A COMMUNITY-BASED ADULT LEARNING CENTRE
Alberta Vocational Centre, Calgary, has opened a community - based Adult Learning Centre in Forest Lawn Public Library in East Calgary. This project is being funded by Alberta Advanced Education and Manpower and is operating in cooperation with Calgary Public Library. The A.L.C. offers an ABE program in reading, writing and arithmetic to the grade 9 equivalency level. Tuition is free, learning materials are provided, attendance is flexible, registration is by drop-in, and there is continuous entry/exit and individualized progress. There is one instructor on site during the hours of operation.
The Adult Learning Centre was fully enrolled on the second day of registration, September 12, 1978. At this writing, 35 are registered and attending on a regular basis. Some students come nearly every afternoon or evening; some two or three times a week. The day is divided into two time slots - 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The peak periods are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Our original assumption that 10 students at a time would be the maximum number for efficient instruction has been borne out by the experience of the instructional staff at the Centre.
Attendance patterns are still in a state of flux but it appears that eventually we will be able to accommodate additional students in the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday afternoon time slots. Supply of students is definitely not a problem. We advertised very little commercially in advance of registration (the week of September 11) and we have a handbill ready for posting in the community if it becomes necessary to recruit, additional students.
Most of our students reside in or near the greater Forest Lawn area although there are some exceptional cases where students travel across a large section of the city.
Placement in the program is accomplished by curricular tests geared to the re- source material rather than by standardized test. Initial results show modal placement is in the Level II area (Grade 4-6). The breakdown is as follows:
It has, as expected, been obvious that informality is very important to the operation of the Adult Learning Centre. On arrival, a new student is offered a cup of coffee and is engaged in a discussion of the general program by the instructor. If it appears he can benefit from the program, a return appointment is made for further discussion and preliminary placement activities. On the third visit, the student registers formally and begins work. On the fourth visit, an attendance commitment and schedule are established and a full work program is entered into.
Further orientation to community health care facilities and to opportunities of career planning are carried out by the nurse and counsellor during their visits. The nurse and counsellor are each on site once a week for three hours. The formal workshop concept does not appear to be viable in such an informal setting. It appears that it is going to be better to hold half hour "coffee break" periods where discussion is steered by the counsellor or nurse. During the remainder of the time, they are available for private consultation with interested students.