A new online course is being made available to students across a spectrum of backgrounds that holds great promise for prisoners preparing for re-integration into society. Designed to suit the needs of a broad range of populations. Alison, a company based out of Galway, Ireland, has launched a new set of courses for their Advanced Diploma in Workforce Re-entry Skills , part of their growing massive open online course (MOOC) program.The course is offered free of charge, as part of a growing trend amongst institutions the world over. But what differentiates Alison’s programs is its focus on practical skill acquirement, rather than university-style classes. These courses provide for the development of competence in a wide variety of areas that are valuable in and of themselves, but are also important to those wishing to go on to further studies.

Included in the program are courses that teach digital and computer literacy. Their courses provide the basics of computer knowledge—even explaining the fundamentals of how a mouse works. The programs are also extremely flexible, an important consideration for the incarcerated which many other college programs do not account for. Access to computers/tablets and internet (which are easily monitored) are critical tools for online education that could help make the difference in reducing recidivism.

It continues to be heartening to see how many organizations are dedicated to expanding the access of education globally. Unfortunately, the bulk of American prisons do not share that level of commitment, and are reluctant to provide the infrastructure to make these plans a reality. While, of course, programs like these will be accessible to inmates upon release they would be best served as an option while still incarcerated, to give them a head-start on their reintegration efforts.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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