The e-Channel and Contact North I Contact Nord Success Story
Four in ten Ontarians aged 15 and over do not have the literacy skills they need to meet the demands of modern life. 1.3 million people (16.2%) struggle with very serious literacy challenges. They have difficulty with even the most basic written materials.
Another 2.1 million people (26%) can work with print information but not well. A further 1.8 million (21.3%) working age Ontarians struggle with very serious numeracy challenges and they have difficulty with even the most basic math. Another 2.4 million people (29.1%) can work with numeracy but not well.”
Eligible Ontario residents (those 19 years and over) can access Ontario’s online Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) “e-Channel” program across the province at no cost. Learners can achieve their goals related to employment, apprenticeship, post-secondary education, secondary school credit, and independence.
With the support of Contact North | Contact Nord, five organizations have delivered Ontario’s online Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) “e-Channel” program across the province since 2007.
The e-Channel organizations are:
- ACE Distance, provided by the College Sector Committee for Adult Upgrading
- Deaf Learn Now, provided by George Brown College
- Formation à Distance ([email protected]), provided by the Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes
- Good Learning Anywhere, provided by the Sioux-Hudson Literacy Council
- The LearningHUB, provided by The Centres for Employment & Learning of the Avon Maitland District School Board
They are community, school board and college-based.
Each organization chooses its own systems, platforms and programming. These organizations are using licensed and open-source learning management systems, licensed library-based software, Adobe Connect and Zoom.
Together, these organizations serve about 7,000 learners annually, delivering online courses aligned with the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF) to offer learner-centered programming to Ontarians whose literacy and basic skills are assessed at less than the end of Level 3 on the International Adult Literacy Skills Survey (IALSS) scale or the OALCF.
While online learning isn’t for everyone, and Internet access in some parts of Ontario continues to be a challenge, there are many stories from e-Channel students showing how they overcame their individual challenges.
Learners can co-register in both an e-Channel program and a face-to-face LBS program as “shared learners”, providing additional online learning opportunities from small LBS organizations lacking resources to develop additional content, to enhance their learners’ digital skills, and to receive support from their online mentors.
Following assessment, e-Channel learners receive personalized online study options to help them gain the skills and knowledge they need.
e- Channel offers a range of training opportunities, including:
- Indigenous learners, whose oral traditions are especially meaningful, gain confidence in learning online in Good Learning Anywhere’s live sharing circle sessions
- Learners whose goal is to pursue secondary or post-secondary studies, prepare to succeed with courses like the LearningHUB’s Memory and Study Tips for Students
- Canadian newcomers, adjusting to independent lives in Canada, learn to keep their household budgets on track with courses such as Gestion de ses finances from Formation à Distance
- Deaf learners seeking to work can begin the job seeking process with Deaf Learn Now’s Resume & Cover Letter courses
- Apprenticeship and post-secondary-bound learners start the self-directed learning process with ACE Distance’s Learn to Learn e-learning orientation course and can acquire admission requirements for their chosen post-secondary program or apprenticeship registration
As the e-Channel province-wide support organization, Contact North | Contact Nord is funded by the Government of Ontario to deliver the following nine services at no cost to the e-Channel providers to help them improve their capacities:
- Access to online learning platforms to deliver courses
- Information Technology Helpdesk
- Instructor training and resources for those using its online learning platforms
- e-Channel.ca portal with resources for learners and instructors
- e-Channel course guides each semester
- Promotion of e-Channel programs and courses via social media, video, podcasts, and flyers
- Information sessions and meetings between the providers and organizations
- e-Channel workshops and e-Channel-specific professional development
- Facilitation of research projects to meet e-Channel development needs
Spring and Summer 2020 registrations were up to 100% higher for several of the providers’ courses due to COVID-19 pandemic, increased referrals from face-to-face LBS organizations, together with a host of questions drawing upon e-Channel providers’ experience in administering online registrations, assessments and programming, placed additional new demands on these organizations.
The LBS e-Channel’s ongoing efforts and capacity to provide high-quality online learning opportunities to Ontarians facing employment losses and other challenges are key to Ontario’s economic recovery and improve Ontario’s productivity.
As Janet Lane and Scott Murray observe in their Globe and Mail article, 42% of Canadians do not have the literacy levels for the available jobs in Canada – literacy upgrading is the single most important investment any government can make to have a work-ready workforce.