Virtual learning in hands-on fields amid the coronavirus

Apr 2, 2020 by

How do you teach welding virtually? As the coronavirus spreads, colleges are trying to figure out that and more on the fly

In fields like history, literature and French, transitioning to online learning — as many colleges have done to fight the spread of the coronavirus — might sound challenging but doable. In some career and technical programs, it’s a different story.

At Peninsula College, in Washington State, Eoin Doherty, who coordinates the school’s welding program, is scrambling to devise a plan for offering classes amid new restrictions resulting from the virus. In welding labs, an instructor demonstrates a technique to students on a machine, sends them off to practice on their own and walks around to check their work. That simply can’t be done online, he said.

For now, the campus is closed, and the school is on spring break. If they’re allowed to offer labs in person when classes restart on April 13, Doherty and college administrators plan to run students through coursework in smaller groups to maintain social distance. But if Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee extends an order for residents to stay home past that date, that won’t be an option.

In that case, Doherty and his administrators would have to figure out how students would get their lab time. Students who have welding equipment at home might send in photos of their work. Others might have to make up the lab time in another semester. The program might have to revise its grading criteria. “I’m working on so many options right now,”  Doherty said.

Ne’Keisha Stepney, a dean at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois, overseeing technical programs in areas like automotive technology, welding technology and HVAC installation and service, is facing similar challenges. The school has closed its doors through at least April 12.

Source: Virtual learning in hands-on fields amid the coronavirus

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