Adapting CTE programs to remote environments could expand access beyond COVID-19

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • Though teaching career and technical education courses online or in a hybrid setting is challenging, adapting to this new reality may have long-term benefits for CTE students, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
  • Transitioning hands-on lessons online will make CTE more flexible and accessible for students, allowing them to access lessons anytime and anywhere with a WiFi connection. It also teaches students 21st century digital skills needed for a mobile workforce, and is a cost-effective option for cash-strapped districts.
  • Educators are using videoconferencing, video chats, at-home project assignments and virtual reality lab simulation tools to deliver content during distance learning. They can also use online platforms such as IBM’s Open P-TECH, a digital education platform that trains students in skills-based fields such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing. 

Dive Insight:

Hands-on professions require hands-on practice. When schools suddenly closed this spring, many CTE teachers creatively adapted. In one district, woodworking students received Adirondack chair kits to assemble at home. Others were tasked with creating their own projects, such as building a chicken coop. Healthcare students practiced ankle-wrapping on their siblings while videotaping the task. 

In 2018, the Education Commission of the States suggested using technology to expand access to and reach of CTE programs for students living in rural districts. Missouri’s Grandview R-2 School District uses an ed tech company to offer virtual and blended CTE programs to its rural schools, where offering these courses would otherwise be cost-prohibitive or impractical considering the lack of local expertise. 

To improve the distance learning experience, feedback shows schools could also use more chat features and provide students more methods to stay connected with their peers. In a survey by PDK International, 43% of students felt group-guided interactions would make them feel more connected, 70% said more communication would help and 76% requested more structure and interaction. 

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