I’ve gotten into one of my “list-making” moods this week. I was inspired by a request from Karisa Tashjian (a staffperson at the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative) for sites to help English Language Learners with computers, so came up with this one.
This list is categorized a little differently from the majority of my other “The Best…” lists. Instead of ranking them from the best to the very best, I’ve picked a couple of sites that each fit into specific sub-categories of knowledge that students would need to have about computers.
In order to make it on this list, sites had to be accessible to English Language Learners. In addition, they had to appropriate for adolescent and adult students. So, even though you’ll find some very basic links here, students of all ages should find them useful. I’ve omitted many sites that are obviously geared only to the early primary grades. And, of course, these sites are all free (well, actually, one does cost a bit).
You’ll be able to find these links on my website, too.
Here are what I think are The Best Eleven Websites For Students and Adults to Learn About Computers (by the way, when I originally posted this list a few hours ago it was the “Best Ten” — I had forgotten to include one site):
THE BEST SITES THAT OFFER AN OVERVIEW OF USING COMPUTERS & SOFTWARE:
The BBC Computer Tutor offers an animated video with text and audio support explaining the basics of a mouse, keyboard and monitor.
Mrs. Sterling’s Word Pad shares a series of lessons on basic word processing usage.
myGuide is a United Kingdom-supported site that has incredibly accessible tutorials on everything computer and Internet-related. It’s visual, provides audio support for the text, and it geared towards novices. It’s quite an impressive site.
Brainpop Computers & Internet is the one site that costs a bit for a subscription. However, you can get a free trial. Brainpop has made several of my lists, and it’s usually the only one where you have to pay for a subscription. It’s worth it!
THE BEST SITES FOR LEARNING TYPING SKILLS:
My students like Dance Mat Typing because it teaching typing with text and audio support.
Typing Web is a great site for learners. You have to register for the site and it tracks your progress.
THE BEST SITES FOR CLASSROOM COMPUTER LESSONS:
Computers and English For Speakers of Other Languages and the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium both have excellent lesson plans and materials that can be downloaded and printed for classroom lessons.
THE BEST SITES FOR VERY BASIC COMPUTER INFORMATION:
THE BEST SITE TO LEARN ABOUT INTERNET SAFETY:
There certainly are a ton of these kinds of sites out there. However, practically all the accessible ones, it seemed to me, would be seen by most adolescent and adult learners as insulting to their intelligence. The least objectionable one that I found was the Cyber Cafe.
TIME Magazine has come out with a nice slideshow titled A Brief History of The Computer.
An Illustrated History of Computers is much more complete, but isn’t as accessible to ELL’s as the TIME slideshow.
The New York Times has a pretty neat multimedia interactive timeline tracing the Evolution of Classroom Technology over the years. It starts in the year 1650!
(I’ve added the BBC’s Webwise page to this list.)
Welcome To The Web is really quite an exceptional site that acts as a guide for students to learn how to use the Internet. Audio support is provided for the text and users can save their progress in the tutorial. It’s super-accessible.
Easy Guides To Using Today’s Technology are a collection of many “how-to” online videos related to…today’s technology. They’re from an organization called Learn it Teach it. The videos are designed for teachers, but since they’re closed-captioned, I think they would be accessible to advanced English Language Learners who want to learn more about tech.
Also, you might want to check out The Best Sites For Learning Online Safety.
Recently, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke unveiled DigitalLiteracy.Gov, “a new website that provides libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills, which are increasingly necessary for success in today’s economy.” I don’t think most teachers familiar with tech are going to find a whole lot of new resources in the site’s “educator tools” section, but I did find the “learn the basics” list interesting. There are other sections, too, and people can contribute resources to them.
I’ve previously posted about “Internet Essentials,” Comcast’s program for providing low-cost Internet service to low-income students. They’ve published a series of relatively decent online videos on using computers and online safety. They seem accessible (and also have closed captioning). I think they’re particularly good for online safety issues because most other similar programs that are accessible to English Language Learners are clearly geared toward young children, while these seem to be more engaging to adolescent and adults.
It’s very possible, if not likely, that I’ve missed a bunch of sites. I’m certainly open to hearing your suggestions and feedback.
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