Face to face, blended and distributed learning in ABE

I have been tracing shifting enrolments in ABE  / Adult Education in school districts between 2010 and 2014. A few things jump out:

1) There is a significant shift from Continuing Education (face to face learning) to Distributed Learning (online learning).

2) There is a significant number of school districts that seem to have no Adult Education FTEs (Full Time Enrollments) at all. These include Revelstoke, Fort Nelson, West Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast with the exception of Powell River.

3) There are significant declines in FTE enrolments from 2010 to 2013/2014 across all school districts, before the latest round of cuts to ABE (Vancouver for example, demonstrated steady decline).

I wonder if those of you working in these areas or with knowledge of the stories behind these numbers can offer some insight:

How does the shift toward Distribute Learning work for adult learners? Do you know how successful this mode of learning is, and whom may benefit or struggle with this mode of learning? Do learners have a choice between face to face and online learning? Is it possible for people enrolled in online learning to get tutoring support from a local adult education centre?

Is there adequate access to high speed Internet (including affordability) around the province to support participation in distributed learning?

If school districts are not offering Adult Education, then how are adults in these regions accessing academic upgrading? Are ABE programs in PSI’s accessible?




2 thoughts on “Face to face, blended and distributed learning in ABE

  1. Re: the shift to Distributed Learning:
    As someone who has engaged in many online learning opportunities myself, I know that learning in this way can be isolating and somewhat frustrating, especially if the learner is not particularly tech-savvy. I think that the most vulnerable of our ABE students (those working below a Grade 10 reading level, for example) would likely find this delivery system the least satisfactory. Students must have a high level of engagement and literacy to succeed in an online course. Even when someone is highly-motivated, without the necessary tech support and access to a computer with the proper software, this path is not likely to lead to success.

    Also, there is something about learning as a social enterprise, as belonging to a community, that is critical to many learning experiences. That aspect is near impossible to replicate in an online environment.


  2. An additional issue we have with online learning is that only 8 of the 21 First Nations communities we serve have access to broadband internet. It’s easy for the Ministry to forget not everyone has equal access to technology or the infrastructure needed for online (distributed) learning.

    This is on top of the issues Jan alludes to–the research shows that the students who are most successful at online learning are students who already have good academic skills. Our students are usually coming to school to learn those academic skills.

    Here is some interesting reading from Columbia’s series of research papers on the effects of online learning: (http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/publications/online-learning-low-income-underprepared.html) Online learning has generated enthusiasm for its potential to promote greater access to college by reducing the cost and time of commuting and by allowing students to study on a schedule that is optimal for them.

    The enthusiasm surrounding these and other innovative, technology-based programs has led educators to ask whether online learning could be leveraged to increase the academic access, progression, and success of low-income and underprepared college students as well. However, this review of the postsecondary literature on online learning strongly suggests that online coursework–at least as currently and typically implemented–may hinder progression for low-income and underprepared students.


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