Choose technologies that are accessible and easy to use

Tips & Resources

The choice of a curriculum and the technology to deliver it go hand in hand. You need to balance educational goals, affordable curricula, and the technologies available to you and your learners. Issues to consider include:

  • Is the technology appropriate for delivering the course content?
  • Is it available on all or most mobile devices? If so, can content be accessed offline?
  • Do learners have access to the technology they will need for their independent studies? 
  • Do they have the technology skills needed? If not, how will you develop their skills so they can learn effectively from the curriculum chosen? 
  • Do teachers have the technology skills necessary to support students?
  • Does the curriculum work well using a blended approach?

High tech is not always needed for distance learning.  For example, past research in IDEAL states had shown that Crossroads Café can be an effective tool to teach ESOL at a distance. The curriculum consists of videos (available on VHS videotape or DVD) and a workbook. It now also has an online component. Learners could check out the materials from a literacy center or library and study at home. They get teacher support when they return to the center to pick up a new video. This is still considered distance learning.

At the same time, IDEAL research has also shown that online curricula such as USALearns can be an effective tool to teach ESOL at a distance. This curriculum is entirely online and can be accessed on mobile devices. 

The choice of Crossroads Café or USALearns by a program is based on content considerations, but also on whether students are likely to have easier and more comfortable access to a DVD player, the Internet, or mobile device. Each approach can be successfully used with students. However, given the ubiquity of technology and attendant problem solving required for success in daily life, schooling, and work, learners with adequate access to Internet and computers should be encouraged to use online options for blended and distance education. Programs should work to build the digital literacy skills of learners so that they are able to learn online.

IDEAL member states receive help choosing technologies that match a state’s needs and resources.