Selecting Learning Materials
Perhaps the most important aspects of training are the selection and use of learning activities. When selecting learning activities and the learning materials to support them, you need to ensure that they are appropriate. The Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework Foundations of Learning Materials describes how practitioners should select learning materials to use with activities in their programs:
“To identify learning materials that reflect the OALCF focus of being goal-directed, contextualized and linked to other services a learner may need to support her or his learning success, a practitioner chooses learning materials that
- are suitable to adults and appropriate to the culture and language of the learner
- are authentic, related to the learner’s program purpose, and task-based
- reflect the way information is used and accessed in the work, learning or community environment of the learner’s goal”
To help agencies choose materials suitable for OALCF learning activities, the Ministry developed a checklist and a practical guide, How to use the “Checklist for Evaluating Learning Materials”. The checklist is a template (found at the back of the guide) that you can use to evaulate resources that you already have or that you are considering acquiring, as to how they suit the competency-based, transition-oriented approach of the Curriculum Framework. This guide walks you through an example of using the checklist to evaluate a resource.
As we have mentioned earlier, in the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework section of this module, orientation to transition-oriented programming means that learning activities should support both goal-directed and contextualized learning.
No matter what adult learning studies, principles or theories you consider, there is one point that always comes forth – adults are goal-directed learners. They need to see the relevance of what they are learning and how they will use it.
Learners come to Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) programs with a goal. Sometimes they have trouble expressing what they want to do, but in order for them to learn, there must be a goal. You must be able to link your LBS training with the skills and abilities the learners need in order to move on to their goals.
When developing learning activities for LBS learners, you start with the goal in mind. You consider “What must the learner know how to do to achieve that goal?” and “What do they need to be able to do in preparation for their next steps beyond LBS?” By answering these questions you can determine what you need to teach. That is
- what the learner needs to know how to do – the skills
- what the learner needs to be able to do – the tasks
Where to Get Help with Goal-Directed Learning Activities
Within the OALCF, five learner goal paths have been identified: apprenticeship, employment, postsecondary education, secondary school credit and independence. Goal path descriptions were developed for each goal path (October 2011) along with an introduction to using the goal path descriptions. The goal path descriptions can help you and the learners understand the needs of their goals, select goal-directed learning activities and suggest other supports that might be necessary for learners’ successful transitions to their goals.
Over the past 15 years, in Ontario, Canada and throughout the world, many new adult literacy resources that are goal-specific have been developed. No matter what the learners’ goals, there are adult appropriate and goal-directed learning materials available. Some of these are based on or are articulated to the OALCF. Many others cover Employment and Social Development Canada’s Essential Skills. These may be appropriate as the three OALCF Levels are informed by the same factors that drive task complexity in Essential Skills (ES) Levels 1, 2, and 3.
Several LBS Regional Networks created a number of “occupational” curricula, meaning that they were resources that contained information and activities specific to one occupation that helped to develop a learner’s OALCF Competencies or their Essential Skills. In December 2018, CLO created the publication Overview of 15 Occupational Curricula Used in LBS Programs that can be found under Resources & Webinars,Publications on CLO’s website. In 2019, CLO edited, updated and/or rewrote four previously developed curricula. These will also be available in CLO’s Publications. They are:
- Food Counter Attendant & Kitchen Helper
- Health Care Preparation
CLO has also developed two other curricula for use with the OALCF, which are available for free download on CLO’s website
- Moving Forward Curricula and Resources for Learners on the Independence Goal Path. This resource has a variety of OALCF competency-based learning activities in all three OALCF levels. Moving Forward has topic-based sections for: Communication, Food and Nutrition, Household Dangers, Managing Your Money and Time Management and Organization.
- Numeracy in Action Curriculum and Resources to Understand and Use Numbers. This resource offers activities in all three OALCF levels for the Task Groups: Manage Money, Manage Time, Use Measures and Manage Data.
Learning Networks of Ontario has a number of resources for instructors on their website under Resources and Publications . The Learning Networks of Ontario also have a website focusing solely on soft skills. The Soft Skills Resources offer various resources to help learners build the necessary soft skills needed gain and maintain employment.