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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.


Making the Transition at Mt. Diablo Adult Ed

Posted on 12/22/2020

As we close out 2020 and look forward to 2021, we continue to acknowledge the amazing work that adult education agencies have done this year during an unprecedented time in our field. We also want to begin thinking about what adult education will look like in the new year.

This story comes from Renee Ramig at Mt. Diablo Adult Education on the bright side of online learning. As you read her story, think about what the future holds for your school, students, and staff as we consider the "not bad" parts of learning online and what would be advantageous to integrate into instruction moving forward.

Mt Diablo Adult Education

Online Learning - It's Not All Bad!

Most schools have now moved at least some classes and programs online. For many, it has been a challenging process. Most teachers and administrators could never have imagined teaching their courses online, yet there is incredible learning happening.

There has been a lot of "noise" about how much learning everybody is missing because of having to move online. But there are many advantages to a distance education.

  • Less Travel: Students in adult schools often have to travel to get to the campus. Being able to learn from home can save hours per week as well as allow students without transportation to attend.

  • More Individualized: In a face-to-face (F2F) class of 20, it is challenging for a teacher to work with individuals and small groups. But by using an online conference tool like Zoom, they can schedule learning times for individuals and small groups without having to worry about the rest of the class.

  • Sharing Resources: Moving online encourages teachers to move and organize their resources online - documents, videos, slideshows, etc. This allows students to be able to access the resources they need as often as they need them.

  • Chunking Learning: All learners, even adults, have limited attention spans. Many adult ed classes are offered six or more hours per day. For many classes, this can mean two to three hours of lecture every day. As teachers get more confident teaching online, they are focusing on active learning during their synchronous times of 60-90 minutes. Students are using their asynchronous times watching videos, reading documents, and viewing presentations.

  • 3rd Party Tools: Often a school district purchases dozens of tools that are underutilized, especially with adult students. With more time for students to work independently, incorporating some of these tools can help students become more confident learners. (Reach out to your district to find out what electronic resources are available. There are also tons of free resources too.)

  • Less Expensive: Besides the transportation savings, moving to electronic textbooks are often significantly less expensive than their paper counterparts.

  • Digital Literacy / Citizenship Built In: Sometimes having to deal with "technology" can be seen as a challenge; however, being able to help our adult learners navigate and use technology is needed no matter what their future path is. Incorporating skills on how to organize documents online, time management especially for asynchronous time, and learning to use a variety of digital tools is a gift to our students.

Teaching is never easy. Adding a bunch of technology and removing proximity can add even more complexity. Hopefully, as online / hybrid teaching becomes less arduous, many of the advantages will start to become more evident.

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.