A Not So BASE-ic Resource

A Not So BASE-ic Resource

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a topic that I have been thinking about a lot recently. It’s an important part of the updates that are being made to ACES TIF (Transitions Integration Framework), and we know that SEL principals are informing education at all levels. Because of this, I have been exploring the BASE Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) courses that are available this year to a limited number of ABE teachers and learners.

Information about getting access to the courses and some suggestions for how to use them with learners appeared in an earlier newsletter article written by our Statewide Distance Learning Coordinator, Elizabeth Bennett. My interest in these courses was piqued when I attended the informational webinar on November 29, which was my first opportunity to see what great content was available through these courses. Since then, I have spent some time exploring the courses and trying to look at them through an ACES/TIF lens, and I have come to the conclusion that they make up a rich resource collection that would be useful for anyone who wants to learn more about Transitions skills, such as Resilience, Motivation, and Future Goals.

SEL courses through an ACES/TIF lens

The courses all have a similar layout and user interface, making them easy to become comfortable with. Each course contains a series of slides with text and images as the way to deliver the content, and there are numerous reflection questions that users must respond to sprinkled throughout. When I worked through the Motivation course, some of the prompts were “What do you think needs to happen to increase your motivation?” and “Was there ever a time in which you felt more motivated? If so, what was different about you then?”

The course also identifies some of the traits of a motivated person and discusses the two types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic. At the end of the course, users are encouraged to identify something that they would like to have more motivation for and make an action plan for getting there.

There are also a number of very helpful accessibility features, such as being able to have the text read to you and being able to use a voice-to-text option for completing short answer responses within each course. There is also an option to change the language displayed within a course from English to one of more than fifty other languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, and Somali.

One drawback to the courses is that they were designed for a K-12 student audience, and they contain references to “kids” and other language revealing that adult learners were not the intended users. However, I believe that teachers could prepare their adult learners for this language and suggest some alternative terms to keep in mind while working through the courses. Teachers might suggest that adults silently substitute the words “learners” or “people” when they encounter “kids” in the courses.

Using the SEL courses for Adult Diploma

One of the ways in which I am most excited to try out these new courses is with learners who are pursuing an Adult Diploma. I believe that several of the courses, including the ones listed above, could be used as the instruction that some learners need to complete in order to fulfill the Navigating Systems and Developing a Future Pathway requirements within the Employability and Career Skills domain.

Learner progress within the courses is tracked and can be counted in a similar way to other state-approved Distance Learning platforms, and an Adult Diploma student would just need to complete a culminating task upon completion of the course(s) in order to use the course material as part of a diploma portfolio.

Some ideas for possible culminating tasks could include any of the following:

  • Having learners complete a “guided notes” document on which they define key terms and take notes on key takeaways while completing a course.
  • Teaching learners how to copy their responses to the plethora of short response questions that appear throughout each course and paste them into a Google or Word document; the responses could later be refined and submitted.
  • Completing a learning reflection activity in which learners outline what they learned in the course and discuss ways in which this learning could be applied to their lives.

Overall, I think these courses are a promising way to bring Transitions skills to the attention of our learners. The fact that the courses are self-paced means that they can be accessed on individual schedules, and they provide a way for learners to think about and engage in reflection on important, but sometimes sensitive, topics in a way that might feel more “safe” because they won’t have to share personal details in front of other people. Sometimes, we all just need to be alone with our thoughts.

Stephanie Sommers, ACES Coordinator ATLAS