More than a century after it opened as the city’s high school, the McConnell Center continues to be an important part of the education landscape.
Dover Adult Learning Center (DALC) occupies the entire original second floor and bit more, including a third floor computer lab.
In addition to a robust enrichment program, adult high school, tutoring and counseling, two of the largest programs at DALC are academic instruction for students looking to earn their high school equivalency, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
These programs draw hundreds of students to the Center each year for morning, afternoon and evening classes.
Over the past few years, through a combination of donations and state grants, the center has reached a level of technology that brings 21st century learning to the 110-year old classrooms.
Technology Specialist Tiffany Brand has spent the past few years upgrading the technology,
training the staff, and helping them apply their knowledge.
“In the time that I’ve been here we’ve been able to get new computers in all the classrooms.
The lab had just been updated when I started and now it’s a busy place. Three days a week we have volunteer proctors staff the lab. Any community member can use the lab for whatever they need. We have people coming in every day,” Brand said.
While teachers can take a class to the lab, Brand found ways to bring technology to the teachers. iPads were purchased through a state grant and have led to dramatic change in the learning environment.
“In her ESOL classes, Joyce Malley uses a picture searching app to call up images for her students, especially the beginners just learning English. It’s great for answering questions; they don’t have to worry about booting up the computer. They just pull out the iPad, bring up the answer and pass it around,” Brand said.
Teachers also use the camera to record students pronouncing words and play it back so they can look at the position of their mouth to help them learn correct pronunciation.
“They really like the portability and the instanton of the iPad and they’re easy to hand around. They can connect easily to a projector as well,” Brand said.
Small projectors link easily to the iPads and project the image onto a white board allowing for an interactive lesson.
In addition to ‘teaching the teachers’, Brand finds ways to inspire the teachers to embrace the technology and incorporate the tools into their lessons.
“The DALC Tech site is a place for shared resources. I mainly use it to give teachers ideas about how to use the technology. When I go to professional development or teachers attend workshops we can link those ideas and resources up there so we can share ideas,” Brand said.