Literacy education’s future: AI, accessibility and other ways forward

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Our progress as a field over the last few years has been nothing short of transformative. The pandemic forced a shift to technology integration, resulting in a field of educators who are now more tech-savvy and have a greater capacity to engage with digital technology and tools.

Reflecting on adult literacy education in 2023

By 2023, we noticed that you were ready to solidify and consolidate what you’ve learned, taking time to consider new approaches. This change is a testament to your collective effort and commitment to advancing literacy education. For AlphaPlus, this change has shifted our approach from promoting the idea of integrating digital technology to collaborating with educators in ways that are driven by your motivations.

Over the last year, funding from the Skills for Success (SFS) program has allowed AlphaPlus to work with educators directly and in larger numbers than ever. We provided training at a scale we’ve never done before. The Building Digital Skills training series (which focused on using Google Workspace and Microsoft 365) allowed us to work directly with more than 300 educators, fostering a community driven to explore and adopt digital technologies. This has given us a glimpse of the adaptive capacity of educators and learners and what you’ve accomplished in the last year.

Looking ahead: 2024

In 2024, we’ll finish delivering the training funded by Skills for Success while also evaluating the strategic direction of our organization. This year, we’re introducing two innovative training series focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and accessibility. We’re committed to ensuring our community is well-prepared and confident in leveraging AI tools ethically and safely. The upcoming training sessions and sandbox experiences (dedicated time with AlphaPlus staff and other participants to try out new knowledge) are designed to facilitate this, providing practical, hands-on learning opportunities.

The increased training and services we delivered with Skills for Success funding helped us clarify how to consolidate some of our offerings and gave us information on which to base our new priorities. In addition, we sought your input via a recent survey, the results of which reinforced educators’ longstanding need for the following:

  • More online, interactive instructional activities for learners with lower-level skills, a demand amplified since the pandemic. 
  • Support working with learners facing learning challenges and anxiety.
  • Modifiable, pre-developed instructional activities focusing on beginner-level literacy, numeracy and technology skills that cater to adult learners. 
  • Curriculum planning for developing workshops, courses and modules.

While partial solutions exist, we recognize the need for a more comprehensive solution to address these priorities.

Leadership from our board members

Our board of directors, which includes several new members, will lead the development of our new strategic direction. Complementing the strengths of existing board members (Mr. Koosha Golmohammadi, Mr. Andrew Vaughan and our chair, Mr. Paul Gibson), our new members bring academic and practical experience from working in the Ministry of Labour and directly delivering adult literacy programming. Welcome, Mr. Tariq Ismati, Dr. Tannis Atkinson, Dr. Farra Yasin and Ms. Susan Lefebvre, whose wealth of experience in the literacy sector will be instrumental in shaping our future initiatives. Their insights, coupled with the feedback from educators and learners, will guide us in refining our strategies and offerings.

Your active participation and engagement remain crucial as we evolve and grow. I invite you to register for our AI training, join our sandbox sessions, and stay connected and involved with AlphaPlus.

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