Thursday, September 22, 2016

We Need to Talk

I'm not here to tell you how to do your job or cry foul about every detail of adult education programs' way of doing business using technology.  But some or the core messages of progress that online learning has brought are not reaching everybody and not transferring from ideals to practice.  I routinely see small, regional and even statewide organizations operating in a silo, as though there aren't similar silos all around... within earshot. We need to talk to one another.

I've been negligent of late about posting some of the blended and distance resources that Essential Education has been a part of recently. Here are a few of them linked below.  Please share widely.  But the big one that I wanted to mention is a group previously known as Project IDEAL. As long as I've been in the field of adult ed, there has been a national group that centralized the basic know-how of facilitating online learning. When I worked for the state of Virginia, we looked at the IDEAL handbook, borrowed from their website, but mostly used it to calibrate or confirm what we were already doing. That was a long time ago. Much has changed in the field (WIOA, ahem) and edtech innovations have made some of the tech integration by teachers second nature.  In an effort to catch up and revitalize (my word-choice), Project IDEAL has been moved under the World Ed umbrella and become part of their EdTech Center.

I don't know what will come of the new IDEAL Consortium or what direction it will take. But I do know that it has always been meeting place of states doing or interested in doing distance education.  I hope that continues and that information sharing is more immediate, so the field of adult ed can ride the wave of innovation instead of feeling that it has passed us by.  Now more than ever, states need to compare policies and best practices and lists of approved publishers, etc.  We can't afford to have any size adult ed provider operating in the dark with know-how from the dark ages when a white board was cutting edge teaching technology.  Otherwise, learners will find other ways to meet their needs or fall prey to opportunistic scams.  So, let's talk and then take action.

1 comment:

  1. Jason,
    Thank you for sharing information about the IDEAL Consortium on your blog. I'm working as the Director of the project for the Ed Tech Center at World Education, Inc. My first experiences with IDEAL were several years ago when we used Project IDEAL materials to turn around DL in my home state of Minnesota. Since that time much has changed in the world of Adult Ed and in the technologies that are available for learning (or required for full participation in daily life!). Both shifts have motived our new work at the IDEAL Consortium.

    Our new IDEAL Distance Education and Blended Learning Handbook ( is based on the strong foundation laid by Jere Johnston and Leslie Petty in the mid 2000's. We've updated it to reflect the changes mentioned above. Also, we are in the process of adding course work on blended learning, use of OERs and mobile learning. Finally, we've set up a virtual Community of Practice for our ten member states to extend the sharing and networking that was started at our August IDEAL Consortium Summer Institute: AZ, CA, MN, IL, TX, PA, ME, MA, RI, VA.

    You are quite right that no one state or agency can afford to work in isolation; we welcome inquiries from states who would like to be involved. Our website is My email is



Your comment will help build a community of practice (and everybody will love you for it).