That first line is the refrain in adult education this time of year (the latter sentence, unfortunately, may be our learners' response). Many adult ed programs operate on the K12 schedule, closing up shop for the summer. It's not uncommon to turn clients away. Our programs are small and underfunded, often we're basically guests in a school building owned by more robust educational institutions. When our classes are full, we put people on waiting lists or tell them to come back at a later date. Our primary tool is the classroom, and when that tool is all locked up til fall, our learners are out of luck. Have you noticed this? Got a solution to share?
|He's no Alice Cooper, but this little guy runs straight into the woods when you cut him loose.|
|That run into the woods ended up with a personal escort for the second half.|
What is preventing adult ed from providing services during the summer and winter breaks?
Closed facilities: If the public school building is locked for the break, have the learners study at home. If that's not an option, help them make arrangements to use community computer labs (libraries, etc), relatives' houses, etc. Removing barriers to participation is the goal here, and our learners' motivation often goes up when they see us making efforts to accommodate them.
Staff on break: An online mentor or facilitator of online learning can oversee dozens of learners' work in just a 5-10 hours per week. So, keep a part-time teacher on the payroll for supporting online learners. Email and telephone is sufficient follow-up and support for many learners if their learning platform and study skills are a good match. If the issue is a desire for control over the learning process, then try adjusting to a new relationship with your learners. The summer and winter breaks and the period of time learners spend on waiting lists, all of these are opportunities to approach adult education from another angle. Experiment. Put the ball in the learner's court and see what comes back to you. As seen in the picture above, the result may be deeper engagement, increased affinity, and a great bonding experience.
Need proctored assessments: Even though most online learning platforms begin with prescriptive pretests, online learners still need to come in for an assessment in order to be reportable. That's no excuse for denying services. Don't let the process stop anyone from making progress. Although I'm for letting learners start ahead of assessment (I think the TABE needs to be administered within the first 6 hours - freeze their account then until they come in, if you like), there are tons of non-reportable activities that you can give learners during an interim period. How about contributing some here with a comment? Or, how about just working with them as non-NRS-reportable learners and identifying short and long-term goals that you can count: GED, CRC, NEDP, obtain employment. Serve enough people that way and you'll make a bigger impact in the community, elevate your organization's profile, and have more proof of effective services for your grant proposals.