Building and scaling engagement with edtech for upskilling

Empowering educators to pilot and create open educational resources.


More than one-quarter of American adults have low numeracy skills and millions of Americans lack the advanced math skills they need to qualify for higher-paying jobs. In 2016, we began working with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Adult Education (OCTAE) on Power in Numbers, an initiative to help adult learners gain applied math skills. Over the past three years, we’ve explored the potential of edtech and open educational resources (OER) to transform adult learning outcomes.


The future of work requires advanced math skills; as access to the internet increases and the cost of hardware decreases, technology can help deliver those skills to people who need them most. But most edtech isn’t geared toward adult learners, and educators struggle to figure out what will work for their students.


Luminary Labs designed a three-year program to identify effective technologies and resources while building and scaling engagement with adult math OER and edtech. As part of this program, we curated and facilitated user groups to empower adult ed teachers with hands-on experiences and a supportive peer community. An initial user group incentivized educators to try OER in their classrooms: We recruited 20 adult math educators from 13 states to test and evaluate OER, then use an established rubric to write reviews on OER Commons. A second user group went a step further: Educators became creators, developing open-source curriculum guides to help other teachers implement OER into lesson plans. These user-friendly guides, developed specifically for adult education and vetted by peers, help educators weave OER into lessons on a range of math topics — from algebra and geometry to ratios and measurement. Nearly all (94%) of user group participants said they wanted to keep using OER, and some have become vocal advocates for OER in adult education.

While the user groups piloted new approaches to using, adapting, and creating OER, other aspects of the Power in Numbers initiative helped place educators’ experiences in context. We collaborated with subject matter experts and published a series of reports that examined the larger adult edtech market and stakeholders’ roles in bringing new technology products to classrooms.