Training series builds literacy educator’s skills and confidence

For Anita Dhanjal, a community literacy worker at LAMP Community Health Centre, teaching literacy and basic skills has changed significantly from when she started at the organization five years ago. Today’s learners operate in a very different digital world and have a strong appetite for learning new things.

Anita’s role at LAMP, which serves community members in South Etobicoke and South Mississauga, includes supervising and tutoring adult learning classes. Anita also covers tutors’ classes when they’re away and manages the program’s administration, including reporting to the Ministry of Labour.

“When I started in this role, we relied on for our curriculum, printing off worksheets as we went,” says Anita, describing how her work at LAMP has been transformed since 2019. “Today, both instructors and learners are moving forward with the technology we were forced to learn during the pandemic. Now, our learners are constantly asking to learn new skills and new ways of using existing technology and tools.”

Learning new ways to use digital tools in teaching

To prepare to answer learners’ questions and learn alongside them, Anita continuously seeks applicable training opportunities. In 2023, she participated in the AlphaPlus Building Digital Skills training series, designed to help literacy educators sharpen and apply digital creation and collaboration skills. Starting in the spring with the first series, which focused on using Google Workspace, Anita followed up in the fall with the second series on Microsoft Office 365.

“Over the course of these trainings, I learned about many free tools within Google and Microsoft that I can use in teaching and program administration. Free is helpful because some of our learners aren’t able to pay for subscriptions,” explains Anita. “From Forms to OneNote to learning how to use Sway for reading and writing classes, I discovered amazing new tools — and tools that can do much more than I had realized. It was fun to see what we could get from the training and what we could use to teach our learners.”

Starting with the basics, building confidence

Anita explains that the LAMP approach to adult literacy is to start with the basics and build confidence, keeping learners engaged by catering to their curiosity and topics of interest. Each week, they review what was discussed the week before and the new skills learners want to acquire.

“If they want to learn OneNote, we’ll have that ready for them. Google is everywhere, so they want to know all about it. These are applications that people want to learn and use,” says Anita. “We were able to apply all of the little tips and tricks we learned in the AlphaPlus training with our learners, giving them bites of everything they’re curious about. We’ve also noticed that learners are excited to help one another use digital tools. That’s what we want: for the experience to be creative and interactive, helping learners to navigate and use digital technology to communicate and collaborate.”

Next steps: Continue exploring how teachers can use digital workspaces

In the coming months, Anita will continue to use and teach what she learned in 2023. She’s already started to use digital forms for assessments and is evaluating how to support tutors with additional resources. She’ll continue to explore learners’ areas of interest, paying particular attention to their desire to learn on smartphones.

“These training series have opened access to learning, information, advice and resources. Any application we learn gives us the confidence to use it, teach it and then learn other things. Learning all the time is how we get better at our jobs.”

Would you like to build confidence in using digital technology in your teaching? Register for AlphaPlus training. The upcoming series includes sessions on artificial intelligence, accessibility and a return to Microsoft Office 365.



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