Learner Web Regional Profile
Central New York State Literacy Zones
Background New York State was selected as one of eight states to receive grant support from the US Department of Education to develop Postsecondary Transition models. The New York State model includes eighteen Literacy Zones, which are education and social services collaborations. There are six Literacy Zones in Central Southern New York State. As the Literacy Zones were being planned the Learner Web appeared to be a unique way to help to engage community colleges and One Stop Career Centers to support adult learners transitioning to postsecondary education or training. In addition to the six community colleges and five One Stops, other Literacy Zone Partners will soon be using the Learner Web, including: libraries, the Department of Social Services, resource centers for Independent Living, learning disability associations, and municipal housing organizations. There is a relationship between the six Central New York Literacy Zones and the other 12 (soon to be a total of 35) Literacy Zones in New York state, and the whole effort is managed by the New York State Education Department.
The Learner Web is being used with adult students and out of school youth in each of six Central New York Literacy Zones’ Family Welcome Centers. At a Welcome Center, adult learners get a case manager who can help them to stabilize their family situation with services such as food stamps, housing, social services, childcare, or healthcare, services which may be needed before they can meet their education needs. One of the Literacy Zone features is smooth transitions, for example, for those who were recently (or are now) incarcerated to the community, for veterans, or for those who may move from place to place within the region. The Literacy Zones have 10 pathways out of poverty that facilitate these transitions.
How the Learner Web is used in Literacy Zones. The Learner Web Software will “talk to” the Adult Student Information Support and Tech Assistance (ASIST) database and to the DOL/OSOS data system used by the Department of Labor. In One Stops, community colleges, and county jails, for example, the Learner Web is being used as an academic or basic skills supplement, for job development and career awareness, and for postsecondary transition. The Central New York region has begun with a cohort of students at the county correctional facility who use Learner Web -- in the county jail -- to coordinate transition services for their release back into the community. To date, two Learner Web features have been especially useful: 1) students drive their learning, beginning with their selection of their learning goal(s). This has helped with “buy-in” from teachers who do not view the Learner Web as another software or learning tool that they are held responsible for, but rather as an opportunity for their students to be engaged in their own planning and learning; and 2) community partners can communicate with and support the learner without leaving their desks. For example, students who plan to go to college can give an advisor permission at a college the opportunity to look at their Learning Plans. There is seamlessness at every point.
Challenges that Lie Ahead. Training is an important element. Currently staff In the Central New York Region One-Stops and the respective community colleges have been trained and connected to the Learner Web to support the Literacy Zone students. The Regional Adult Education Network (RAEN) has supported the training and technical support for the six Literacy Zones, and that has made a huge difference in the success they have experienced. Nevertheless this is a responsibility and cost that was underestimated.