My name is Jen Vanek. I’m currently a doctoral candidate in Second Languages Education at the University of Minnesota, where I’ve taught in the TESL Minor program. I am currently a University Dissertation Fellow and expect to complete my dissertation writing in Spring of 2017.
My research explores the difficulties faced by many migrant, refugee, and immigrant adults confronted with technological ubiquity in economically developed countries. The dissertation uses Design Based Research to collaboratively define instructional challenges common in community-based learning labs facilitated by volunteer tutors or instructors. I’m 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 helps solve a local problem and contributes 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, online learning, and adult career pathways. 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.