Monday, April 26, 2010

Free Research-Based Health Literacy Curriculum

The National Institute for Literacy has made available a new, comprehensive, research-based Health Literacy curriculum for adult educators.

It includes instructions for teachers, vocabulary illustrations, readings and activities, discussion prompts, and more.

All materials can be accessed on their website at:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Giving Google Moderator a Shot

In preparation for my workshop at this Saturday's upcoming Sharing the Power conference, I'm trying out yet another free tool from Google... this time it's Google Moderator. Moderator is a tool for gathering input from a group - questions, ideas, suggestions - and allowing the group to vote on which appeal to them the most.

Since I'm going to be presenting about social media tools for volunteers and volunteer coordinators, I started this "series" of ideas:
Social Media for Volunteers
Are you are volunteer? A volunteer coordinator? Do you work for an organization that promotes volunteerism? We're starting a discussion about how social media can be used to strengthen volunteer programs.

What questions do you have about social media?

What social media applications are you using?

What do you think social media can do (or not do) for volunteer programs?

If you're a volunteer, how do you think social media could be used by your organization to improve your experience? What about outreach to new volunteers? Building community among current and former volunteers?

Share your ideas and questions with us!
I hope to use it before, during, and after my presentation to gather input on the topic. If you have something to share - whether or not you'll be in my live audience! - please contribute your ideas here:


Thursday, April 15, 2010

So You Want a Website

Here's a question I get asked fairly often:
I want to make a simple website as a place to put PDF files, web links, etc. What's the easiest tool to use as the builder - and most reliable and cheapest?

It just popped into my email inbox again this afternoon. The teacher who asked has been replied to personally, but I thought it was a good question and one worth responding to in "public" as well.

So, here's what I had to say (more or less).
There are lots of options out there, but for ease of use and lowest cost (= FREE) I would go with either Google Sites ( or a wiki site with PBWorks ( One major benefit of Google is that you can sign in using an existing Google account if you use Google docs or Gmail already. So, there’s nothing to sign up for, you can just start building. Also, Google’s “themes” can make your site look really cool with almost no effort. PBWorks is much more utilitarian-looking, especially with the free account.

The major benefit of PBWorks is that you have better control over any other users that you invite to collaborate with you, including giving students access to “write” on the site even if they don’t have email accounts, which is pretty slick. It also has more plug-ins like calendars and easy ways to add video and that kind of thing. And on a larger site, I think the navigation and organization can be better and more complex.

They’re both quite easy to use and have nice, clean interfaces that are fairly intuitive. PBWorks is probably more powerful, but of course that also means there is more to learn about (if decide you want to learn about all the interesting features).

As far as reliability, I’d say you’re pretty safe in either case. PBWorks has been around quite a few years now, and has many business clients and seems to be making constant improvements and upgrades, which I take as a sign of business health. And I doubt Google’s going to go under anytime soon either!
After sending this reply, it occurred to me to also recommend Yola (, which is a free website building service. It's aimed at small businesses, but I know a couple of adult learning centers which also use Yola sites. Yola is less wiki-like than Google sites or PBWorks, so it's less about collaboration and sharing, and more about just building an attractive website.

Have you made a simple website for yourself or your students? What tool(s) did you use? Send us some recommendations!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Librarian's job description expands to help unemployed | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ

I read this story about librarians serving the "social service" and technology literacy needs of their unemployed patrons, and thought to myself, "this same article could be written about ABE teachers, just substitute the words 'adult education center' for 'library' and 'teacher' for 'librarian' and you'd be pretty close."

Next time you're at your branch library, give the librarian a pat on the back, eh? Just like all of us in ABE, they're doing more and more with less and less - and working just as hard to fill educational gaps in our communities.

Librarian's job description expands to help unemployed | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ