Helping people in Afghanistan who need to leave – updated 8/19

This information may be helpful for students and community members who have family and friends who are still in Afghanistan and are not safe there.

Click here for a computer translation in Farsii / Persian.

برای ترجمه رایانه ای به فارسی اینجا را کلیک کنید

Click here for a computer translation in Pashto.

په پښتو د کمپیوټر ژباړې لپاره دلته کلیک وکړئ

Here are 4 things that can help in different ways:

  • Do you live in Oregon? Your US Senator’s office is helping to connect people in Afghanistan with the US State Department to try to help them leave.
    • Oregonians can send information about people in Afghanistan who need to leave to the senator’s office.
    • Their office is sending the details to the State Department task force coordinating the evacuation efforts and asking them for help.
    • You should include
      • Full names of all the people
      • Dates of birth
      • Legal status (if they are a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident)
      • Passport number and country
      • Local contact for the embassy in Kabul to use (phone and/or email)
      • Back up contact info
      • Are there any pending visa cases or petitions filed on their behalf
      • Other important information, like if they worked for Afghan government, worked for U.S. NGO or military, they are an educated woman, etc.
    • You do not need to print or sign or mail any paper to the office.
  • If you don’t live in Oregon but want to get help from your senators or representative:
    • If you find their phone number, call them. Be ready to leave a message with your name, phone number, and the situation you need help with.
      • Example: “I’m calling because I have family in Afghanistan and they need to leave because they are not safe. I need to talk with someone in your office who can help me. My name is _______, my phone number is ______, and my family worked as translators.”
    • The senator or representative may have help on their website. Look for “Services” or “Contact”
      • They may have a link that says “Help with a federal agency”
      • Sometimes they may have an online form. You can give them your contact information and explain the situation.

Here’s one example:

  • If you don’t know anyone in Afghanistan, you can still help by:
    • Making sure that your friends, coworkers, neighbors, or community members from Afghanistan know about these resources.
    • Reach out to IRCO, Catholic Charities, and other organizations about volunteering in the near future.
    • Write to your Senators and Representative to urge them to do everything they can to help people in Afghanistan who need to leave.

Notes written / re-written by Eric Dodson on Aug 17, 2021 based on emails and phone call with Julia Stone. Updated on Aug 19.

People Around The US And World Protest Violence Against Black People (news for students)

By Flickr user Fibonacci Blue

Written by Eric Dodson

People in Portland are protesting police violence against black people. Since Friday, May 29th, thousands of people in Portland and more than 200 other cities in the US and around the world, have come together on the streets. They want police and society to change.

Police use violence on Black people and other people of color in the US more often than white people, according to national statistics from Washington Post. For example, since 2015, police shot and killed 1,262 black men and women, and 887 latino men and women in the US. This rate of violence is higher than for white people.

On May 25, George Floyd, an African-American man, was killed when a police officer choked him during an arrest. Floyd said “I can’t breathe.” The officer choked Floyd for eight minutes. Two other police officers kneeled on Floyd’s back. Another officer stood and watched.This happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the Midwest of the US. The video of the violence went on the internet, and many people saw it.  

In Portland, thousands of people have come together because they want police and the government to stop this kind of racist discrimination and violence. Many groups have joined the protests, including religious groups, black community groups, other community groups, political groups, and anti-fascists.

In response, police in Portland have used force and violence to control the protests. Police have used military vehicles and armor to show their power. They have hit people with sticks and shields. They have used flash bang grenades on people. They have shot people. They have used tear gas and pepper spray on people.

Some people in the streets have thrown objects at the police, and some have smashed windows and started fires. However, most of the protesters are not violent, and most people do not want the protests to fight the police or destroy property. Many people have stopped violence because it is not the right way.

What do they want? Change.

One business owner in Minneapolis said that he was sad that his business was burned, but human life and justice were more important.

Often, police who kill or hurt people can continue working as police, and do not have criminal charges. In Minneapolis, the officer who choked George Floyd was charged with murder on May 29th .

George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, gave these comments in an interview with CNN:

“They’re tired of seeing black men die constantly. I see why people are doing it. I don’t want them to lash out, but they have pain, “Philonise Floyd said during the interview.” I want everything to be peaceful, but I can’t make everybody be peaceful.

    “To the police, I want them to get everything right. Start doing your job the right way … I haven’t been seeing it. Black lives matter, too.”

CC-BY-4.0 International

Lexile level: 800-900

Sources include:

Get your own copy of this article in Google Docs.

ESOL News Oregon – Online Learning Resources

Since 2018, Tim Krause has been adapting Oregon-based news stories for beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels on ESOL News Oregon. Those readings come with interactive questions to review vocabulary, details, main ideas, and additional language features. They are a great resource, and older archived articles often are just as applicable today.

ESOL News Oregon Logo
ESOL News Oregon, created and maintained by Tim Krause.

In 2019, I started narrating and sharing some of these articles. These can be helpful for students who want to read and listen, to help them follow the meaning or pronunciation. They could also be adapted for listening comprehension activities.

The narrated news articles are all shared on SoundCloud. The links can be shared directly, or embedded in a web page. Tim has gone back and added the audio to his site, too – you can look for the articles that have little sound icons next to them.

Here’s a list of the ten most recent files — there are 45 of them in total, as of the time I’m writing this. Most are 1-3 minutes long.

The audio can also be accessed through Apple Podcasts and Google Music podcasts. This is a fast way for students with smartphones to access, download, and keep this content, which is all licensed under a Creative Commons open license to share with attribution for non-commercial purposes.

These days, I’m more interested in supporting others to do this kind of work. Davida Jordan, one of my coworkers at PCC, has already recorded three great articles. Please reach out to me if you’re interested in contributing.

Remote Learning – Wifi and Internet Access Resources

For learners who are trying to stay home, internet access and bandwidth can be a major obstacle for their communication and learning. They may usually rely on phone data for their own internet access, or there may be a need to limit home use for essentials (which at this point may be for streaming entertainment for children).

Reading OregonLive earlier this week, I saw that Comcast has opened up wifi hotspots throughout the United States.

The hotspots are clustered in urban areas, and I haven’t tried out the “xfinitywifi” network that shows up in range, but here in East Portland and the greater area, the coverage looks promising.

Map of east portland wifi hot spots

My questions about this service include:

  • What speed/amount limits are on these hotspots?
  • What tracking/personal/IP address info is being collected?

Comcast is also still offering their Internet Essentials package, which offers basic home internet for $9.95/mo. With the current crisis, they are increasing bandwidth (speed) and offering the first 60 days free.

Caveats: applicants have to provide documentation about low-income status, and the usual (non-crisis) setup time is 3-5 days.

Remote Teaching ESOL at a community college – welcome to the jungle

In the spirit of brainstorming and sharing out, I’ve been talking to folks and reading about this whoosh to online/remote teaching, and wanted to share some thoughts, mostly about the tech side. I sent most of this message to the PCC listserve on Friday, March 13.

From now until April, the most important tech will be email, phone/texts, and pictures sent by phone/device.

  • For communication, of course. No matter what else, this is going to be the cornerstone of success or failure.
  • And also for sending/sharing/submitting work. Students don’t necessarily need to do their work in a new way — working with pen, paper, and the tools they have may set them up for the best form of remote learning.
  • This is true for ESOL and college classes.  
  • Even this is particularly difficult for levels 1-3 (survival and beginning ESOL), as many have pointed out.

The consensus among online learning teachers and designers that I have seen is: keep your remote teaching lean and simple.

  • Use the tools and resources that you know, and that the students know (or could deal with, at least).
  • For example, if students can send you a picture of their written work by email or text, have them do that, instead of a D2L (i.e., brightspace, our Learning Management System) assignment portal.
    • If it’s you’re first time using D2L, what are you going to do when it doesn’t work like you thought it did?
    • What are the students going to do if they have never used something like this before?
    • How will you explain it to them when you’re on a Mac, and they’re on a Samsung Galaxy?
  • Some have mentioned PCC’s very simple site creator/editor, which basically lets instructors add text and links. That would work very well!
    • … and if you’ve used Google Sites before, then that is probably great for delivering info to students.
    • … and if you’ve used Google Docs + drive before, then that is probably great for delivering info to students.
    • … and if you’ve used D2L before, or feel comfortable, then that is probably great, too. But if you’re not comfortable with D2L, it’s not the only answer to offering students learning experiences in this time.

If there is one tool I recommend (at this stage), it is Google voice, the online virtual phone from google, which allows you to have a dedicated online way of texting, receiving voicemails, and making calls (without having to use your phone or your personal #).
Students will actually text us if they have a way, and they all have texting capability on their phones. And communication is going to be the make or break factor of the next two months.

In my 5+ years of using google voice, students engage with text messages quickly and accurately. They will respond. They will also reach out by text if they have questions. I think setting up and using this that may pay off way more than training in virtual lectures in d2L and zoom.

There may be other tools that allow for this kind of virtual texting, too. Maybe someone has had a good experience with another one. And, if you have concerns about using a Google product and student privacy, consider using your own phone service and phone number at this time.

(In my own five years of using Google voice, I have never had a student abuse it, and I would much more readily hand out my own personal number in the future, if need be.)

Finally, I saw this advice in a blog post yesterday, and while Barrett-Fox’s title and tone is a little snarky, this part is unadulterated gold, and a reminder of what we already know about our students: (emphasis added by me)

Remember the following as you move online:

  1. Your students know less about technology than you think. Many of them know less than you. Yes, even if they are digital natives and younger than you.
  2. They will be accessing the internet on their phones. They have limited data. They need to reserve it for things more important than online lectures.
  3. Students who did not sign up for an online course have no obligation to have a computer, high speed wifi, a printer/scanner, or a camera. Do not even survey them to ask if they have it. Even if they do, they are not required to tell you this. And if they do now, that doesn’t mean that they will when something breaks and they can’t afford to fix it because they just lost their job at the ski resort or off-campus bookstore.
  4. Students will be sharing their technology with other household members. They may have LESS time to do their schoolwork, not more.
  5. Many will be working MORE, not fewer, hours. Nurses, prison guards, firefighters, and police officers have to go to work no matter what. As healthcare demand increases but healthcare workers get sick, there will be more and  more stress on those who remain.
  6. Some of your students will get sick. Others will be caring for people who are ill.
  7. Many will be parenting.
  8. Social isolation contributes to mental health problems.
  9. Social isolation contributes to domestic violence.
  10. Students will be losing their jobs, especially those in tourism and hospitality.

All of these factors mean that your students are facing more important battles today than your class–if they are even able to access it.

Online Open-Source Interactive Technology – H5P – PSU IELP Faculty Retreat 2019

PSU IELP Faculty Retreat Afternoon Sessions, Sep 16, 2019

Presentation Resources

This page has several important links that we’ll use for the presentation.

Explore H5P Activities

Vocabulary practice for a high-intermediate reading course (by Luciana Diniz, PCC)

Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Questions

You can try out the activity below or see it embedded in the ESOL News Page.

Multimedia Comprehension Checking

From my US citizenship resources page.

Focus on form

Taken from PCC’s Digital Workbook for Beginning ESOL.


From my US Citizenship practice resources.

Recording Tools

This recorder can be used without downloading apps, which makes it really helpful for short practice recording and listening.

Many more demos and types of content are on

Return to the top of the page (and other links)

After the presentation

More Amazing Open H5P Content in Context

Additional Resources

ESOL News Oregon – Listen and Read: 1500 plays!

Tim Krause writes and creates fantastic interactive reading and vocabulary exercises for ESOL News Oregon.

Since January, I’ve been recording narration of an article every week, doing some cleanup in Audacity, and posting the recording online.

I’ve been collecting the embedded audio, article text, and Tim’s H5P articles on a google site that I set up for my high-beginning ESOL class (PCC Level 3). You can also find some of them on the ESOL News Oregon site.

I’ve used these narrated articles as warmups and weekly activities in our computer lab time. Many students enjoy hearing the article while reading it. Others don’t, and they can choose other ways to engage with the content. Overall, it’s a win-win for engagement and rich language exposure. It helps that the topics on ESOL News Oregon are on point, including Bigfoot, tax scam alerts, flying cars, and changes to Oregon driver’s licenses for undocumented residents.

According to Soundcloud, where I host the audio for free, the narrations have gotten over 1,500 plays. That means on average, each narration has been listened to 65 times. It’s a pitiful amount of engagement in the world of online content and social media, but it means that my students (and others who have been using the articles) have engaged repeatedly to practice their listening comprehension.

Finally, in the spring, I realized that it would be fairly straightforward to connect SoundCloud to Apple Podcasts (and later, Google Play Music and Podcasts), so now you can find the content in even more ways.

It makes it even easier to connect students with this content, because Apple Podcasts is automatically on every iPhone (and many Android phones have Google Play Music, though I’m perennially annoyed by the mishmash of apps and services on Samsung phones…).

If you have a minute, check out the podcast pages (here’s the Apple Podcast page again) and add a rating or review. We might be able to get some purely online attention after all… 🙂

And once again, this kind of work is made possible by educators like Tim sharing their contributions with Creative Commons licensing. Even the brief music in the audio recordings is from CC-BY licensed media.

I’ve been doing these recordings myself, but I’d be very happy to work with anyone and train them on the process! Reach out to if you are interested.

Cascadia Open Education Summit In Review

for PCC Teaching and Learning Center, May 2019

Titles and presenters below spoke at the 2019 Cascadia Open Education Summit, April 2019 in Vancouver, BC.


  • Free vs. Open
  • Accessibility
  • Using learning data for continuous improvement
  • Open pedagogy starter kit
  • 5Rs – Old and New
  • Pressbooks as an Open Platform
  • Interactivity with H5P
  • Open Ed, Equity, and Inclusion

Free vs. Open

  • Keynote by Dr. Karen Cangialosi
  • “Traditional OER” vs. moving beyond a focus on cost
  • To paraphrase, her description of Open Pedagogy includes:
    • Community and collaboration: sharing resources, ideas, and power
    • Connection to a wider public: learners contribute to, not just consume knowledge
    • Student focused and knowledge-driven
    • Critical approach to knowledge (Who creates it? What biases are present?)
  • Contrasting definition: OER-enabled Pedagogy (David Wiley)
  • Complicating question: If this work is de-colonializing and anti-racist, who is actually doing it? Whose voices are really in control of this process?

Moving Beyond a Checklist Approach to Accessibility

Using Learning Data to Drive OER Content Improvements

David Wiley, Lumen Learning

  • Non-disposable Assignments
  • “Improvement in post-secondary education will require converting teaching from a solo sport to a community-based research activity.” Herb Simon
  • Waymaker LMS

An Open Pedagogy Starter Kit

5Rs: Old and New

Created by David Wiley, CC BY 4.0

From Rajiv Jhangiani, 2019

Pressbooks as an OER Platform

Collaborative Approaches to Open Learning Resources Development – Lin Brander, Rosario Passos

Interactive content with H5P

Adding Interactivity to OER to improve student learning – Wendy King, Lucas Wright, Ross Strader

  • Mirroring my own experience with H5P:

Open Education and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • See again the old and new 5Rs
  • Equity and Open Education – A PCC Presidential Fund cohort series by Jen Klaudinyi

Unleashing H5P

Unleashing the power of interactive, multimedia, open-source technology to engage learners

ORTESOL Spring Workshop 2019, Portland Community College Southeast Campus, May 4th, 2019

This page of resources was created to accompany my presentation at ORTESOL’s Spring Workshop.

Presentation Resources

Amazing Open H5P Content

Additional Resources