Today's technology has opened up many possibilities for people to connect with each other, share information and achieve goals. Family members separated by great distances can meet on-screen, businesses can conduct meetings across vast oceans and students can earn a degree from the comfort of their home. The impact of changing technology at all levels of education is great and Delta County Libraries is responding to these shifting trends with the introduction of a distance learning option through the literacy program.
Gail Srebnik, literacy program administrator, has been working to implement the program since January 2016. "Our hope is to offer a streamlined way for adults to earn a high school diploma through the program," Srebnik stated. Initial testing will determine placement and eligibility. Participants will then enroll in a hybrid class that will include primarily computer work with a minimum of monthly face-to-face contact with a qualified teacher. Students will need access to a computer and the internet in order to participate. "We will supply supplementary materials as needed," Srebnik said. "Since Delta County Libraries is a HiSet testing site, our goal is to support participants through the program and then offer them the opportunity to take and pass a high school equivalency test."
Longtime educator Ann Stewart is a distance learning teacher and she is excited about the program and her role. "It is quite an opportunity to be involved in getting this program started," Stewart said. "Earning a high school equivalency diploma carries so many advantages in our world today; everything from job and training opportunities to a sense of personal satisfaction."
A majority of the funding for Delta County Libraries' literacy program, including the distance learning program, is through a grant awarded from the Colorado Department of Education. The current grant will carry the program through June 30, 2017 and Delta County Libraries will need to reapply in the spring. "The stakes are high," Srebnik stated. "The grant pays not only for program materials and technology but also teacher salaries."
Despite potential challenges in funding, Delta County Libraries is offering a flexible alternative to earning a high school diploma for people who want to remain part of the workforce. Similar high school equivalency programs require class participation during the regular work week and therefore are not a viable option. Enrollment is key to its success moving forward. Interested parties can contact Gail Srebnik at 970-399-7670 to inquire about and sign up for the program.