We are obviously facing a changed environment for adult literacy in our community over the coming months. During this time, the Literacy Alliance is reorganizing our services to continue instruction with a particular focus on our existing digital literacy and health literacy lessons. As we talked with hundreds of students this past week, we heard from them that there is still a need for learning and a desire to participate. Thankfully, we have solutions for continuing their education. Here’s what adult education and literacy will look like in our community for the duration of this pandemic.
- While our individual tutoring and 16 onsite classes throughout the community have been halted, we are reopening this week with online classrooms and virtual tutoring.
- Individually directed online learning has always been part of our model. Now, our strength in this area will allow us to quickly pivot to serving more students through resources such as TABE Academy and Reading Horizons and smartphone apps from Learning Upgrade.
- Increased subscriptions for the online version of News For You from New Readers Press, a newspaper specifically designed for adult learners, will supplement our classroom editions to help keep our students informed of current events.
We are in the process now of contacting all students to determine their capacity for internet connectivity at home. For those that have limited capacity, we are making sure to connect them with community resources that can assist.
However, for many of our students, access is only the beginning of the challenge. Ensuring they can take advantage of that access is the other. Our beginner level students, while able to understand the online lessons, will be challenged by navigating computer and online environments. Our digital literacy instruction will now become even more critical and we are incorporating volunteer and staff resources into that effort.
To play our part in protecting the health of our students, health literacy needs our attention. We are ensuring that students receive information developed by our national partners that provides COVID-19 information designed for adult readers. As we work with them on their online learning, we are also offering to help them read and comprehend information they may be getting regarding the pandemic.
If previous economic recessions are any indicator, the next few months will see a jump in demand for our services. As unemployment grows, adults with limited literacy skills will start looking for opportunities to increase their education level and improve their employment prospects. The Literacy Alliance is strongly positioned to help upskill our neighbors that will be in need.