As the district's network infrastructure is expanded, the school-based computer labs can support a wide range of education opportunities for adults in the community(1).Such expanded use of school-based technology is in accord with our nation's need to foster lifelong learning opportunities for all adults. Providing access through school-based computer labs is especially important in communities that are not served by a local community college or other institution for adult education.
Lifelong learning opportunities include:
Computer and Internet literacy classes taught by district teachers or others, including students.
Open lab access to the Internet.
Access to distance education classes offered through higher education institutions and other education and training providers.
Technology-based training for technical/professional skills.
Computer assisted learning of basic skills through the use of adult literacy software programs.
The development and implementation adult lifelong learning programs should be done in collaboration with other institutions and organizations in the region and state who are responsible for such activities. Some districts also have their own community education programs which can be expanded to include technology-related or facilitated classes. The district may be able to develop a program where it contracts with local businesses to provide training to their employees.
Partners to consider in the development of collaborative plans for lifelong learning programs include: the regional community college or institution of higher education, the public library, agencies working with adults on welfare, the regional U.S.D.A. Extension Service, local business and professional representatives, and the chamber of commerce. In some areas, districts within a wider geographic region may collaborate with each other and the regional community college or institution of higher education to establish a region-wide adult lifelong learning program.
In addition to the community benefit of adult lifelong learning activities, an advantage to districts of such collaborative use of technology is the potential additional funding that can be generated through such use through fees for use of the district's technical resources and collaborative funding-raising activities with partners.
(1)PL 103-382, Sec 3135, 20 USC 6845 (1)(C) an explanation of how programs will be developed in collaboration with existing adult literacy services providers to maximize use of such technologies. The term "adult lifelong learning" was chosen for these materials because it has a much broader perspective than "adult literacy."