Using Technology to Build Adult High School Resilience

Increasingly, we look to our 2-year colleges to reignite learning for our adult population. We work to apply workplace skills and seek more skills than ever before in our programs to make the skills relevant and specific to employers’ needs. But an important task is facilitating the transition to the technology of the electronic work environment. That makes our task in Adult High School programming tenuous: our role is to aid reluctant students and build their resilience while making technology a part of their comfort zone. Often, there are critical steps these students need to master to ensure their transition.

For those of us teaching online, it’s essential to make sure AHS students know how to use the preferred software. For many young students, we can help their transition by adapting our teaching to platforms they are familiar with, and google often is familiar and favored. However, that does not mean the learner knows how sharing features work or how simple applications like googleslides can save time and avoid frustration. A simple step I’ve found is teaching a student to embed their work when submitting itself is frustrating. The key is to make the tool work, and we need to be adaptable to those who have not otherwise been successful. We have the chance to make success ‘a new normal’.

If in the first week the student can share and apply documents in these formats, make sure (and assess) that students can submit work properly. Instructors can provide brief videos (screencastify or Camtasia works well) to explore the steps in Blackboard or google classroom. This is very important in a class setting with students who battle a history of truancy. If it’s not addressed early, frustrated students may simply leave never to return.

As it relates to truancy, once basics are established, the instructor needs to revisit how the tool works and what its role is. Support links, announcements, and other tabs are only valuable if you make them valuable. Subsequently, I’ve found that recognition is a key to determining whether or not the student succeeds. We lose many because we neglect to show and repeat key helpful tools in electronic learning. The reluctant learner is likely not an explorer – unless we explore with them. Again, this technology allows for a new, active experience for these learners if we take the effort. Don’t overlook college and course expectations of netiquette for discussion and friendly interaction.

Instruction becomes more appealing if our electronic classroom can use graphic organizers. I have found that brainstorming in AHS has been productive with padlet boards (where a white board once served) make ideas more personal and sharing friendlier. As a result, we integrate active learning into the class. The result, again, is an innovative environment where active learners are more engaged and successful when they have the means to create and contribute.

We have the opportunity to reconnect our AHS students to learning, but it takes more than simply giving the students access to the content. The tool needs to be more than an electronic bulletin board where students only access sheets and forms. With guidance and careful direction, we can show the students how we intend the technology to make learning easier. That’s how we change reluctance to confidence, and prepare our students for future success.

*Opinions expressed by Campus Consortium Contributors are their own.

About the Author

A graduate of the University of St Thomas and the University of Northern Iowa, Richard Malloy has taught grade school, middle school, high school English, written and reviewed private and public educational grants, and served as a college and nonprofit administrator prior to joining Gateway Technical College in Racine, Wisconsin.

At Gateway, he has served as Director of High School Relations, and as a faculty member, has served as Lead Instructor and District Chair for the Adult High School Program. He is presently pursuing an Ed S in Education Leadership at Fort Hays State University.

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