Adult learners spent How Much?! time on Skills Tutor this fall? Amazing!

By Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt, Educational Technology Manager

Whew!  Adult learners have been busy in their Distance Learning programs this fall.  How do I know this, you might ask?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I am the administrator and point person for training and technical support for state-supported distance learning platforms in ABE.  Among those platforms is the wildly popular Skills Tutor ( Every day, I receive emails and phone calls from teachers, managers, and support staff in ABE programs with questions about Skills Tutor.  After answering all these questions, I’ve come to know the program like an old friend.  He’s sometimes a little flaky and hard to understand, but a definitely friend – because he’s doing a pretty darned good job of serving the adult learners of Minnesota.  And that’s good enough for me.

As the Skills Tutor administrator, I periodically run statewide reports just to see how we’re doing.  Who’s using Skills Tutor?  How many learners are online in a month?  Are they making progress towards their learning goals?

The last time I pulled these reports, I happened to mention them to a couple of colleagues.  They were astounded by the high usage numbers.  I thought they were pretty typical.  Then it occurred to me that I haven’t ever really shared this data before.  No one knows how much time learners are putting into Skills Tutor, because I’ve never told anyone!  It’s time to rectify that mistake.  So here’s the data I’ve been keeping you on the edge of your seat for…

For the period of August 1 to October 31 of this year (our three big “back to school” months) Minnesota ABE had:
• 4,158 adult learners complete at least one Skills Tutor activity
• 126,691 activities completed altogether
• Adding up to 1,378,565 minutes of online learning.

That’s a lot of study time!  On average, it’s 10 activities per month per student.  But, did they learn anything with all that activity?  I’d say, yes:
• Average pre-test score (across all levels and content domains):  67%
• Average post-test score: 80%

Our adult learners are doing Distance Learning, and it’s helping them master basic skills in reading, math, science, and other important content areas.  They are successful using this platform because their teachers know how to assign appropriate lessons and support them as they use it.  Teachers are able to be successful because they have access to training, documentation, technical assistance and user support provided through the Minnesota Department of Education Supplemental Services projects at St. Paul Public Schools and the Minnesota Literacy Council.

I rarely get to work with adult learners in a classroom these days, but I know that through supporting their teachers, I make a difference for learners all over the state.  When teachers are successful, learners are too.  It’s good work, and I’m proud to do it.

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