↑ Return to Home

Print this Page

Our Learning Framework

BBRI’s open source, community-based approach to curriculum delivery and development depends on the active involvement of volunteer instructors. As Internet applications and hardware devices change, class material and approaches must evolve to meet the needs of learners. The Instructor Workshop relies on a blend of pedagogical frameworks and discussion methods  to empower trainers to create effective learning environments and class material for adult learners.

Learning Frameworks

The Instructor Workshop is based on three complementary pedagogical frameworks:
1) Action Learning  2) Social Norm Change  3) Universal Design for Learning.

Action Learning

Building on John Dewey’s theorems of learning by doing and the idea of facilitated process, we encourage tacit learning via interaction with the content—exploring as well as practicing the delivery of the curriculum. Dewey continually argues that education and learning are social and interactive processes, and thus the school itself is a social institution through which social reform can and should take place. In addition, he believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.

We are using an Action Learning (Reginald Revans) model to act as a foundation for experimentation and building trainers’ confidence – we go beyond experiential and simulation to actually “executing” the class and reflect on what happened to inform the next session. By creating hands-on situations we aim to give participants an opportunity to internalize their learning by way of: L = P + Q + R, where L is the learning; P is programming; Q is questioning; and R is reflection.

From Wikipedia: “Action Learning can be seen as the never-completed process of learning how to “step out of the frame” of the ruling mindset, whether of one’s own or the culture’s – in other words, of learning how to unlearn.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_learning)

Social Norm Change

How do we create a positive social norm for Internet adoption for students just learning how to access the Internet? Borrowing from health behavior and social ecological research we are using a “social norm change” approach.  Each time the curriculum is presented we aim to help the instructor realize that they need to accentuate the positives of “using the Internet.” A social norm is defined as shared expectations of culturally appropriate and desirable behavior.  In addition, BBRI is working on creating an environment that encourages system-wide adoption of digital literacy programs as a positive behavior change.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

To give Instructors a framework to work with learners with a variety of needs and interest, the Instructor Workshop integrates the basic principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences, including cognitive neuroscience, that guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences. UDL requires that any curriculum should be structured along the following lines:

  • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
  • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and
  • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.

A curriculum, as defined in the UDL literature, has four parts: instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments. UDL is intended to increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers to learning, as well as other obstacles. UDL principles also lend themselves to implementing inclusion practices in the classroom.

Resources to help diversify your instruction to meet learners’ differing needs

National UDL Center http://www.udlcenter.org/

Center for Applied Special Technology http://www.cast.org/

UDL at a Glance video http://www.udlcenter.org/resource_library/videos/udlcenter/udl#video0

UDL Guidelines http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines

UDL and the Expert learner http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/expertlearners

UDL and Curriculum http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlcurriculum

UDL Online Modules http://udlonline.cast.org/home

UDL Educator Checklist http://www.udlcenter.org/implementation

UDL Curriculum Toolkit http://udl-toolkit.cast.org/home

On-line UDL Support Wheel http://udlwheel.mdonlinegrants.org/

RI UDL Curriculum Supports & Modified Educator Checklist http://www.ric.edu/sherlockcenter/udl.html

National TEAL Center UDL Materials https://teal.ed.gov/tealGuide/udl

Differentiating Instruction (Adults) http://www.ncsall.net/?id=736

Multiple intelligences (Adults) http://www.literacyworks.org/mi/intro/index.html

Understanding by Design http://wws.peacecorps.gov/wws/publications/insights/pdf/InsightsFramework.pdf

Process Methods that Bring the Framework to Life

Facilitation Method

To have the Instructor embrace practice in his or her own way, we use open-ended, divergent questions that require application, analysis, evaluation, problem-solving, and synthesis.

To “facilitate” is to make easier or less difficult. “Facile” and “facilitate” hold the same root: “facio,” which is to make (happen). Despite facilitation’s origin of making things happen, facilitator has come to mean “neutral” or without a point of view. Yet some situations requiring more ease and less difficulty won’t change unless there is a heavier facilitator intervention such as presenting a point of view.

Facilitation is best viewed as a continuum of roles: invisible (present, but in the background) to a constant provocateur who persuades non-speakers to speak up and who asks for more, deeper, more thoughtful insights.  A group not yet clear about the norms and agreements needs one kind of direct nudge.  Sometimes, a group on the wrong questions needs a directed course correction.  The facilitator operates on a continuum of actions. On one side, facilitating by directing, to put forward an end, but staying open to diverse means. On the other side, facilitating by inquiry, fishing for both the ends and the means.

Café Conversation Method

Small group sessions also follow the “world café” method, which is meant more for conversation and exploration rather than brainstorming. This also encourages collaborative inquiry, which is a dialogic practice emphasizing that dialogue contributes to collective thought and learning. This practice encourages the group to attend collectively, to learn and watch for and experience its own tacit (previously undiscussed) process in action. Once noted and discussed, new ways of thinking can occur.


Digital Literacy Adult Education Instructor Capabilities

As listed in the Self- Assessment

Seven core categories we identified for successful instruction of Internet Basics to an adult population*



1. People skills
Open and approachable
Sense of humor
Able to engage
2. Technology skills
Troubleshooting ability to keep the session going
Ability to answer technology questions and use reference material
Technical acumen to overcome resource limitations
3. Class preparation
Reviews class notes and curriculum regularly
Practices class presentation and delivery
Prepare the environment for learning (handouts, equipment…)
Review and reflect upon class feedback evaluations
Incorporate feedback into development plan
4. Classroom delivery
Read and respond to the audience
Knowledgeable in subject matter and able to present ideas clearly
Possess strong time management skills
Use variety of approaches while executing a standard curriculum
Provide examples that further learning
Check in with learners to ensure they are understanding concepts
Set ground rules and boundaries for classroom
Be prepared to deal with difficult situations
5. Adult learning environment
Understand various learning styles and can recognize differences
Understand learning occurs through observation, interaction, and
Respect the diverse culture and experience of learners
6. Individualized learning
Respond to individual needs
Actively listen to learner input
Offer ideas for independent practice
Promote active learning in one-on-one settings
Collaborate with learner
7. Capacity building
Mentoring skills (train the trainers)
Non-English language ability
Disability experience
Available to deliver ___ courses per ___

* Pennsylvania Adult Teacher Competencies Users Guide, Professional Standards for Teachers in Adult Education – Maryland Dept. of Labor, Licensing, California Standards for the Teaching Profession 2009, Kentucky Adult Education – Learning for Life

Permanent link to this article: http://diglit.riaepdc.org/home/framework/