So after 6 months training, assessments and volunteering I have successfully completed my ITALL PDA (Introduction to Tutoring in Adult Literacies Learning). I have really enjoyed the course and have met some great people already through it. The Scottish Survey of Adult Literacies 2009 found that overall the Scottish population has a good level of literacy skills in line with international expectations. While around 25% of the adult population would benefit from improving their literacy skills, around 3.6% of the Scottish population has very limited capabilities. Low literacies are often linked to poverty and are likely to adversely affect people's health and well-being, financial status and ability to participate in society. This is no small matter. It impacts on every area of an individual's life and consequently in their communities.

I intend to play a very small part in improving adult literacy levels in the area where I live and work, Fife. However, it pained me today to read about my homeland which according to a new report has 40% of NI pupils leaving school without basic reading, writing and numeracy skills. I am shocked by this, and confused as to the reasons. Only 2 months ago, BBC news reported that Northern Ireland was 6th in the world for primary teaching standards in maths! Something (or someone?) does not add up correctly. Either way, I like to believe that many opportunities exist for those who wish to improve their literacy levels and increasingly we must offer easy access to these opportunities. Technology offers new ways to engage learners and explain things through new and relevant methods. And that leads me onto my next step in my lifelong learning journey.. 

As I complete my Literacy tutoring course, I have embarked on something entirely different. An online course on E-learning and Digital Culture. My hope and intention is to somehow figure out a way to converge the two. Would love to hear from those who are further down the track than me.
I have recently spread my wings a little and started a new study course. It's a PDA in ITALL (Intro to tutoring in adult literacies learning). It involves some volunteer work with the Adult Basic Education department with the local council. It may seem a departure from my usual focus on digital marketing or whiling away the hours in my college library, however, I actually don't see it as very different to the core of my work. At the centre of everything I have worked on or been interested in is an enthusiasm for communication.

This has (hopefully) shone through in my work in contributing to local music magazines, websites and blogging. It has been the reason why I developed an interest in self-publishing, proofreading, copywriting and copy editing.  It was where I found the desire to help other creatives bring their writing to the market through Vine Arts Publications (a small publishing venture, now with 4 books successfully published and one new poetry chapbook released this very week! Follow @vineartspub for more information on this project.) It has fuelled my interest in marketing in general, working in educational settings, the food industry, and eventually my freelance work for KD Marketing. 

A passion for words is at the heart of all I have worked on, in its many different forms. Even with digital marketing, I have discovered that strong writing skills are essential, even in the skills required to consider web copy or keywords for Search Engine Optimisation. My time spent working in an educational library has given me another insight into how literacy and digital literacy can open doors and give people opportunities.

And so now I am starting on a journey of encouraging others in their reading, writing and basic IT skills. Not because I feel led to suddenly become a teacher, but because the world of words and communication has been so central to all I have worked on and been involved in that I cannot imagine my life without it. I have been fortunate to have great teachers, mentors and opportunities to learn and I'm excited to pass on any little knowledge or enthusiasm I can. The reality of the course is the volunteering starts now so I will post back (hopefully with my enthusiasm in tact!) when I've completed some more of the course. Thanks to all who have supported and encouraged me through years of many and varied random, or perhaps not-so-random projects. 
So recently I was rather inspired by this little lot - Social Media Surgery
The idea was to start social media surgeries up and down the UK using volunteer 'mentors/tutors'  to support their local community and voluntary organisations by sharing their expertise and knowledge. An idea so simple and beneficial to its recipients that it went on to receive the 'Big Society Award' 2012. Now I'm as skeptical as the next blogger about what the Big Society actually is, but this idea genuinely seems deserving of an award. Creating a network of people ('surgeons') freely exchanging their information specifically to help voluntary and charity organisations ('patients') reach a bigger audience and therefore have a greater impact on their local community..well it's just common sense! Many social enterprises, charities and voluntary organisations have benefitted from embracing social media and getting some help and advice from a 'surgeon' might be just what you need to make new progress. 

In the spirit of sharing information and knowledge, I have always had a soft spot for such innovative teaching ideas as:
Ted-Ed and the Khan Academy and Learning Space by the Open Uni.. I have to admire the potential and possibility that can come from unleashing this style of learning and letting it run loose. Maybe just spending some time accessing the wealth of free teaching material online will open a door your business hasn't explored yet. Here's another group freely sharing their web knowledge in an accessible way.. Jump Digital

Are you part of a voluntary organisation or charity that could do with some  hints and tips on using the internet and social media to spread your message? Or are you a 'fellow surgeon'? Get in touch!