Free Consumer Protection Tools for Educators and Students

A guest blog by Cristina Miranda, Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commission 

April is Financial Literacy Month! Find free tools to help students understand consumer protection basics – including financial literacy – in plain and simple language at Consumer.gov in English and Consumidor.gov in Spanish. This free educational website from the Federal Trade Commission can help students learn how to avoid scams, manage their money, use credit and loans carefully, and protect their personal information.

Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission

The site is easy to use, easy to navigate, and accessible to people with different learning preferences and literacy levels. Educators can access free articles, videos, and worksheets about managing money, – including making a budget; credit, loans, and debt, how to get and fix credit; and avoiding scams and identity theft. Other tools include presentations, and lesson plans (arriving Spring 2016). You can also hear content read aloud; just click the “listen” button next to each article in either English or Spanish.

It’s easy — and free — to use and share Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov information. Everything is in the public domain and there are no copyright limits. Users can download copies to hand out, link to a page or copy text into a newsletter.

Request printed copies of the Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov materials as a sample pack, including all topics in English and Spanish, or in tear-off pads of 50 for each topic. Students can refer to these one-page flyers when making financial decisions, or complete the Making a Budget worksheet to make their own monthly budget. Copies may be ordered from ftc.gov/bulkorder (unlimited quantities) and the FTC will ship them for free.

Both Consumer.gov and Consumidor.gov are featured resources in the LINCS Learner Center, which connects adult learners to freely availalbe learning sites.

LINCS PD Center: A New Model

LINCS logo: states Literacy Information and Communication System

LINCS logo

OCTAE is procuring services to establish a professional development center, the LINCS Professional Development (PD) Center. This Center will encompass and replace the four regional professional development centers that have been funded as cooperative agreements since they came to OCTAE from the National Institute for Literacy in 2010. At a webinar for prospective vendors and partners held on March 16, OCTAE shared the new model and its grounding in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, PL 113-128) changes to requirements for state and national leadership activities.

The LINCS PD Center will assist states to leverage the many resources and capabilities in the LINCS system to meet two WIOA requirements for state leadership activities:

(1)“The establishment or operation of high quality professional development programs to improve…instruction.” (Sec 223 (a)1(B))

(2)“The provision of technical assistance to eligible providers of adult education and literacy activities receiving funds under this title, including—

  • the development and dissemination of instructional and programmatic practices based on the most rigorous or scientifically valid research available and appropriate, in reading, writing, speaking, mathematics, English language acquisition programs, distance education, and staff training;
  • the role of eligible providers as a one-stop partner to provide access to employment, education, and training services; and
  • assistance in the use of technology, including for staff training, to eligible providers, especially the use of technology to improve system efficiencies.” (Sec 223 (a)1(C))

The current LINCS system has a wealth of resources that can help States meet their requirements, including:

  • Online courses
  • Online Community of Practice platform
  • In-person training packages
  • Talent pool
  • Tools and resources

Technical assistance provided by the LINCS PD Center will support states in the establishment or operation of their own state-based program, or the establishment of a regional consortium to establish such a program; make available existing and developed LINCS high-quality PD resources and experiences that serve to disseminate information on evidence-based instruction and programming; and support adult education programs and instructors to be effective partners in the public workforce system.

Because state agencies have various models for PD systems already in place and to varying degrees of central coordination, the LINCS PD Center will establish a tiered menu of services to meet the varied needs and to allow for and support localization of the offerings. This menu will provide tiers and options of services to assist with PD program establishment or operation and with dissemination of LINCS’ PD resources and learning experiences.

The new Center will be awarded in August, 2016. The regional professional development center grants will conclude September 30, 2016. Questions about the procurement process may be addressed to Pamela.Bone@ed.gov.

For more information on WIOA, see OCTAE’s resource page.

 

Online Discussion: Promoting Greater Hispanic Participation in the Labor Market and Career Pathways

Join LINCS for an online discussion February 22-26, during which a panel of experts will address the need to help Hispanics benefit from career pathways programs and transition into middle-skill careers. Using the report “Investing in the Skills Development of Hispanics,” the panel will look at key questions surrounding Hispanics in the workforce:

  1. Why are Hispanics under-represented among middle-skill occupations?
  2. What promising practices can adult education, in collaboration with business and industry, implement to significantly change the representation of targeted minority populations in high-demand, higher-wage jobs?
  3. How can Hispanics and other minority and diverse populations use career pathways as stepping stones to robust middle-skill careers?
  4. What resources and models are available to support the implementation of strong initiatives to encourage greater participation of Hispanics and similar minority populations in new or high-demand businesses and industries in the U.S.?

Discussion participants will learn about the Carreras en Salud partnership—a successful career pathways program for Hispanics in healthcare industries—and explore opportunities for expanding this model to other career training and supports.

The panel discussion kicks off February 22nd in the LINCS Diversity and Literacy & Career Pathways groups. Add your voice and experience! 

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2016 National Education Technology Plan Released

Thumbnail image of NETP coverOn December 10, 2015 the U.S. Department of Education announced the release of the 2016 National Education Technology Plan and new Future Ready commitments to support personalized professional learning for district leaders and educators working to improve teaching and student learning through the effective use of technology. As educators, advocates, parents, and policymakers, we must work to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology and personalized professional learning opportunities for educators and district leaders. The 2016 National Education Technology Plan, Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible.

The plan recognizes the role that informal learning spaces play in closing the digital use divide and achieving equity, including spaces such as libraries, maker spaces, museums, clubs, workplaces, adult education programs, national parks, and online learning environments such as games, simulations, and educational apps.

OCTAE celebrates the 2016 Plan and the added energy it brings to our ongoing priorities, including:

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Supporting Literacy Tutors

 

UPDATE 3/24/2015  See an archived introductory webinar on this Tutor Ready resource.

 

This effort is part of the ongoing commitment to encourage collaboration between adult education and public libraries, as documented in the OCTAE-IMLS Dear Colleague Letter. 

Volunteer tutors are an important part of the adult literacy solution. Last year alone, ProLiteracy, a national member organization of volunteer literacy providers, reported 99,415 volunteer tutors serving 245,173 learners.

Volunteers work with youth and adult learners one-on-one and in small groups, providing the critical learning elements of personalization, extra practice and feedback, as well as motivational support and guidance.  From English conversation groups to algebra explanations to phonics practice, tutors fulfill a unique role in our nation’s efforts to boost adult literacy.

However, as volunteers, they may not have access to all the professional learning and support that they need or want. Additionally, when training is delivered before tutors and learners are matched, the training may not be contextualized to a learner’s particular strengths, interests, and challenges.

There is a new resource that offers online learning support for literacy tutors called Tutor Ready Learning PlansTutor Ready Four Quadrant

Tutor Ready puts tips and techniques into a just-in-time format organized around the four essential components of reading: alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Within each component, content is presented in a quick index of questions commonly asked by tutors such as, “How can I help my learner perceive the different sounds that make up a word?” Explanations and sample lessons are drawn from a robust body of research, including Teaching Adults to Read and Improving Adult Literacy Instruction. Tutors can jump to an immediately relevant question, or go through the content in a more linear and comprehensive fashion. The tips are enriched by a collection of over 60 video and audio clips of experienced tutors working with adult learners to demonstrate the techniques.

Tutor Ready is freely available and accessible so tutors can log in to their own learning plan anytime or anywhere, and the Plans can be used before, during, and after a tutoring session.

Literacy programs can use Tutor Ready in their pre- and in-service tutor training efforts and as supplemental support for their tutors to use on their own. The Tutor Ready Learning Plans complement freely available online courses that provide more in-depth coverage of the research and instructional practices and award certificates of completion.

Tutor Ready learning plans were created by LINCS’ Region 4 Professional Development Center with the support of the OCTAE, in partnership with the Literacy, Language and Technology Research group at Portland State University. Tutor Ready is built on the Learner Web platform that was created by Portland State University in part with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Tutors and learners in the San Jose and Santa Clara City, CA and Boulder, CO public libraries pilot tested the materials, and the California programs provided videos of the techniques in action. Dissemination partners include the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Library Association Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, and ProLiteracy.

 

What’s New At LINCS?

LINCS will be hosting discussions and trainings in the coming weeks on health literacy, the potential of badges, and how to get the most out of the Community. Join in!

LINCS Discussion Series: Health Literacy in the ABE Classroom

Health Literacy is more important than ever to today’s adult learners, and OVAE’s Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) is hosting a series of discussions in the LINCS Community to help teachers enhance their students’ skills in this timely topic area.

The LINCS Community’s Health Literacy group invites all adult education teachers, health literacy professionals, and other interested individuals to participate in a series of connected weekly discussions beginning November 11 on the topic of health literacy in the adult education classroom. New discussions each week will focus on valuable resources and curricula, and successful examples of health literacy integrated into the classroom. Discussions will be facilitated by the group’s guest moderator, Julie McKinney. Please join the group to post your questions and thoughts on this hot topic! Visit the LINCS Community announcement for a comprehensive schedule of discussion topics.

LINCS Discussion Series: The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners

December 3– 9, 2013 LINCS will provide an online public discussion through the Technology and Learning Community of the newly released draft report for public comment – The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners.  This report examines the nature, value, and potential impact of digital badges, an emerging electronic form of recognition designed to certify an individual’s knowledge and skills. Badges can represent different levels of work and engagement, including more granular skills or achievements, marking in some cases small and/or very specific abilities. For this reason badges hold particular promise for adult learners in basic education programs, many of whom have few, if any, formal credentials (such as diplomas), but who are obtaining functional skills that would be valued in a hiring or work advancement situation if a mechanism for certifying those skills and knowledge was available. Please join us for an exciting discussion about digital badges facilitated by Steve Reder and David Wiley, two researchers who bring combined knowledge of adult education, technology, and digital badges to our forum.

Free Webinar: Maximize Your Professional Development in the LINCS Community

LINCS will host a live LINCS Community User Training on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM ET. This webinar will allow current and potential members of the LINCS Community to learn about the community’s purpose, benefits, and technical features.

Members of the leadership team will present the purpose of the LINCS Community, and highlight the benefits of engaging in the community through a live walk-through of the features as well as a discussion with guest presenter Jackie Taylor. The webinar will culminate in a Q&A session and an overview of next steps that attendees can take in the community’s discussion groups. If you are not already a member of the LINCS Community, you should create a free account in order to follow along with the presentation.

Register for this free webinar at: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07e8gf5snra61058e0&oseq=&c=&ch=. Upon registering, you will receive instructions on how to access the webinar.

April 16: Making Sense of Decoding Webinar and Discussion

LINCS is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. EDT featuring the publication: Making Sense of Decoding and Spelling: An Adult Reading Course of Study. This research-based literacy intervention is geared toward adult educators who teach reading and writing and is designed to teach adult learners to decode and spell words accurately and fluently. Daryl Mellard, P.h.D., University of Kansas; and Charles A. MacArthur, Ph.D., University of Delaware, will host the webinar and discussion on LINCS (a continuing discussion will take place in the LINCS Community after the webinar ends). Please click here to join this event on Tuesday, April 16 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Registration is not required.