Adults Using Technology to Learn Basic Skills -- as a Work Benefit
Submitted by David J. Rosen on December 12, 2017 - 12:30pm
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This is a new discussion thread focusing on adult learners' online, distance or blended learning using a computer or portable digital device. Its focus is opportunities and online tools especially suited to adults who need opportunities for basic skills learning but who, because of their work hours, or for other reasons, may not be able to attend regular classes.
The focus of the learning in this discussion includes adult basic skills, English language learning, secondary education leading to a high school equivalency, preparation for/transition to post-secondary education, workforce preparation, work-related basic skills, and especially basic skills as a work benefit.
Basic Skills as a Work Benefit
For many of us, this may be a new concept, or name for a familiar concept. Some might ask, "Isn't this just workplace basic skills education?" Not really. Although it is education that is sponsored by an employer or work contractor, it is not -- as workplace education has been -- work-related basic skills offered fully or partly on paid work time, usually at the workplace or in a union hall. Workplace basic skills is usually contextualized to a particular company or industry. Although it is often paid for by the company, it is sometimes also supported by state or federal public funding.
Basic Skills as a Work Benefit is usually not classes, and not offered on paid work time. It is an education benefit for eligible employees. Although it may offer tuition reduction or reimbursement for classes, for example at a two-year or four-year college, increasingly it is tuition for employees who need basic skills, including English language instruction, offered online or through a blended learning model.
Here are three examples of Basic Skills as a Work Benefit:
1. Archways to Opportunity online high school. For several years the McDonald's Corporation has offered a workplace English language program for minimum wage workers who restaurant managers identify as good candidates for a training program and work-contextualized English language instruction. This workplace English program, English Under the Arches, is offered free, entirely on work time, usually in the afternoon when business is slow, and from a computer in the back of the restaurant. In April, 2015, the Corporation offered a new initiative, Archways to Opportunity, that includes English Under the Arches, but also added two new education benefits available to all eligible McDonald's employees. One of these is an online high school diploma program. Employees who choose this pursue it on their own time, on their own device. McDonald's corporation makes it available to them tuition-free. The other is a free education advising program.
2. Cell-Ed English language learning program. Cell-Ed offers adults who want to learn or improve English skills a way to do that with an online or blended learning model where the online instruction is provided by cell phone. This could be plain feature phone or a smartphone. Often the learners are employees and their use of Cell-Ed is paid for by their employer or union as a work benefit. Learners use the program on their own time from their own devices.
3. Lyft Drivers' Continuing Education Discount. This new benefit for Lyft drivers -- who are contractors, not employees, so while it is a work benefit, technically it is not an employee benefit -- includes "access to personalized college advising and tuition discounts for thousands of classes, certificates and degrees from more than 80 online non-profit universities and learning providers. Programs include Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, certificates in subjects such as Data Science and HTML, and other skills such as GED, vocational courses, and English-as-a-second-language."
Are you aware of other examples of "Basic Skills as a Work Benefit" that are not workplace basic skills programs?
Do you see this as growing trend in your state?
Are you involved as a teacher or advisor in offering a basic skills as a work benefit program? If so, tell us about your experience.
Do you know adults who are taking advantage of these benefits? What has their experience been like?
How do you see Basic Skills as a Work Benefit programs fitting with Career Pathways?
David J. Rosen, Moderator
LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group