ESOnline (Essential Skills Online)
Approach: ESPORT (Essential Skills Portfolio) is an Essential Skills online and face-to-face assessment and learning system. ESPORT develops individual learning strategies for Indigenous learners based on their assessed Essential Skills and the Essential Skills requirements of their employment aspirations. Strategies are informed by an Interest Inventory that consists of a questionnaire of the learner’s interests and occupational goals, as well as clients’ results on the online version of the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES).
ESOnline is an online learning package being developed as a component of ESPORT. ESOnline will function within ESPORT or separately. ESOnline provides learners with online assessment and practice in three of the Essential Skills, reading text, document use, and numeracy at the first two levels of the Essential Skills complexity levels. The practice is in the form of online quizzes and tasks that are based on workplace scenarios. When a learner finds a task challenging (i.e. they have difficulty answering the questions), tips become available to guide the learner through the task and answer the questions correctly. This practice is overseen and monitored by a program facilitator. If a learner continues to have difficulty, the learner can approach the facilitator, or vice versa, to receive further support through supplemental activities. The activities are designed to be adaptable depending on the community and to provide learners with guided practice of the skills.
Claire Reynolds, CEP Consulting Inc.
CEP Consulting Inc. 31 St. Claire Avenue Ottawa, Ontario
Our program is still in the developmental stage, and we plan to have outcome data by the end of August 2019. The program’s performance indicators will include increased Essential Skills, employment, entry into targeted job-preparation programs, and registration into secondary school or college. Our program develops reading text, document use and numeracy Essentials Skills, and therefore the education outcomes are the same as the criteria listed by the Essential Skills Profiles.
Since we are still developing ESonline, we anticipate the possibility of encountering several challenges and have ideas on how we might overcome them. We recognize it is not possible to predict all the challenges.
|Possible Challenge||Possible Solutions|
|Resistance to computer-based learning||Technology and program support provided by the program facilitator and learning centres/organizations
The program is phone, tablet and computer friendly
|Insufficient connectivity, especially in rural and remote populations||A flexible program schedule
Option of completing parts of the program outside of the classroom setting
|Failure to reach representative sub-groups||During the program pilot, collect feedback from organizations, participants, and communities about the authenticity, impact and interactiveness of the program. Their feedback will be implemented for the official launch of the program with continual development of program materials and implementation when necessary.|
|Securing Funding||Although the program plans to be rolled out by the end of summer 2019, the initial size of the program depends on funding, which we are continuing to apply for.|
Here are three lessons we have learned while developing our program:
1) Consultations with educational institutions and literacy organizations indicated programs for low ES learners express an enormous desire for targeted online learning resources.
2) As ESPORT intends to be a national program, a lot of research been done to diversify the task topics in order for the program to be more meaningful and authentic to learners. This effort will continue during the program pilot.
3) Creating online pedagogical tasks can make the program more accessible and attractive. This comes with challenges such as deciding on an answer format to questions. Initially, we wanted learners to type their answers, however, for the website to automatically mark an answer involves creating code for each possible response. For example, if the answer was about time there are many different ways to write the time such as 3:00, 3, three o’clock, 15:00, etc. We don’t have the resources to make this happen. Therefore, there is a range of response styles such as multiple choice, drop down menus, and matching.
Since our program is still in the developmental stages, we have not yet received feedback. However, colleges, provincial and regional literacy organizations in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia have expressed interest because they find there is a short supply of ES learning materials at the high level 1 / low level 2 and delivered in a workplace scenario context.
Incorporation of Essential Skills
Each task includes an occupational scenario based on the competency level 1 of the National Occupational Classification. To complete each task, at least one of the following Essential Skills must be used: Reading Text, Document Use, or Numeracy.
The Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) is used.
Each task is accompanied with supplemental activities for learners who require extra assistance with a task or an Essential Skill. These materials provide the flexibility for the program facilitator to incorporate aspects of the community such as local examples or reach out to community members. These lessons are designed using Indigenous pedagogical approaches such as having individualized learning plans and guided learning.
Important attributes staff should have include knowing and understanding the community. In other words, they know the common occupations and resources within the community. Having knowledge in these areas will help ES practice be more meaningful to learners. Having knowledge in adult basic education and Indigenous pedagogy would also make the program more successful. The competency level of the staff’s Essential Skills, particularly in reading text, document use, and numeracy, should be strong. Having confidence in using technology would also be helpful.
The program is being created by CEP Consulting with cooperation from Eskilon and DataAngel. We are also consulting with ESPORT clients who employed ESPORT when PLATO Learning Inc. provided learning materials.