On the Fly: Adapting quickly to emergency remote instruction in a family literacy programme

Kaiper-Marquez, A., Wolfe, E., Clymer, C., Lee, J., McLean, E., Prins, E. & Stickel, T. (2020). On the fly:  Adapting quickly to emergency remote instruction in a family literacy programme. International Review of Education,


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to extraordinary changes in family literacy instruction,
forcing face-to-face programmes to shift rapidly (or “on the fly”) to online,
remote instruction. This study is one of the few on online teaching and learning in
family literacy and, to the knowledge of the authors, the first on emergency remote
instruction in a family literacy programme during the COVID-19 pandemic. This
article examines how the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at The
Pennsylvania State University in the United States has responded to the pandemic by
converting its face-to-face family literacy classes into emergency remote instruction
using online platforms. Serving eight immigrant families in 2019–2020 who live
in the State College area in central Pennsylvania, the Family Pathways programme
includes adult education, parent education and interactive parent–child literacy
activities. The article discusses how teachers created online learning opportunities
for parents and children to learn together, the strategies and resources instructors
used to teach remotely, how challenges such as discomfort with technology were
addressed, and what has been learned from the experience. Although COVID-19
presents unprecedented challenges for educators and learners in family literacy
programmes more broadly, it has also compelled instructors in this particular programme
to use remote instruction creatively and has revealed the critical importance
of family literacy programmes as an educational support system for low-income and
immigrant families.