Posts Tagged ‘Distance Learning’

Using Distance Learning to Increase Access to CTE Across Geographical Barriers

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

Distance Learning Day, celebrated each August, highlights how distance learning has emerged as a powerful tool that can revolutionize the educational landscape. Exploring the potential of distance learning to enhance and expand Career Technical Education (CTE) programs is imperative to create truly equitable access to quality CTE. This blog aims to elevate the reasons and benefits of incorporating distance learning into CTE and offers practical strategies for harnessing its full potential.

Distance learning breaks down geographical barriers, enabling students from remote or underserved areas to access high-quality CTE programs. By offering online courses, CTE programs can reach a broader audience of learners, including those who may face obstacles in attending traditional in-person classes. This increased accessibility can result in a more diverse and inclusive CTE learner population. The fifth principle of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE (CTE Without Limits), states that to help close equity gaps, learners should be able to access CTE without borders, allowing them to get the valuable learning experiences they need regardless of their geographic location. In addition to improving access for learners regardless of their location, distance learning can also create better processes for tracking learner progress and program outcomes.

Integrating distance learning in CTE allows for the use of cutting-edge technology, enhancing the learning experience for students. Virtual simulations, interactive modules and remote laboratories can immerse students in real-world scenarios, preparing them with the technical skills required in modern industries. This blend of technology and CTE ensures that students are well-equipped to meet the demands of a dynamic job market. Digital platforms offer robust tools for tracking learner progress, allowing educators and State Directors to monitor individual performance, identify areas of improvement and provide personalized support. These data-driven insights can lead to continuous program improvement and ensure that CTE initiatives align with the needs of both learners and employers..

Distance learning in CTE extends beyond the traditional classroom setting, promoting a culture of lifelong learning and upskilling. Professionals already in the workforce can access online CTE courses to acquire new skills and stay current with industry trends. State Directors can collaborate with businesses and industries to identify skill gaps and develop targeted online training programs that address those needs. Embracing distance learning in CTE presents a wealth of opportunities to strengthen and expand CTE programs. By leveraging the benefits of online education, State Directors can increase access, flexibility, and inclusivity, while also incorporating cutting-edge technology to prepare students for successful careers. Furthermore, distance learning enables a lifelong learning approach that empowers individuals to upskill and adapt to evolving industry demands continuously.

By investing in distance learning solutions, collaborating with industry partners, and supporting educators in embracing this transformative educational paradigm, we can shape a future where CTE is synonymous with innovation, accessibility, and excellence.

To explore policy recommendations for creating CTE without borders, including the role of distance learning, please check out the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook in the Advance CTE Resource Center.

Brice Thomas, Former Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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State Roles to Support Remote Learning: Part Two

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

This is the second of a two-part blog series. Check last week’s post for additional information!

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has forced K-12 and postsecondary education to move to the distance education space. State and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders are grappling with how to deliver high-quality programs remotely. While districts and colleges have taken significant steps to adjust their curricula, state leaders play an important role in strategizing as well by gathering local information, gauging what strategies should be elevated and scaled statewide and communicating these practices across the state. Check out last week’s blog post here

Coordinating Full Supports Required for Success

While there are many instructional resources that are needed immediately, there are learner supports that cannot be forgotten — and state CTE leaders can coordinate with other state-level partners to compile coordinate these resources. With remote learning largely taking place virtually, access to reliable broadband internet and computers or devices such as smartphones and tablets is a major concern for secondary and postsecondary learners. States are taking varying approaches, from equipping buses with Wi-Fi and parking them in rural areas to enabling free Internet in the surrounding areas of a school or college so that students can log on from inside of their cars. Access to the Internet and computers is pivotal for distance learning, and a state-coordinated effort to monitor gaps and respond to them is critical.

The Wisconsin Technical College System has been working to rapidly provide full supports that learners need. In addition to providing Wi-Fi, colleges have been ensuring that campus services are still offered even while campuses are closed. This includes college and career advising and providing online options for enrollment and financial aid.

Facilitating Collaboration Between Secondary and Postsecondary Education

Many postsecondary institutions already had some kind of remote learning system in place prior to the pandemic. Though the scale changed following the pandemic, the existing foundation proved helpful in many states. Right now, collaboration and shared strategies for success between secondary and postsecondary levels is extremely important — and state CTE leaders should create opportunities for engagement. Connecting instructors across Career Clusters® is one way to promote sharing best practices.

Developing a System to Ensure Students Are Learning

In order to provide high-quality remote education, state leaders must have an understanding of what is and is not working. This requires using data to evaluate success. State leaders should use the data they have access to, combined with the information they learn from identifying learner and instructor needs, to determine a standard of success. This should look different than a typical assessment and grade structure, and factors such as learner engagement should be considered. A statewide system for evaluating how and whether students are learning will allow for state leaders to course correct where needed and plan for uncertainty ahead.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

By admin in COVID-19 and CTE
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State Roles to Support Remote Learning: Part One

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

This is the first of a two-part blog series examining the state’s role in remote learning. Check back next week for additional information!

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has forced K-12 and postsecondary education to move quickly, and without a ton of preparation, to the distance education space. State and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders have grappled with how to deliver high-quality programs remotely over the past few months while looking towards potentially delivering programs virtually in the fall. While districts and colleges have taken significant steps to adjust their curricula, state leaders play an important role in strategizing as well by gathering local information, gauging what strategies should be elevated and scaled statewide and communicating these practices across the state.

Identifying Learners’ and Educators’ Needs 

In this time of uncertainty, it is important for state leaders to have an accurate understanding of what learners and educators need to be successful so they can target resources and make changes to policy to ensure continuity of learning. With the access that they have to learners and instructors statewide, state CTE leaders are uniquely positioned to gather information on the supports needed. One way to do this is by administering a needs assessment survey, as has been done in California. The results were informative and showed that 82 percent of respondents were unsure how to continue with classes online and wanted help developing lesson plans. From there, state leaders updated the existing website,, to include a repository for lesson plans that had already been created, organized by sector.

Such a survey can provide a view into the biggest areas of concern and allow state leaders to directly address what local leaders need. Additionally, state leaders can use the results of their needs assessment survey to identify promising practices and match districts or colleges that are struggling in an area to others that have been more successful, taking the burden off of individuals and removing duplication of efforts. In Phoenix, Arizona, local leaders made the commitment to call learners each week. By putting in place a system for regularly checking in on learner and teacher needs, state leaders can scale their response to the crisis and better target resources to those most in need.

Creating Forums to Share Out Curriculum and Instructional Resources

The quick change to remote learning and unanticipated length of time meant that states did not have time to prepare for what this time of education delivery would entail. One way that state leaders can accelerate the adoption of evidence-based practices and distance learning innovations is by creating a forum for instructors to collaborate, share resources and learn from one another. Many states such as Michigan and Rhode Island developed online statewide websites for instructors to share curriculum and instructional supports. Easily accessible resources take some of the burden off of instructors. In addition, with thoughtful curation by state CTE leaders, such forums can allow for quality additions and some consistency across the state.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By admin in COVID-19 and CTE
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Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Remote Learning-Delivering Postsecondary Education

Monday, June 1st, 2020

The spring of 2020 saw postsecondary institutions close out semesters remotely due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The transition to distance learning was quick, forcing postsecondary systems and colleges to shift lesson plans and instruction methods in real-time. As the spring semester comes to a close, many colleges are expecting that the summer and fall semesters (at a minimum) will be delivered remotely as well- either in entirety or in some kind of hybrid. 

An article by Inside Higher Ed explored methods and challenges for delivering culinary, arts and Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs remotely. One instructor shares that he is trying to make the most of the online instruction by teaching the fundamental skills that learners will need to master the hands-on elements later in the program. Colleges are experimenting with transitioning courses into research and reading-based rather than hands-on learning, to accommodate the switch to remote education. Others are recording videos of themselves doing the work that the students would have been replicating. Instead of requiring students to mimic a technique, they may be required to write about what they learned.  

Across the country, postsecondary systems are doing what they can to support colleges. The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) has a publicly available webpage with links to online Career Technical Education (CTE) resources to use during Coronavirus. The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) has been cognizant of the full support services higher education students need during this time. One large component of this is ensuring all students have access to reliable internet. WTCS colleges are doing everything from providing free WiFi on campus, to extending WiFi access to parking lots so that students with cars can study from their vehicles. WTCS colleges are also striving to continue campus services remotely- such as counseling. Colleges are also making use of the campus food supply that is no longer needed. One institution donated all food, while another set up a food pantry.  

As colleges prepare for the summer and fall semesters, there are many considerations of how to deliver high-quality programs remotely. A survey of over 800 higher education administrators and faculty across 600 institutions by Bay View Analytics found that 97 percent of surveyed faculty had never taught online before, and 56 percent were using new instruction methods. This means that shared resources and professional development are needed now more than ever. Sharing out promising practices and strategies through publicly accessible websites is one way that the CTE postsecondary community can support each other.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By admin in COVID-19 and CTE, Uncategorized
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