Some public housing authorities (PHAs) are at the forefront of communities that are adopting place-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives, involving family members from preschoolers to adults, and creating opportunities to learn that are life-wide and lifelong.
Increasing exposure to and engagement in STEM learning outside of formal classroom settings is increasingly viewed as key to turning on more young people to STEM studies, and to addressing the equity gaps between high- and low-resourced families, schools, and communities. Recently the Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter to help state and local education agencies and their partners better understand how to use Federal funds to support innovative STEM education strategies to address equity goals.
The PHAs featured here, representing over 31,091 residents, with an average household income of $11,109, are part of communities participating in the SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development) initiative, supported in part by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), and Energy (DOE). See a previous blog on the SEED sites. In a three month period last fall, these PHAs have documented 138 STEM-related activities and training that have reached over 1,200 residents.
OCTAE Applauds New Rules That Will Help Make Home Broadband More Affordable for Low-Income Americans
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has modernized and reformed its Lifeline programto help low-income consumers afford access to broadband Internet access. Lifeline is a program that has helped make telephone service affordable for low-income Americans since 1985.
OCTAE has long championed increased access to the Internet for teachers, students, and classrooms, spreading the word of opportunities such as ConnectED, ConnectHome, and EveryoneOn. We recognize the importance of Internet access to increase the rigor and relevance of classroom teaching and homework; make learning anytime, anywhere a possibility for all; and provide families with connections to information, civic opportunity, health information, and consumer savings.
According to the Pew Research Center, just over 30 percent of households whose incomes fall below $50,000 and with children ages 6 to 17 do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, and this low-income group makes up about 40% of all families with school-age children in the United States.
On December 10, 2015 the U.S. Department of Education announced the release of the 2016 National Education Technology Plan and new Future Ready commitments to support personalized professional learning for district leaders and educators working to improve teaching and student learning through the effective use of technology. As educators, advocates, parents, and policymakers, we must work to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology and personalized professional learning opportunities for educators and district leaders. The 2016 National Education Technology Plan, Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible.
The plan recognizes the role that informal learning spaces play in closing the digital use divide and achieving equity, including spaces such as libraries, maker spaces, museums, clubs, workplaces, adult education programs, national parks, and online learning environments such as games, simulations, and educational apps.
OCTAE celebrates the 2016 Plan and the added energy it brings to our ongoing priorities, including:
The LINCS Learner Center, making high-quality learning opportunities available on demand for adult earners
The following paragraph is excerpted from the Clinton Global Foundation’s announcement:
The SEED Coalition is inspiring young minds with STEM activities in energy efficiency. Here, girls from the Tampa Public Housing Authority get involved with a project at the Museum of Science and Industry. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy, committed to launch SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development): Coalitions for Community Growth, a place-based initiative that will connect public housing residents across the United States to STEM education and jobs. Leveraging federal investments and national partnerships, SEED will create local coalitions of public-private partners to launch or expand programs that provide access to energy literacy, STEM learning and workforce development opportunities for public housing residents. These opportunities will prepare them for living wage jobs in the energy and STEM fields, including those created by federal investments in infrastructure upgrades and energy retrofits at Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). In partnership with local PHAs, SEED will be piloted in five communities: Cleveland (Cuyahoga County), Denver, District of Columbia, San Antonio, and Tampa, with the goal of expanding to 20 cities by 2018. Through this initiative, 8,000 youth in public housing will get access to STEM education; 1,000 residents will receive STEM workforce training, and 1,000 will obtain employment. See more at: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/clinton-global-initiative/commitments/seed-coalitions-community-growth#sthash.6PL2Ju3o.dpuf
OCTAE has launched an online center to direct adult learners to free, high-quality resources related to education, job and life skills. The LINCS Learner Center complements OCTAE’s priority goal to make on-demand learning available for teachers and students.
The Learner Center, opening during the 2015 National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, #AEFLWeek, is a gateway to resources from many federal agencies and organizations. Resources accessed through the site can help adult learners improve their reading, writing, math, science, and English skills; build job skills; acquire an understanding of American government and history to obtain citizenship; and find a nearby adult education, computer training, or postsecondary education or training program.
Developed to be mobile-friendly, the site brings resources to learners in class, on the go, and at home. This feature can extend users’ learning time and accelerate their skill development.
Share the site with your teachers and learners and re-tweet alerts from @LINCS_ED. Help amplify OCTAE’s reach by posting the following message to your own social media network:
Help #adultedu learners improve their English, get job skills & more. Point new users to free resources at the Learner Center!
The initial site is a beta version, designed to join the national conversation about digital tools for adult learners. Future phases will incorporate more tools, features, and partners. OCTAE applauds ongoing work to stimulate the marketplace and ed-tech development. Stay tuned and get involved!
Every day is a good day for digital learning! One of OCTAE’s top-line priorities is to ensure that teachers and students have access to high-quality learning opportunities on demand. To meet this priority, we have been working on several efforts. To celebrate Digital Learning Day 2015, here is a round-up:
LINCS.ed.gov has an established Community of Practice that is home to lively peer-to-peer and expert-led discussions among nearly 10,000 adult educators. Seventeen self-access courses on topics such as establishing career pathways, accommodating learners with learning disabilities, teaching science, serving English language learners, and integrating technology provide on-demand professional development for thousands of practitioners. All of this is available to teachers 24/7 and on the go.
Teacher User Groups in two projects have supported adult education teachers to find, evaluate, and review high-quality Open Education Resources (OER) in the areas of science, math, and English language learning for use in adult education classrooms. Their reviews are posted in OER Commons where there is a growing category of reviewed OER tagged as “adult education” and “adult ESL” so other teachers can easily find them and incorporate these resources into the classroom or assign as supplemental learning. The Open CTE Resources: Educator’s Guide Roadmap to help teachers use, build, and share their own OER is also freely available on the site.
To facilitate more students, teachers, and programs going digital and bringing more digital resources to learning, OCTAE is an enrollment partner with EveryoneOn.org, a broker of low-cost Internet and refurbished high-end devices. Learn how to help students get connected through Everyoneon.org/adulted and learn more about this program here.
OCTAE has also teamed up with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to promote local library-adult education partnerships focused on digital learning and digital literacy. Libraries are a natural source of hands-on assistance with digital and print literacy in the community and can be a productive outreach and recruitment partner. To assist literacy tutors and library volunteers, OCTAE and IMLS co-sponsored development of the Tutor Ready Learning Plans, available online at . Read more about these resources and access an archived webinar presentation.
The Employability Skills Framework is an interactive, one-stop resource for information and tools to inform the instruction and assessment of employability skills for teachers in adult education and career and technical education. The Framework aligns resources around nine key skills, organized in three broad categories: applied knowledge, effective relationships, and workplace skills.
Keep an eye on the horizon for two challenges to be launched by OCTAE. The Reach Higher Career App Challenge seeks to spur innovation in career exploration by empowering students with individualized career and education information at their fingertips. The EdSim Challenge will encourage developers of cutting edge 3D simulations and games to develop the next generation of immersive, interoperable, open platform simulations. More details will be provided soon.
This article is cross-posted on the UpNext! blog hosted by IMLS and the Department of Labor blog.
Guest authors: Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor
Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, and
Susan Hildreth, Director of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services
Our agencies have long recognized the role of libraries to help meet the workforce training and job search needs of the American public. At the height of the recession, more than 30 million people reported using library computers for workforce related needs and 3.7 million of them reported finding work. Today, 96 percent of libraries surveyed offer online job and employment resources and 78 percent offer programs to help people apply for jobs.
In July, the President signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) which strengthens and aligns Federal employment, education, and training services. Overwhelmingly approved by both the House and the Senate, the legislation is the result of a bipartisan agreement that recognizes the vital role the workforce system plays in providing the services and resources job seekers need to access the kinds of skills training, career information, and education that are required for today’s job market. The Act aligns with and complements the President’s Vision for Job-Driven Workforce Development, as it prepares workers for 21st century jobs and ensures American businesses have skilled workers to be competitive in global economy.
We are pleased that WIOA includes several exciting changes that better align federal resources and call for local community-based partnerships to increase access to services. WIOA explicitly identifies public libraries as potential partners of the American Job Center network, and acknowledges libraries’ ability to provide an expansive array of job search services. It also recognizes libraries as important providers of federally supported training and employment for adult education and literacy. WIOA instructs state and local workforce development boards to boost “digital literacy skills” at American Job Centers – a task perfectly suited to public libraries!
We are delighted that the role public libraries play in workforce development is being acknowledged. Every day, people in communities across the United States use libraries to access the Web for career development—boosting their skills through online learning, improving their English literacy and digital literacy, and finding work. Public libraries can do even more with better collaboration with state and local workforce boards.
We thank American Job Centers, the nation’s employment skills training programs, and public libraries for all they do to serve our nation’s job seekers and contribute to the country’s economic vitality. Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we will deliver better coordinated services so that students and jobseekers acquire the skills needed in a competitive 21st century economy.
The recent results of the international “Survey of Adult Skills” estimated that 36 million Americans are low-skilled in literacy, and 3 million are eager to gain additional education and training but are hampered by barriers such as transportation, child care, and work schedules. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) are working together to encourage effective collaborations between libraries and federally funded adult education programs to help more Americans take advantage of the educational, employment, financial, health, social and civic resources that are available online.
IMLS Director Susan Hildreth and OCTAE Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin while attending the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
According to Pew Research Internet Project data, over 15 percent of Americans, including senior citizens, adults with less than a high school education, and people living in households earning less than $30,000 per year, are not using the Internet at all. And, while 74 percent of whites and 62 percent of African Americans have high-speed Internet access at home, only about half of Hispanics (56 percent) do.
Already, the nation’s more than 17,000 public libraries are providing computer access or free wireless Internet to America’s families. According to the report, “Opportunity for All,” over 77 million people, or nearly one-third of the U.S. population ages 14 and older, used a public library computer or wireless Internet in 2009. Of the library users in households living below the poverty line of $22,000 per year for a family of four, 44 percent visit a public library in order to get online. In fact, education was cited by 42 percent of responders as the main reason patrons used library computers and 24 percent of those users reported taking online courses or working on online assignments. In addition, employment and career –related activities were cited by 40 percent of responders as the reason they went to the library, 76 percent of whom were looking for jobs.
In light of this situation, IMLS and OCTAE recently announced a joint Dear colleague letter released on June 24, 2014 by IMLS Director Susan Hildreth and OCTAE Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin. Susan and Johan recognize the important role libraries and adult education programs play in helping build digital literacy among adults. Joint activities include: increasing awareness about resources and training (see http://LINCS.ed.gov); developing literacy tutorials and guides; and collaborating with various associations and nonprofits to identify and disseminate examples of partnership activities the public adult education system and libraries are taking at the state and local levels.
According to Director Susan Hildreth, “Libraries have a long history with literacy programs and reaching residents. We hope this program will help connect youth and adults more seamlessly to learning opportunities online and at their local adult education and community college programs.” Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin said, “Libraries and adult education programs are natural partners; together we can strengthen the on-ramps to digital literacy and learning. Their joint goal is to enhance skills, employability, and quality of life for all American, and especially for those youth and adults with low skills.”
62 million Americans are not online. Millions of families do not have home Internet access for learning, civic engagement, connecting with family, or employment searches. Read on to learn how OCTAE’s coordination with national partners is creating solutions.
Everyone On (www.everyoneon.org) is a national non-profit that aims to eliminate the digital divide. Through Everyone On, individuals are able to find Internet service as low as $10 a month, low-cost computers, and free digital literacy courses. In 2013, Everyone On launched a three-year, multimedia, bilingual Ad Council campaign to “help motivate the millions of Americans who do not have the digital literacy skills they need to succeed become connected and take advantage of free digital literacy training in their communities.”
The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) has entered an agreement with Everyone On to pre-qualify enrolled students, teachers, and programs for its computer and Internet offers through a unique hub located at EveryoneOn.org/adulted. This allows students to take full advantage of the opportunity to get Internet access in their homes, while assisting programs to create hot spots of wireless connectivity in classrooms on a flexible and portable basis.
How can you get involved?
See what offers are in your area! At EveryoneOn.org/adulted, enter local zip codes in the search box and answer the question that pops up. This information about whether there are children in the household on National School Lunch Program determines whether you will be eligible for cable Internet deals from companies like Comcast and Cox.
Adult education students, teachers, and programs are pre-qualified for wireless deals from Mobile Beacon, Mobile Citizen, and FreedomPop, regardless of family status. To see only the wireless deals, reply No to the question.
In addition to viewing the Internet service offers, EveryoneOn.org will present offers for affordable, refurbished devices and information about digital literacy training sites – including adult education sites, American Job Centers, and local libraries.
Help is also available at a call center, 1-855-EVRY1ON.
Note: Due to the regional nature of cellular and cable service markets, there is not full-country coverage of these offers. Rural areas in particularly have sparse coverage. Everyone On continues to expand the offers to new areas and new providers. To view all of the Internet service offers, search the eligibility page at http://www.everyoneon.org/offer-and-eligibility-overview/.
Who is eligible?
Students: Adult education students and their families can purchase a router for home use (either one that connects a single device or one that connects up to 8 devices), sign up for unlimited Internet service for $10 a month with no long-term obligation, and purchase devices such as high-end Android tablets for as little as $150.
Teachers: Adult education teachers and their families can also take advantage of this offer, so that more teachers can integrate technology into their teaching.
Programs:The purchase routers, service, and devices through this offer, so that more classrooms and learning spaces can become “hot spots” to support the integration of technology into adult education programming, is an allowable use of AEFLA funds. Programs are also strongly encouraged to update their contact information in America’s Literacy Directory (https://www.literacydirectory.org/), which coordinates with the Everyone On Locator Tool.
While this offer is unique to adult education students, teachers, and programs, Everyone On serves all low-income families and adults. Residents of local housing authorities have a similar arrangement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For blog readers who are not attached to adult education or housing programs, you can learn more about Everyone On and how to partner with them by visiting EveryoneOn.org/partner.