|ALFA & Adult Learners' Week 2012|
Learning can take many different forms and have a whole host of benefits for both learners and their wider community. Adult Learners' Week is the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the many avenues and reasons for getting involved in learning.
Below are some reflections from the WEA Advocacy & Lobbying for All (ALfA) programme as to how and why you can participate in learning activities.
Build on your experiences and get a stronger collective voice.
Bringing your own unique perspective to the table is an important part of learning, and by pooling the ideas, skills, experiences & interests of all learners, learning is transformed into a far richer experience, going far beyond just taking on new knowledge and skills.
Over several months, Age Sector Platform members following the ALfA Introduction to Lobbying Programme, in Belfast, have been learning skills to support them to effectively raise a number of issues on behalf of their communities with relevant decision-makers. The group has felt that the contribution of individual experiences and ideas has been really interesting, not only enabling them to identify and recognise good practices in their own activities, but also in supporting and motivating each other and in working together to produce a common lobbying strategy to progress their identified issues.
The group are very much looking forward to their upcoming workshops which will focus on learning more about statutory structures and will be held at Stormont (29th May) and at Belfast City Council (11th June).
Boost your Confidence and speak out!
Confidence can be a real stumbling block to learning for many people. Speaking out in public is cited as the number one fear, whether at a small committee meeting, or to a packed auditorium. Why not start your learning journey by understanding your unique voice and addressing the fear head on?
A very popular course this year has been the ALfA Voice Coaching Workshops. Facilitated by actor Rosie Pelan, these workshops consist of fun, interactive activities which aim to take away the fear factor from speaking out loud, and to put learners at ease by learning about how their own voice works. There is something here for everybody. One nervous group of beginners fed back that this workshop “released talent we didn’t know we had!”. Another group more familiar with public speaking felt that they gained reassurance of their good practices, greater awareness of how they were coming across and they also learned new techniques to improve their performance. “This workshop gave us lots of things to think about!”
One group in Derry got such a boost in confidence and were so enthused by their workshop that they went on to undertake training to get their messages heard in the media. So why not give it a go?
Learn a new skill from scratch and widen your opportunities
It can be very daunting to embark on a course knowing very little about the subject. Technology in particular can be challenging, as it seems to continually change and can feel like you can easily get left behind. However, simply by learning a few basic skills and with regular practice, you will be amazed at the amount you will be able to achieve in a short space of time.
Learners following an ALfA IT for Advocacy Course in Newcastle are greatly enjoying meeting up each week to learn and practice Internet & Email skills and to discover the wealth of information online that they can use to their advantage. Only a few weeks into the course the learners are very motivated and enthused to keep learning and are already planning the next stage of their learning: to use Digital photos and to Skype!
Whether you want to keep in touch with what’s going on, communicate more cheaply, find bargains online, contact friends and family abroad by video, or promote your organisation by social media - pick up a new IT skill today and discover where learning can take you!
Strengthen the voice of your community by becoming media-savvy
If you are the person who is often put forward to represent the voice of your community or organisation, why not learn more about getting your message right and how you can use the media to your advantage and to get your messages across to a wider audience.
Participants on the ALFA Media Awareness Training Workshop figure this is an ideal starting place. With expert guidance from journalists Alan Morton & Malachi O’Doherty, participants are given the inside track on what the media are looking for, clarity on getting your message right and how to avoid pitfalls, and they are also given practice on how to effectively prepare for an interview on TV or on Radio.
It is great to see that some participants on these workshops now have the confidence to have gone on to become regular faces in TV audiences and/or local interviews, while others are now familiar voices on radio, making significant contributions to raising awareness and highlighting issues of concern within their communities.
These are just a few of the many learning opportunities out there. So why not make a decision during Adult Learners' Week 2012 to find out about where a new learning activity can take you!