The Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center is an organization housed within Virginia Commonwealth University. Specialists provide face-to-face, online training as well as individual support for Virginia Adult Education trainers. VALRC partnered with the Virginia Literacy Institute in 2003 to form an organization to support Adult Educators in both the private and public sector.
The topic that I have selected for this project is two-fold. The first component is to review, evaluate and update the Career and College Readiness Standards (CCRS) for English Language Arts and Mathematics. The online module begins with an introduction to the program. The standards are written for the education of adults who have either not earned a high school diploma. An additional component, English Language Proficiency Standards is a new component of the online program which will be included in the overall module. Many of the adult learners are individuals for whom English is not their first language. The transition for this program is a move from calling the program a General Equivalency Diploma program (GED), to one which engages learners with preparation for either a career or further education after successful completion of the program. When students complete the current GED test, the score indicates if the student is prepared for community college or a four-year academic program. The module training will reflect this change in philosophy.
The current module uses the platform, Storyline, and was last created approximately (3) three years ago. The organization desires to have the two existing programs, along with the introduction, updated. There are individual activities for participates to complete which introduces Adult Educators to the Career & College Readiness Standards. The inclusion of English Language Proficiency (ELP) to the Standards training provides a more complete image of the expectations for both educators and learners.
Individuals who provide adult education instruction are expected to participate in this training. Training partners may include community colleges, public school systems, correction institutions as well as nonprofit organizations. Trainees are identified by managers or administrators. Participation may be a prerequisite for an individual who transitions from one component of a program into one which educates adult learners.
Many of the adult education instructors are retired K-12 instructors who wish to teach 1-2 classes per week. Others work full-time positions and provide CCR instruction in the evening. A common misunderstanding regarding CCR education surfaces with those who have taught in a K-12 setting. The educator is well seasoned in their discipline and in how to educate learners in their previous setting. The methods and practices of andragogy, are often unfamiliar to those with experience in working with children. A transition from the simple completion of a GED to that of preparing for a career or college is an important component of adult education. Many adult educators are Caucasian, in their mid-50’s, moderately well-educated and find digital technology challenging. Those who have experience in public education may have a bias against the concept of “standards.”
Learning through this module provides physical, digital and possibly generational distance. The lack of physical presence on the part of the facilitator, the natural progression of an electronic module (i.e. “clicking” through a program) coupled with the individual frustrations with technology impact the Transactional Distance of learners. Educators who lack familiarity with a learning management system, or who may live in an area with limited bandwidth also find the completion of a module an impediment to understanding CCRS.
Education specialists have struggled with how to unpack the standards in such a way as to make it as relevant and as balanced as possible in a digital setting. Through a conference call, they expressed to me that the delivery of the standards is found to be clunky. They expressed that when planning for the revision of the three (3) modules and the creation of the fourth (4th) is that participants are not able or willing to provide an extensive amount of time to complete the modules. It’s important for me to understand that the current length appears suitable. They desire that what is presented to adult educators be meaningful as well as provide ways in which to engage learners in thinking more critically about the standards, how they impact the facilitation of learning and preparation for a meaningful career.
When I work through the current model, the graphics of the Community of Inquiry (COI) model, (SP, CP, and TP along with Perception, Deliberation, Conception and Action) will be an important lens with which to view the current training. The continuous movement of arrows and circles suggest that there isn’t an ending. One’s presence in an educational experience should be fluid. It will be my challenge to discover how to infuse COI to best support and enhance the participant’s learning experience. While I assume that the module will include components of the COI coding template, it will be interesting to see which digital tools are used and which might be of value to the learning. I may find it useful to enhance the template for descriptors.
I’m really excited about the opportunity to work on this learning project for VALRC. Several of the specialists in this facility have matriculated through the Adult Learning program at VCU. The interim director has taken this course in the Teaching and Learning with Technology track. When discussing the learning in the first three (3) weeks of the course, we were able to discuss the module using the nomenclature of e-Learning! The specialists who spoke with me on the conference call have provided a wealth of materials for me to use as a starting point for this project. I have received permission to access the training this week. I will have an abundance of support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for this learning module. Most importantly, the module is of use and support for literacy across the Commonwealth, which is of great importance to me as an Educator.
I wish that I had an audio recording of the conference call. While I took a wealth of notes, I am now worrying that I may have omitted something of importance. I won’t sweat it too much. I’m sure that there will be multiple opportunities to blog about this project.