Adult Education Online Courses

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LINCS offers self-paced online courses for adult education practitioners. These courses are available for use anytime, anywhere on the LINCS Learning Portal. Be sure to create a LINCS account to receive announcements on new professional development opportunities.

Career Pathways

The Adult Career Pathways courses are intended to help state and local adult education providers deliver programs that help low-skilled adults succeed in postsecondary education and employment. Courses include:

  • Building Strategic Partnerships (1.5 hours): This course is intended for adult education program administrators interested in building new and strengthening existing partnerships essential for successful development and implementation of Adult Career Pathways programs and systems. This course features three modules: (1) Understanding Strategic Partnerships; (2) Engaging Strategic Partnerships; and (3) Sustaining Strategic Partnerships.
  • Developing Effective Bridge Programs (2.5 hours): Are you a teacher beginning to develop a bridge program for your adult education learners? This course helps teachers develop and implement effective Adult Career Pathways bridge programs designed to help adult learners master the basic skills they need to advance to the next level of education, training, or entry-level employment in career fields that are in local or regional demand. This course features three modules: (1) Understanding Bridge Programs; (2) Laying the Foundation; and (3) Developing the Curriculum.
  • Designing Contextualized Instruction (2.5 hours): This course helps teachers understand contextualized instruction and its supporting research base and discover how to use the contextual model of instruction to develop Adult Career Pathways courses, and how to identify and overcome common challenges in developing contextualized instruction. This course features three modules: (1) Understanding Contextualized Instruction; (2) Building Contextualized Instruction; and (3) Overcoming Development Challenges.
  • Integrating Career Counseling and Planning into Adult Education (3 hours): This course is intended for adult educators, administrators, coaches, case managers, transition specialists, career counselors, and others working with adult learners seeking to transition to the next step along a career pathway. The course features three modules: (1) Career Counseling and Planning Programs; (2) Individual Career Development Plan Process; and (3) Transition to Employment and Postsecondary Education.
  • Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways (2 hours): Through this course, participants learn how to identify, engage, and sustain engagement of appropriate employers in the development of career pathways programs. The course features three modules: (1) Creating a Business-Education Partnership; (2) Building Business Engagement; and (3) Sustaining Business Engagement.

Differentiated Instruction

  • Differentiated Instruction and Lesson Planning (5 hours): Many adult education classrooms contain students whose ages, native languages, educational backgrounds, and academic skills vary widely, which poses many teaching challenges for instructors. Research shows that differentiated instruction is one of the most effective approaches for helping students learn. This course walks participants through the steps of planning a differentiated lesson, including how to write effective learning objectives, choose among approaches to differentiation (content, process, product), and design assessments. In completing the course, participants produce their own differentiated lesson plans that are suited to their instructional content and environment.

English Language Learners

English Language Learner University (ELL-U) courses provide opportunities for teachers of adult English Language Learners to engage in learning activities that maximize student outcomes. Courses include:

  • Second Language Acquisition: Myths, Beliefs, and What the Research Shows (2 hours): This course offers participants introductory, research-based information on second language acquisition (SLA) by exploring common myths and beliefs about how languages are taught and learned. Topics include: common myths and beliefs about SLA; knowledge about language and SLA; using student’s first language strategically; and interlanguage and assessment.
  • Teaching Adult ELLs Who are Emergent Readers (2.5 hours): This course offers introductory, research-based information about teaching adult English language learners who are just beginning to acquire print literacy largely due to lack of access to formal schooling. This course clarifies how and why this particular population is unique, offers processes for identifying emergent readers, and explores a range of teaching and assessment strategies that build initial literacy.
  • Formative Assessment to Inform Quality Adult ESL Instruction (2 hours): Participants learn to define formative assessment and explain its integral role in systematically planning and delivering adult ESL instruction, select and design a variety of formative assessment activities that engage learners in setting their own goals and monitoring their own progress, and use appropriate oral and written feedback techniques that inform learners of their progress.
  • The Role of Culture in the Education of Adult English Language Learners (3 hours): This course provides techniques and strategies to help educators create a culturally inclusive learning environment and facilitate cross-cultural understanding. It explores a range of topics related to the role of culture in teaching classes with adult ELLs.
  • Principles of Second Language Teaching: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction (3.5 hours): This course explores the basics of instructional planning and execution in adult ESL classrooms using the Communicative Language Teaching approach and other student-centered instructional practices. Topics include: understanding the communicative needs of your students, planning communicative language teaching lessons that integrate communication skills with life skills, work-readiness, and civics content, and implementing student-centered instruction practices and classroom management strategies.

ESL Pro courses provide opportunities for teachers of adult English Language Learners to engage in learning activities that maximize student outcomes. Courses include:

  • Module 1: Meeting the Language Needs of Today’s Adult English Language Learner (2-3 hours): This self-paced professional development module addresses the increasingly complex language and critical thinking skills adult English language learners (ELLs) need to succeed in today’s world. The overarching goal of this module is to give professionals who work with adult ELLs the tools to provide rigorous instruction that will help all learners transition to new opportunities.
  • Module 2: Integrating Digital Literacy into Adult English Language Instruction (2-3 hours): The module is designed for teachers and administrators interested in integrating digital literacy in their adult English Language Acquisition (previously referred to as ESL) classes and programs.
  • Module 3: Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways (2-3 hours): This self-paced professional development module provides the foundational concepts related to designing and implementing an adult ELA program contextualized for career pathways.

Learning Disabilities

Learning to Achieve helps teachers of adults with learning disabilities increase their effectiveness. Courses include:

  • Learning to Achieve: Accommodations (1 hour)  In this self-paced module, participants learn about testing and instructional accommodations appropriate for individuals with learning disabilities.
  • Learning to Achieve: English Language Learners (1 hour)  In this self-paced module, participants identify testing and instructional accommodation considerations for individuals with learning disabilities.
  • Learning to Achieve: Neuroscience (1 hour)  In this self-paced module, participants learn about the underlying neurobiology of learning disabilities.
  • Learning to Achieve: Professional’s Guide (1 hour)  In this self-paced module, participants review the popular research based online publication, A Professional’s Guide to Educating Learning Disabilities.
  • Learning to Achieve: Definitions of Learning Disabilities (1.5 hours)  In this self-paced course, participants learn about the This course describes and explains a consensus definition of learning disabilities and its application and identifies some behaviors that indicate an individual may have a learning disability. It also explains how controversy and debate may affect adult service providers.
  • Learning to Achieve: Self Determination for Adults with Learning Disabilities(1 hour)  In this self-paced course, participants learn about This course explains the importance of self-determination and self-advocacy for a person with learning disabilities, and describes six factors that affect an individual's ability to be self-determined. It also identifies how professionals working with adults with learning disabilities can support those adults in developing self-determination to achieve their goals.
  • Learning to Achieve: Legal Issues, Self-Disclosure, and Confidentiality (1 hour)  In this self-paced course, participants learn about This course identifies the legal, self-disclosure, and confidentiality issues that are relevant to service providers working with adults with learning disabilities. It also discusses the possible implications for service delivery when a student discloses a learning disability.
  • Learning to Achieve: Workforce Preparation Strategies (2 hours)  In this self-paced course, participants learn about This course describes strategies for helping adults with learning disabilities develop skills to enhance their workforce readiness and success; identifies employment-related resources available to adults with LD in your community; and explores strategies to address possible barriers to access for those adults.

Open Educational Resources - STEM

The Open Educational Resources to Increase Teaching and Learning of STEM Subjects in Adult Education project supports our commitment to an open and citizen-centered government. Specifically it is supportive of the Expand Access to Educational Resources through Open Licensing and Technology in the third Open Government National Action Plan that was released on October 27, 2015. These courses self-paced courses introduce instructors to the use of open education resources (OER) in the STEM fields.

  • Build a lesson with OER (self-directed, 3.5 – 5 hours): This user-guided tutorial helps teachers with experience in the Moodle Learning Management System environment develop a comprehensive online lesson using OERs to deliver instruction. The course template is designed with a basic structure aligned to a modified TEAL Lesson Plan Builder (using a WIPPEA lesson plan model: warm-up, introduction, presentation, practice, evaluation, and application) that allows teachers to create a usable online resource that learners can access anytime. The course template is flexible and allows teachers to choose which WIPPEA lesson plan elements to develop online. The course template can be used to design a lesson that fits a variety of instructional strategies (i.e., facilitated, self-study, or flipped) and allows teachers the opportunity to integrate different types of OERs (e.g., text, audio, videos, assessments, and simulations).
  • Open Your Classroom With OER (self-directed): This self-paced course introduces adult education (AE) teachers to the wide variety of Open Educational Resources (OER) and familiarizes them with the Creative Commons and other open licenses. Teachers at all levels of AE will gain an understanding of how to identify and search for materials to use in their teaching practice. In addition to learning search strategies, teachers will gain an understanding of how to evaluate OER for appropriate use and how to organize resources for future use with OER Commons.


LINCS’ science courses help teachers use science in adult education classrooms. These courses introduce instructors to the importance of science education, curriculum planning, and the use of science in adults’ daily lives. Courses include:

  • Engaging Adult Learners in Science (2-3 hours): This course provides an overview of the relevance and importance of science in the adult basic education/adult secondary education (ABE/ASE) classroom and introduces the use of scientific practices in these classrooms.
  • Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development (2-3 hours): This course provides an introduction to teaching science in context, and guidance on where teachers can find credible science resources. The course also reviews the teaching and learning cycle, focusing on curriculum design, including lesson planning and development, within the context of an adult education science unit.
  • Project-Based Science Instruction for Career Preparation (2-3 hours): This course is the third in a series of LINCS online courses that facilitate the teaching of science in the adult education classroom. The first two courses in the series, Engaging Adult Learners in Science and Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development, introduce the concept of scientific practices. The third course connects scientific practices to science content and the use of science in adults' daily lives, especially in work and career-related contexts.
  • Teaching Energy Literacy to Adult Learners (2 hours): This course explains the concept of energy literacy, and introduces the Energy Literacy Framework developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. Educators can use the Framework (available in English and Spanish) to teach adult learners about the role of energy in their lives and to generate potential interest in energy as a career field. This course explores the fundamental concepts of the seven essential principles outlined in the Energy Literacy Framework and provides examples of online resources teachers can use to teach the principles and associated concepts to adult learners.


Integrating Technology in the Adult Education Classroom (4 hours): This course covers the purposes for integrating technology, explores guidelines for planning to integrate technology into instruction, and organizes thinking about the wide range of technology tools available. Examples of adult education practitioners’ experiences in integrating technology are incorporated throughout the course. In the culminating activity, participants create a Technology Integration Action Plan for a unit or lesson that they select for use with their adult learners.


A series of five courses are available for adult educators who would like to learn more about teaching the essential components of reading. To register for these courses, please visit Courses include:

  • Teaching Adults to Read: Alphabetics (2-4 hours): Participants learn about alphabetics research conducted with adults and some important research with children, which supports and extends the research with adults. They practice using assessments for phonemic awareness, word recognition, and word analysis. Finally, participants develop an understanding of how structured reading programs are important to use with learners who have limited reading skills and plan instruction for intermediate-level readers who have “gaps” in their decoding skills.
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Fluency (2-4 hours): The research indicates that teaching fluency may increase reading achievement. Participants look at aspects of the research and practice using tools for measuring fluency. They also discuss the characteristics of fluent reading and practice different techniques of guided repeated oral reading, the recommended instructional strategy for improving fluency.
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Vocabulary (2-4 hours): The research on vocabulary is limited both for adults and in K–12; a few trends provide some direction. Basic formats for assessing vocabulary knowledge are reviewed and discussed for the purpose of informing instruction. Participants learn about approaches for identifying vocabulary words that should be taught and practice using instructional techniques to improve vocabulary skills.
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Comprehension (2-4 hours): After learning about the research on comprehension, participants use Applying Research in Reading Instruction for Adults: First Steps for Teachers to learn about and practice methods for teaching reading comprehension to their adult students.
  • Teaching Adults to Read: Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles (2-4 hours): This course introduces, demonstrates, and provides practice in using the Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles website. Participants learn how to navigate the website and use the Match-an-ASRP-Profile feature to access reading profiles that they can use to assess their individual students' reading strengths and weaknesses and target instructional needs. Participants review the research and assessment tools and learn how to use the site and the profiles to plan reading instruction for individuals and groups of students in the classroom setting.

Research in the Classroom

Understanding and Applying Research in the Classroom: A Guide for Today’s Educators (1 hour): Based on the publication "What is Scientifically Based Research? Using Research and Reason in Education", the purpose of this course is to provide educators with the knowledge and tools necessary to recognize credible information about instructional strategies in order to make informed decisions about which teaching methods to use in their classroom that will positively affect their students. This course introduces participants to information about scientific research and its relevance to educational decision making, increases educators’ awareness of education research methods and the characteristics of credible scientific research, and helps educators develop the ability to determine which research findings can be applied in their educational practice and are most likely to have a positive impact. 

Teacher Effectiveness

This suite of self-paced courses support teacher effectiveness, especially using and understanding the Adult Education Teacher Competencies, delivering evidence based instruction in the classroom and implementing a Teacher Induction program using the Adult Education Teacher Induction Toolkit. The courses are tailored to the needs of practitioners and programs, especially teacher mentors, staff developers and beginning teachers. Courses are divided into multiple segments to allow for practice, reflection, and extended learning. The courses, which can be used independently or as a series, include:

  • Introduction to Teacher Effectiveness and Induction (1hour)
    This introductory course guides you through what the research tells us about teacher effectiveness. It also provides an overview of the Adult Education Teacher Competencies, an introduction to teacher induction, and a summary of the Adult Education Teacher Induction Toolkit and its resources. A completion certificate is available.
  • Principles of Learning for Instructional Design (3-3.5 hours)
    This course introduces and demonstrates key principles and strategies featured in the National Research Council’s Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Supporting Learning and Motivation. It supports teachers' understanding of instructional design principles to promote learning and the strategies for applying those principles in their teaching. Participants observe these principles in action in adult education classrooms and have options for extended learning and reflection. For those in a teacher induction program, this course is recommended during the Learning step of the Teacher Induction Pathway in conjunction with activities in the Mentoring Guide for Teacher Induction. A completion certificate is available.
  • Motivating Adult Learners to Persist (3-3.5 hours)
    This course centers on principles and strategies in the National Research Council’s Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Supporting Learning and Motivation which are significant for motivating adult learners to persist. Topics include: using and inspiring learners’ interests, building learners’ self-efficacy, using incentives and motivation, providing choice and autonomy, and using digital media to promote persistence. Videos demonstrate the classroom application of the strategies and give participants the opportunity to learn about and practice effective classroom observations. For those in an induction program, this course is recommended during the Learning step of the Teacher Induction Pathway in conjunction with activities in the Mentoring Guide for Teacher Induction. A completion certificate is available.