produce, and disseminate information, models, and other creative works.

State and Other Standards

"Technology proficiencies are best acquired in the context of other learning rather than as isolated skills. Educators should embed technology learning for their students in content-area curricula, choosing primarily to teach technology skills “just in time” (in other words, at or just before the time they are needed to accomplish other learning objectives); and curriculum planning in all grades should incorporate activities and expectations based on the gradual acquisition of these skills. Educators should also model the process of learning and integrating tech tools through their own processes of acquiring and demonstrating proficiency. Colorado Plan for Educational Technology and Information Literacy



"Each eligible agency shall use funds made available under section 222(a)(2) for one or more of the following adult education and literacy activities." Among them..

(2) The provision of technical assistance to eligible providers of adult education and literacy activities.
(3) The provision of technology assistance, including staff training, to eligible providers of adult education and literacy activities to enable the eligible providers to improve the quality of such activities.

SEC. 231. GRANTS AND CONTRACTS FOR ELIGIBLE PROVIDERS. Among other considerations, includes..

(6) whether the activities effectively employ advances in technology, as appropriate, including the use of computers;


(C) assistance in distance learning and promoting and improving the use of technology in the classroom.


State and local standards can be found on a number of sites, some of which are listed below. - Colorado Technology in PreK-12 Education Education Technology Center - Colorado Plan for Educational Technology & Information Literacy -  "The Maryland Adult Education Learner Technology Standards are designed to guide teachers in designing instruction that is supported by technology. The Adult Education Teacher Technology Standards specify what a teacher should know and be able to do to implement the full range of adult learner technology standards in instruction. The teacher standards are meant to provide a guide and ensure consistency across programs and classrooms. While the standards guide instruction, the integration of technology will be individualized to achieve learner and local program goals. (Click on the Technology Standards link from the bookmarks) - The Arizona Adult Education Standards state, "Multiculturalism, critical thinking, logical reasoning and argument, business writing, the ability to recognize and correct incorrect grammar and usage, use of correct punctuation, sequencing information, and the skills of analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating are peppered throughout the standards. Technology Standards are included - not to be implemented separately - but to be integrated by instructors and learners with the content standards. The Technology Plan for Arizona Adult Education provides a roadmap for addressing the issues related to the integration of technology into the educational setting. To achieve full technology integration, Adult Education programs will be required to go through systemic changes with implications for budget and resource allocation, professional development and training, certification and hiring criteria, curriculum content and assessment, accountability and data issues, and the structure and scheduling of classes. - Technology Plan Development Tool -Developed by the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN). This is a public version of California's online technology plan form for adult education programs. Any individual or agency may create an account and develop, save and print a technology plan from this site. The plan includes the formation of a planning team, determining the scope of the plan, a vision statement, an assessment of the current state of technology integration in the program, establishing goals and objectives, addressing funding issues, creating a staff development plan and a strategy for evaluating and revising the plan over time. The userID and password "guest" may be used to log in and look at the site

Sample Computer Literacy Checklists

Online Checklist - This sample allows you to have students complete the checklist online. The results on this list will come to me, but I can set you up with this or another checklist that will return the results immediately to you through email.

Checklist from Tennessee Adult Education - Computer Curriculum - Checklist from the U of Houston, Instructional Technology program

The Adult Education Training and Resource Center - South Carolina Department of Ed - Computer Training Program checklist - Scroll down to the "COMPUTER SKILLS CORRELATION CHART." checklist.rtf - "This checklist is intended to provide a framework for determining a computer literacy level and as a scaffold for lessons in computer training. It is based on ten years experience working with adaptive technology and teaching adults in a continuing education environment. This checklist is not specific to those of us using adaptive technology and is meant as a general benchmark of computer literacy."

Home Literacy Environment (Family Literacy Link) From - "Is your home literacy-friendly? You are your child’s first teacher. Your home is where your child will get his or her first experiences with books and reading. Look around your home think about what you do with your child. If the statement on the checklist is true, place a check in the “true” column. If the statement is false, place a check in the “false” column. When you are finished, count up the number of checks in the true column and find that number on the chart at the end of the checklist. Use the results as a guideline to see what you can do for your child."

Technology in Adult Ed

"Introducing technology into the curriculum means more than just “making it work.” The principles of adult learning theory can be used in the design of technology-based instruction to make it more effective. Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy allows teacher/facilitators to structure lessons which are part of a relevant learning environment for adults students." (Andragogy and Technology: Integrating Adult Learning Theory As We Teach With Technology, Dolores Fidishun, Ed.D) - -The Harnessing Technology Web pages help adult literacy education (ABE/GED/ESL/ESOL) teachers and learners to use computers, television, audio and video cassettes, and other electronic technology to help solve learning and instructional problems.   The Web pages grow and improve as practitioners and learners describe problems and contribute good solutions which use technology. - Educational Technology Clearinghouse - The Adult Student Center - U of Michigan - Teaching, Learning and Technology Program


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