E-learning makes education accessible for so many people. In our board, according to admin, we are now reaching people we never were able to reach before in Adult Education. We can now offer education to students who are working full-time or have other commitments that prevent them from being in a daytime classroom. Enrollment is up, and I’m really excited.
The next logical step for me is each individual student’s success. They’ve signed up and they’ve logged in, but now I’ve got to keep them engaged and help them to pass. I mean, really, that’s why they’re here–they want to get credits and get their diplomas.
In Adult Education, there are a lot of students who are met with obstacles that prevent them from being successful. Also, a lot of these students operate a low reading level. We have a number of in-class strategies to help with that, but now we need strategies for an online environment.
The number one way to help with this is to not make courses so text-dependent. I’ve said this countless times. I’ve just learned to use SoundCloud. This program lets me record my voice and embed audio files right in my course. Instead of written instructions, students can listen to them instead. I also use Screencast-o-matic, which allows me to create video examples of things.
Another really important thing is to make everything relevant to real life. Students are much more apt to engage with material if they’re passionate about it. They need choices on what they’re going to create.
Finally, and this is of the utmost importance in Adult Education, we need to connect with these students and they need to feel like there is a real person on the other side of that computer. Human relationships are very important to these students, as a lot of these people don’t have anyone else to speak to. I try to scaffold this for these students in online learning in three ways:
- I use the pager function in D2L and I send each student a message once a week, letting them know how great of a job they’re doing in the course, or about something they wrote or did that I really liked.
- I try to make videos showing my face and who I am. I wear silly shirts and use fun backgrounds. Then they can see a real person.
- I have F2F chats with these students on Google Hangouts.
Communication is everything.