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Vocational curriculum ideas

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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 me.

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 satisfying.

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.

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