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PLC Goal: By late May 2020, the MSU programs will have created at least 12 Connection Sites to increase enrollment and gains and will have helped 100 students earn their GEDs.
PLC Strategy: Instructors will build relationships with community partners that will allow them to teach students at their facilities.
The MSU programs decided to create connection sites—places that instructors could go to enroll and teach students at a community location other than the learning centers. We chose this product because some of our communities are large or spread out, and we wanted to reach more students in our communities. We looked for small or large groups of students that could be served at one alternate location. Some of the connection sites were ones we have serviced before, but others were new. Our connection sites included detention centers, rehabilitation centers, public libraries, factories, and Prep Academy (formerly Head Start).
LIVE AND LEARN, MESSY MOMENTS
Establishing brand new relationships with community partners was difficult because it takes time. In order to brainstorm new locations to try, we had to think outside the box, which was difficult. In some counties, instructors noted that we tend to stay at the centers and do not spend as much time out in the community trying to engage new students. The most challenging aspect was handling our own disappointment when instructors worked diligently to establish a connection site, but students did not come or somehow the agreement did not work. For example, while we were working with students at an employer, the students would often change jobs. This was disheartening, but we persevered through these challenges.
We learned that previous instructional materials can often be repurposed. For example, instructional Powerpoints were helpful during Zoom sessions with students. Furthermore, we learned each of our instructors had a different skill set that was shared to improve our online instruction. Instructors have collaborated to create program-wide Google Classrooms for various subjects during the COVID-19 quarantine.
If we could do anything differently this year, we would have focused on learning new technology so that we would have been more prepared to service students online during the quarantine for COVID-19.One instructor explained that because we are not always familiar with new technology ourselves, we tend to shy away from it. She explained that this tendency hinders us from preparing our students for the technology skills they will need in the workplace or higher education. Also, a different way we could approach the businesses or community partners would be to invite them to come to the center and see what we do as we teach our students. This may help them be more willing to open up their facilities as future connection sites.
One challenge to this strategy is that instructors must spend instructional time away from their centers. We set a goal that each connection site would service at least 5 students to make this endeavor a good use of instructors’ time.
We are most proud that instructors worked very hard to establish connection sites, which resulted in 241 students enrolling in our programs unrelated to those at the adult education centers. Some of our most successful connection sites include Edgewater Rehabilitation Center, the Rowan County Inspiration Center, the EKCC and other detention centers, and a brand-new connection site at a factory called Lion Apparel.
Instructors have evaluated various distance learning tools and resources for use during the quarantine. Instructors are reaching out to students virtually through Talk to Us Tuesday and Find Out Friday sessions with students.
One benefit to this innovation is that once relationships are established with community partners, these partnerships may continue for a number of years or indefinitely.
Results of Product
We have periodically pulled KAERS reports on the connection sites’ enrollment, level gains, and GED attainment to discuss at our PLC meetings, and we will continue to use this as our means of evaluating the innovation. Although instructors have tried to facilitate distance learning at the sites if feasible during quarantine, lack of testing opportunities has hindered possible gains from mid-March to the present (May 2020).
WHAT DO WE NEED TO CLONE THIS PRODUCT?
WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
Blank Documents for Replication