Results - Computer use
The reasons students enrolled in the online GED were predominantly related to schedules (11 students) or transportation challenges (9 students). Reasons for studying online that received fewer responses were the preference for independent learning, children at home, or other (e.g. more math practice in addition to attending on-campus class and previous homeschooling experiences). Teacher/director responses for this question varied immensely. For example, one teacher rated children at home as the main issue, while two teachers rated children as the least important issue. They did agree that preference for individual learning was rated quite low, and gas money (related to transportation) was one of the top reasons students enroll in the online option.
The nine interviewees said they opted for the online option mostly because it was convenient for their schedules or transportation challenges. One adult worked 2 A.M. to 2 P.M. so it was not possible for him to attend classes. Another said she lived 40 miles away, which she considered to be too far and costly to drive each day. Two mothers said they had children at home and needed to take them to school and after-school activities. Two adults said the online option was more ‘comfortable’ than in class because they received instruction just where they needed it, and the teacher could not provide this explicit individualized assistance because of large class sizes.
Over half (12) of the adult students reported spending less than five hours a week on the computer searching the Internet, writing emails, and using Facebook. Six adults reported using the computer approximately 6-10 hours per week for activities other than schoolwork.
Students were expected to log in 15 hours per week to their online GED program. Eight adults said they fulfilled less than the required 15 hours per week, half (11) said they met the requirement, and three students said they spent about 16-20 hours per week working on their GED. One teacher and the director said students fulfill the 15 hour week minimum, but two teachers said most adult students spend less than 15 hours a week online.
To further understand the reported discrepancy in this requirement, the interviewed students were asked to explain how they could spend less than 15 hours online. Only one of the interviewed adults said he did not fulfill the 15-hour requirement. He only spent an hour each weeknight studying math for a month and then he passed the GED. It appeared he was not enrolled for a substantial amount of time or in numerous subject areas for the 15-hour requirement to become an issue. It also appeared that unless the instructor noticed a student was not completing the 15-hour requirement, students could work less than the expectation. The remaining eight said they did not have any problems fulfilling the 15-hour requirement. Two adults said the 15-hour requirement was challenging the first week because there is no clock recording how long they were online. All interviewed participants said they really wanted to get their GED so they completed the 15 hours in multiple settings: an hour or two here and there, twenty minutes here, and sometimes a longer work session on the weekend.
All 22 students said they accessed a computer outside the adult education site, with 20 who used a home computer and two who used a friend’s computer. Although the adult education site had a computer lab, most (18) reported studying away from the adult center for convenience sake. Four individuals said they visited campus to see a tutor or simultaneously attend class while they were enrolled in the online GED option. However, these four students said they did not complete the online GED lessons at the computer center on campus. Instead they went home to complete the online GED lessons. The three teachers and director confirmed most, if not all, students worked on their online GED away from the adult center.