Blended Learning for Workplace Training

We enhance employment opportunities for refugees & immigrants through blended learning models for workplace training and financial literacy

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Eligibility

  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Linnie Pawlek

Initiative's representative date of birth

04/04/1977

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • USA

Where are you making a difference?

USA, Colorado, Denver metro area

Website or social media url(s)

@teachbytech - Facebook @Teach_By_Tech - Twitter

When was your organisation founded?

08/2016

Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
  • Creating digital tools

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $50k - $100k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

I was teaching full time as a history professor at a local community college. One night I was talking with the janitor. She told me her story of coming to the US and the obstacles she faced because of language, skill demands, time and educational opportunities. She had children and needed to balance parenting and working, which left little time for education. I had been teaching traditional, hybrid and online classes. This conversation got me to thinking if hybrid (blended) models were the best option to reach refugees & immigrants and provide them with education courses tailored to their specific needs. The model could integrate language learning needs & specific training allowing access to quality instructors & convenience to learning.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

For many refugees and immigrants coming to the US, participation and inclusion in mainstream society remains a challenge. Low literacy & numeracy skills exacerbate this problem. Though interventions exist it is difficult for people with limited literacy skills & low income to consistently attend classes because of a myriad of obstacles in time, cost and travel. Reaching this population is imperative and overcoming obstacles is essential.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Teach By Tech addresses these challenges by teaching adult refugees and immigrants essential skills- oral communication, numeracy, writing, reading, job skills and digital literacy- using a blended learning model, which incorporates access to quality instructors and access to learning via mobile phones. Our model can be used without the necessity of expensive data plans or internet connection. Our courses are focused on workplace training and financial literacy. All classes include lessons on digital literacy and basic mobile phone functions. Each week we hold a 2-hour face to face class with our cohort of students. Our classes give participants an opportunity to practice hands-on application and receive feedback and critique from instructors. We create custom videos to supplement each concept. Our videos use non-white, female-centric characters to increase representation & inclusion. Videos are 12-15 minutes in length & include embedded mini-assessments to promote understanding and interaction with the content. Videos are texted to students. Students earn certificates upon completion of course and have the opportunity to be trained as trainer in using the blended model.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Our blended learning cashier training course enhances opportunities for refugees & immigrants to find employment at the Denver International Airport. This is a 9-week course with 15 participants, many of whom are already employed in janitorial or baggage handling positions. Every class has an ESL focus as we teach oral communication, writing, math, reading, time management & safety at work skills. To date our retention rate is 77%. Every week we text our custom videos, which use storytelling & 2D motion graphics to engage learners & increase accessibility of education. We respond to all received texts. Our embedded assessments provide real time feedback & capture data that 87% of students are viewing the videos & taking assessments.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Our programs use an essential skills approach. Classes are organized around transferable skills that are necessary for navigating entry-level positions and obtaining promotions. We do this using a blended learning approach. In our face to face sessions we provide opportunities for English language acquisition and practicing real world application of skills such as money handling, computer literacy, customer service, reading, writing, goal setting and financial literacy. Our videos give participants the ability to learn new concepts, practice their skills and continue English language acquisition at their convenience. Because of our blended approach digital literacy is essential. We support mastering the 1st three stages of digital literacy: traditional literacy, basic mobile literacy and mobile technical literacy. We aim to introduce and develop competency in Mobile Internet Literacy .

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

We integrate soft skills and workforce skills development into digital skills educational and training programs. Our priority is basic foundational skills. Basic skills cover hardware (i.e using a keyboard & operating touch-screen technology), software (i.e. managing files on laptops, managing privacy settings on mobile phones), and basic online operations (i.e. email, search, or completing an online form). Students take a short skills assessment on the computer. We use a hands-on approach to build these skills. Students complete scenarios in and out of class to gauge progress with tech.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several groups focused on skills training or education accessibility. However, the innovations are focused on an online or a face to face solution and none are addressing language barriers to workforce training. The blended learning model allows for adult participants to improve their language skills while learning to use technology as they train for new jobs. Blended learning couples the benefits of communicative interactions with the convenience of distance learning while incorporating essential digital literacy skills to training.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

For two years we have offered ESL blended learning financial literacy courses to refugees and immigrants. We have provided training for 229 participants. Of those participants we have recorded 87% increase in English language skills, 96% able to accurately identify U.S. currency, 77% have checking accounts, 38% opened a savings account, 44% used credit account, 39% started using online banking. In February 2020 we implemented an ESL blended learning workforce training program. To date 19 refugee & immigrant participants are improving English language acquisition while training for cashier positions. Training is focused on oral communication, money handling and math skills, reading, writing and time management. All classes are taught recognizing transferable skills & increasing understanding & use of technology. Students have interviews available with potential employees upon completion

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Funds are raised through public and private partnerships as well as individual donations and corporate sponsorships. Our workforce training courses are supported using government and grant funds which allow for the service to be provided at no costs to participants. Our financial literacy courses are funded through partnerships with local banking institutions and corporate sponsors as well as grant funds. This, too, allows for courses to be provided at no cost to participants. Our funding campaigns provide direct resources for our students and assist in technology use and graphic design/videography creation.

10. Team

Executive Director/Lead Teacher- FT- 16 years college professor - MA in International Development CTO- volunteer position- 20 years experience as software developer, web designer, Q & A specialist and game designer. Volunteer coordinator- volunteer position- Board Member Graphic Designer/ Motion Graphics- paid Consultant- Art Institute of Colorado 10+ years in animation and video production Curriculum development team- volunteer positions- College professors and industry profession

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Gender

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

Patriarchy impacts decisions around the world. It also limits the opportunities for women and unfairly burdens women with household obligations. This often leads women economically dependent or with little opportunity for economic advancement. This non-profit was founded to change that. We make female participation in our courses and classes a priority and create curriculum and animations that are female friendly and inclusive.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

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Team

Thank you for all the feedback! It gives us a better understanding of how we can improve in the future and how we can better present our ideas and projects.