Joining with the Rutgers University Center on Women and Work, CWA's Speed Matters released a report today entitled "Online Learning for Low Skill Adults."
Almost half of the U.S. adult-population does not have the literacy skills required to succeed in the high-tech labor market, according to a 2006 study by the Department of Education.
The Rutgers-Speed Matters study recognizes the challenges of low-skill adults - many of whom hold multiple jobs and care for children or other family members - to obtain additional training that is defined by rigid course and program schedules. It proposes increased opportunities for online learning as a solution to the many Americans who cannot bypass the barriers to traditional classroom based education.
The report was released at a briefing held in Washington D.C., which was sponsored by the Communications Workers of America, the Alliance for Digital Equality and the Alliance for Public Technology.
At the briefing, they discussed both the report, its implications and the Online Job Training Act of 2009 - a bill introduced by Rep. Russ Holt (D-NJ) that would provide grants for online learning employment training programs.
Focusing on participants in online adult-education programs, the study found that trainings were most successful when students had access to high speed Internet connections. It explains:
"Success of such education and training programs is furthered when low-income individuals have high speed broadband access to the Internet that is convenient to use, flexible and high-quality. Indeed as educational programs continue to be developed and technology continues to be enhanced, the flexibility offered by online learning will help to democratize access to training and education for adult learners and will help to raise low-skill workers out of entry level jobs and onto a career pathway with sustainable self-sufficiency earnings."
The report outlines several components to a successful online learning program:
- Develop an accurate and complete understanding of opportunities and challenges of online learning for both the student and teacher
- Provide adequate student supports. Online learning can be a challenging and labor intensive form of learning
- Provide flexible schedule options
- Provide an orientation
- Provide a flexible "blended model" of learning
- Develop a comprehensive assessment of potential applicants
- Ensure that equipment is flexible
- Develop an awareness of different participants' learning styles
- Provide comprehensive monitoring
- Provide a high-speed Internet connection