Posted:11 February 2019
Author: Corrie Rhyasen Erdman, Community Learning Network
Have you ever gone to a training, been excited about how you might use what you learn, only to return to the office and shelve it til “later”? Most of us have done it. I know I have. Just like the learners in our programs, we have other demands and responsibilities that compete for our time. They eat away at the time and space we need to dig into those new skills, practice them and refine them to the point that they are useful to us when we need them. At CLN, we are working on new strategies to help you build in time for learning that is suited to your unique learning needs.
In adult learning, we know that the more opportunities for authentic practice the greater the improvement in skills and knowledge. This is called persistence in learning. As adult learners, we need persistence in our PD learning to get better at what we do as much as foundational learners in our CALP programs need it.
What is persistence?
In his article, Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals, John Comings describes persistence as “a continuous learning process that lasts until an adult student meets his or her… goals. […] Persistence ends when the student decides to stop learning.”
The complex skills and knowledge we learn in CALP PD require persistence in learning beyond the workshop but finding those precious nuggets of time in our work day to dig deeper on our own is not easy. Consistently, on CLN workshop evaluations, we hear that people want more time to process what they are learning and more support in practicing the skills learned in the training. It is with this in mind that CLN is exploring new strategies to give you timely access to follow up training and coaching to help you implement the learning from our workshops.
What do persistence strategies look like?
CLN has been experimenting with a couple of different strategies to support persistence in learning for CALP staff. The goal is to give you more than one connection point to the trainer, fellow learners and training material as it relates to your own learning goals. Each of these strategies gives you, CALP staff, ongoing learning options.
Coffee Hours are a one-time follow-up training done 4-6 weeks after a training. They are typically done online in small groups. Facilitators provide guided learning with particular attention to the experiences and learning participants have done since the face-to-face workshop. So far this year we have piloted this approach in follow up to Training Your Tutors, Reading Assessment, and Books Offer Your Kids Success (B.O.O.K.S.).
What are CALP staff saying about Coffee Hours?
One participant shared how valuable it was for her to join in the coffee hour from the comfort of her office. Prompted by the familiar spaces where learners and tutors regularly meet with her she could think of specific learners she was excited to use these new tools with and could ask questions specific to their needs!
Study Groups are used to reach out to small groups within a region to provide more intensive ongoing training. This model includes a series of informal learning sessions over a number of weeks that include any combination of online and face-to-face sessions. Characteristics of CLN study groups are:
What are CALP staff saying about study groups?
“The study groups were fashioned in response to direct requests that quite simply cannot be addressed in larger conference settings. They provided both experienced and new staff access to relevant training that is unique to our varied situations.”
“… unlike a formal training session, there’s a lot of time for discussion and sharing about a topic. The group is the expert instead of a presenter, which creates a great community feeling. I think they’ve been a great addition to the CALP supports and look forward to continuing with them.”
We are paying close attention to your experiences in our new PD formats because we report on the impact of the PD and training opportunities we provide to CALPs in Alberta. Two of the measures we report to our funder are:
We want to hear from you! Please share with us how these persistence strategies are working for you. Feel free to share your comments on this blog, with CLN staff, or through the online surveys that CLN sends out following your training.
Reference: "Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals", by John Comings, 2007, Review of Adult Learning and Literacy: Connecting Research, Policy, and Practice, Volume 7, p. 24. Copyright 2007 by National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy.
Corrie Rhyasen Erdman, CLN