NORTH PLATTE, Nebraska -- Mid-Plains Community College has recently added some exciting new distance learning opportunities to its Adult Education program.
After participating in a pilot program from September through November 2011, MPCC joined in a statewide initiative to adopt I-Pathways and U.S.A. Learns online programs. Both programs were specifically designed to accommodate the changing nature of the adult education curriculum and the variety of educational needs of adult learners.
According to Robin Rankin, Adult Education Director, "We have always had problems meeting the needs of students in rural Western Nebraska. This gives students the opportunity to gain needed skills without adding the burden of traveling great distances frequently to attend traditional Adult Education classes."
I-Pathways serves as a broad umbrella under which a wide of variety of curriculum or curricular pathways are offered that are aligned with the skills adults will need to develop in order to prepare for their GED credential or transition into higher education or the workforce. U.S.A. Learns is a free web-based multimedia system for adults learning English as a second language.
"To me what's so exciting about this is that it's so accessible. It opens up GED possibilities to anyone with access to a computer that has internet connectivity," said Helenann Mesmer, Adult Education Instructor.
Mesmer said the online program can also be used as a hybrid with adult students.
"After they take their TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) assessments, those who are at a certain reading level can use the program at home," she said. "They can then study for their GED testing online, take practice tests, and receive 24-hour encouragement."
Mesmer noted that although students are required to have a face-to-face meeting with a facilitator twice a month, using Skype is a possibility for those who may not be able to get to an AE classroom.
"Students may not be able to come into town, so Skype would be a great option," she said. "It would also work well for stay-at-home moms and those who don't have regular access to a vehicle.
Mesmer said she uses several websites such as khanacademy.org to facilitate learning for her online students. She also has the option to use an online chat board so students can gather together to discuss things in a "virtual classroom."
"My favorite part about this is that I am such a computer oriented person and when I find something that I think might help them, I can just email them and they can open it when they're ready," she said. "It really helps people with busy lives to still be able to achieve their academic goals on their schedule."