In this issue:
Volume 1, Issue 2, June 2005

by Shelley Wilcox
by Scott Parker
by Alan Zisman
by Glen Holmes
by Shelley Wilcox
by James McConville
by Wayne Ulian
by Alan Zisman
by Kevin Amboe
by Chris Rozitis
by James McConville
by Ray Steigvilas

ICT and Attendance accountability in adult learning

Ray Steigvilas, rsteigvilas@sd78.bc.ca

April, 2005

Introduction

The combined use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and attendance accountability procedures enhances success for adults in their pursuit of a graduation diploma in a continuing education centre.

Over the past 20 years, Ministries of Education in Canada have promoted the use of ICT in schools through purchase of computers, computer networks, new distance learning strategies, training for teachers, and the integration of ICT skills into the curriculum. In the year 2000 Canada had on average seven students per computer in schools. This was one of the best ratios internationally (Statistics Canada, 2002). By the school year 2003-2004, this ratio climbed to five students per computer (Plante & Beattie, 2004). This investment in ICT parallels a decrease in high school dropout rates and an increase in graduation completion rates. Data has shown that the BC Dogwood high school graduation completion rate has increased from 79% in 1999/2000 to 81% in 2003/2004 (Information Department, 2004).

Completing high school is a very important achievement for an individual. It is considered a minimum requirement to access the labour market; consequently, a high school diploma will influence a person’s future opportunities. A Canadian study of twenty year olds in 1999 showed that 27% of high school dropouts took advantage of a second chance and returned to school (Zeman, Knighton, & Bussiere, 2004).

In BC there are three major pathways for dropouts to complete their graduation requirements. Continuing Education (CE) Centres are primarily available for adult students who are completing their high school requirements. Distance Education(DE) Schools provide courses through correspondence. Distributed Learning Programs (DEL) provide online education. All three provide an avenue to graduation. The General Education Development (GED), the BC Adult Graduation Diploma (Adult Dogwood), and the BC Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma) all provide different degrees of opportunity to continue education beyond high school.
The Agassiz Continuing Education (ACE) Centre in Agassiz BC oversees 100 adult learners over the course of one school year while maintaining a full time equivalent (FTE) of 30. The centre is part of School District #78, Fraser Cascade, and is operated daily by one teacher and one special education assistant (SEA). The enrollment necessitates that the majority of courses offered are through a computer Learning Management System (LMS). Using the Nautikos LMS provides the flexibility of not only offering the courses at school but also from home through the Nautikos eLearner program. This ‘24/7’ technological, self-paced flexibility empowers maximum efficiency for certain learning styles and preferences.

The ACE centre statistics show that the centre seems to appeal to an older adult population. The average age of adult learners at the ACE Centre is represented on the following graph over 6 years as of March 30, 2005.

The average age of graduates is similar to the above graph for the last three years.

In BC there currently exists 33 different online DLP, which are identified with terms such as cyberschool, virtual school, electronic busing etc. E-learning however, according to Blomeyer (2002), may work best when it is combined with some face-to-face classroom experience (Blomeyer, 2002). This approach is predominately used at the ACE Centre but it is not without attendance problems.
Attendance and school success are synonymous. Yet with adults in a continuing education institution, regular attendance can be problematic due to on-going and fluctuating responsibility. Adults have diverse responsibilities, which are mostly work and childcare related. The fluctuating attendance with work usually arises from a shift-work schedule change. Childcare fluctuating attendance may be more elaborate such as: sickness of child, child behaviour problems at school and shared custody. Health related issues including both mental and physical states also arise. Yet despite these responsibilities and states, adults can be successful at a CE school.
An accountability procedure used at the ACE centre begins with each adult participating in devising their Individual Education Plan (IEP), which establishes their course load, rate of completion, and attendance requirements. This document is signed and a copy is given to the adult. This IEP outlines the timeline for weekly, monthly, and overall course completeness. When attendance does fluctuate, it is very important to re-evaluate the IEP with the adult. This collaborative approach promotes a positive relationship toward the pursuit of their educational goals.

The IEP outlines the attendance based on their needs. Because there may be a preference to work at home, a ‘Work-at-Home Timesheet’ is used to account for attendance. For every documented 5 hours of work at home, one full day is recorded in the attendance register. An excel program developed at ACE tabulates the attendance on a monthly basis illustrating the required and actual attendance outcomes. By examining these outcomes, the attendance trend is clearly visible and this may necessitate further action.

If further action is needed, the SEA makes a telephone call requesting a reply to the attendance issue. Often a message is left stating that a reply is needed within 2 weeks. The SEA documents every incoming/outgoing telephone call for attendance accountability, which prevents any discrepancies that may arise. Failure to reply within the timeframe stated results in step two, a letter.
This letter advises him/her that a withdrawal will be made within two weeks unless he/she contacts the centre. The letter further states that after a withdrawal has been made a re-admission fee may apply. The added financial warning usually generates immediate action for those adults that truly want to continue.

The ACE centre has formed a partnership with the adjacent First Nations band with the expectations to improve attendance for the First Nations members. An attendance report is faxed weekly to the First Nations Education Co-ordinator who is able to use the band’s influence to encourage lapsing members to improve attendance.
In BC there currently exists 33 different online distributed learning programs and many are identified with terms such as cyberschool, virtual school, and electronic busing.

E-learning however, according to Blomeyer may work best when it is hybridized with some face-to-face classroom experience (Blomeyer, 2002). This approach is predominately used at the ACE Centre. The predominating two factors for the success at the ACE Centre for the adult learners is the use of the available technology in their courses and a high level of interaction with the instructor which requires some face-to-face experience.

Specifically, Communications 12 (Com 12) and Mathematics 11 Essentials (Math 11E) are two courses that have been very successful in this hybrid approach. Both are self-paced courses and are structured similarly. The computer LMS identifies the daily content and guides the learner through the course. At the completion of a chapter of content, a computer-generated test is presented.
After every 5 chapters completed in Math 11E, a teacher-prepared cumulative review test is presented. It is followed by a similar final cumulative test. At the end of the course a teacher-prepared cumulative final exam review test is presented followed by a similar final exam.

In Com 12 each chapter of work is handed in to the teacher for marking. On average there is between 100 and 150 marks to be awarded in about ten different sections of grammar and literature. It has 3 teacher-prepared tests that are given after every 6 chapters. A final exam is given upon the completion of 18 chapters. The exam, an earlier provincial version, is marked by the teacher.
The teacher marks 70% of the Math 11E and 90% of the Com 12. This high level of interactivity through marking and consequent discussions has produced some outstanding success. The evidence of success for the two courses over the last 5 years (2000/2001 to 2004/2005) is illustrated in the following graph. The final marks in both Math 11E and Com 12 are shown and in both cases the final marks have remained consistently high.

With respect to the Communications 12 Provincial Exam only, the following graph compares the province to the ACE Centre for 4 years (2000/2001 to 2003/2004).

The results average 12% higher in favour of the ACE Centre.
In summary although ICT can be very effective with certain learning styles and preferences, the hybrid approach used at ACE coupled with an active attendance accountability provide an extra measure of assistance that successfully enhances adult learners to graduate.

References

Blomeyer, R. (2002). Virtual Schools and E-Learning in K-12 Environments: Emerging Policy and Practice. Education Resources Information Center. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 469 127).

Information Department, (2004). Six-Year Dogwood Completion Rate Provincial Totals and by District 1999/2000 to 2003/04. BC Ministry of Education. Retrieved on March 31, 2005 from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/reporting/grad/cmpltnrate.pdf

Plante, J. & Beattie, D. (2004). Connectivity and ICT integration in Canadian elementary and secondary schools: First results from the Information and Communications Technologies in Schools Survey, 2003-2004. Statistics Canada and Industry Canada.
Catalogue Number 81-595-MIE2004017. Retrieved on March 30, 2005 from http://www.statcan.ca

Statistics Canada, (2002). Transitions. Retrieved on March 28, 2005 from http://142.206.72.67/02/02c/02c_005f_e.htm

Zeman, K. Knighton, T. & Bussiere, P. (2004) Education and Labour market pathways of young Canadians between age 20 and 22: an overview. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Statistics Canada. Catalogue Number 81-595-MIE2004018. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.ca on March 30, 2005.

June 2005 Newsletter home
CUEBC website home