Top Stories in Literacy : June 11

Top Stories in Literacy

Lilli Leight, 15, wins National Book Foundation for Literacy Award for donating books to homeless kids
While volunteering at a Miami homeless shelter, Leight, 15, noticed that the kids would turn on the television after finishing their homework, because they didn’t have access to books, Your Olive Branch reports. That is when the Coral Gables, Fla., resident was inspired to start a library for homeless kids at the Chapman Partnership’s Homeless Assistance Center in Miami.

Smart Horizons Career Online Education launches first online high school education in US for Florida Department of Corrections Inmates
On May 14th, 2012, Smart Horizons Career Online Education went live at Florida’s Madison Correctional Institution. This marked SHCOE’s first step as an official provider of online education and career training for the Florida Department of Corrections. The Madison program is the first online secondary education program at any correctional facility in the United States.

Why Businesses need to close the “skills gap”
In the end those who get hired are often overqualified—college graduates being brought on to perform tasks that really require only a high school degree. At the same time, many others are shut out of work—even though they possess the attitude and general aptitude to be successful—for one reason: They lack prior experience.

Collier library reading rewards now go to adults as well as kids
For years, adults have missed out on all the summer fun. The folks at the library hear your pain. Which is why, this year — for the first time — the Collier County Library system will have a summer reading program for adults.

Erika Greene and FLC’s Online Tutor Training Course

Erika Greene

Erika Greene

How did you get involved with this project?

I was very pleased to be invited by Greg Smith, Director, FLC, to join an Online Study Committee established to explore the viability of developing and offering on-line training for potential tutors and teachers.  The team worked together and launched the pilot online training in July 2010.  As the Literacy Coordinator for the Lake County Library System Adult Literacy Program I am constantly recruiting and training volunteer tutors and I was immediately sold on the opportunity to incorporate an online tutor training component into our program.

Why were you interested in facilitating the course?

Being part of the study committee, a program coordinator, and volunteer tutor trainer it was a natural transition to facilitate the pilot course!  I was extremely excited to be able to participate in the online training – not only would I be able to see how it worked but I would be able to provide feedback, input, and guide the new volunteer tutors from Lake County as they traversed this new territory!

What was your interaction with course participants?

I was involved with the new volunteer tutors from the very beginning – recruiting, preparing and educating them on the online training program, providing support and guidance as they worked through the course content, participating in the discussion board topics, and transitioning them to our required face-to-face follow up meeting.

What would you suggest for other facilitators?

It is so very important to be engaged with the volunteer tutors throughout the process.  For some individuals the ‘technology’ can be overwhelming and, at times, discouraging for them.  If you are planning on facilitating your own online training be prepared to be busy!  But the rewards far outweigh the work.  You learn so much about your new potential volunteer tutors and they develop a strong relationship with you as they learn they can trust and depend on you to offer them assistance and support throughout the process.

How do you recruit course participants?

Recruiting volunteer tutors for the online training is similar to the traditional way I recruited tutors.  The only difference is that I stress the need for new volunteers to be comfortable with technology – or at least willing to try and learn!  As the LCLS Adult Literacy Program moves further into the 21st Century we, as a program, need tutors who use and/or are willing to be trained to use technology – hardware, software, the cloud, mobile aps, web-based learning, etc...  The FLC online training is the first step in this process.

For more information on how you can be involved with FLC’s free online training course, please contact schmidta@floridaliteracy.org.

What can Online Learning do for you?

Online learning is becoming increasingly popular. Several college courses are adapting a hybrid model of learning. Students are in the classroom part of the time, and spend the other part taking the class online. And I’m sure we’ve all seen the commercials about getting your degree in your pajamas. While most of us are hesitant about this new format, since we prefer human interaction, there are several benefits to taking a course online.

1. Convenience. With an online course, you can learn anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace. You can do it in the comfort of your own home, a library, a coffee shop, or your favorite place with wifi. The material is easily accessible and you will do better since you can spend as much time as you want on lessons and activities

2. Student-Centered teaching. Online courses use several different modalities for learning. You can read text and articles, watch videos, listen to audio, and participate in online discussions.

3. Increases student interaction. Participating in discussions is less intimidating since there is anonymity in an online environment. Even if you are in the course as your name, you may never see or meet your classmates. There is also an equal playing field. In a lecture class, there could be a couple students who are dominating discussion. Through online learning, everyone contributes to the discussion (it could be required).

4. Increases technology skills. Let’s face it, some of us have better computer skills than others and we could all improve on what we know. Taking a class online gives you the opportunity to experience and get familiarized with the computer and new technologies.

5. The instructor is easily approachable. In the classroom, you  might be nervous to approach the instructor, there might be a long line, or there could be limited availability for other reasons. In an online class, you are sending messages and participating in discussions with your facilitator.

With the help of the Department of Education, the Florida Literacy Coalition is launching an online tutor training course this November. Community Based Organizations throughout the state will be facilitating a course for their volunteers, but we will also offer a facilitated course for organizations unable to facilitate their own course. If you would like more information on the course and how you can be involved, please contact schmidta@floridaliteracy.org.