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  • Angelique Maguire
    Post count: 114

    Let’s Stay Connected! – Google, Canvas, and Zoom
    In the Adult Education arena, we have students entering at multiple levels, with various age groups, diverse backgrounds, and varied barriers. It can be a challenge to reach them and to completely meet their needs … and this is just in the Face-to-Face classroom setting. Now we are introducing Distance Learning and Online-based learning. Adding to the many challenges that they have already come up against and continue to live with can be overwhelming for our students and overwhelming for you as the educator. Tensions and emotions can be elevated, resources can be scarce (factoring in rural locations, low-income, etc.), and negative mindsets might already be in place. However, all is not lost! There is a light at the end of your Distance Learning tunnel! Let’s explore some of the free resources that have helped our team and options that you may already have at your fingertips!

    Getting Back to the Basics – Digital Literacy Basics
    We can’t assume they understand the basics of digital literacy that we might easily take for granted as “everyone” should know how to do this. The first step we took was to make sure that all of our students had a Google student email. Helping our students set up their Google email accounts did not prove to be as difficult as it sounds. Most of our students already had a Gmail account that they used on a fairly regular basis. The ones who did not, we created a formula to help set up their “school” Free gmails (lastname)(firstinitial)GED@gmail.com. Creating this Gmail opened their horizons to their Google accounts where we could connect with them in Google Classrooms. Google Classrooms is one of the environments that we are utilizing currently because of the fast and furious way we had to go into Distance Learning and Shelter in Place requirements. While some of my instructors already had their Google classrooms set up with their students, many of them were starting from scratch. Incorporating Google Classrooms provides one of the most user-friendly methods out there! The Google interface works with so many resource sites and Learning Management Systems. It seemed like a “no-brainer” to incorporate this effective platform and use this as an introductory measure into the students’ newly acquired online-learning lifestyles. From our Digital Literacy Workshops, created last year, I would like to provide you with some valuable information that might be very beneficial to you and your students:
    • With a Common email platform from your school or organization, the online communication method will be a simpler learning curve for those starting out.
    • Email can be stored safely on the cloud.
    • You can get them from any computer or device with a web browser.
    • You can also quickly organize and find important emails.

    Google Drive: Forms, Slides, Sheets, and Classroom
    • There are so many free services out there that allow for online interactivity: Google Drive is a common platform that High Schools have already embraced.
    • Store files online and access them anywhere using the cloud.
    • Free Web-based Applications for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations – all instructor tools that can make your classroom interactive.
    • You and your students can create and present professional projects and work collaboratively on assignments.

    Effective Internet Research
    • The students are already online. They are already attracted to convenience and mobility devices. How can we catch their attention and keep it in the online
    learning “classroom”?
    • By improving search skills, you can maintain the convenience aspect of learning online.
    • Search Engines are specialized websites that can help you find what you are looking for: Google, Bing, and Mozilla Fire Fox are just a few that you can
    choose for your class.
    • Understand the importance of different types of Websites.
    • Know the importance of Keywords and how to do a customized search to get the results you need in an expedient manner.
    • Encourage organization of the search! –Cloud-based Bookmarking Services.

    Keeping the College and Career Readiness Standards Practice
    While developing a newly online-based and distance learning curriculum, it is still very important that we keep College and Career Readiness at the forefront of our learning methods and deliveries. We must always keep the goals and ultimate success of the student in mind. The launch into the Digital World might be a struggle now but will make them more self-sufficient, ultimately more confident in their own capabilities, and more marketable. Preparing them to further their education is one of our main goals to help them grow into the productive citizens they are seeking to become. One focus we have kept, that we feel is a great Segway into the College learning environment, is to provide them access to and teach them to work in our College District’s Learning Management System, Canvas. Canvas is a user-friendly LMS that provides our instructors with the opportunity to create entire Courses containing modules, assignments, discussion forums, and studio space for instructional videos. These courses can be populated with Standard-Aligned materials from the Commons, which is an online resource connection specifically for Canvas that helps the instructor build their lessons without having to “re-invent the wheel” so to speak. Canvas also interfaces with the Google Environment by giving the students and the instructors an option to link to their Google Drive.

    Incorporating the Instruction of Digital Skills into the “Classroom” and Continuing to Prepare for the Workforce
    While we are feverously working to provide online instruction and to make sure all of our students are on-board with the online instruction, let us not forget to incorporate teaching them what to effectively do and how to effectively learn while they are online. Continuing Digital Literacy instruction is important and necessary at this time. This will save you as instructors and them a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in navigating their online environments. Share and incorporate what you know:
    State Mandates
    • AEFLA Requirements – The Effective Use of technology, services, and delivery systems (including Distance Ed in a manner sufficient to increase the amount and
    quality of learning and how such technology leads to improved performance.) to be delivered by well-trained instructors, counselors, and administrators.
    • WIOA and Distance Ed – Integrating Technology in WIOA – States are required to provide technical assistance in integrating technology.

    Demands for Use of Online Technologies
    • Preparation for Work-Life – Online Job Searches
    • Overcoming Barriers in Daily Life – Teach them to research organizations with programs that can help them overcome those barriers.
    • Provide Opportunities for Learners to build technology skills while simultaneously building basic academic skills.

    Reflections – Keep these Questions in mind
    • Who are your learners? What are their goals?
    • What are their tech skills?
    • What are the characteristics of their geographic location?
    • What technology resources can you share? What technology resources do they already have access to?
    • What are your technology skills? What resources are available that can strengthen this?
    • What flexibility do you have for establishing instructional content?

    Essential Digital Literacy Skills that Students Need
    • Collaboration – Students should be taught basic project management and group work essentials to navigate between multiple platforms. – Working in a
    Discussion forum, with a Google Classroom, shared project, or even working as a team and interfacing with the class through Zoom meetings are all efficient
    ways to build their Digital Literacy Skills, their project management skills, and their teamwork skills.
    • Understanding the Cloud – Utilize the Cloud to create processes to save academic work in a way that is discoverable and accessible.
    • Word Processing – Software such as Microsoft and Google Platforms have a suite of products that integrates with different storage and management solutions.
    Each platform works a little differently and students should have the opportunity to engage with several of them.
    • Personal Archiving – Students should be taught concepts such as metadata, tagging, keywords, and categories succinctly and directly to help them start
    thinking about how they are represented online.
    • Information Evaluation – Staying on top of developments in information literacy and software engineering will paint a holistic picture of online information
    • Social Media Savvy – Students need to be given instruction and an opportunity to practice using various social media. This is important because social media
    serves different purposes depending on the user, technology, and the identified need.

    What do they need to Know to Advance into the Workforce?
    • Understanding Digital Literacy Verbiage and Definitions.
    • Online training should be complemented with a resource area and drop-in sessions from prominent employers in your area.
    • Measure and evolve your curriculum to support ongoing digital learning and dexterity.

    Giving Back and Improving the Workforce
    • Share Your Wealth of Digital Literacy: Continue to prepare today for the workforce of tomorrow.
    • “Mentor and Be Mentored”
    • The Bar is raised on IT Skills in the Workplace.
    • Harness Technology for Good.

    Staying Connected!
    Our Adult Education students are, for the most part, very social people. They prefer the Face-to-Face connection. The academics can be challenging for them and, as non-traditional learners, they have come to expect that one-on-one help. How can we continue to engage with them and give them that desired “Face-to-Face” connection? One method we have chosen, as a district, is the use of Zoom meetings. Zoom meetings have proven to be a great way to not only connect with our students but also with fellow instructors for resources. We all need people and after a couple of weeks of “Shelter in Place” activities, I miss people! Our team meets once a day in the morning to start our day off right, through Zoom. We have also chosen to meet on the admin level and with the instructors across the district to stay up-to-date on information and for support. We have also hosted Canvas Navigation 101 Zoom training and Google Classroom 101 Zoom training. And now our instructors are starting their class times with Zoom meetings engaging all of their students.
    There are so many options to stay connected and provide appropriate standard-aligned, level-appropriate curriculum and lessons for your students. Research what works for you, what works for your students and stick with it. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles. Keep it simple. Keep it user-friendly for you and for them. And teach them to master their online environments and ultimately their digital skills. Encourage them to share their newly found expertise with their peers and you. This is an opportunity for them to see what they can do, to take ownership of those accomplishments, to belong to an awesome team, and to grow and take skills that they have attained through this journey on into their lives beyond the Co-Vid experience.

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