Report for October 1,1999 - December 31,1999

Name of Organization: Center for Literacy Studies

Region: Southern LINCS

Reporting Period: October 1 - December 31, 1999

Project Director: Dr. Mary Ziegler

Report Prepared By: Mary Ziegler, Limin Mu, Donna Brian, Angela Rivera

I. Goals and Objectives for last quarter:

  • Help plan LINCS Millennium Conference in New Orleans;
  • Completely revise and map the existing SLINCS Web site to the new LINCS template;
  • Completely revise and map the special collections to the LINCS template;
  • Have two or three states adopt LINCS new template;
  • Continue to work with states on completing mini-grants contracts;
  • Continue to edit and publish submitted learning activities to populate the LAB;
  • Continue to add resources to SLINCS site, LAB site, and special collections site;
  • Form a Workforce Education Special Collection Advisory Committee;
  • Continue to provide technical support for Consortium members as needed;
  • Continue to build partnerships and publicize LINCS;
  • Enhance technical infrastructure for LINCS project (new server);
  • Continue technical training for new staff; and
  • Research options for and purchase new server.

II. Activities planned for the quarter:

  • Assist NIFL in planning LINCS Millennium Conference in New Orleans;
  • Encourage participation of consortium partners and state directors in Millennium Conference;
  • Hold regional meeting of consortium partners in Millennium Conference;
  • Fully participate in LINCS redesign discussions and activities;
  • Map SLINCS site to the new LINCS template and get the new site online;
  • Map SLINCS Special Collections to the LINCS new design and get them online;
  • Map Center for Literacy Studies (TN) site to the new LINCS template and get it online;
  • Provide technical support to consortium members in various areas;
  • Continue cataloging on-line locally produced materials;
  • Conduct regular SLINCS, Special Collection, and LAB Advisory Committee conference calls;
  • Continue developing the LAB with the Virginia Literacy Resource Center;
  • Prepare SLINCS new server and enhance LINCS technology infrastructure; and
  • Conduct training for new staff on cataloging and Web publishing.

III. Major outcomes during the last quarter:

  1. Collecting and organizing locally-produced materials and program data:
  • Twenty-four new exemplary learning activities for the LAB project,
  • Nine articles from 1999 Management Institute for Tennessee ABE Supervisors,
  • Professional Development on the Internet: Technology and Training (Web-based),
  • The K-HELP Project -Knoxville Health Education Literacy Project (to be published online with approval), and
  • Two reports from SLINCS mini-grant project.
   b. Web publishing:
  • SLINCS new site based upon LINCS new design with all revised contents;
  • SLINCS special collections based upon new design with all revised contents;
  • Arkansas LRC's new site based upon new design with all revised contents;
  • Center for Literacy Studies' new site based upon new design with all revised contents;
  • LAB learning activities online template;
  • Twenty-four exemplary learning activities in the LAB;
  • Preview function for LAB learning activity submitting system;
  • Designed format for how learning activities appear when accessed in Learning Activities Bank;
  • Text-only version of SLINCS new site;
  • Text-only version of the Correctional Education Special Collection site;
  • Text-only version of the Workforce Education Special Collection site;
  • Two new full-text reports from state mini-grants project;
  • Professional Development on the Internet: Technology and Training;
  • 1999 Management Institute for Tennessee ABE Supervisors;
  • SLINCS quarterly report; and
  • Extensively updated the following sites during the period: SLINCS, Special Collections, and the LAB.

c. Special Collections:

  • The Workforce Education Special Collection Advisory Committee was formulated and held its first telephone conference. The members of the advisory committee suggested additional possible members to strengthen the content expertise, discussed and basically approved of the proposed job description for the committee, and discussed advantages and disadvantages of various methods for SLINCS to gather and use their feedback about the site (see Minutes, Attachment 1).

  • To help SLINCS staff map the location of special collections sites to the new LINCS template and better keep track of the inclusion of sites in the special collections, organizational charts were created for internal use listing all of the current sites in each collection with notations of the categories where each site was included. The content of each link was rechecked for suitable placement in the categories and to make sure it was still active. Inactive and inappropriate sites were removed from the collections.

d. Training:

  • Training was provided to state partners on adopting LINCS template in both group and individual formats through email, phone calls, ALT, and the LINCS Millennium conference.
  • Individual feedback and training in learning activity development was provided via extensive email and personal calls to 15 practitioners who submitted less than exemplary learning activities to the LAB.
  • Comprehensive training session on LINCS project was provided to SLINCS whole staff (new and old) through program retreat which occurred in late October 1999.
  • One-on-one training was conducted for SLINCS new staff on cataloging and Web publishing.

e. Technical assistance:

During the period, 411 email messages (in and out) and 43 phone calls were logged for technical assistance. Topics covered by these communications include adopting LINCS template, requesting new mailing lists, requesting new email accounts, listing administrative needs, contractual assistance, server upgrade, server administration, Y2K problems, audio and video, cataloging, file attachments, file uploading, file server remote access, graphics, Unix, programming, script files, WAIS databases, Web-based calendar, and Web site construction.

f. Leveraging resources:

  • The Unix server that is being used by the LINCS project no longer has the space nor the speed to meet the needs of the project. The Center for Literacy Studies, in cooperation with the Tennessee Division of Adult Education, purchased a new Unix server. The server is a sun Ultra 10 System Model 440, with 440 MHz UltraSPARC-Iii processor, 516MB RAM, and 18.2 GB disk space. The server communicates with the Internet through a reliable, high speed campus Ethernet connection. It can provide much faster and better services than the one being used by the Center.

  • We are collaborating with an action research project sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Human Services called, "Creating Work-Focused Families First Classrooms." (Families First is Tennessee's version of welfare reform.) As a requirement for their participation in the project, practitioners will submit learning activities arising from their projects to the Learning Activities Bank via the LAB template.

g. Publicity:

  • Southern LINCS staff joined NIFL and other regional LINCS in presenting LINCS and LINCS achievements at the national LINCS Millennium conference in New Orleans.
  • New LINCS design was presented at various literacy conferences in Tennessee by the Center for Literacy's staff.
  • Considerable publicity was achieved through LINCS redesign and adopting LINCS template activities at both regional and state levels.

h. Extending LINCS to local programs:

  • The redesigned Center for Literacy Studies site was unveiled in a staff meeting. CLS staffers helped in mapping the old site to the new template by suggesting and providing content, and their buy-in to the redesigned site is important for the awareness and use of both the CLS site and the SLINCS site by Tennessee practitioners.

  • This was also true for other state partners who adopted LINCS template, such as Arkansas and North Carolina.
  • We started the planning process for awarding the mini-grants to consortium members. Mini-grants will focus on building the special collections and developing a CD Rom of the GTE Lab Lessons for broad distribution.

i. Partnerships with other state agencies and public and private entities, including    business and industry:

Southern LINCS has made a comprehensive effort to include the state directors and state agencies of adult education. Half of our consortium partners are state agencies because the State Literacy Resource Centers in these states no longer exist. Of the State Literacy Resource Centers that have continued to exist, six are supported with funds from their state agency. This relationship is key to the continuing success of LINCS in the south.

While we have done an excellent job partnering with state agencies, we have not done as well partnering with private industry. Our focus has been on the work with GTE. While we are eager for more private industry partners, we are not sure if we have the staff to support this effort.

j. LINCS redesign:

  • Southern LINCS has fully participated in LINCS redesign activities.
  • Southern LINCS has fully mapped their site to the LINCS template.
  • Southern LINCS has fully mapped their special collections sites to the new design.
  • North Carolina is half-way through mapping their site to the LINCS template.
  • Arkansas has basically finished mapping their site to the LINCS template.
  • Tennessee has fully mapped their site to the LINCS template.
  • More state partners will adopt the LINCS template in the next quarter.

IV. Services provided to Consortium members:

  • Collaborated in planning national LINCS meeting in New Orleans;
  • Provided support to practitioners and adult learners who requested help through the channel of phone calls, Web site feedback forms, and email;
  • Provided daily technical support for Consortium members through email and phone calls on adopting LINCS template, setting up new mailing lists, conducting list administrative jobs, and providing contractual assistance;
  • Provided technical assistance on audio/video, cataloging, file attachments, file uploading, Web-based calendar, and Web-based publishing;
  • Provided assistance to states in conducting their mini-grant activities;
  • Forwarded timely information to states through the hub2-news mailing list;
  • Posted general information to the hub2-news mailing list (First Monday);
  • Continued collecting feedback and input for the LAB site;
  • Continued to collaborate with Virginia on the development of the Learning Activities Bank;
  • Provided regular server maintenance, job control, system backup, and other technical services to the Consortium through the server located at the Center for Literacy Studies;
  • Worked extensively on the hub's new Unix server (planning, configuration search, report to and feedback from Technology Committee, communications with vendor and support group, purchase, setup, test, transaction between the old and new, test again, maintenance, and other follow-ups); and
  • Completed work on Y2K problems for the hub server.

V. Include a brief report from each of the consortium members regarding their LINCS activities, and the degree of their involvement in your regional LINCS activities:

  • All of the Southern region consortium partners attended the LINCS Millennium Conference in New Orleans.
  • Arkansas LRC's new site based upon LINCS new template is up. Their Webmaster Brandon Tolbert has written a piece of reflection on adopting the LINCS template published at http://slincs.coe.utk.edu/adopt/reflections.html.
  • Louisiana's SLRC site is completing new modules of curriculum to add to the recent reading instruction for child care workers and commercial drivers. They also plan to upload 7 volumes of environmental education for readers at and below pre-GED level.
  • Louisiana also reports that they are working on converting the SLRC page to the LINCS template, but adds that they are just beginning.
  • New at Virginia are the Virginia Adult Education Research Network practitioner briefs online at: http://www.aelweb.vcu.edu/vaern.html.
  • North Carolina was the first state partner in the nation adopting LINCS template and their sample site was presented at both ALT and LINCS Millennium. Their mapping will be continued when new funding comes.
  • Oklahoma plans to put the LINCS website address in their next newsletter with a short explanation of what SLINCS is. They are also planning technology training for their adult ed teachers which will include exploration of the LINCS sites.
  • Tennessee (Center for Literacy Studies) put their new site up just before the LINCS Millennium in New Orleans.
  • As a result of the LINCS Millennium Conference, Texas is planning a major revision of its Web site to (1) standardize the terminology of the various links and (2) make the appearance and structure consistent with the LINCS prototype to the extent needed to facilitate practitioner use of the pages. Texas is soliciting feedback on proposed changes from several Texas groups in the field.
  • Mississippi plans to adopt the template.
  • Virginia also reports that their GED hotline is booming!! The Va. medical benefits were mailed out with our GED hotline on it and they are now getting slammed with phone calls.
  • A survey was administered to the thirteen states that attended the conference in New Orleans to determine the level of interest in the new template and in cataloging locally produced materials. (See Survey Results, Attachment 2.)

VI. Have you encountered any problems in the use of project funds? Do you anticipate any carry over from this year:

Use of funds is proceeding according to the plans outlined in Southern LINCS third project-year proposal. Travel expenses for LINCS Millennium meeting in New Orleans were higher than budgeted. We were delayed in completing the payments to states for their mini-grants last year because the projects took longer than anticipated. Ten states submitted mini-grant proposals for four reports and seven LAB lesson production projects. (One state had two smaller projects.) At least $4800 of the total amount granted will be carried forward for use this year. In addition, $8000 in Mini-grant funds are being withheld pending completion of acceptable learning activities being re-submitted to the Learning Activities Bank.

VII. Barriers and concerns in meeting objectives:

  • We constantly battle time and the fact that we have 2.05 staff funded by the LINCS project. Recent receipt of the GTE funds will make a big difference.
  • We were not able to include as many learning activities in the LAB as fast as we wanted to include them due to the quality of the activities being submitted and the amount of time that it is taking to negotiate improvements to bring the quality of the activities up to the status of being exemplary.
  • We did not draft the mini-grant proposals for developing the special collections. We plan to award those in the coming quarter. Ten states have expressed interest in helping to build the collections.
  • The frequent turnover in staff (particularly librarians) at both the regional and state levels has made it difficult to speed up the cataloging of resources.

VIII. Collaboration with NIFL

Collaboration with NIFL has been going well. This has been achieved through collaboration with NIFL on various program activities such as LINCS Millennium conference in New Orleans, LINCS redesign, adopting LINCS template at national, regional, and state levels, the GTE Learning Activities Bank, and LINCS monthly meeting and frequent conference calls.

IX. Goals for the next quarter

  • Install new server and transfer LINCS site to it;
  • Plan and conduct training programs for adopting LINCS template at state level;
  • Support and co-work with states on adopting LINCS templates;
  • Speed up the cataloging process for the new regional databases;
  • Expand awareness of the availability of resources through the newly redesigned LINCS sites among practitioners;
  • Set up system/procedures for updating and maintaining SLINCS site, Special Collections sites, and LAB site;
  • Improve, expand, and update the resources in SLINCS two Special Collections;
  • Add a minimum of ten new exemplary learning activities to the LAB each month;
  • Continue to build partnerships throughout the region;
  • Encourage consortium members to make a presentation about LINCS at their annual state conferences. Develop a Power Point presentation that can be modified for each state presenter;
  • Continue various technical support for Consortium members as needed;
  • Co-work with NIFL to test and enhance the new searchable databases;
  • Continue to work on the hub's new server to offer more service to partners; and
  • Develop strategies, in collaboration with NIFL LINCS staff, to increase the amount of private sector support for Southern LINCS.

Expected Outcome:

  • We expect up to 7 state partners in the region (half of our states) will have adopted the LINCS template by the end of next quarter.
  • We expect 60 additional new cataloged records to be available for search in the databases next quarter.
  • With the content expertise we will soon be gleaning from our Workforce Education Advisory Committee, we expect increased awareness of possible sites for inclusion. We are developing a protocol for how to make sure all the steps of including a new site in the special collection are taken care of. Different team members are responsible for the various steps included (locating and screening possible sites, cataloging, writing abstracts, putting site online, checking site for dead links) and the protocol will help us to coordinate our efforts.
  • We expect to publish at least 30 new LAB learning activities next quarter.
  • We expect to receive at least 20 new learning activity submissions next quarter through our work with Tennessee Families First teachers.

Activities:

  • Specific plans and guidelines for training workshop on adopting LINCS template will be developed. Training will be conducted either in late March or early April.
  • 60 records will be entered to the LINCS new database next quarter
  • We have agreed to collaborate with a Tennessee Families First Action Research Project called "Creating Work-Focused Families First Classrooms" in training the project practitioners to use the LAB template to design and submit learning activities arising from their projects. We will provide training in three separate locations across the state and will pay stipends for each learning activity submitted through the LAB and subsequently published in the LAB. These stipends will be in addition to the mini-grants the practitioners are being provided for their Action Research Project participation.
  • We will continue to collaborate with practitioners from across the southern region whose submitted LAB lessons have not yet been accepted. This collaboration will be one-on-one through email, phone, and letter.

Suggestions for the next quarter:

Continue the monthly telephone conference calls among the LINCS directors. Plan regular calls among the technical staff, and library staff.

X. Provide statistics in the following areas:

Resources:

Number of materials cataloged (Regional or States' databases): 38 at regional level
Number of full-text materials uploaded: 39 at regional level
Number of web-based materials produced and published on our server: over 200 (including the new design sites and text-only version pages)

Training:

Number of broad-based presentation and training (regional and state level): 2
Number of targeted training: 3
Total number of people trained: 60

Technical Assistance:

Number of phone calls :43
Number of email: 411
Number of discussion lists set up for the field by your organization: 6

XI. How do you assess LINCS National Conference:

SLINCS staff members who attended the conference came away with several impressions:

  • It was invigorating to have the interaction with colleagues from across the country and from several different vantage points.
  • Most partners and colleagues were optimistic and interested in the LINCS project and the possible future directions LINCS should take.
  • The conference was high quality, high-intensity and perhaps too packed at times to allow for as much informal interchange as would have been desirable.
  • The conference produced a wealth of thinking about the issues of what LINCS has done well in the past, where we are now, and what directions LINCS should be taking next. Digesting the notes and impressions from the conference will take time and energy, both at the national level and at our regional level.
  • The conference did a better job of getting the issues on the table than it did of bringing closure on any of the issues.
  • Our region was well-represented, and our regional meeting on Wednesday provided a much-needed opportunity to meet face-to-face with our colleagues and sort out the status of consortium members from each state.
  • The Southern Region would have benefited from more time spent on our regional issues, but this would have come at the expense of work on national concerns. Still, we think our regional partners would have had more of a sense of purpose and closure with more time spent on their individual issues in the regional context.
  • Generally, the multitude of presentations from organizations outside of the well-known LINCS network led to confusion on the part of some of the participants. It was not clear how the presentations fit into LINCS or why they were important.
  • Participants said the small group time was very useful and they really valued getting to know people across regions. They also commented that the state directors' active involvement added to the general interest in LINCS. Most people said they would have appreciated more time to discuss issues related to LINCS in their small groups.

XII. Describe any specific plan or activity requested in your regional meeting as a result of the National Conference:

  • More states expressed interests in LINCS new design and made requests for technical assistance.
  • The hub reacted accordingly and planning for a training workshop was under way.
  • Oklahoma State Library and the Mississippi State Literacy Resource Center wanted to know if more than one "entity" could represent LINCS in a state.
  • Cataloging as an important activity seems to have gained increasing awareness. States have more understanding about the link between cataloging and searching. We may want to do more with this awareness and have a special cataloging training.