Adult Learning Center 


Volunteer Orientation 

   

Index to Guidelines & Procedures

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The Index to Guidelines & Procedures is now available.

Guidelines for the first class of each semester

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  • If attendee has not paid, ask them to go to the front desk and fill out the application form and write a check:
  • Please let your Course Manager know of any first day absences.  Instructor's should contact missing students to find out if the student is still planning to attend.

Welcome and introductions - a model for any first class

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  • Introduce yourself and give some background information
  • Have coaches introduce themselves
  • Have students introduce themselves, including what they hope to learn, and whether they have a computer at home
  • Avoid embarrassing anyone
  • Be sensitive to what they are really saying
  • Address students by name
  • Tell the class about the facilities. Restrooms are down the hall, water fountain at the far end of the hall, both on the left.
  • Find out if students have a decline in their ability to see and hear or have other physical problems that you will need to accommodate.

What is Roswell Adult Learning Centers Mission?

To build a community of computer-using seniors in order to bring older adults access to technology and to empower them to share their knowledge and wisdom with others.

  • To educate older adults about computer technologies in a warm and friendly environment
  • To encourage lifelong learning and the progression along a pathway from computer literacy to fluency to mastery
  • To take part in the community of computer using older adults
  • To provide outreach to a wider community, contributing to society by providing assistance to others

What basic principles guide RALC programs?

  • A computer is an important tool but not an end in itself. The objective is to help members use the computer to accomplish tasks they see as important.
  • Provide members with no computer experience the basic skills while allowing more advanced members to gain greater skills in their area of interest.
  • Use of the Peer Teaching Model - Members learn best when taught by their peers. Instructional materials are designed to make beginning teachers comfortable. Turn the best students into teachers.
Is RALC a proven program?

Yes!

  • Our local program averages 250+ registrations for classes annually.
  • Members like being taught by peers, and like the low student to instructor ratio, generally 3 or 4:1.
  • There are sometimes waiting lists for our classes, especially new offerings.
  • Little advertising is done, many students hear about RSLC by word of mouth.
  • Hardware and software are kept current to keep our members current.

Roswell Adult Learning Center

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Who supports our local Roswell Adult Learning Center?

  • Corporate sponsors, City of Roswell Department of Recreation and Parks
  • Student fees
  • Local volunteers

How is Roswell Adult Learning Center organized?

  • All volunteer with Roswell Recreation staff support - Mary Rummel
  • Bylaws - Roswell Adult Learning Center
  • Executive Committee - made up of officers and coordinators
  • Instructors and coaches
  • Communicate via:
    • Meetings - held quarterly, prior to each class session
    • Email - please let the volunteer coordinator know about any address changes.
    • RoswellALC.org (website)
      • To access Volunteers Only section:
      • For passwords contact the Webmaster

Typical Class

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What is a typical class like?

  • Class size is 12 students or less, with an instructional team of three to five.
  • Students and staff are asked to wear name tags. You will find these on the back table. These are left in the classroom at the end of each class. The name tag holders are re-used for the next class.
  • Classes are two hours long with one ten minute break.
  • Lesson format:
    • A brief review of the last class
    • New information
    • Practice exercises
    • Challenge
    • It is not expected that everything in the entire lesson will be done. Usually there is plenty of time to cover all of the new information and most of the exercises. Fast groups may have time to do the challenge. It is better to be too slow, than to be too fast!
  • Each student is given a manual and a floppy disk or CD with student exercise files. (Some also get a blank disk.) Students should be encouraged to read the lesson before coming to class.
  • An instructor's computer and projector is available.
  • There is no eating or drinking allowed in the classroom. Breaks can be taken across the hall in the lounge area.

Expectations

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What is expected of our instructors and coaches?

Because we are instructing older adults, we should keep a few things in mind. First, adult learning is usually motivated by the desire to learn something, rather than a quest for a good grade or credit. This means that a student may selectively learn what is important to him or her, not what is important to you, the instructor or coach! We best meet the needs of our students by identifying and accepting the students' learning needs.

While we remain intrinsically motivated as we age, we also become different from younger students in the following ways:

  • Suffer from computer phobia
    • Have a decline in our ability to see and hear
    • Suffer from impaired circulation
    • Are influenced by our prior learning experiences
    • Have slower reaction times, poorer fine motor skills, poorer in hand-eye coordination
    • Have decreased levels of stamina and energy
    • May be anxious about being in the student role again
As adults, we retain 5% of what we hear, 10% of what we read, 20% of an audiovisual presentation, 30% of a demonstration, 50% by participating in a discussion, 75% by practicing, and 90% when we teach others or immediately use what we have learned.

Keeping these facts in mind, instructors and coaches should:

  • Meet before the start of the class series to discuss expectations, schedules, and how the work load will be divided. (Some classes may have more than one instructor.)
  • Prepare for each class by reviewing the lesson.
  • Check the website regularly for announcements.
  • Follow the "First Day Guidelines" on the first day of class. These are posted on the website.
  • Make sure students get up and walk around during the break. Although a student may be eager to practice a skill or ask a question, they also need to get the circulation going in their legs!
  • Promote good body mechanics at the computer. Pay attention to monitor height, chair height, and leg support. Check the students' hand position on the mouse, and remind them to be gentle with it.
  • Participate in a mid-session meeting to fill out the mid-session evaluation and discuss any pertinent issues.
  • Ask students to fill out the feedback form on the last day of class, and put these on the class shelf in the cupboard when complete.
  • On the last day of class, instructors should sign and distribute certificates.
  • Remind students each week about the opportunity to practice in the free computer lab session. Computer lab is also a good way to make up a missed class.
  • Encourage students with potential to become coaches. This is a good way to keep learning!
  • Provide input to the Course Coordinator regarding suggestions for any curriculum changes.
  • Keep up to date. Instructors and coaches may borrow software to install on their personal computers if they need to do so to prepare for class (Do not lend this software to students, however). You can also audit a course at no charge if there is room, or coach and learn at the same time.
  • Assist in computer lab if interested and able to do so.
  • Find a substitute if unable to honor a teaching commitment. A volunteer list is posted on the website. Let the rest of the staff know who the substitute will be.
  • Encourage and support students in a friendly, warm manner. Reassure each student regarding their progress, point out all they have learned.
  • Participate in meetings and other organizational activities as able.
  • Report problems with hardware to the Technology Manager via email.
  • Submit time sheet to Mary Rummel, either on line or to the office.

Instructor Duties

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What else does an instructor do?

  • "Learns the ropes" by coaching one class series before agreeing to instruct.
  • Conducts a brief review of the previous lesson at the start of each class.
  • Using the student manual, guides the students through the information and exercises for each lesson, following the lesson format.
  • Presents instructions one step at a time. Teach from the manual. Do not offer several ways to do a task or introduce something new, as this confuses the beginning student.
  • Paces the class to fit the students' needs; avoids rushing to get through the entire lesson.
  • Resists the temptation to supplement what is in the curriculum. If you have extra time, review the material covered previously. Too much new information overwhelms a beginning student, and learning will be inhibited.
  • Offers an opportunity for questions. Be a good listener. Don't interrupt a student when they are asking a question. Repeat a question before answering, and answer honestly without going into technical details. If you don't know the answer, try to find it for the next class.
  • Teaches the student how to use the manual.
  • Engages the student by asking questions, asking them to point, etc.
  • Modifies instructions for students with limitations. For example, consider teaching keyboard commands to mouse-impaired students.
  • Begins and ends class in a timely manner, keeping to the two hour time limit for class. After two hours, a student's ability to retain information will decline.

Coach Duties

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What else does a coach do?

  • In the least disruptive manner possible, assists students during the class by keeping them on track as the lesson proceeds.
  • Keeps hands off the student's mouse and keyboard, encouraging the student to do the task. If you do it, you are learning it, not the student!
  • Keeps background noise to a minimum. Do not engage in a mini lesson on the side, and minimize talking to the student when the instructor is instructing.
  • Solves problems, e.g. when computer freezes or fails to respond properly.
  • Helps the instructor pace the lesson by letting him or her know when students are ready to move on.
  • Identifies students with hearing, vision or other disabilities, informs the instructor, and adjusts coaching to meet their special needs. Most of all, whether you are a coach or instructor, be yourself, have fun and get to know our wonderful students who are so eager to learn. In return, you will learn from them and from your fellow volunteers, and experience that good "volunteer" feeling.

    Classroom Supplies

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    Where will I find classroom supplies?

    • Restrooms are down the hall, water fountain at the far end of the hall, both on the left.
    • Software and other miscellaneous supplies are in the cupboards in the classroom. Disks/CD's, class rosters, feedback forms are shelved by class, in the unlocked cupboards.
    • Class manuals are locked in the front cabinets.
    • There is a copy machine and RSLC mailbox in the Rec. Center office.
    • Name tags should be available on the first day of class, usually on one of the tables in the classroom. The Disk Master prints up any that may be missing.
    • There are six printers, one on each table. Instructions for use are posted on each printer and PC.
    • Please lock the classroom after the last class of the day. The key is in the office.
    • Instructor computer and projector demonstration.

    Teaching the older adult - insights and tips

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    Adult learning is usually motivated by the desire to learn something, rather than a quest for a good grade or credit. While we remain intrinsically motivated as we age, we also become different from younger students in the following ways:

    • Suffer from computer phobia
    • Have a decline in our ability to see and hear
    • Are influenced by our prior learning experiences
    • Have slower reaction times
    • Have decreased levels of stamina and energy
    • May be anxious about being in the student role again
    As adults, we retain 5% of what we hear, 10% of what we read, 20% of an audiovisual presentation, 30% of a demonstration, 50% by participating in a discussion, 75% by practicing, and 90% when we teach others or immediately use what we have learned.

    Given this situation, incorporate the following into your classes:

    • Pace the class to fit the students needs. Don't rush the students through the lesson
    • Present instructions one step at a time. Teach from the manual. Do not offer several ways to do a task or introduce something new, as this confuses the beginning student.
    • Don't overwhelm the student with information. Resist the temptation to supplement what is in the curriculum. If you have extra time, review the material covered previously.
    • Keep background noise to a minimum.
    • Keep your hands off the student's mouse and keyboard, encourage the student to do the task under your guidance.
    • Keep to the two hour time limit for class, anything longer and students will not learn as well.
    • Make sure students get up and walk around during the break. Don't let them work through it.
    • Match student to monitor height (we have two) and encourage them to adjust their chair height. Check the student's hand position on the mouse, and remind them to be gentle with it.
    • Reassure each student regarding their progress, point out all they have learned.
    • Be a good listener, don't interrupt a student when they are asking a question.
    • Repeat a question before answering, and answer honestly without going into technical details. If you don't know the answer, try to find out what it is for the next class.
    • Teach the student how to use the manual.
    • Engage the student by asking questions, asking them to point, etc.

    Most of all, be yourself, have fun and get to know the wonderful students who are so eager to learn. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more yourself, and to experience that good feeling that comes from helping others to grow as well.

    Guidelines for Lab Staff

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    1. Greet each student as they arrive, or soon after, and ask if there is anything you can do to help. The greeting should include identifying who you are, asking the student's name and what course the student is enrolled in.
    2. Avoid spending extended time with any one student or doing personal work. Instead, rotate among all the students, and ask how it is going. This gives the less aggressive student a chance to ask for help without feeling that he/she is interrupting you.
    3. Keep it simple and stick to the manual. Do not offer several ways to do a task or introduce something new, as this confuses the beginning student. (Exceptions can be made if the student has physical or mental limitations which require a different way of doing something, or if the student is interested in elaborating on what is in the lesson.)
    4. Some of our students may have limitations, including beginning dementia. These students often are encouraged to come to lab by their instructors, and are as deserving of our help and support as anyone else. We need to reach out in a friendly way to such students, as they may be reluctant to broadcast their limitations.

    Executive Committee

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    Meet the Executive Committee

    Thank you for being a Roswell Adult Learning Center volunteer.

     


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