Moving Occupational Training Online

Hello Career Pathways Colleagues,

I had a great discussion today with a workforce development colleague who was seeking my advice about moving occupational training programs online. In a reply to this post I will outline the advice I gave him, but first, I would like to hear from you about this. There have been several discussions on LINCS since mid-March about moving adult basic skills education programs online, but I have not seen one about moving occupational training programs online. There may be some unique challenges in doing that, especially for those training programs that lead to certification or credentialing, that may require direct observation of demonstrated competencies. Nevertheless, some of the issues may be the same as for adult basic skills programs.

What are your thoughts? If you newly, or for some time, have provided occupational skills training at a distance, what have you learned about good or best practices for engaging students in remote learning occupational training, assuring high participant attendance and completion, assessing competencies and other important teaching and learning features of online, remote or distance education?

David J. Rosen

Comments

Here's the advice I gave my workforce development colleague. What's your reaction? What do you agree or disagree with? What's missing?

1.   Assess student access to digital devices and the Internet. Survey what access to the Internet the trainees have: e.g. none, and no devices; only a smartphone with limited data plan; a smartphone with adequate data and/or reliable access to convenient free hotspots; a desktop or laptop computer Chromebook or tablet with unlimited, reliable broadband access.

2.   If possible, begin with free communication or social media software that the trainees already are familiar with, for example, WhatsApp or a Facebook private group or possibly Zoom. Build/re-build the in-person class with that.

3.   When students are comfortable add new software that allows an instructor to put in one easily accessible place all (links to) assignments, lessons, other learning resources (videos, digital print resources, links to online courses, etc.) and formative assessments in one place, with one sign-in. This could be as simple as a free website, e.g.

a.   Wordpress, free http://www.wordpress.com.

b.   Moonfruit, free for two weeks, then $4.00 to $4.50 a month http://www.moonfruit.com/

c.    Page Breeze, free, http://www.pagebreeze.com/free-website-builder.htm;

d.   Weebly Free and premium versions available. https://www.weebly.com/

or could be a commercial, e.g.

or free, e.g.

learning management system (LMS)

4.   There may be an excellent or good online commercial/proprietary occupational training course upon which to build the online training. However,

a.   This will need to be carefully reviewed to be sure it is at the right level of difficulty for the particular trainees, is free to the trainees, and meets the standards needed, and

b.   Just an online training course is not sufficient. The instructor will also want to build in opportunities to regularly interact with the trainees, ideally in real time, using Zoom or another real-time videoconferencing system, and build in opportunities for the trainees to interact with each other, for example, using a Facebook private group,  WhatsApp or another easy and familiar free tool.

5.   Find online equivalents of good in-person practices

6.   Assessment is a challenge. You can expect assessment to be challenging, especially if you need direct and authentic assessment. Most online assessments are multiple choice. Few high-stakes assessments are offered online, although this is changing now.

David J. Rosen