Friday, August 14, 2020

Windham Raymond Adult Education prepares to offer online classes this fall

Windham Raymond Adult Education will transition to online
classes and online registration because of COVID-19 restrictions.
A digital catalogue of courses offered by the program this fall will
be available for the public at the end of August.
By Ed Pierce
Across America and even right here in Windham and Raymond, a movement is under way for adults to learn new career skills and knowledge and transform their lives, especially as the country struggles in the age of COVID-19.
Through the years, Windham Raymond Adult Education has been a path taken by thousands of adults by providing a range of instructional services to help them develop skills for further educational opportunities, job training, find better employment, and to realize their full potential as productive workers, family members and citizens of the community. As the fall term nears, many Windham Raymond Adult Education classes will be offered online because of COVID-19 but it hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for the program.
“We provide a safe place for students to learn, to get back on their path. We also help them to continue to navigate that journey, helping them to overcome barriers to their persistence with us. All of which helps to assist with their social and emotional well-being,” said Thomas Nash, director of Windham Raymond Adult Education. “Adult education not only contributes to our adult students’ educational attainment, but their employment options, their health and family development.”
Nash said that the program sees its students as the original ‘interrupted education’ population.“Adult education supports parents/caregivers role in their child’s education, helps train essential workers, assists in creating digital literacy and equitable digital access, assists with immigrant integration and ‘poverty reduction’ getting adults of all ages the skills they need for new jobs or moving up the career ladder as the economy shifts,” Nash said.
He said that some students take classes to transition to new careers more relevant in the 21st century, while others are looking to prepare to take the HiSET, the high school equivalency exam. Others have enrolled to better their computer skills, to earn their high school diploma, to complete English as a Second Language classes or for health and recreational purposes.


With a staff of about 75 instructors, Windham Raymond Adult Education was offeri8ngt about 300 different classes each year before the pandemic struck.
Nash said that many of those classes will continue to be offered to adult students except during the pandemic, they are being shifted online.
Along with online classes, registration for fall classes offered by the program will be available only online this fall.
“Our entire catalogue of fall classes will be available online at the end of August,” Nash said. “We will not be mailing out a catalogue this fall. We used to conduct in-person registration, but because of COVID-19, we changed that to strictly online registration.”
Because of the shift to online classes and online registration, Nash said Windham Raymond Adult Education is striving to stay as connected as possible to students without seeing them in person every day.
“Establishing relationships during the day and age of COVID is a challenge,” he said. “Some students preparing for the HiSET may not do as well need away from the classroom and need all the support and encouragement we can offer to them. We are trying to do the best we can given the circumstances related to the pandemic.”
Nash also said many in the community enjoy Windham Raymond Adult Education classes, such as yoga, so it’s disappointing to the staff not to see those people. It takes away opportunities people had, but it is a reality that we have to deal with.”
For many adult students, making the transition to online classes won’t be new.
“We transitioned to online classes in the spring because of the pandemic,” Nash said. “Some classes continued that way this summer.”
According to Nash, the feedback Windham Raymond Adult Education has received about online classes has been mixed.
“Some had reservations at first,” he said. A lot depends upon the level of the course they were taking. But other students were accustomed to learning online and were fine with it. The verdict is still out if many of the fall classes will lend themselves to that format.”
He said that the program is doing all it can to provide the best experience for adult students this fall and believes that this could be a genuine opportunity for some students to continue to explore what courses are available at Windham Raymond Adult Education or through other nearby schools online.
“Some students may find classes elsewhere that we do not offer and discover they are able to sign up for those classes through the remote option.” <      

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