Training Delivery Methods
People who want to improve their literacy skills come from all different backgrounds. They have individual skills and challenges. They learn in different ways. To be learner-centred, Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) instruction needs to be flexible. It needs to be offered in varying ways to support each learner’s training requirements and learning needs.
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) funds four streams, to best serve learners who are primarily
MTCU also funds three different literacy sectors or types of literacy programs:
- School board
Where possible, a mix of literacy programs exists in each community to meet individual learner’s goals.
There is no single “right” way to deliver literacy instruction. Over the years, programming has evolved to best meet the needs of learners, funders and the agencies themselves. Many programs offer a mix of different delivery styles that truly reflect a learner-centred approach. The method of delivery (one-to-one, small group, classroom and/or e-Channel) is an agency/program decision based on resources and community needs. Let’s take a few minutes to examine the various delivery models.
One-to-One and Small Group Delivery
In the one-to-one delivery model, trained instructors (either paid staff or volunteer tutors) work directly with one learner at a time. For example, the instructor may
- meet once or twice per week with the learner, for one or more hours at a time
- supplement the work done in a small group or class with individual help or tutoring
- watch over a number of learners at a time in a small group, supporting each learner as required
Learners may be able to attend programming for just a few hours per week or up to a full-time basis depending on the program’s hours and the learners’ schedules.
What’s common to these one-to-one models is that each learner works on their own individual learning activities and materials. Because of this, intake for one-to-one delivery is generally continuous. By this we mean learners are accepted into the LBS program at any time if there isn’t a wait list.
Community-based agencies are the programs most often to offer one-to-one delivery options. Instruction can take place at the literacy program or in another location such as a library or community centre.
In 2005, 2010 and 2016, Community Literacy of Ontario (CLO) conducted community-based LBS agency surveys which identified that small group programming is strongly incorporated into community-based agencies in Ontario. However, this doesn’t mean that programs have abandoned the one-on-one approaches; in fact, according to the 2010 survey approximately 95% of the 67 programs that responded to the survey offered both methods of instruction. Of the remainder, 3% use only small group instruction and 2% of the programs use only one-tone tutoring.
When asked by CLO to describe the benefits and challenges of the two types of program delivery, here is what Ontario community literacy agencies said:
One-to-One Individual Programming
- has the ability to meet individual learner needs
- provides a highly supportive, safe, private, non-threatening environment for students
- is convenient for learners (flexible times and locations)
- offers individualized attention and support
- allows students to move at their own pace
- builds self-esteem and confidence
- is highly learner-centred
- less instruction time available to individual learners
- scheduling issues
- if using tutors, the time for volunteer recruitment, training, coordination and monitoring
- cost per learner may be greater
Small Group Programming
- group support, encouragement and assistance
- peer group interaction increases a wide variety of skills
- peer learning and exposure to varied ideas and opinions
- can serve more learners
- helpful for transitioning students to future goals
- group dynamics give energy, confidence and motivation
- students can attend for more hours
- can develop programming targeted to group needs
- provides networking opportunities for students
- may provide a more structured setting
- meeting multi-level needs and goals
- time needed for preparation and follow-up
- lack of space
- group dynamics (personality conflicts, disruptive students)
- some students cannot keep up or work in a group setting
- less individualized support
- classroom delivery
- paid instructors may be required
- funding for paid instructors may be an issue
In this model, trained instructors work with more than ten learners at one time in a classroom setting. Classroom delivery is usually offered full-time, although some students may attend on a part-time basis. Intake may be continuous or there may be specific beginning and ending dates for the class.
Classrooms may be organized by literacy level or by goals where numbers warrant. In smaller communities, classes may include learners working at different levels and/or working towards different goals. This type of programming is generally offered in school board and college programs.
e-Channel is Ontario’s online adult literacy program. It’s a free service for adults who want to improve their skills. This web-based means of delivering literacy training provides
- opportunity to reach learners who choose or are in need of self-directed service
- services in four cultural streams – Aboriginal, Francophone, Anglophone and Deaf
- courses for learners preparing for apprenticeship and postsecondary education (ACE – Academic and Career Entrance)
- further access for persons with disabilities and for those who live in rural and remote communities
- additional courses local agencies may not be able to offer
- opportunity to try online learning
- supplemental learning from another instructor
In order for learners to be successful in distance learning via e-Channel, some computer skill proficiency is required. The e-learning service providers offer introductory courses on how to use the online learning platforms. They also can arrange one-to-one mentoring. For those who have sufficient skills, there is a wide range of courses. These are available either in live classes (synchronous) or anytime (asynchronous) classes, where learners can attend on their own schedule. Courses include:
- Using computers
- GED preparation
Only designated LBS service providers deliver and administer e-Channnel. These are:
- The Learning HUB, Avon Maitland District School Board (Anglophone)
- Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes (COFA), (Francophone)
- Good Learning Anywhere, Sioux Hudson Literacy Council (Aboriginal)
- ACE Distance, Academic and Career Entrance (Postsecondary and Apprenticeship)
- Deaf Learn Now, George Brown College (Deaf)
By offering flexible online upgrading, e-Channel learning removes barriers to Literacy and Basic Skills access, especially to those
- with disabilities
- living in rural or remote communities
- with transportation or childcare concerns
- unable to participate in on-site programs
- who simply prefer distance learning.
In general, blended learning refers to a combination of face-to-face training, whether one-to-one or classroom, and online learning. However, for the Employment Ontario Information System Case Management System (EOIS-CaMS) data entry purposes, blended learning refers to a combination of face-to-face through an LBS service provider with e-Channel delivery only. Blended learning has several benefits:
- learners may access more learning time than could be provided by either method alone
- enhanced student engagement through mixed media and interactive programming
- increased flexibility for students allowing them to progress at their own pace online and to access some material when in-person support is not available
- ability to review challenging material in-person, as needed
- less face-to-face instruction required, which makes it possible for in-person service providers to serve more learners
Blended learning has grown within Literacy and Basic Skills programming over the past decade. In fact, the majority of learners who participate in e-Channel do so as part of a blended learning situation, in which they are participating in face-to-face adult literacy delivery and in e-Channel concurrently. However, blended learning is being used inconsistently throughout LBS agencies across the province. In 2017, the Blended Learning within Ontario’s Literacy and Basic Skills Programs Survey was completed to develop a better understanding of this inconsistency – to develop insight into what factors are preventing LBS programs from integrating more blended learning opportunities into their programming and to identify what supports they require in order to address these factors. A website (https://e-channel.ca/practitioners/lbs-research/blended-learning-within-lbs-report) has been created to publish the results of the survey and to provide practitioner resources and links for learner access. The practitioner resources include:
- e-Channel Blended Learning Resources
- LBS Online Community of Practice
- Instructor Training Schedule
- LBS Research
- How-To Resources and Videos
- Web Conference Guides
- e-Channel LBS Resources
Questions and Activities for Reflection
- What training delivery methods are available to learners at your agency?
- How do you determine the most suitable training delivery method for learners?
- If you are not familiar with the e-Channel portals, take some time to check out one or more of them.
- How might you use the e-Channel courses to supplement learners’ training?
- Check out Khan Academy, QUILL, GCFLearnFree or other online learning sites.
- How might blending online independent learning with face-to-face instruction help both you and learners in your program?