Latino adult education program now available any time of day

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Class is now always in session for Spanish-speaking students enrolled in an adult education program offered through Purdue University Extension.

Thanks to technology improvements, Plaza Comunitaria students can take courses in English, basic computer skills, U.S. GED exam preparation and work force-related subjects at any time from any computer connected to the Internet.

Purdue is hosting a Midwest portal – a Web access point – for Plaza Comunitaria. Plaza offers elementary through high school equivalency courses through a partnership that includes the government of Mexico and Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Course content is provided and accredited by Mexico’s adult education program, Instituto Nacional Para la Educación de Los Adultos.

“The portal that Purdue has established will make it much easier for learners to access the educational materials online 24/7, and at no cost to the learner,” said Sam Cordes, Purdue’s associate vice provost for engagement and assistant director of Purdue Extension. “The geographic scope of the portal is also significant. It includes all of Indiana and portions of Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.”

Purdue Extension has administered Indiana Plaza programs since 2005 at Latino Community Learning Center (LCLC) facilities in Albion, Bloomington, Elkhart, Frankfort, Indianapolis, LaGrange, South Bend and Washington. The centers are intended to help the state’s growing Latino population enhance their life and job skills as they integrate into American society.

Before the portal was established, Plaza students could attend classes only at a learning center, said portal administrator Hans Vargas.

“With this portal, students not only can access all their courses online from anywhere, but also teachers can monitor their progress and offer help online,” Vargas said.

Learning centers will continue to operate alongside the portal and be an important part of Purdue Extension’s outreach to Latino residents, said Melinda Grismer, a Plaza liaison and LCLC administrator in Frankfort.

“The point of entry for students is still the local learning center, and they will still have to be registered with a center,” Grismer said. “When they complete their courses, they will continue to receive their educational certificates through the local learning center with which they’re affiliated.

“With the portal they can now customize their online courses and save changes within course modules.”

Basic education classes are free, Vargas said.

“Some basic and intermediate computer classes and GED programs are not available at all Plazas, and some courses are only available for a fee,” he said.

For more information about Plaza Comunitaria and Latino Community Learning Centers, contact your county office of Purdue Extension.

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