What are its Origins?
Adult basic education, English language, GED and college preparation programs are not able to serve the majority of undereducated adults who want to improve their skills and opportunities. Also, among program participants the demands of work or family life can interrupt their participation in classes and tutorials, so their progress toward their goals is often fragmented and frustrated.
The Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning found that adult learners move in and out of programs as they are able, frequently studying on their own when they can’t attend classes. Whether or not they participate in an adult education class, many people study on their own to improve their basic skills or prepare for the GED tests. However, those who do not enroll in programs may have a learning goal but don’t know the steps to reach it or have the support to persist.
Nationally, adults who didn’t finish high school are the segment of the population most rapidly becoming new computer users, practically closing the digital divide in some areas.* Many of these adults use the computer as part of their self-study efforts.
The Learner Web concept was inspired by these research findings and by the needs of programs and volunteers to find ways to better serve learners.
* US Department of Commerce (2002) A Nation Online: How Americans are expanding their use of the internet. Washington, DC: National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The Learner Web community is developing initiatives in the following strategic directions:
- Professional development and tutoring. Learner Web has the unique capacity to integrate professional development for teachers and tutors with Learning Plan-based support for their ongoing work with individual students.
- Community collaboration and life pathways. The Minnesota and New York Regions are developing models that use Learner Web to increase the collaborative capacity of communities to help adults and families move out of poverty, start or change careers, enter and succeed in community colleges, attain citizenship, and follow other life pathways.
- Postsecondary success. Portland State University has pioneered using the Learner Web to help incoming students adapt to the college environment and make more successful placements in writing, math and other courses.