In 1988, MLC established a Community Education division within the College. MLC Community Education provides programs for the general community - mainly for adults, but also for primary and secondary students. The programs are conducted in the late afternoons, evenings, at weekends and during school holidays. They include some that are designed to provide specific employment skills and others that are recreational in nature. The programs for adults are largely Short Courses in the following areas - computers, fitness, languages, art, craft and music.
What contribution has Community Education made to the technological developments at MLC over the past three years?
In answering that question I'd like to identify three groups within the College:
Many families of the College are highly literate in computer terms. But many are not, and some of these have participated in computer courses scheduled by Community Education. Significant numbers of parents have taken courses, ranging from ones that were basic and introductory through to the more advanced. Many have taken these courses for employment-related reasons. Many because they wanted to understand better what their daughters were experiencing.
Of particular relevance to parents has been a series of courses we have conducted on laptops: Getting started with your laptop, Microsoft Works on a laptop, File Management on a Laptop and Logowriter. These courses were supplementary to activities for parents offered by the day school staff in relation to laptops. The Community Education courses were designed for parents who wanted more intensive exposure to these areas than was otherwise available to them.
Generally speaking, the development of student computer skills and understanding is the role of the day school staff. However, Community Education has contributed, in specific ways, to the computer skills of some students within the College. our focus has been on those students who have entered the College at, say, Years 7, 9 and 11 and whose computer skills were limited. In addition, during term time, but after regular school hours, we offer specific courses when requested by teachers or students, as needs arise.
But the most significant role which Community Education has played in relation to the technological developments at MLC over the past three years has been in relation to the staff of the College - the administrative staff, the teaching staff and the ancillary staff.
Any computer course conducted by MLC Community Education is available free to any member of MLC staff. Staff are permitted, in fact encouraged, to take computer courses offered by Community Education.
Generally this means that staff enrol for scheduled courses - in the evening, weekends, during school holidays. For example, the College changed the wordprocessing program used within the administration and all staff were able to participate in a range of scheduled courses on the new software. Another example: for many purposes, Microsoft Works is used by staff and students of the College. Frequent scheduled courses are provided on this program at a range of levels.
In addition to the scheduled courses, special customised courses are frequently developed to meet particular needs. Most recently, we have offered a special series of courses on computer reporting for academic staff. Early last term, we offered a special course on desktop publishing using PageMaker for staff working on school publications.
These provisions have meant that the training has been easily accessible to staff. We can ensure that it is efficiently tailored to the needs of participants. our assessment would be that more than half of the staff of theCollege are effective and regular computer users.
In specific terms, in 1991, 75 members of staff undertook approximately 1,000 hours of computer training through Community Education. Costing this training at the conservative rate of $1O per hour, its value is $10, 000 - and all at no cost to the College.
The upgrading of computer skills within the College - of families, of students and particularly of staff, has been facilitated by the operation of the Community Education division - and we believe it has been a very cost-effective way to achieve this outcome.