Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Site visit with Joanne Miller at West Contra Costa Adult Ed, Richmond

On November 11, I visited Joanne Miller at West Contra Costa Adult Education Joanne teaches Computer Skills for the Business Office classes in the morning, and in the afternoon she is the accountability clerk for the whole program. That means supporting teachers with CASAS and other types of testing. In her morning class the adult learners were working on Excel and the specific skills of formatting a budget with number formats and the SUM formulas. After they watched Joanne demonstrate it from the presenter station with the help of an LCD projector, the learners worked individually to practice and perfect these particular skills. It was nice to see them help each other. Some sobering facts about the adult learners we work with in the Job Training/Workforce Preparation programs are that they need so much help with the most basic aspects of using a computer. For example, a few learners had difficulties saving files to their thumb drive because they did not understand the underlying tree-like architecture of computer parts. Thanks to teachers like Joanne, we are winning that battle one adult learner at a time. She dedicated some time after class to help a few learners by walking them through the process, step by step. (We see this phenomenon with many teachers, as well, when they don’t know where their downloaded files go. Penny Pearson, OTAN Project Specialist, developed a handout (link to handout) to address this issue. )

We spent the afternoon in Joanne’s office, discussing what her TIMAC project would be. Through the discussion with her administrators the project crystallized . Joanne would learn how to create a blog and train her director and program chairs how to use it. This would serve as a central place for information about school administrative topics such as testing and training, and amongst the teachers as a place for sharing lesson ideas and resources. Joanne dove in right away and over the next two hours she created a blog with a few posts, learned how upload a file and change the look of the blog overall. Along the way she brainstormed with me what the possible uses would be for this online tool. Here is what it looks like now. (link)

The most important was the fact that Joann got very excited about the possibilities, and this ‘infection factor’ (as Penny coined it) is one of the most powerful causes for overall agency change towards more technology integration, as has been reported by TIMAC participants, again and again.

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