Just over a decade ago, June Rall, Director of the Institute for Professional Development of Adult Educators (IPDAE), was working as an executive in a major U.S. apparel company. She was at the pinnacle of corporate success, yet something was missing. A few years later, after staying home to raise her daughter, June knew she wanted to find some way to give back to the community.
“A friend of mine told me about an Adult Education program at Indian River State College (IRSC). She said I should go there and work as an adjunct,” June told me over coffee. “So I gave it a try.”
The rest is history. She fell in love, like so many of us, with the plight and purpose of Adult Education. Adult Education students are the forgotten faces in our community. Moving the needle in the Adult Education community means actually moving the needle in the economy. June got that.
Only a short time after June joined IRSC, she was tapped to work on a special project funded by the Florida Department of Education to centralize and standardize Adult Education professional development throughout the state of Florida. Working on that project, she realized her work in corporate America could make a difference in Adult Education.
June said, “We had no way of measuring the quality or quantity of the professional development we were providing. That was not acceptable.”
What changed it all was technology.
“We had to build a website that was user-driven; that could measure everything; that was professional, intuitive, and created interaction,” she explained.
That is exactly what June did. She worked with technology professionals to create www.floridaipdae.org, a data-driven portal that allows users to register, receive customized communication, engage in interactive professional development experiences, and track their work.
From a development standpoint, what is really impressive is June’s commitment to the question “Why?” She is passionate about good design and site utilization. For example, each PD experience includes a guided resource and follow-up exercise that stimulates both online and offline participation. Equally impressive, the site has a back-end that allows IPDAE to do advanced data mining to provide local administrators with direct training data and timely feedback on training gaps.
The success of the site speaks to June’s commitment to design and usability. Beside its SEO success, the site boasts almost 6,000 registered users and 33,000 unique visitors to date.
“Who has an account?” June recently asked an audience of adult educators in Brevard County, Florida. Around 75 percent of those sitting in the room shot their hands up in the air. It’s working.
So, where is IPDAE going next? Virtual conferences.
June explained, “No one is doing it or doing it well, and Adult Education is a system that needs low-cost solutions for training. The key will be to create interactivity and transfer. Training is only good if it makes a difference.”
IPDAE is a national model for providing training anytime, anywhere for adult educators. Its mantra from day one has been “by educators, for educators.” In the world of tiered systems of education, where adult education receives around $1 dollar for every $12 spent on K-12 students, IPDAE is closing the digital gap in professional development for adult educators and consequently for students, too. Visit IPDAE’s site to see for yourself!
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