Cyberstep is a partnership of four literacy service innovators: The Sacramento County Office of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, and Aguirre International. Under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the partners addressed the challenge of using cutting edge technology to create and distribute multimedia learning materials for the hardest-to-serve ABE and ESL adult learners.
The low-income adults who have the greatest need for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction typically have little time and few resources to spend on education. Organizations serving these learners also face limited resources and are always seeking creative low-cost ways to facilitate learning. To meet these needs, Cyberstep products were designed to be used anytime and anyplace by at-home learners as well in more traditional classroom or library settings.
The Cyberstep product development approach followed an “assess, design and build” model based on contemporary adult learning theory, projections of technology trends, systems for efficient multimedia product development, and “real world” user assessment and product testing. This “systems approach” to product and tool development was integral to the project as a whole. While each product was intended for real-world use by adult learners and educational institutions, each was also a ‘proof of concept’ and test bed for learning principles and development procedures that could be applied to other projects.
The project was developed in several phases:
- Specification of a theoretical pedagogical approach to identifying and meeting adult learner needs among various subgroups within the low-literacy adult learner population.
- Identification of standards to be used for product development that are based on the project’s adult learning theory and understandings of target learners’ needs and capacities.
- Creation of prototypes and final products is based on user testing, feedback and evaluation.
- Distribution of products, publication of project documentation, provision of access to the project’s development tools, and initial developer training.
The Cyberstep projects were funded in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education. However, the opinions expressed and content presented do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the Department.