Career Pathways and Program Management Coffee Talk

You are invited to join the Career Pathways and Program Management groups for a LINCS "Coffee Break" discussion on Tuesday, July 14th, at 10:00 A.M. EST. The focus of our discussion will be on remote teaching and learning from career pathways and program management perspective. This is not a presentation, but rather a real-time discussion in which we hope to hear from you about your experiences providing services to adult learners during this time. We hope you will join us to share the opportunities and challenges you have been managing to support Career Pathways learners in new environments.

Registration for this event is required.  Please us the following registration link to sign up and join us:    

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator


Thank you to everyone who joined our Program Management and Career Pathways coffee break on Tuesday, July 14th.  Whether you were able to join us or not, we want to share a summary of some of the highlights of the written part of our conversation. For those who were not able to join us, it is worth mentioning that the oral part is available only if you listen to the recording. Some of the “chatted” comments below may refer to what people said orally, and may be difficult to follow if you haven’t heard the oral comments; other written comments stand on their own. Many participants offered useful information and advice that we think you will find of interest and in some cases valuable.  

We have organized the comments into conversational sub-topics, hoping that we have understood the intent of the comment correctly. If not, we hope participants will reply clarifying their comment(s). 

Below are the questions we shared with members during the coffee break:

  • Has your program been delivering instruction online during the past few months? If so, how are you doing that?
  • How are you managing the delivery of career pathways programming in virtual settings? What approaches and resources have you found work best? What are the obstacles you faced with implementation, or are still navigating?
  • What tools, methods, strategies, or approaches are your teachers finding especially useful?
  • What lessons have you learned about collaborating with other career pathways stakeholders, including industry partners, workforce development boards, unions, etc.? Has the temporary closure of in-person programs offered any lessons that you will carry into your future plans for career pathways collaboration, development, and delivery?
  • What advice would you give to other program managers who are offering online classes for the first time? What do you see as the opportunities? What cautions would you give them?

Here are links to resources shared by members during the coffee break:

Members shared platforms that they have been using to shift learning online.  These include Blackboard Collaborate, WhatsApp, Zoom, and Skype, Google Classroom, among others.   The question of which platform, and on what devices, appears to vary widely across different programs.  While some programs have had access to computers and tablets, others have relied on smartphones and other cell phones for text messaging.  We had several members joining us from corrections settings, who shared how they are working to provide continued learning opportunities with varying levels of digital access.  We also had a librarian perspective from Nebraska, and several members who shared how they are adapting their Career Pathways (CP) and Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs.  As part of our CP/IET discussion, we shared a request from OCTAE’s partner, Luminary Labs, looking for member input on pre-apprenticeship programming.  You can find this thread here: ED Request for Member Input on Pre-Apprenticeship Programming

Below are some of the highlights of our conversation with those who were able to join us, separated into conversational sub-topics.  If you would like the recording of our Coffee Break conversation, please email Melissa Zervos at


Comments about Teaching and Learning in Corrections Settings

RC: I teach in a corrections institute.  We have been doing zoom sessions with ABE and check-ins with self-paced HS students

MM: Until last month, I was Zooming twice a day with juvenile inmates here in Delaware.

PC: I work in a corrections setting at the state level. We have widespread tablet usage in our system in all of our prisons. We have several teachers who are creating instructional videos which can be delivered via tablets to students, these can be shared system wide. We’ve only done this for ABE students so far. They are useful as supplementary materials, but not to supplant face to face instruction.

AS: I am interested in hearing more about zoom classes inside corrections institutions.

RC: the prison has begun purchasing smart televisions - we are only zooming to one unit at the moment, but plans are to have more come august - pushed back from July due I believe to the resurgence in COVID-19 here in Delaware

JS: Agree with Ann.  How do you have internet access in a correctional facility?

PC: Indiana here. Tablets are connected to a local network. Teachers can push out the videos directly to their students and can track if the video has been watched. Students can also send a message to the teacher if there are questions.

LB: I would love to hear about inmate services. I have 2 jail based programs. One is willing to explore using hotspots - the other is very reluctant.

PC: In Indiana, our prisons offer employer desired national certifications. All of our CTE programs require hands on training and testing. In essence, our CTE programming has shifted to focusing on basic employment skills since we had to move to packet work for CTE programming. For example it’s not easy to teach a welding cohort via distance and we certainly cannot test.

As we move forward in Indiana’s prison system, we are treating the tablets as the lynchpin to continued educational involvement for our students. As you can imagine keeping students involved is difficult enough. But, we think a mixture of packets and videos and tablet delivered lessons has enhanced keeping students involved, connected and prepared to return to face to face instruction.


Career Pathways (CP) and Integrated Education and Training (IET)

KM: Yes, all have gone to the ZOOM platform. CP support classes for our IETs are like our HES/ESL classes working on basic skills and IET curriculum. We have found that making 2 or 3 short classes per week have worked better than meeting once a week for 3 hours. Obstacles are WiFi connections.

MR: I have been able to reach out to Adult Ed students who have been signed up to our online instruction (software program from) Essential Ed.  As a CSP, I send messages and activities to students that have to do with employability. our instructors have been doing Zoom sessions. We have a Facebook group and I do post videos as well as Prezi presentations.

RP: Just finished an IET in skilled trades here in Charlottesville, VA. Used Zoom to meet with students 3 times a week.

AS: For career pathways and IETs, we are providing contextualized AEL and Workforce Prep along some some reduced classes face to face for hands-on technical training.

MR: This is a multifaceted question. However, I keep hearing about a skills gap, and that workers need retraining. What specific skills do they mean? (Communication skills? Advanced coding?) And does remedial instruction actually address the problem? What kind of instruction is actually the most helpful in terms of helping people to find an actual job? And does this include experienced workers whose occupations have disappeared?

MD: In Maine we have been able to transition our Computer Support Services  pathway training (CompTIA A+ ) from in person to virtual face to face. We use a combo of videoconferencing (Zoom or Teams) where live interactive attendance is required and online curriculum along with instructor office hours to support students. One obstacle has been testing- CompTIA A+ is a hard exam in normal circumstances but the remote proctoring (which is available ) is very high stress. 

We are also piloting an IC3 (digital literacy credential training) for our Adult Ed staff around the state as many of them are now also struggling with digital skills.  We are encouraging programs to use breakout rooms  in Zoom (or other programs that offer it) to do small group work.

AS: A number of our programs like and are using the IC3 for digital literacy.

FS: Michael--You may remember that the NC Community College System created a dozen PTE courses that can serve as standardized pre-apprenticeship across all Career Clusters. Course materials are free and located on our Perkins website under Pathway to Employment courses.

Libraries, Librarians and Digital Literacy

AS: I train librarians across the state of Nebraska in a variety of Digital Literacy skills. I conduct Zoom sessions for planning/ outreach, and am designing a shared Digital Literacy resource repository for librarians.

This is a Digital Literacy Resource Submission Guide  This is the first iteration of the Digital Literacy Guide


Students Lack of (or Limited) Access to the Internet: Teaching Using Text Messages, and donated Hotspots for Home Internet access

SP: Yes, I have the same issue with my students.  I spent 3 months corresponding via text. Some do not even have access to smartphones.  I tried Zoom, Google classroom and chat; however, like many rural areas access is limited to the internet.  Most of our areas do not have cell towers near by, so they have to go out to the end of the road to get service.

LB: I have been contacted by Digital Wish asking to have students and staff  participate in a letter writing/Tweeting campaign. The goal is to have hotspots donated to students (4G, 1 yr) to overcome the barrier of Internet access at home or other remote locations. I will share more info if people are interested. ( We were interested and Laurie shared the following information:)

RP: One of our teachers used text for English practice. She would text a sentence with mistakes and then would ask students to text the sentence back with the corrections. At first, she would let students know how many mistakes were in the sentence and then later let students figure it out for themselves.

LB: I responded to a survey for a group called Digital Wish a few months ago. Yesterday, they contacted me with a great opportunity for our * staff and students *. They are heading a campaign to get hotspots into the homes of students to help close the Digital Divide - no charge to the recipients. 

Digital Wish believes that every student deserves a technology-rich education that will provide them with the skills necessary to excel in the global economy. And I have convinced them that adult learners are just as critical in their efforts! Each hotspot connects up to 10 people - children, household members, and community members. This has the potential of putting whole families back in school and back to work. The goal is to deliver a single hotspot with 12 months of 4G connectivity for staff and students in need.

Digital Wish is mounting a student/ teacher / ally  letter-writing campaign targeting large institutional donors, asking them to donate 100,000 hotspots for needy students. They are asking that people (staff and students) who would benefit from the donation of a hotspot participate in a letter-writing/tweeting/video posting campaign so that they can share the student voices with the donors. As the campaign progresses, those involved in the campaign will be targeted to receive a device. You can read more about Digital Wish 


How we can become involved:

Ask students to create letters stating how a hotspot would benefit them - and others in their household - in their quest for learning. It does not need to be long. It needs to let potential donors know how it would help and what the benefit would be.

Ask students to share Tweets. Always include @DigitalWish. Include photos and/or video clips. 

Example: My name is________. I am a student at _________. I am studying _____________. My employment/education goal is _______________.  Then share why the donation of a hotspot would help them. Thank you to @Digital Wish for helping me overcome the digital divide.

Letter Writing Campaign Guidelines

Letters can be sent to Heather at the email or physical address below. You do not need to correct or edit the letters. There is value in a potential donor seeing the need for the educational intervention.

Heather Chirtea, Executive Director

Digital Wish

PO Box 52, Milton, DE 19968


Effective Use of Digital Platforms and Tools

EW: use of Breakout rooms (inZoom) and assigning students specific work (from pre-selected links or videos) for differentiated instruction


Lessons Learned and Practices to carry forward to the “New Normal” when we also have In-person Classes

AI: Has the temporary closure of in-person programs offered any lessons that you will carry into your future plans?  YES, I will definitely have my students continue more personal writings on their dreams/goals and how they plan to achieve them. I work in corrections, there is no internet. We deliver and collect classwork daily to each inmate

AS: Lessons learned: Definitely to consider scaling up digital literacy skills across the board in more deliberate and intentional ways - And also - Doing an initial assessment of digital access during ‘registration- orientation’ etc.


Following up on last month's Career Pathways Coffee Break, I want to share another resource to plan for workforce recovery. The Pathway to Recovery Quick Start Action Planner (QSAP) can be used by public workforce development partners to aid in planning and preparing for economic recovery.

The QSAP assists states in creating and implementing economic recovery plans across WIOA partners, by addressing staffing, technology, systems infrastructure, communication, and funding needs. Local leaders are encouraged to use the QSAP to hold team discussions focused on developing a shared sense of preparedness. The results of these discussions will help WIOA partners develop or improve readiness strategies and plans.

The QSAP can be used to assess and prepare for recovery through the the following:

  • Individual Assessments and Team Discussion: Individuals complete the QSAP and then share their results in a group setting – team discussion helps to align around current conditions and areas for action
  • Facilitated Group Discussion: A facilitator leads your team through the QSAP as part of a strategic planning session to collectively identify priorities for change.
  • Benchmarking Progress: You can save the QSAP results as a benchmark – reengage your team to complete again in 6 months or a year to assess your progress.
  • Create an Economic Recovery Plan: You can review team results and prioritize actions for topic areas, create an action plan to address each area, complete actions, specific, designated responsible person(s), and timelines.

Additional recovery resources can be found on the Pathway to Recovery Resources on WorkforceGPS.

I'm hopeful that adult educators are taking part in these discussions as part of workforce development partnerships.  If you have been part of these discussions, or plan to work with WIOA partners on completing the QSAP, I invite you to share your experience here with us.

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator