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The 2021 Adult Education and Literacy Conference ReMix: Meet the Challenge!

by Katherine Hansen

Are You:

  • Using a distance education approved software program for the first time?
  • Trying a new marketing message?
  • Creating an annual report for your workforce partners
  • Looking to be more inclusive?
  • Seeking novel ways to reach learners?
  • Establishing a new partnership with Corrections & Institutions (C&I)?

You’ve heard of a flipped classroom. We’re now flipping our conference.

You’ve heard of a flipped classroom. We’re now flipping our conference. During these unprecedented times, the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (VALRC) with support from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), want to offer Virginia adult educators a conference format that is a little bit different this year, but with multiple benefits to you, your program, and your learners.

With webinar fatigue at an all-time high coupled with increasing demands, the last thing anyone wants is to have to be on the receiving end of more one-way communications. Conference organizers asked ourselves, “What could we do to provide participants the opportunity to interact and work on something that is already on your plate, bring resources together to support that initiative, and provide a platform to share your accomplishments?” What we’ve come up with is the conference ReMix and we’re challenging you to get involved in any or all of the ways that work best for you.

The “flip” part of the conference ReMix is “The Challenge”. Instead of being presented to, we want to give you the chance to impact your program through a project-based learning (PBL) community experience. “The Challenge” is to form a team and determine a problem you’re trying to solve, a question you want to answer, or an idea that you want to try. Then, based on the most pressing issues facing adult education today, seek to incorporate one or both of the following into a learner centered practice or work setting—respecting difference and diversity and/or incorporating digital literacy and blended learning.

What could we do to provide participants the opportunity to interact and work on something that is already on your plate, bring resources together to support the initiative, and provide a platform to share your accomplishments?

Are You:

  • Launching a new National External Diploma Program (NEDP)?
  • Engaging Individual Student Alternative Education Plan (ISAEP) students using your school division’s preferred platform (Google, Canvas, etc)?
  • Trying a new online strategy to raise educational functioning levels (EFLs) in a specific content area—reading, writing, math, social studies, science?
  • Testing out the value of a specific learning app?
  • Establishing a new registration process?
  • Wanting to draw in a new student demographic?
  • Experimenting with a new teaching technique?
  • Hoping to form stronger relationships with colleagues from other regions?

Teams can be cross-functional (e.g., admin & instructors), multi-program (e.g., partners from an area), and even interregional (e.g., team members from different regions united for one purpose). Have an idea and need help? Let us know and we’ll put the call out to find you the team members.

Over the course of six months (approximately 20 hours total), the teams will actively engage with their real-world and personally meaningful project. The purpose is to not add additional work to participants, but rather coalesce support and resources to address an issue that is already on your plate. A team of peer coaches from across Virginia has been assembled to help guide teams along their challenge journey and assist as needed.

And since we will be unable to meet in person at the previously- scheduled Hotel Madison in April, teams will be able to demonstrate their progress to each other at the April 14-15, 2021 AE&L Conference ReMix (virtual) Showcase. It is the hope that this experience will be the foundation from which to build and present your results to other conference audiences in-state or nationally.

Alicia Bolton
                             Alicia Bolton

To still give us that conference feel, we are holding on to two traditional elements—keynote speakers and ThinkTanks. On October 7, Alicia Bolton, Director of Adult Career Pathways Design Challenge at the Institute for Educational Leadership, will set the stage and share with us why involving ourselves in initiatives like the ReMix Challenge are important for us to do. She will offer us what she has learned from the Minds that Move Us initiative and why we should become more innovative in education. Following her address, participants will break out into ThinkTanks to discuss what has been presented and how it can be applied in practice.




Daquanna Harrison
                      Daquanna Harrison



On November 18, Daquanna Harrison of Elevation Educational Consulting Group and 2020 COABE presenter, will speak on how to incorporate difference and diversity into culturally-responsive practice and instruction.





Jorge Valenzuela
                           Jorge Valenzuela


January 13 will bring Richmond’s own PBL National Trainer, Jorge Valenzuela of Lifelong Learning Defined to address the integration of digital literacy and blended learning, as well as highlighting PBL best practices. Each of these keynotes will also be followed with ThinkTank sessions.




The best news of all is that we’ve flipped the price tag! There is no cost to register or participate. Registration will be ongoing throughout the conference duration as we understand that individual circumstances change. Check the www.aelconference.com website often to stay up-to-date on new ReMix offerings and team milestone achievements. We ask that you register for the October 7 kickoff session to learn more about project-based learning and how to get involved in the ReMix. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please email aelconference@ vcu.edu.

Now’s the time to try something new. We invite you – Virginia Adult Educators – to form your teams. Let’s show our fellow states how Virginia Is For Learners. Challenge accepted?

Katherine Hansen

Katherine Hansen, M.Ed., serves as the Communications & Community Support Specialist for the VALRC. She is a certified TESOL instructor and Project Management Professional (PMP). Katherine’s career experience bridges the academic, nonprofit, and corporate worlds in global intercultural communications, teaching/training, and program/ organization development. Katherine is also VALRC’s coordinator for the annual Adult Education and Literacy conference.

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