Think you understand the skills gap? Check your math


by Emily Hallquist

Reskilling adults for the workforce is top of mind for many Americans and policymakers alike. In many ways, adult learners are the “new normal” student, and yet there is relatively little learning technology, course material, and educator support tailored to adult education.

When we attended the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) conference in May, this resource gap was all too apparent. We joined many sessions where educators shared their tactics for addressing day-to-day challenges in adult education, from boosting class attendance to adapting content for the adult learner. Simple solutions — such as starting a class Facebook group to create a regular communication channel — can have a true impact on outcomes. So what’s next?

When tackling messy problems, it’s tempting to look for a “big fix” from the next transformative technology. But in adult education, no single intervention will be the silver bullet. Technology is not a cure-all solution for complex issues around funding, degree pathways, and teacher preparation in adult education, but it can play a key role in addressing challenges like access, resourcing, and contextualization.

Our work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education on Power in Numbers is exploring how technology solutions can meet adult learner needs to improve math skills acquisition. In collaboration with the project’s expert advisors, our Luminary Labs Power in Numbers team recently published the first of three research reports. The Math Gap: Implications for Investing in America’s Workforce analyzes the key stakeholders in adult math — employers, learners, and educators — and makes the case for using low-cost, high-quality open educational resources (OER).

Here are four powerful findings from our research. To learn more, download the full report (PDF).

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