One of our most successful Technology Conferences to date,” is how Diane Inverso, Senior Director of The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy (The Commission), described ConnectED Learning: The 27th Annual Technology and Adult Education Conference held on Friday, May 8, 2015. The Conference was co-sponsored by Temple University’s Center for Social Policy and Community Development (CSPCD) and held on Temple University’s main campus.
Nearly 200 professionals and volunteers in adult education and workforce development convened on the summer-like day. Participants were welcomed by Shirley Moy, Executive Director of the Center for Social Policy and Community Development at Temple University, and Naomie Nyanungo, Assistant Director of Programs at The Commission. The Conference featured three concurrent sessions throughout the day comprised of eighteen workshops to choose from.
Adult learners today require education that incorporates, reflects, and prepares them for the increasing demand of technology in the workplace. The Conference sessions were designed to help participants infuse technology into their adult education practice. From building tools to connect adult learners to the workplace and integrating free Google apps into curriculum, to using technology in blended classroom models for English speakers of other languages, there was something useful for educators, administrators, and volunteer tutors alike.
Conference attendees had a chance to mingle during an icebreaker activity and visit vendors while enjoying breakfast and coffee. Concurrent sessions one and two followed with multiple workshop options including Not Your Average Webinar: Tools for Creating Interactive, Practically Relevant Webinar and Smart Phone Technology and Media Literacy in Today’s Job Hunt.
The afternoon featured complimentary lunch and a keynote address by Louis Giorla, Commissioner of Prisons. Commissioner Giorla, an education advocate in his own right, has been instrumental in launching online adult education courses in Philadelphia Prison System (PPS). He discussed the challenges he faced in doing so due to a plethora of internal and external factors. Commissioner Giorla said the Philadelphia Prison System was only the third prison system in the country to propose secure, limited internet access for inmates for educational purposes.
When the Philadelphia Prison System assessed a group of voluntary inmates on their reading and math levels, the results were bleaker than expected. While Giorla anticipated levels at the 8th grade, the actual prison population that was assessed was at the 2nd to 4th grade. Participation in vocational and educational programs used to be around 30%, but this quarter it was at 82%. In regards to fighting recidivism, Giorla said “if we don’t provide resources when they walk in the door, we’re wasting our time.”
After Giorla’s keynote address, four myPLACE℠ Online learners, Mimi, Marcella, Handan, and Priscilla shared their experiences with online learning during a panel facilitated by Jennifer Kobrin, Associate Director at the Commission. The learners varied from a new mother to a great grandmother, but all shared the common goal of continuing their education and starting on a path to a new job or better career. “There was always someone there to help me and it was easier on the learner,” Marcella said reflecting on her six week myPLACE℠ Online course. The women all agreed that myPLACE℠ Online is a flexible and comfortable way to learn while juggling busy schedules and multiple jobs. Their instructors were very attentive and quick to give feedback, and they found support and encouragement from peers in their online cohort.
Before the third concurrent session attendees had the chance to visit with Conference vendors. Vendors included Aztec Software, Comcast Internet Essentials, Drexel University Online, Edmentum, Jump Wireless, Nonprofit Technology Resources, Pearson ELT, Penn State, Philadelphia Technician Training Institute, Sixty Vocab, Temple PIAT, WIN Learning, and Year Up Philadelphia.
During the third concurrent session, attendees picked from topics like An Introduction to Web Design. Led by Michael Smith from the Center for Technology Access and Training, participants learned the basics of HTML coding and built their own web pages.
The 27th Annual Technology and Adult Education Conference concluded with a raffle and winners went home with learning materials, gift baskets from Drexel University Online, a $50 VISA gift card courtesy of Edmentum, and more. Grand prizes included computers donated by Nonprofit Technology Resources and Comcast Internet Essentials.
A special thanks to Commissioner Giorla, the adult learner panel, vendors, volunteers, and everyone that attended and facilitated at the conference. We hope to see you back next year!