The times, they are a changing...

Che Guevara Viva La Revolution

Viva la Revolution!

Distance learning happens whenever a learner is separated from instructors by time or space. NALA's Distance Learning Service (DLS) has been running since 2000 and changing annually to reflect new learner demands. Each year, we support between 450 and 600 adult learners who wish to improve their literacy, numeracy, ICT, personal development or employability skills. We do this over the telephone and online. As well as these learners, we also provide a system for accrediting learners at Levels 2 and 3 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Through www.writeon.ie, NALA has provided 12,712 Level 2 minor awards and 2,617 Level 3 minor awards to over 2,600 learners. These learners are distance learners, independent learners and centre-based learners.

 

We have moved from a time when adult learners had poor access to the Internet and few learning opportunities available to them if they did have access. Now, it is hard to think of any adult in Ireland who could not significantly benefit from using technology. But rather than conceiving of 'technology' as a separate skill or subject, NALA's DLS has integrated technology into the delivery of learning and accreditation across different subject areas.

 

So for example, learners improving their reading skills can do so through the Reading award on writeon.ie. But they study over the Internet using their computer and a browser, picking up mouse and keyboard skills while they do it. There are a lot of arguments for blending learning in this way:

 

·         NALA research has shown learners embrace technology as they feel they are 'learning in a new way', that this is what modern education is about and this creates a buzz around learning again. It also allows for more effective and learner-centred, if not directed, education, in a way not perhaps possible in the traditional classroom.

·         Noam Chomsky talks about the importance of giving students the framework and tools for using technology as they learn.

·         Ireland's Digital Champion, David Puttnam, says we need to embrace a digital, not a digitised, curriculum to have people learning in a way that reflects the modern world.

·         The founder of the Khan Academy, Salman Khan, explains how flipping the classroom makes it easier for learners to master the content they, as individuals, need to learn.

·         The Department of Education and Skills 'Review of ALCES funded Adult Literacy Provision' 2012, recommends the use of blended learning offerings in future provision.

NALA looks forward to working with providers as we move into this new era of digital learning.

 

As Ken Robinson has been saying, bring on the Revolution!