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December 2016 Newsletter

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Iowa Culture and Language Conference

The Iowa Culture and Language Conference (ICLC) was held Nov. 14-16, 2016 at the Marriott Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa. The mission of ICLC is to advocate for culturally and/or linguistically diverse students and their families, educators, and service providers. In Adult Education and Literacy the Limited English Proficient (LEP) population increased to 87,807 in 2014. Iowa’s adult education and literacy programs served 6 percent (4,899) of this population.

As a result of the demand, Education Program Consultant Marcela Hermosillo coordinated the first pre-conference session geared specifically for Adult Education English Language Acquisition educators. The pre-conference session, titled “Second Language Acquisition for Adult English Language Learners”, was facilitated by national trainer Marie Cora and had 31 registrants. Feedback from educators who attended the pre-conference was overwhelmingly positive. Planning for the next Iowa Culture and Language Conference will begin soon. If you have names of speakers or topics you are interested in seeing at the next ICLC contact Marcela Hermosillo at or Lori Porsch at 

Visit to access photos and additional information or search the hashtag  #Iowaclc16 on Twitter and Facebook. Your Place to Find Over 6,500 Free Worforce Development Resources

TLooking for free resources to aid in designing, managing, and expanding courses for career training? SkillsCommons is an online repository hosting thousands of free and openly licensed course and educational program support materials developed by nearly 700 colleges across the U.S..

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s TAACCCT grant program, the website currently features more than 6,500 resources available for download. Resources include curricula for both short and long-term courses leading to industry-certified credentials in 16 high-demand fields, such as manufacturing, health care, energy, and information technology.

While there are multiple repositories of open educational resources (OER), SkillsCommons is the world’s largest OER project featuring job-driven workforce development materials, with more resources being added continually. All teaching, learning, and supporting materials on SkillsCommons are available under a Creative Commons license (CC BY) that allows others to use and adapt the materials for free, including commercial use of derivatives. To date, the site has already generated more than 150,000 downloads. is designed and managed by California State University (CSU) and its Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) program under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition to extensive online user support resources,  the SkillsCommons CSU-MERLOT team of leaders, librarians, educators, and developers are available to assist anyone interested in using and adapting the OER on SkillsCommons.

COABE Virtual Conference

COABE concluded its first virtual conference, which was held on Oct. 25-26, 2016.. Session strands included:

  • WIOA session, sponsored by National Skills Coalition
  • ESL session, sponsored by Center for Applied Linguistics
  • Immigrant Integration session, sponsored by Adult Learning Resource Center
  • Numeracy session, sponsored by Adult Numeracy Network
  • ABE Professional Development session, sponsored by AALPD
  • Technology session, sponsored by Outreach and Technical Assistance Network
  • Research session, sponsored by American Institute for Research
  • Learning Difficulties session, sponsored by National Association for Adults with Special Needs
  • Competency-Based Instruction session, sponsored by Competency Based Initiative
  • LINCS session, sponsored by Manhattan Strategy Group

For those of you who were not able to participate, you can still register to gain access to archived session recordings.. Sessions have been archived and will be available to registrants to review for the next six months. Register here.

Each session was well attended and participants were highly engaged, as evidenced by the over 2,000 presentation reviews, 4,000 resource downloads, and the numerous chat conversations throughout the sessions.

Nine states (Delaware / DAACE; Texas / TALAE; South Dakota / SDALL; Connecticut / CAACE; Illinois / IACEA; Louisiana / LAPCAE; Maine / MAEA; New Mexico / NMAEA; and Iowa, through the Iowa Department of Education) provided this opportunity to all members in their state.

For additional information contact Marcela Hermosillo at

Iowa Department of Education Spotlight: Dr. Barbara Burrows, Chief of the Bureau of Community Colleges

Dr. BurrowsHow long have you been with the Iowa Department of Education?  
IDOE (for 1 year as Chief, 3 years with IDOE)

Tell us one thing you enjoy about your job/position
 I enjoy knowing that the work we do with Iowa’s community colleges has positive effects on students and their families and communities. I’ve been in education for over 35 years, 30 of which have been dedicated to service adults through the community college system.

Tell us about yourself
I live with my spouse and five pets (2 Mini American Shepherds, and 2 inside and 3 garage cats). My hobby is home renovations and I am a HGTV junkie.

Why did you choose your profession?
When I was in 9th grade, I thought it would be cool to be a Physical Therapist, but freshmen Chemistry at the University of Florida put a damper on that quest. So, I thought I’d build on my love for math and study accounting (boring) and then was steered toward teaching math by my dorm buddies.  I love helping people learn and have always been an athlete – team player and coach, so teaching and coaching students was the right choice for me. After five years of teaching high school math, I went back for my master’s in math to open up more opportunities. I took a course called “The History of the Community College” and fell in love with these open-door institutions. I knew from that moment on that advancing the mission of “democracy’s college” would be my life’s work. Whether it was teaching basic math or Calculus, coaching women’s softball or leading the faculty senate, being a college provost or a bureau chief with the Iowa Department of Education, everything I’ve done has been driven by a desire to help people improve their lives and reach their dreams.

If you could master one skill you don't have right now, what would it be?
The ability to play musical instruments, especially the piano and guitar.

What is your favorite quote?
The best way to predict the future is to create it. (Peter Drucker)
This is what teachers and educators do every day.

Expanding Possibilities: 1st Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference 2017

Expanding Possibilities: Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference 2017 will be held on Jan. 24-26, 2017. The conference is a collaboration effort between Adult Education and Literacy and the Iowa Literacy Council. The purpose of the conference is to showcase best practices and resources both in and out of state related, but not limited, to technology, classroom management, blended learning, distance education, and cultural competency,  

The conference will be open to the first 500 registrants and is provided at no cost. If you have an interest in adult education, literacy, and or technology resources, make sure you reserve your online seat! Register here. The conference schedule will be provided no later than Jan. 6, 2017.

The planning committee is also accepting proposals. Please follow the link to submit your proposal. Submit a session proposal!

On behalf of the Iowa Literacy Council and Adult Education and Literacy, we look forward to having you log in on January 24-26th. #AELVC2017

Sector Partnership Leadership Council Convenes

On Sept. 2, representatives from business, education, community, and government organizations met for the first meeting of the Sector Partnership Leadership Council. The meeting was hosted by the Iowa Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation and facilitated by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

Sector partnerships are comprised of representatives from businesses within a given industry sector (such as information technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, and transportation), along with other key support partners, who work together to identify regional labor market challenges. These partnerships focus on closing industry-specific skill gaps in their communities by reducing barriers to employment, creating career pathways to high-quality jobs, and aligning education to workforce needs. The council will provide the strategic direction for this work across the state—identifying and addressing system-level policy and technical needs.

The meeting, while focused on establishing a direction for the council, also touched on many issues important to business and industry, namely the difficulty in finding individuals with appropriate skills to fill vacant positions and the need for more coordinated methods for bringing together key stakeholders at the local and regional level to address such challenges.  It was agreed that the council is well positioned to tackle many of these issues, particularly related to the establishment of a state-level policy framework for sector partnerships and the coordination of regional sector partnership activities.

The council was also briefed on the status of initiatives related to sector partnerships already underway. One such initiative relates to creating career pathway maps for the information technology (IT) sector. Through funds made available under a United States Department of Labor grant, the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) contracted CAEL to work with IT industry experts to create a state-level and regionally specific career pathways for key occupations within the sector. The Department and IWD are also working with CAEL to establish and train a cadre of sector partnership facilitators across the state.

Sector partnerships are increasingly recognized as an effective method for aligning education, economic, and workforce development systems to address industry-identified labor market needs. To that end, sector partnerships develop and continuously evaluate goals, policies, and service-delivery strategies to meet the needs of employers in a given sector. Effective sector partnerships are industry-driven, meaning that industries identify needs and assume the lead role in developing strategies which address their identified needs.

The next council meeting will be scheduled in the near future with the primary objective of finalizing the council’s charter. For more information on the council and sector partnerships, please visit the Department’s website.

Contact Barbara Burrows at 515-281-0319 or with questions.

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