Thursday, October 31, 2013

Toward a Learner-centered Adult Ed Experience

It felt like I'd been talking a mile-a-minute for 3hrs at a GED Academy training and 2014 GED(r) overview in Southwest Virginia, when I stopped at the end and asked the crowd of teachers what they'd gotten out of the session.  Silence... Why do I put my attendees on the spot like that?  Ugh.  And then the answer came. A woman spoke up and made sense of it all better than I could have. "It sounds like we'll have to help our learners do more on their own from now on."  The simplicity of her synopsis took a minute for me to absorb.

Ding! Ding! Ding!  The mission of facilitating self-directed learning, putting the right tool in the learners' hands, comes right out of Essential Education's mission statement (and mine too, going back as long as I've been in adult ed).  What this teacher was synopsizing weren't just the words I'd been speaking during our three-hour training. She was seeing the impact of important tools for both assessment and instruction designed with the learner in mind and made accessible over the web.  In the presence of these disruptive innovations, the role of the educator changes to include more facilitation, more 'guide on the side.'

I've talked here about the ways GED Academy motivates online learners with student-centered instructional design. Now, the GED Testing Service's new MyGED portal is assembling an array of tools to give the learner control over the process of their education, rather than the process having control over the learners. Anyone who's worked in adult ed has a sense of the sometimes counter-intuitive bureaucracy we often contend with.          

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Books Build DoK via Distance Ed?

As my company, Essential Education, launches its new trilogy of workbooks for the 2014 high school equivalency tests, I want to take a moment to discuss two things:

1) The role of print materials in distance education efforts...

and then, because adult educators are in dire need of quality 2014 material

2) How awesome these new books are, and where you can get some!  (short answer: email

Books are Essential to Learning

It may be an obvious point, but paper and pencil practice materials will probably always be a core element of any ABE/GED program.  It doesn't matter if the GED is computer-based, or if online learning is growing by leaps and bounds.  Foundational reading, writing and math skills need to be practiced in the medium that learners (and the teachers) are most comfortable with.  The cognitive skills that you develop when you dive into a workbook are absolutely replicable when testing on a computer (but you should still get some computer-based prep and/or practice testing under your belt, nonetheless).   Writing in a workbook helps move content from short-term to long-term memory.  The act of writing is very ingraining.  That's why these books were designed to be interactive work-texts.