CALPs Go Back to School at NorQuest College

Posted: 9 December 2016

Author: Corrie Rhyasen Erdman, Community Learning Network

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Recommendations: 1

Back to SchoolWhile the frosty cold winds of winter rolled into Edmonton at the end of November, West Central CALPs were warmly hosted by their CCI (Comprehensive Community Institution) at NorQuest College’s main campus. On November 29, CALP staff went ‘back to school’ to learn about the processes, supports, and resources for adult learners at the Post-Secondary Transitions and Connections event, co-hosted by the Community Learning Network and NorQuest College.

A Day of Learning

The day started with an interactive tour of the NorQuest campus. Some of the highlights of the tour included a visit with an elder in the Indigenous Ceremonial Room; a demonstration of an assistive digital pen in the computer lab which links a student’s handwritten notes to sections of the lecture it simultaneously recorded (isn’t technology amazing!); and learning about the massive database, flexible borrowing system and tutoring services in the library. Natasha Milovanova from Candora Society sums up the NorQuest tour best, “Each place had something interesting and notable but what impressed me the most was people’s attitude about their jobs. They are so passionate about what they do.”

The morning was a buzz with speakers from Norquest, NAIT and Alberta Works who gave first-hand information about what CALP staff and learners transitioning to post-secondary need to know. Participants rotated through a strong line-up of cracker barrel sessions to learn about:

  • Apprenticeship and program updates – NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology)
  • Funding and support options for retraining and post-secondary – Alberta Works
  • Academic and assistive supports for persons with disabilities - NorQuest Wellness & Accessibility
  • An inside look at becoming a student at NorQuest - NorQuest Student Services
  • Accessing post-secondary prep classes in your own community – NorQuest Foundations for Learning
  • Academic and skills assessment for learners - NorQuest Assessment and Testing Services

The afternoon PD sessions gave CALP staff a chance to learn from the experience and expertise of NorQuest staff and our own CALP community of practitioners. Participants had their choice of training in:

  • Math Literacy - Monica Das from P.A.L.S.
  • Connecting literacy research to best practices in community learning – Lori Smits & Gwen Morraz from NorQuest College
  • Becoming an ambassador for your organization – Jonathon Robb from NorQuest College
  • Intercultural communication in the ESL classroom - Sara Apedaile from NorQuest College

This was a great day of learning for all – speakers and learners alike! CALP staff made important connections and gained valuable information about connecting learners to their CCI and to further learning. The speakers all learned more about CALPs - the nature of the work you do, and the critical gap in foundational learning that CALPs fill for adult learners.

Behind the Scenes

The success of this event comes with extensive behind the scenes collaboration, planning and coordination by all partners. CLN’s Regional Support Staff and NorQuest’s Regional Stewardship Team worked closely together to design a training event that targeted the learning needs of CALPs, tapped into the related resources and expertise within NorQuest College’s existing infrastructure and fostered a meaningful and positive connection between CALPs and their CCI. There are a number of key elements that contributed to the success of this event; all of them depended on the close working relationship between CLN and NorQuest College’s regional teams. The key contributing factors to the success of the CCI-CALP event include:

  1. Assessment of specific learning needs of CALP staff was used to inform the training topics
  2. Previous work on CCI-CALP connections for post-secondary learners was used as a working model to build on (A Practitioner’s Toolkit: A Guide to Enhancing Learner Support Services in a Community Adult Learning Program1; Learner Support Services: A How-to Guide2)
  3. Prep of speakers was intentional to be sure they were informed about the CALP system, rural and urban distinctions, and the nature of CALP learners’ needs
  4. Using CALP familiar language and terms for the presentation topics and descriptions so CALPs could easily see the relevance to their work and want to attend
  5. An on-going relationship between regional staff at NorQuest and CLN contributed to a collaborative and productive partnership
  6. Existing connections and relationships with event stakeholders (speakers, partner institutions, government departments, CALP staff, ) to target and vet resources on specific and relevant topic areas
  7. Willingness of both partners to contribute resources to event

There have been many positive outcomes from this joint initiative between CLN and NorQuest College, including:

  • requests for more events like this
  • CALP staff reporting they found the learning relevant and practical to their work
  • practitioners reflecting on ways to use the information and strategies to help learners
  • fostering the connections between CALPs in the West Central Region and their CCI, NorQuest College.

One notable outcome that reflects the importance of the CCI-CALP connection is the many requests for the NorQuest PD presenters to share their expertise at CALP’s annual Literacy and Learning Symposium in September. Equally as notable, is the presenters’ willingness to put their names forward to present at the Symposium and continue the positive connections made on November 29!

Corrie Rhyasen Erdman
Regional Support Staff
West-Central Alberta


1. Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association. (2016). A Practitioner’s Toolkit: A guide to enhancing learner support services in a community learning program. Taber. Retrieved from

2. Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association. (2016). Learner Support Services: A how-to guide. Taber. Retrieved from


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