My name is Jen Vanek. I teach classes in the Second Language Education program at the University of Minnesota and am the Director of the IDEAL Consortium, a project of the Ed Tech Center at World Education, Inc. I also work as the Educational Coordinator for the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment for the Minnesota Literacy Council. I did my PhD in Second Language Education at the University of Minnesota, where I helped establish and taught in the TESL Minor program in the College of Education and Human Development and was awarded a University Dissertation Fellowship.
My research explores the difficulties faced by many migrant, refugee, and immigrant adults confronted with technological ubiquity in economically developed countries. My dissertation used Design Based Research to collaboratively define instructional challenges common in community-based learning labs facilitated by volunteer tutors or instructors. I worked working with AmeriCorps members to build and implement an instructional resource to help with challenges they have identified, largely concerning improving the effectiveness of their computer skills instruction for English language learners. The project helped solve a local problem and contributed to knowledge regarding issues of digital literacy and language learning.
I’ve been working in the field of adult English language learning since receiving my MA TESOL from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1996. I’ve supported adult English language learners on college campuses, at adult learning centers, in workforce centers, and in factories. My recent work centers on creating online content and supporting the professional development of ESL and Adult Basic Education teachers in the areas of digital literacy and online learning. This work has helped me realize how crucial digital access is and the importance of supporting professional development, literacy programming, and policy changes that ensure learners have the skills and knowledge to leverage that access.
Please view my current CV for more information about my work.