is in her forties. She works in food service at Ravenswood hospital. It
took a long time to get on the day shift, but now that she works days, she
can't attend school. Dorothy is worried because the cafeteria is going to
be contracted out and she will no longer be in the union. Dorothy saw an
opening in billing along with other opportunities to advance. But she doesn't
have any computer skills and she doesn't have her GED. She almost passed
the GED test but that was more than 10 years ago. Should she take a computer
class? And which one? The textbooks are so difficult. Does she need her
GED? When is registration? Is it too late? She doesn't have much time and
she needs to move quickly. Dorothy decides to go back to Truman and enroll
in the GED program at night.
last time Dorothy went to Truman, there didn't seem to be a class. The teacher
helped her by giving her books and writing assignments, but after the first
week, the class seemed to fall apart. Students came late, new students showed
up every week and the teacher had to repeat the lesson over and over. Finally
the teacher gave up and just walked around checking everyone's work. The
teacher seemed to be as tired as she was and he just couldn't get to everyone.
Dorothy started to skip class when she was tired; it didn't seem to matter
since she could read at home as well as school and save bus fare. Little
by little she stopped studying. Dorothy's a little doubtful that her experience
will be any better this time.
the first night of class, she is a little late, but in the AE office, she
is greeted by a counselor. They go to security, take her picture, get an
ID and spend about a half-hour on the computers in the testing center. They
review her test scores and create a customized student plan. Dorothy gets
a print-out of her scores and her study plan. Dorothy and her counselor
go through the online orientation program and set up her login and email
account. They chat for awhile about Dorothy's goals. They set up an appointment
to go through a career assessment profile on the computer. The counselor
then takes her to the classroom to introduce her to the teaching staff.
a difference! The classroom is huge and full of students. There are either
a lot of teachers or else the students are helping each other. She can't
tell who is a student and who is a teacher. There is equipment everywhere.
Some students with earphones on are working on laptops. Some are plugged
into what looks like booths, watching videos. Others seem to holding a meeting.
There is one huge empty white wall with nothing near it.
is anxious to start on her programs because the evening is half over. However,
the teacher announces a group presentation and turns off the lights. The
big empty wall fills with light from floor to ceiling as an African waterfall
fills the room, then a rainforest, a barrier reef and a desert. The wall
disappears as the sky becomes space and the earth is seen rotating and moving
around the sun. The teacher goes to the wall and draws lines on the earth
(on the wall!) and explains latitude and longitude. The DVD shuts off and
the teacher assigns students to watch a historical video called "Longitude".
He asks them to write a paragraph about technological change.
students return to their computers and begin work on their individual student
plans. Dorothy looks around. The room looks like a hotel lobby during a
convention--trees, sculpture, comfortable furniture, tables, booths with
TV screens, bookcases, an electronic bulletin board, and even a counter
for drinks. She pours a cup of coffee and examines the videos available
in the bookcase. She finds "Longitude" but doesn't think there will be time
to view it. She asks if she can take it home. A student aide swipes her
ID, scans the video bar code, and says "bring it back in two days if you
can, so someone else can see it."
teacher introduces Dorothy to a young woman who, it turns out is doing her
practice teaching at Truman. She points Dorothy to a cart and asks her to
take a laptop. They sit down in an empty booth. Dorothy doesn't see any
wires, but there are lots of plugs in the booth and there are earphones.
The computer seems to work without being plugged in. The teacher shows her
how to login and they click on an icon that says "geometry level 1". She
suddenly sees a room that rotates as she pushes it around with her pencil.
She puts on the earphones and a voice begins to tell her what she is doing.
Then the voice asks her if she would like to measure the room for carpeting.
If so, she should tap a book icon. She does that and a window opens that
allows her to enter measurements. It gives her the formula and then begins
to animate the formula so she can understand it.
Records and Communication
she realizes it, the evening is almost over. Before checking in her laptop,
another teacher shows Dorothy her own, personal, student web page. The page
has her picture on it (the one on her ID!) and links to lots of forms and
pages on the web. On the assignment form, the teacher fills in the name
of the book club she is assigned to and selects a writing partner for Dorothy.
She also shows Dorothy how to find the class email list so she can communicate
with her writing partner and the teachers. She shows her how to attach a
file to an email, and how to access her page from outside the school. Dorothy
returns in two days. In the meantime the teacher will send her a welcome
email and a homework assignment.