Adult Learners Week: 9-15 May 2009
Inspiring adults from diverse backgrounds to give learning a go, the Adult and Community Learning Service (ACLS), part of Nottinghamshire County Council, is engaging adult learners through game-show style quizzes.
Adult learning providers across the county are using Qwizdom (www.qwizdom.co.uk), an interactive voting system, to encourage learners to participate anonymously with confidence, removing the embarrassment or fear of speaking in front of peers.
A major skills shortage is costing the UK economy up to £10 billion a year according to a recent estimate by The CBI (Confederation of British Industry). By improving adult learning through new technology, the ACLS aims to help adults regardless of their background to continue their education through numerous projects. It has trialled the voting system with three of its learning providers: Advocacy 2 Engagement (A2E), The Positive Action through Learning Support Project and The Personal Learning Consultancy. Due to huge demand, it has now rolled out the kit to numerous other learning providers in Nottinghamshire.
A2E, which delivers tailor-made courses for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, is using quizzes to improve their basic life skills. Questions such as: ‘Have I put a safe amount of water in this kettle?’ are posed to the class whilst the facilitator shows them a kettle filled with water exceeding the maximum limit. Learners press their keypads to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and responses are anonymously displayed on an interactive whiteboard, open for discussion. The system can also record achievement and progression by inputting the quiz results into a spreadsheet against each learner. This instantly shows how well learners are progressing, indicating which learners and topics need more attention.
Alan Clark, Service Development Manager at ACLS, commented: “Learners have been able to identify the link between using Qwizdom and popular television shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The feedback from learners and staff has been overwhelmingly positive because of the interactivity and healthy competition it brings to sessions. Sometimes adults’ perception of learning is a stereotypical one of being seated in rows and lectured, whereas voting technology is bringing learning to life for them.”
Comments from A2E learners include: “I liked seeing it on the screen so I know what I am doing”, “I liked it very much, it was easy” and “now I feel more independent.”
The Positive Action through Learning Support Project – a partnership between Nottingham Dyslexia Action and Nottinghamshire Probation Service – also uses Qwizdom for basic skills training. For example, when a probation officer identifies a literacy or numeracy weakness in one of their clients they can put them forward for a place on the programme. The Personal Learning Consultancy uses Qwizdom for family learning programmes to enable parents and carers to become more involved in their children’s education by understanding the literacy and numeracy curriculum whilst improving their own skills.
Gary Morrison, Director of Qwizdom, concluded: “The ACLS appreciates the benefits of using interactive technology to engage adult learners. If education providers are to successfully motivate adults to continue learning, it is vital that they implement innovative technology so that all learners feel confident to participate.”