New ways of seeing our work

Ten months ago, I joined AlphaPlus as an educational technology coach to help adult literacy organizations across Ontario build capacity through the use of digital tools and technology-enhanced ways of working.

Coming into the adult education field with a background in human-centred design and a user experience (UX) lens, I’ve been particularly interested in exploring how these approaches can be used to support teachers and learners in communities and on the ground. I’ve also been keen to collaborate and create connections with other partners in intersectional spaces.

Here are three projects through which I’ve gotten to know my colleagues, our stakeholders and AlphaPlus’s work more.

1. Upskilling with the Coaching Team

In November 2020, three of us from the AlphaPlus staff took a course from International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)’s SkillRise initiative called “Upskill with EdTech.”

We were the only Canadian organization in our cohort, otherwise made up of American adult education institutions including non-profits, state departments and community organizations.

Over the course of four months, my colleagues and I worked together to define an AlphaPlus tech coaching field guide that leveraged service design principles applied to our work in adult education. For our submission in this course, we earned the ISTE certification “Upskill with EdTech: Preparing Adult Learners for the Future of Work.”

Our field guide was an attempt to encourage staff to engage in reflective practice around our work in the adult literacy and EdTech space and, more broadly, on the mission and values of AlphaPlus as an organization.

2. Design-Thinking Workshops

Around the time we started the ISTE SkillRise project, part of the AlphaPlus staff also worked with a graduate researcher in the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) Strategic Foresight and Innovation program to get hands-on experience with applying design thinking to organizational challenges.

Collaborating synchronously and remotely, these workshops pushed us to work together to identify organizational values, strengths and opportunities for service design improvements.

I was surprised that our executive director made time for all of us to attend these design-thinking workshops, and I feel fortunate to be able to socialize a UX approach in analyzing our internal processes and service models.

3. Service Design and Stakeholder Research

Building on the initiative of using human-centred design and research to improve our organizational strategy, we recently entered into an engagement with Endeavour Consulting for Non-Profits. We’re working with a team of professionals to help modernize our services — in doing so, speaking with customers, partners, staff and other stakeholders to get as much input as possible. This input from the field will drive the strategic reflection and analysis around AlphaPlus’s portfolio of services as we strive to provide as much value as possible to the LBS programs we serve.

I’m active on social media and I like talking about our team and our work because, as Cassie Robinson says, it’s about radiating intent

“There has been so much value in sharing what we’re working on, what we’re learning or thinking about so openly. It’s created community and interest around the work. It’s given the work more validation internally to be able to show the interest in it externally and I can’t tell you how helpful this is when you’re trying to do new or different things.”

In this field, where instructors, administrators and organizations are making an impact in adult literacy and digital inclusion, though often in less visible ways, it’s worth sharing our journey and our learnings as a team in supporting this very important work.

Curious to know who we are? Learn more about the whole AlphaPlus team!



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