8 June 2022
Course for literacy instructors builds more than a digital toolbox
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Meet Olga Herrmann, the newest member of the AlphaPlus team! Olga joined us in late 2022, and we’d like to introduce her — and her project — to you.
With 25 years of experience supporting adult learners along their unique journeys, Olga has worked as a literacy and basic skills (LBS) practitioner, English as a second language (ESL) instructor, learning strategist, vocational counsellor and career advisor in post-secondary and community-based agencies. She also has a master of education (M.Ed.), which included research in adult education and community development.
Before relocating to her current home in rural Ontario — where she loves to cross-country ski, walk her puppy and participate in a creative writing group — Olga lived in Toronto. She has worked at organizations including Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy (MTML), PTP Adult Learning and Employment Programs, George Brown and Centennial colleges and the University of Toronto.
“In a past role as a project manager for MTML, I benefited from the AlphaPlus team’s innovative work concerning integrating technology. It’s exciting for me now to join this group of creative, supportive, reflective individuals,” says Olga. “And this project has been a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with past colleagues and explore new developments in the field during a time of change.”
Lesson planning and digital integration from the practitioner perspective
Olga is inspired by adult literacy instructors and their resolve to deliver literacy programming to learners during the pandemic, no matter the circumstances. She notes the many ways practitioners learned and used any technology that would help them meet learners’ goals, including phone calls, Zoom and new ways of sharing learning materials online. Today, she’s excited to work on a project that will result in meaningful support for them.
“We’re conducting focus groups and consultations to figure out instructors’ needs more deliberately, outside of the urgent pivot to online learning,” explains Olga. “After being isolated, it’s time to come together, reflect and gather information about how people plan and conduct lessons, integrate technology, and what supports and resources would help front-line educators. We’re examining whether we can provide curriculum resources, planning tools or other materials that will allow instructors to integrate technology in a way that complements teaching and is relevant to adult learners’ lives.”
For this project, Olga is bringing her teaching and research backgrounds together, and she hopes to recreate the “magic” that happens in teachers’ staffrooms — the ways resources and ideas get shared and the conversations that happen. Her goal is to create a similarly generative space with AlphaPlus taking the lead. This winter and early spring, Olga is conducting focus groups and individual phone calls, identifying themes across teachers and organizations. This exploration will set the stage for the next step: co-creating materials with a group of instructors.
“In a world where we live and learn and function in digital spaces, the learning journey has been transformed,” says Olga. “We can build upon and fine-tune teachers’ innovations and adaptations from the pandemic by developing and co-creating resources from the instructor’s lens. We’re hearing from dedicated professionals about their successes, things they’d like to learn more about and things they’ve created (perhaps in isolation) that might be valuable to share.”
The AlphaPlus team is excited to have an experienced front-line teacher with an innate curiosity and analytical approach at the helm of this project. We are benefiting from Olga’s capacity for listening, gathering information and finding patterns to reveal crucial information.
Does this project interest you? If you have questions or want to share your input, you’re invited to contact Olga directly by emailing her at email@example.com. Like all members of the AlphaPlus team, she would love to hear from you.
20 March 2023
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