Another Adult Learner on Computers

"The computer doesn't help..." Of course not. Despite all the arm-waving enthusiasm of gov't and business leaders, computers and computer programs do not help adults improve their basic literacy skills unless there is another supportive human being nearby.

Computers are marvelous tools. So are whiteboards and dictionaries and newspapers and pencils. But tools need people and information. You can't patch a leaky roof by tossing a hammer up on it. And our province's plan to supplant basic adult education classrooms with e-learning delivered through public (computer) access centres is blindly wishful thinking.

I use the computer every two weeks. I use the computers at the library and at home. I go online to search the web. This year I got better at going on Yahoo! 360.

There are things I can do by myself. I do need some help on it. I would like to learn more about going online.

The computer doesn't help me with reading or writing. When I go on 360 I need somebody right there to help with spelling.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Hi Wendell,

I learned about your site when you posted comments on the Literacies Literacy Cafe blog recently.

I love your image of trying to fix a roof by throwing a hammer on it -as what governments seem to think is possible by providing technology resources and thinking it will teach and support students.

As AlphaRoute Coordinator at the AlphaPlus Centre in Toronto (AlphaRoute is a Web-based learning environment for adult literacy students) I have seen and heard about the investment in time initially required to ensure that students are comfortable, supported and oriented to the potential that the use of technology and Web-based environments can provide. And then watched as students for whom a or many technologies really work, take off.

Research that we have done at AlphaPlus regarding student use of AlphaRoute has reported back very strongly that students value the support they receive from mentors and instructors, real people, while they are using technology to learn. You can read the research called Waht difference does it make? here:

What we have also seen is that technology has opened the door for some students to take leadership and peer-support roles in learning environments and with resources that they can master. Then they become human resources to their peers and their instructors!