I am a manager running vocational training programs for a nonprofit
organization. We serve economically disadvantaged adults from a
variety of different sources (Disabled, Welfare to Work, Homeless, and
some other sources). When I took over this position two years ago, I
continued the use of the old curriculum for the weekly support groups.
These groups are separate from their training program curriculum, so
they are not vocational specific. There were some decent groups about
overcoming felony convictions in job search, appropriate workplace
behavior, and so on. However, as I became more familiar with the
program, I realized that the curriculum was too repetitive, and in
many cases talked down to some of the consumers.
I looked for materials to buy commercially to use as curriculum for
these support groups. I sought a balanced approach to these groups. I
personally feel that varying the styles of groups keeps it interesting
both for the staff doing the group and for the clients. For example,
some lecture style groups, other interactive types, some just for fun,
and videos are also useful. So I looked on the Internet and in some
mail order catalogs. I was disappointed in my search, as many
materials were heavily dependent on one medium, such as the overuse of
videos, and less interactive groups.
The next step was developing new materials on my own. This was
something I have not done that often, and so I took some time outside
of work to do it, to make sure that I was not rushed, and the material
written was really high quality. I liked the way some went, and I axed
the other ones that did not go so well.
So I am looking for materials that would be appropriate for this
population, but at the same time, I seek materials that will be
challenging, informative, and most of all, interesting. At this time,
we are restructuring some areas, so there is no budget to buy an
expensive package, but I am hoping that there may be shareware or
public domain materials on a web site that someone may know of. I of
course keep all materials referenced from where they come from in all
of my groups, giving proper credit and reference is of importance to
Any help would be appreciated,
You need to contact some people in vocational education -- broadly
defined -- at universities or colleges, that you can search on the Internet,
that have well rounded education departments. And you can contact them on
the Internet via e-mail. They will probably not direct you back to the
Internet, where you need to continue searching. Check the US Department of
Education web site for anything about vocational education.
Plan to spend a good deal of time chasing things down at the many
university web sites that come up when you do a search for "Vocational
Education" on , a super search engine. It has repeatedly been
ranked as tops by the people who know. What you are looking for is more than
the normal listings you will find on most sites. Around the country there
are institutions of higher educational specializing in the various areas of
education, including special education and vocational education.
Once you have found up to ten likely folks at the universities who seem
to be very active in the area of vocational ed, begin contacting them
directly via e-mail using a similar message to the one you posted to the
nonprofit list. The responses you receive should open up a much wider range
of folks you can contact, along with some titles you can pick up at the
library or the bookstore.
You have several hours work ahead of you, and the results should be
I recommend being cautious about posting to the wide range of education
lists that are available. Some are great, but you are likely to receive a
lot of responses leading nowhere -- and there are usually one or two folks
who are on the attack. So choose only a few that seem to be directly
connected with vocational ed, if you go that route.