A new season of adult foundational learning is upon us. After more than two years of major changes and challenges due to public health restrictions, programs are facing myriad decisions. Among them: Will programming return to in-person delivery? Will some programming be online? Would a mix of online and in-person work? What are the costs, benefits, and risks of each delivery format? What mix will best meet learners’ needs? And do we even have the capacity to offer those formats successfully? What support will we need?
These questions are front and centre because of the monumental shift that the CALP system weathered during the pandemic. Many programs and practitioners pivoted to online, remote and blended delivery of adult foundational learning when in-person learning was unavailable. It was an unplanned change that brought heavy workloads and new challenges. For some practitioners and learners, it reduced barriers they previously experienced, such as finding childcare or arranging transportation. But for others, participating in online programming was daunting and inaccessible because of the “digital divide” (the inequalities that exist between those who have access to digital technology and the skills and confidence to use it, and those who do not).
Through the Digital Divide Project, Calgary Learns created a new user-friendly resource called the Digital Divide Practitioner Tool. Grounded in the direct experiences of adult foundational learning practitioners in Alberta, the resource explores the wise practices, strategies, and guiding principles that practitioners use to support the effective online delivery of CALP programming.
Not surprisingly, as we listened to adult foundational learning practitioners, we found that the wise practices they were developing in online environments reflected many of the wise practices in adult learning we have cherished for so long.
Four Guiding Principles emerged as underlying values to guide practitioners’ work:
- Keep learners at the centre
- Focus on learning, not on technology
- Embrace digital skills as foundational learning
- Be flexible
Three groups of wise practices and strategies also emerged:
- Caring and Sharing Strategies focus on taking care of people and relationships in online learning environments. They include the following three subgroups of strategies:
- Cultivate wellness and a positive growth mindset
- Build connections
- Respect privacy and encourage healthy boundaries
- Teaching and Learning Strategies focus on engaging in the process of online learning. They include the following three subgroups of strategies:
- Facilitate effectively online
- Teach digital skills
- Create and manage materials
- Supporting and Accessing Technology Strategies focus on offering the resources and support needed for delivering effective online learning. They include the following three subgroups of strategies:
- Offer technical support
- Offer professional development
- Increase access to technology
With all these practical, field-tested ideas gathered from adult foundational learning practitioners, the Digital Divide Practitioner Tool aims to support, inspire, and encourage you in your ongoing work in this new landscape of online program delivery in the CALP system. And for this new season of programming, the tool can make a timely and important contribution to programs across the province.
Watch the Calgary Learns newsletter for future Digital Divide training opportunities.
Visit the websites below to access free resources and videos:
Digital Divide Practitioner Tool (full website):
Digital Divide Practitioner Tool (PDF):
Short video introductions to each section of the Digital Divide Practitioner Tool:
- Guiding Principles: https://www.loom.com/share/8949934b4c954bd79c94840fadf50be0
- Caring and Sharing Strategies: https://www.loom.com/share/9bb09f96b6674fb598101c68eac0c7f2
- Teaching and Learning Strategies: https://www.loom.com/share/dfab06c98bbf4000b5596f9b9f41a262
- Supporting and Accessing Technology: https://www.loom.com/share/692105c6959b43dba6431a65cd8957b1
Guiding Principles Tipsheet (PDF):
Strategy Tipsheets (PDFs):
- Caring and Sharing Tipsheet: https://calgarylearns.com/wp-content/uploads/Caring-and-Sharing_Tipsheet.pdf
- Teaching and Learning Tipsheet: https://calgarylearns.com/wp-content/uploads/Teaching-and-Learning_Tipsheet.pdf
- Supporting and Accessing Technology Tipsheet: https://calgarylearns.com/wp-content/uploads/Supporting-and-Accessing-Technology_Tipsheet.pdf
Digital Literacy Audit Tool:
Thank you to all the practitioners and Advisory Committee members across the province who contributed to the Digital Divide Practitioner Tool.
I am grateful and in awe of all the work you do,
Monica Leong, Project Manager, Digital Divide Project