Implementation Example: Los Angeles Public Library

Getting Started

In 2015, Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) started experimenting with mobile technology to enhance Adult Literacy Services with a pilot of Cell-Ed. Cell-Ed delivers literacy, language, and job training lessons flexibly via text and voice, smartphone app, or traditional desktop computer.
While LAPL had already invested in other platforms for language learning, the Adult Literacy Program was interested in looking for alternatives for learners who:

  • do not have a smartphone
  • need additional support, or
  • face barriers to coming to the library for weekly face-to-face support.

Training Staff

Literacy Center staff received training on the platform and LAPL worked with Cell-Ed to develop promotional materials, including cards and posters in English/Spanish, English/Mandarin, and English/Korean, the three top languages in Los Angeles after English. Cell-Ed uses texting and therefore does not require a smartphone and can be used on desktop computers as well.

The initial pilot of Cell-Ed started at Adult Literacy Centers within the LAPL library system, each staffed by a part-time, paid literacy coordinator. To offer adults the most appropriate learning options, staff did an initial assessment of skills and spoke with learners about their goals and interests.

With the addition of the Cell-Ed pilot, staff were able to integrate mobile learning options into this process to offer the best fit for each learner. This process continues today and includes both Cell-Ed and Learning Upgrade (, a web- and app-based program that teaches basic literacy and math), as mobile learning options.

Supporting Learners

Learners who need additional help prior to being matched with a tutor, in our Adult Literacy Services, are offered Cell-Ed and supported in logging on to the app. Once they are able to complete enough coursework to converse in English, they can be “fast-tracked” to be matched with a tutor.

With a significant waiting list for one-on-one tutors at most of the sites, literacy coordinators view progress in Cell-Ed as a good indication of readiness and commitment to learning. Students who complete ESL levels 1–4 get a certificate that they can show in order to be fast-tracked to getting a tutor. Learners who are placed on a waiting list are offered Cell-Ed or Learning Upgrade, based on their learning needs.

After the successful Cell-Ed pilot, library professional staff were oriented to Cell-Ed so they could assist with referrals into the Adult Literacy Program, and volunteers were trained so that they could use Cell-Ed to supplement their tutoring.

Growing the Program

Since adopting Cell-Ed for ESL, citizenship, and basic skills courses, LAPL has teamed up with Cell-Ed to create a library card course that walks participants through obtaining their first library card. This has opened up the possibility of creating many more locally relevant courses in the future.
Learn more about Cell-Ed:

For more information, contact Kelly Tyler, Managing Librarian, Office of Education and Literacy
Los Angeles Public Library, Direct: 213.228.7546 • Main: 213.228.7540.