Tag Archives: 2014

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.


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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Using what you’ve got

We need to teach students about the tech they have: think “Obama phone”.

What is this Obama phone? It is the slanderous term for The Federal Lifeline – a program that subsidizes the cost of mobile phones for those within 135% of the Federal Poverty Line. Interestingly the program began in 1985, and was extended to pre-pay mobile devices in 2005; I’m not exactly sure how President Obama got the credit for this necessary program, but there you go.

So, of our students that have state subsidized phones what are they doing with them? Probably not using them to their full potential.

If your student has an Android phone or tablet a Bluetooth mouse and Keyboard can be paired with it. If your student has an iPad or iPhone they can pair a Bluetooth keyboard with it. In so doing you can teach your students more computer based skills like double clicking and keyboarding that will help them not only in adult education programs, but in their life as well.

Long story short, stop investing as heavily in full weight computers and start teaching students how to use the tech in their pockets effectively.

I’m not saying trash computers, and never buy a laptop. I am saying you can modify your purchases with less expensive options, teach your students how to use the gamut of technology, and prep them for life beyond the 2014 GED(r) test.

Hopefully students will even make a similar investment themselves.

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