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Advice from Successful ADLC Students

girl sitting at desk doing homework

This article was prepared for ADLC’s March newsletter. The newsletter is delayed, but we felt this story would be helpful nevertheless. 

To put it mildly, a lot has changed since our last newsletter. We told you then about the experience of distance learning from the perspective of an ADLC Distance Education (DE) teacher. We planned to follow that story with a perspective from students. Luckily we got a chance to talk to a few before the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the changes all around us, now might be a good time to tell these stories.

We interviewed:

  • Kelsey Friesen, a high school graduate who used ADLC to complete several courses during her time in high school.
  • Annastacia Gerke, a grade 11 student registered with the Centre for Learning. She is currently taking Biology, Chemistry and Math with ADLC.
  • MacKenzie Lindstrom, a 16 year-old student from Grande Prairie, Alberta. She attends St. Joseph Catholic High School part time and is currently taking Science 30 and Chemistry 20 online with ADLC.
  • Latisha Myles, another high school graduate who attended Father Mercredi High School. Latisha took Forensic Science, Psychology, Science 20 and Science 30 with ADLC. She used a combination of print and online delivery.

We think their advice and experience will help students who are new to distance education learners. Here are some of their comments.

Distance learning is different. Start slow and then find your pace.

  • Latisha told us that starting the courses was a bit of a challenge, but through the Skype lessons,  tutoring and all the direct contact, she soon felt at ease. Her school’s DE facilitator helped her get started.  She appreciated the extra help, especially the videos.
  • Kelsey felt distance learning was similar to the classroom once she got used to mailing in some of her assignments.
  • MacKenzie liked that she could work at her own pace. She admitted that, “some sections of the courses were harder than others but my teachers were always very helpful.
  • Annastacia said “Once you learn the process, it’s easier to navigate. I was slower in Gr. 10. I would rather go slower and do well. The courses are well organized and thorough.
  • On the advice of her mother and older siblings, Annastacia’s first distance education courses were taken at a slower pace, in order to understand the format of ADLC courses. After learning how to do this, she was able to build on acquired skills and handle a greater amount of courses the next year.”
  • Kelsey’s friend needed to upgrade to get into post-secondary and — ADLC helped her get there.
  • Latisha found the experience a little hard at first “simply because of being on my own”. She said she needed time to adjust, and then she relied on good time management.

ADLC teachers are there to help – use them!

  • MacKenzie said that every time she called a teacher they responded really quickly. “They leave descriptive messages and explain the content really well.
  • Annastacia’s teachers stayed in contact by phone and email. “They were very helpful. They explained the concepts very well. My assignments/feedback were usually returned to me within 1-2 days.
  • Latisha said she “had great experience with teachers, they even offered tutoring.
  • Kelsey was impressed when her ADLC French teacher, who was driving through High Prairie, stopped at her school just to check-in!

Distance learning is flexible and fills gaps. You can spend the time you need on a topic. 

  • Annastacia likes that it is self-paced. She often needs to take time away to compete in tournaments and ADLC allows her the flexibility to do that. “I am able to focus on both.
  • Latisha says she appreciated the opportunity to take courses that were not offered in Fort McMurray—Forensic Science and Psychology.
  • Annastacia’s mom told us that it’s hard to find teachers who will stop and speak to their students for 60+ minutes, like her kids have experienced at ADLC. “We have five other children who took courses from ADLC. All received scholarships and have one or two degrees.
  • Kelsey chose to take ADLC courses because the teacher at her school had a style that didn’t quite fit for her but there were no other choices. At ADLC she was able to connect with a teacher whose teaching style matched her learning style.
  • Kelsey was also able to fast-track her Social Studies 30-1 — she wrote the diploma exam in April and was able to focus on preparing for other exams in May and June.

ADLC can set you up for success.  

  • MacKenzie said that ADLC courses helped her prepare for post secondary. The experience taught her how to be disciplined and scheduled.
  • Kelsey also talked about how ADLC helped her learn time management. “It was great prep for taking university courses.”
  • Latisha’s opportunity to explore Forensics and Psychology while in high school led to a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a major in Criminology.

We want to thank these young people for sharing their ADLC experiences with us. We hope their success stories will inspire the many students across the province who are facing a different way of learning. Who knows, maybe they’ll find Distance Learning to be a really nice fit.

In our next newsletter, we plan to bring you more success stories from some elementary and junior high ADLC students. Stay tuned!

Supporting Your Teachers & Your Students

teacher in front of class with ADLC book

The Alberta Distance Learning Centre has been supporting Alberta’s students since 1923. Our services are especially valuable in challenging times. We are eager to share with you how ADLC is continuing to provide support.

As principal of ADLC, I know how valuable our services can be to your teachers and students. The critical item to note here is that our services are available to you at no cost! 

ADLC Resources Support Your Teachers in Your School

ADLC’s high-quality resources are fully aligned with the Alberta Programs of Study.

Alberta teachers with highly diverse or complex classrooms can access ADLC resources, which are essentially our courses less the ADLC teacher, to support the local teacher’s instruction. 

ADLC’s curriculum aligned resources can help new teachers whose assignments include remnants of the school’s timetable. We provide support for planning, instruction and assessment. 

We know that many teachers, school counselors, and administrators are burning the candle at both ends to support your students as best you can. It can seem like survival mode. 

Our resources can help teachers thrive, not just survive.

We are here to help 

Here are some examples of how we can help support a wider range of needs, while keeping the standards high to challenge the potential of the students in your class. ADLC’s service mandate can assist:

  • teachers with English Language Learners who are new to the country 
  • teachers who have students who have fallen behind academically
  • teachers with split or multi-grade classrooms
  • new teachers needing help with lesson planning
  • teachers who are looking for subject-area expertise as a means to develop their capacity to be highly effective 
  • schools as they look to broader elective programming 
  • teachers who have students with extended absences, such as hospital stays or long trips

Our resources are here to help your teachers provide rich and meaningful learning experiences.

ADLC Provides Instruction for Your Students at No Cost. Our services are free!

In some cases, it makes sense for ADLC to provide instruction for your students. This is available to you at no cost. The reasons for having ADLC teachers provide instruction are much the same as when your own teachers use our resources in the classroom. However, when we provide the instruction, you can leave everything up to us. The student remains yours, but we handle the instruction, assessment, and reporting to Alberta Education. 

As your student body becomes more diverse, know that we can support your students needs. This might free your classroom teacher up to address their most urgent needs. Or, perhaps, you might have students who demonstrate the maturity and independence to work at their own pace, whether it’s faster or slower than your semestered classes. Alternatively, you can operate  an independent, supervised study space, or have students work in the Learning Commons. Students can even work outside of regular school hours. 

Our affiliations regularly report back tremendous success for their students in broadening and enriching their school programs. 

Give us a call!

We are funded by Alberta Education to support Alberta schools and their students. As you continue to strive to provide rich and meaningful learning opportunities in your school, we urge you to consider leveraging ADLC services. We can elevate you toward your goals. We don’t sell our services but we have lots to give. 

Give us a call or schedule a school-site visit to show you firsthand how we can help. 

For more information, visit our website at adlc.ca or call 1-866-774-5333.

Sincerely,

Steven Kaplan
Principal

Changing Lives – One Student at a Time

teacher at computer video conferencing with student

A grade 5 student and his ADLC teacher in a video call.

 

ADLC has a role to play in building understanding about distance learning in Alberta. This story is part of a series intended to highlight the unique characteristics and opportunities of distance learning. We will start with a look at teaching from a distance, from the perspective of the teacher.

Ask teachers everywhere why they teach, and the answers will be similar: 

  • “I love learning.”
  • “I love kids.” 
  • “Because children are the future, and I want to help them grow.” 
  • “I want to share my passion.” 
  • “I want to help young people along their journey.” 
  • “I want to change lives.” 

The teachers who have chosen to work at ADLC have the same reasons; they just act on their passions by using technology to overcome the time and space that separates them from their students. One thing that best defines both the similarities and differences is the way teachers form relationships with their students. In the end, all teaching requires connections between people.

In a traditional classroom, teachers and students interact continuously. They get to know one another through casual conversations as well as through structured learning activities. The students’ assignments deepen the teacher’s understanding about students’ learning needs. In a distance learning setting, the opportunity for casual interaction is obviously very limited. While there are opportunities to talk on the phone, through video-calls, and sometimes face-to-face, most of the communication between the student and teacher is written. The students and teachers get to know one another by the written messages they share. This amplifies the need for distance learning teachers to have excellent written communication skills. The students’ perceptions of their teacher are created and defined by the teachers’ written words.

One might presume that this reliance on written communication may hinder relationships, but ADLC teachers know that many of their students thrive in this setting because of who they are and why they chose ADLC courses in the first place. Not every student can thrive in the traditional classroom. Not every student’s life is well suited to a traditional school setting. The students served by ADLC include a whole host of typical students and may also include the chess champion who is accelerating her high school courses, the athlete who needs to practice gymnastics for 6 hours a day, the student on a Hutterite colony, the student with physical health issues, or the student with anxiety issues. Of course, many students are taking ADLC courses amidst a schedule of traditional courses in a bricks and mortar school. Students choose to take distance courses because they prefer or need this flexible delivery method. ADLC teachers know this and build relationships with their students, one student at a time.   

ADLC teachers know that the relationships they build require much more purpose and focus than in a traditional setting. They have to maintain high standards of written communication. A typical day could include 1200 words of feedback: composed, reviewed, grammar checked, edited, and re-read prior to sending. This feedback is specific to the students and their work. The added value for students is that the written feedback is stored with the assignment so they can check and recheck it as they process their learning. 

 

teacher at computer with headset
An ADLC senior high English teacher reviewing a student’s work

ADLC teachers have a range of experience. Some have worked the majority of their careers in a distance setting, others have transitioned from traditional schools, and others are beginning their teaching careers in the distance setting. ADLC teachers choose to teach this way because it matches their passion. They also told us that to be a great distance education teacher, it’s very important to have experience learning from a distance. The teachers we talked to have that experience. One actually took ADLC courses when she was in high school. Another continues to take distance courses as part of her post graduate studies. Many attend online seminars to access knowledge and information from experts around the world. 

ADLC’s priority is to serve your students in your schools. ADLC teachers take great pride in the quality of the relationships they have with students at a distance and strive to leverage the connections they make for the success of every student. Like teachers across the province, they chose the profession because teaching changes lives, and through ADLC, teachers do that one student at a time.

In the next story of this series, we plan to talk with students and tell the story of distance learning from their perspective. Stay tuned!