A New Orientation

I’ve been hearing similar trends in adult education programs around the country where students have to put in 12+ hours for orientation.

Interestingly all processes are similarly similar: students register to attend, go through a process that includes filling forms, signing papers, listening to a PowerPoint presentation about services and taking the TABE. At the end students are given their schedule of classes, and then the learning begins.

AND THEN THE LEARNING BEGINS.

Let’s flip that. Why can’t students register using on-line forms? Similarly what if we started teaching those orientation students by giving them work appropriate emails? Let’s take it a step further, what if you taught that student to use a social website like LinkedIn or Facebook? And then give the student a TABE.

What just happened? We respected these adults time and set the tone by teaching them something from their first introduction to the AE program.

What did the student get? Students now have an email address, and have sent you an e-mail. Using LinkedIn students can create a highly portable and transferable resume. Teaching them FB students will learn how to connect with their friends, families and hopefully YOU. From registering for these 3 products students then have the ability to be applying for jobs at places that only accept online applications – aka 80% of Fortune 500 companies. I believe the student got empowerment from their first session in your program.

What did you get? You’ve got the reasonable expectation the student can communicate with you. E-mail providers are now including word processing applications: Google Drive allows students to do word processing and share their work with whomever they want – including you. And builds to 2014GED(r) readiness. Having students “like” your program on FB gives you another way to contact your student.  What did the program get from this new orientation? A student population who is more ready to participate in the 21st Century Classroom.

Any program can do this, now, for free.

Think about that empowered student going back to his or her community and telling their people about the empowerment technology allows.

And then think about this, over a 5 year period Thorn Hill Education Center found that 98% of students found out about the program by word of mouth (what we have anecdotally known was corroborated in 2009).

Putting the two together, if you engage your audience from the get go you’ve got them hooked. Let’s flip blooms and build student engagement in our programs.

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1 Comment

Filed under Education, Program, Student

One response to “A New Orientation

  1. As an advocate for expanding the reach of adult ed with online tools, I’ve been talking to people about that initial 12 hours of contact time for years. So, I definitely think you’re on to something, Barry.

    Personally, I always pitched the initial 12hrs as a chance to a) get the learner excited and committed to the process of independent practice (so, actually meeting their expectations rather than requiring bureaucratic hurdles). and b) a chance for us to use formative assessment tools to gauge and improve the abilities of each distance learning candidate. If this all happens before their assessment and intake, then we’ll have stronger buy-in, more capable online learners, and a better sense of which learning resources that each learner is going to benefit from.

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