Learner-centred programming describes the fundamental principle of the LBS Program whereby the unique needs and concerns of individual learners are respected and taken into consideration in the programs and services we offer. This is most evident in a number of programming features and these three in particular:
- Individualized Learner (Service) Plans
- Linguistic and Cultural Considerations
- Supporting Learners through Service Coordination and Referrals
1. Individualized Learner Plan
An individualized Learner Plan or Service Plan is created for every learner as he or she is registered in LBS as an Employment Ontario client. The Service Plan for each learner is housed online on EOIS/CaMS (the Employment Ontario Information System/Case Management System). Policies and procedures o practices related to the actual development of Learner Plans and the posting of the information into the system vary from program to program, but the purpose and intent, the benefits and captured documentation is the same across the province.
From earlier readings, you are already aware of the purpose, benefits and required documentation for Learner Plans but the point we want to emphasize here is how Learner Plans epitomize learner-centred programming. The fact that LBS serves approximately 60,000 learners annually and that each learner on entry into LBS and the Employment Ontario system participates in a one-to-one situation in developing a personal learning plan built on an in-depth assessment and analysis of his or her background experience, current knowledge and ability and self-identified goal for the future, is, quite simply, remarkable.
For easy reference:
Most practitioners, who have responsibility for creating Service Plans in EOIS/CaMS and for keeping learner plans up-to-date are experiencing quite a learning curve. User support and training for EOIS/CaMS can be found on the eopg website. Check out EOIS/CaMS Training
2. Linguistic and Cultural Considerations
The LBS Program provides literacy and upgrading programs and services to four distinct cultural and linguistic groups: anglophone, francophone, native and deaf. It is of primary concern that programming appropriately respect and take into account the cultural and linguistic considerations of each group so that Ontario's population in all its rich diversity is well and fairly served. This objective is further evidence of the learner-centredness of the program.
Linguistic and cultural considerations were made possible through the active involvement of representatives from each group throughout the inception and development of the the OALCF. Particular products were developed to explicitly serve linguistic and cultural considerations - including the Supplemental Tasks for Practitioners and the Learning Materials Lists organized by stream. During the development phase of the Supplemental Tasks for Practitioners,, developers representing Deaf, Francophone, and Native learners indicated that many of the tasks listed for Anglophone learners could also be used by, or adapted for, their cultural groups. To fill the gaps, or where more cultural context was necessary, additional tasks for a particular cultural or linguistic group were included.
The following links lead to suggestions by representatives from the francophone, deaf and native streams for specific linguistic and cultural considerations for each of the six competencies:
3. Supporting Learners through Service Coordination and Referrals
A third feature of LBS that demonstrates the learner-centredness of the program is the supporting of learners through service coordination and referral. The following excerpt is taken directly from the OALCF document of that name:
There are two important features of an adult literacy program that contribute significantly to positive learner outcomes. The first is quality instruction for an adult to gain the needed literacy skills and competencies. The second is timely access to the needed supports and services.
Literacy practitioners understand that unless learners can devote the time, energy and focus to their learning activities, they will not make the necessary progress they need to achieve their goals. Worries about finances, child care and other personal challenges can distract and undermine a learner’s efforts with their literacy learning. This paper provides practitioners with an overview of how service coordination and referrals can contribute to positive learner outcomes.
There are many reasons why adults lack the literacy-related skills and competencies they need for work, further education and training, as well as for their personal lives. For some adults, elementary and secondary school was a negative experience resulting in a poor attitude towards learning. Either physical or mental health challenges may have interrupted regular attendance causing some students to fall behind their peers and consequently lose motivation. Others, particularly those living in poverty, may have left secondary school to meet the practical demands of work or family; while others may have become involved in crime or addiction making it difficult to continue with the education that might have led to a career path. For some adults their level of literacy skills and competencies may have been appropriate until their work or home circumstances dramatically changed due to an accident at work, the closure of their plant or a change in marital status. Many of these adults have become literacy learners and bring their challenges along with their dreams and their specific learning needs to Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS). Some will come with a network of supports, others with none.
Most literacy learners are people who need additional supports to succeed. LBS service providers are primarily resourced and mandated to provide quality literacy instruction and use service coordination and referral as the way to link learners to the other non-instructional supports they need. The learner plan tracks the most important of these supports providing learners with a broader view of their plans in order to help them to reach their goals. Tracking information about learner supports also sets in place the information needed for program improvement.
Learners are best served when all services and programs work seamlessly together. LBS service providers are required to work with other organizations to better coordinate non-instructional supports for learners.
The following questions are addressed in Supporting Learners through Service Coordination and Referrals. Read to capture the highlights in the response to each question.
- Why are learner supports and service coordination important?
- What are the main supports that contribute to learner success?
- How do practitioners decide what “other supports” learners require?
- How does service coordination help learners?
- How is a learner helped through case management?
- How is a learner helped through inter-agency cooperation?
- How can we help learners through integrated programming?
- How is a learner helped through community-wide planning?
We now take a look at how learner-centred programming, with its individual Learner Plans, linguistic and cultural considerations and service coordination and referrals support successful transitions.