Learning from your adult learners

As part of the Training Team, one of my roles is to administer the Microsoft Imagine Academy at our school board.  For the past 4 years, I have been working with secondary school teachers and students.  Last year, we got things rolling at our Adult Education Centre, Lifetime Learning.  Working with adult learners is so very different than working with high school students.  Most of the time, I get the teachers up and running in their Microsoft Imagine Academy. Occasionally, I work directly with the adult students.  I may teach the adult learners about Word and Excel, but they teach me a whole lot more than that.

Having a certificate in Teaching Adults and a background in training, I know that many adult learners have not taken an exam for years.  The thought of taking a timed, live exam on a computer can be terrifying for them.  As adults, school is not their only challenge.  Many of them have jobs to go to after school; children to look after; financial challenges and all sorts of other issues.

At one of our satellite sites, the entire group of adults was terrified to write the exam after completing the course material.  Finally, I encouraged one of the students to write.  After she successfully completed the exam, it started a chain reaction that resulted in a number of her fellow students getting their Microsoft Office Specialist certificate.  The first lady who wrote went on to get her certification in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and she left the program after obtaining full-time employment.

I went back to talk to a group of adults who completed the program at one of our other sites.  They all agreed that the confidence they get by completing the certification is worth far more than the certificate itself.  They are able to apply for jobs that they did not feel qualified to apply for prior to getting their MOS certificate.  As one adult learner explained to me “I no longer fear the hands-on Excel test that so many employers give to candidates during a job interview.”  With confidence levels going up, so does self-esteem.  The MOS certificate is worth so much more to these adults and it’s a privilege for me to be able to work with them.

A bulletin board featuring information about Microsoft certifications for adult learners

As part of the IT4 Learning Training Team at the District School Board of Niagara, Louise Bernardini travels throughout the Niagara Region providing training and support to staff and students.  Prior to this role, she was self-employed as a trainer, focusing mainly on Microsoft Office applications.  She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator and a Microsoft Office Specialist in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote, and an MOS Expert in Word.
Find more information on Microsoft certifications here. To take a look at all of Microsoft’s education offerings, visit microsoft.ca/education. Discover courses, community, and resources at education.microsoft.com.