Kentucky Educational Television (KET) is a PBS member station widely recognized as a leader in developing digital learning opportunities for adult basic skills and workplace education. By pairing their extensive network of partnerships with their willingness to continually experiment to develop more effective digital learning opportunities, KET is a true Beacon for adult learning.
For over 40 years, KET has been a provider of adult education study materials. Broadcast programs for GED® study began in 1975, followed by a GED® Study at Home program in 1984.
With the advent of the computer-based GED® test and the introduction of HiSET® and TASC, two new high school equivalency tests, KET decided to take advantage of the power of digital learning to expand their learning opportunities for adults. In early 2014, KET launched Fast Forward, an online study system that prepares learners for the GED®, HISET®, and TASC high school equivalency tests. Fast Forward’s courses are interactive and mobile-friendly. They can be used independently or with teachers, and today, they are used by learners and learning centers all across the country.
Fast Forward is designed to adapt to learner needs and to provide regular feedback. When learners begin Fast Forward, they complete a pre-assessment which creates a personalized study plan. Learners can then work through the curriculum at a pace that fits within their schedule and career goals.
KET also knows adult learners benefit from learning supports. Fast Forward includes captions for videos and photographs, a background color change tool, and text-to-speech capabilities.
KET’s learners are the best evidence that KET’s efforts are working. GED® graduate Amanda Isner-Cheek said, “I studied with the Fast Forward program at home every night, just about. I don’t think I could have done it without it. For me, personally, someone explaining something to me, it doesn’t always get through. But if I can sit down and read it myself and just kind of have my own thought process on what I’m looking at and what I’m reading, that helps me a whole lot — a whole lot more.”
KET has also partnered with employers to offer Fast Forward as a recruitment and retention tool. Signature Healthcare is one of KET’s biggest partners. Signature, operating 143 facilities in 11 states, purchases seats in Fast Forward for their employees. They also have a staff member who enrolls learners and helps make sure they are on track and progressing.
Joe Steier, Signature’s CEO, has set education as a pillar of the organization. He explained, “I started hearing, behind closed doors, people who would say, ‘You know, I never finished high school because I got pregnant or my dad was laid off and I went to work.’ People had the emotional intelligence, the empathy, to be a caregiver, but not having a high-school education was blocking their way.”
Steier partnered with KET to remove this blockade. Signature not only provides employees a seat in Fast Forward’s online courses, but they also pay for those taking the high school equivalency test. To date, over 120 Signature employees have enrolled in Fast Forward.
Companies in Kentucky and nationwide know the benefits an educated workforce has on the bottom line, the state economy, and the betterment of individual employees. KET is providing these employers proven, effective digital learning materials that help their employees achieve their goals and, in turn, help their companies retain and develop their workforce.
Even as KET spearheads careful design of digital learning opportunities and effective workforce partnerships, they are not resting.
Tonya Crum, KET Senior Director of Education, knows employers want learning opportunities more directly related to the skills their employees need on the job. KET’s next goal, therefore, is developing soft skills content that is contextualized for the workplace. KET is in the early stages of this work, and Crum said the outcome will likely look a lot like Fast Forward – a perfect design choice given the careful process KET has used to develop this effective platform.
As they continue to push themselves to do more, KET continues to be a Beacon of innovation and collaboration on behalf of all of its current and future adult learners, in Kentucky and across the nation.