24.5 Hours so far (2/24/20)
Options to use the remaining 5.5 depending on feedback from Bob. Options could be:
- Continued work on day to day activities for the final quarter and a half of the year. At the bottom of this document are items and events we haven’t considered with 100% Virtual Student implications.
- Creation of CAWD policies that could be referenced in future years. As fleshed out below, these policies could include:
- Work with Emmy/Ethan on how would support schools and families outside our typical service region.
- Hardware loaning policy
- Snow Day / Virtual School policy
- Job Shadow / Class celebration policy
- Standardized testing / IRC policy
- Weekly meeting expectation policy
- Digitization of start of school paperwork for CAWD students. Create the Google forms that answer all the questions we ask in paper form.
In response to Covid-19 CTE faculty are looking at ways we can adapt our programs to the new normal of hybrid/remote learning. This project develops new curriculum and classroom management practices for the CAWD program.
After speaking with Bob I am specifically focusing on 100% Remote Instruction. While Hybrid learning is a reality in 2020-21, it isn’t likely a long term reality, and I don’t want to spend resources planning for something likely to be phased out by the fall of 2021.
The focus on 100% remote students is based on two main ideas:
- Students served in the local service region that choose to learn remotely should have an option to do so.
- Students outside our service region that can’t attend CTE should have an option to do so.
Students served in the local service region that choose to learn remotely
I currently have a student in CAWD that has medical issues. This student chose 100% remote learning this year, and I can see this student asking to be 100% remote next year (2021-22) if an option. If we can create a learning environment for students that can’t / choose not to be part of our brick and mortar classroom, should we not at least try? I say this with altruism on one hand, and profit on the other. Increasing our pool of potential educational customers is a worthy goal in a state like Vermont.
This isn’t creating more students, it is creating pathways to attend CAWD in new ways which weren’t an option before.
I believe this connects well into the idea of Personal Learning Plans that are a new focus of Vermont education.
This should not step on any other schools toes as we are already approved to enroll them at CTE.
Students outside our service region that can’t attend CTE
I have a student from Middlebury. I have had students from Lamoille county, Missisquoi, Montpelier, and other schools outside our service region. Typically these students arrive in CAWD with a somewhat similar backstory:
- Strong family network of support. Solid advocates for the student.
- Students have their own transportation, often as a junior in high school.
- Students didn’t love their sending school, and were looking for a fresh start.
If you take a look at the final bullet – it is something that CTE already has in all their programs. Students are often looking for that new type of school, new classmates. An advantage we can leverage.
The issue is the first two bullets. I would imagine the majority of our students don’t have “strong family network / solid advocates”. Many of our served families land on the socio-economic spectrum of multiple jobs, non-traditional living environments, language barriers, and other realities that put them at a disadvantage. These students often don’t get the support to make such large educational decisions – if EWSD and Vermont is going to make a push for “Equity” and access to education, here is a great place to start.
The second bullet speaks to transportation issues. Not everyone has a 3rd family car that student could take to drive to CAWD. Not everyone is even in the drivable region. A student in Brattleboro that wanted to attend CAWD would spend 4 hours in the car per day – just not realistic.
I do believe we may run into school districts saying “but we have something similar to CAWD – we don’t want to send you tuition”. This is something we would have tread lightly on, and maybe pilot initially with a friendly school distract in the state that doesn’t have a program similar to CAWD. Maybe Bob and the principle from Lakeview Union School District could pilot this together.
I hope this project acts as a framework to apply to fully remote students. This would offset a reduction in local applicants in the future, spreading our enrollment opportunities around the state.
The school year
Much of this project is based around the idea that “I don’t know what I don’t know.” I have never taught remotely before for a subset of the class, with the majority being physically with me in the classroom. I knew daily educational issues for remote students would have to pop up and be addressed. The following is issues that came up, how we addressed them in 2021, and plan looking forward to
Following is a month by month breakdown of what came up and how we did our best to address it.
CAWD Classroom Infrastructure
A leading issue is “how do I do this”? In our first lock-down spring 2020 I was unable to do any streaming from my house due to my internet. I needed to pick the right platform, learn how to present screens, and test. I tested with Will in CAWD2, I tested with my wife on our poor internet speed to ensure this would work, practiced the invite process, etc.
In the end I think we found a good system that allows:
- Students to watch my presented screen through Google classroom.
- A process where remote students can ask questions / raise hand without disrupting in-person students…for the most part (more info below).
- As high a quality class stream as we could find:
- I ended up swapping our the default web cam audio that CTE bought for our Snowball. Much higher audio quality.
- Changing webcam settings to maximize resolution. Even then we ran into issues where our buttons and icons are simply tiny. We had to accept we did the best we can here with streaming video quality – OK at best.
- I worked with Ben to setup a 4th screen with my lead machine. I was able to take all students incoming web cam feeds and display on left hand of my teaching computer. I was able to “see” the virtual students, they were right in front of me. Their faces were actually more front and center to me than my in-person students! This took a lot of time to figure out as the monitor was rotated 90 degrees, and also had to play well with the video card that was presenting to two external projectors, while at the same time giving me a standard screen. While it took time, it is a nice little foundation for Virtual Student communication where their face is there, you can control their audio, see the chat, manage recordings, etc. All of this right from the lead computer, the prime teaching position. No running around to check at the desk to see if kids are following along. Really happy with how it is working.
Student / Family / Class connections
I needed to make sure remote students felt like “real students.” My own children are doing the “Mount Mansfield Virtual Academy” this year, so I was able to see from the family perspective the other side of remote learning.
I met with each family individually and we setup:
- Their home office – all the resources needed to not only survive, but thrive remotely.
- Weekly after-school meetings with remote students/families, consistent time, every week. These meetings were for clarification on work, reteaching of assignments, question answering, etc.
- Inclusion of one on one aids.
- Really push the idea that I am your teacher, I am not just an online tutorial.
It takes time and flexibility, but was successful. The repetitive nature of these meetings took 30-45 minutes per week after school for the 3 students, so there would be issues of scale on this. Even now it pushed 30-45 minutes of “standard” CAWD work to outside of class hours. Over just the first semester it added 6-9 hours of labor that was taken away from normal CAWD work, and now the normal CAWD work still needed to get done outside of contracted school hours.
In the future if we had 10 remote students, we are looking at 100+ minutes added to each work-week just dealing with remote student check ins. How would we handle this on top of traditional teaching obligations?
Ice Breaker Activities
This is an area I struggled with. Typically ice breaker activities in CAWD (assuming a non-Covid year) involve:
- students sharing paper / concept art / art supplies
- students changing computers / mixing
- students presenting at the lead machine and getting to know each other
All of this was hampered by Covid protocols, and if you look at the remote students it was even harder.
One of the remote parents asked about “Breakout rooms – are you going to have the kids go to breakout rooms for group projects / getting to know you activities” and I had to think about it and then say “no”. While our CAWD computers are amazing, they are not chromebooks, and they don’t have cameras. The “virtual school” ice breakers I had read about relied on that visual connection.
This was one of those questions / issues that I only thought of / learned about as it happened. This was a common theme this year. You don’t know what you don’t know.
What I ended up doing was exploring independent work connecting to the student, uploading to a central server, and then presenting the student work to the class.
In a Covid year it went pretty smoothly. In “normal” year with Remote Students it would take a bit more directed thought to be truly successful and repeatable.
- Students were able to share their own work / present about themselves.
- Students were not able to collaborate on these shared projects.
- Siloed activates. It felt very “on rails”, less organic.
- Didn’t get that jovial, gregarious “we are one” feeling.
Certainly an area I have to improve on.
Virtual Class Recordings
As we moved into the first couple weeks of lessons we had fully remote students, along with an one-on-one aid, as if they could get recordings of the class. The class was about 4 hours long, but did contain the entire lesson.
We explored how to set this up – by using Google Meet (vs. Zoom) we found a way to record the lessons and then upload them to a Google Drive folder. I think could allow / disallow access to that folder. At the end of each lesson the meeting video would process and upload.
The remote students have access, as does the aid, and they were able to use this as a tool to “get extra help” by watching the lesson again.
I don’t think I would feel comfortable offering this service to all students, but I can understand the value to remote students where information uptake could be less efficient.
It took some growing pains, but I think we have a good system now. We found that Google Meet recording became unstable for a full day recording, so we had to start “ending” and “restarting” the meeting for stability.
In terms of privacy the remote students faces and chat did NOT appear in the recordings.
The only time students faces and chat was recorded was when I had to look at a very small issue and drag the recording to my larger screen. In chronological time I would imagine this is less than .1% of all recordings. Not ideal, but workable.
Moving physical documents from CTE to Virtual Student, and back
Almost immediately when school started we were hit with physical documents which needed to be put in the hands of students, and sometimes returned. These included:
- Start of school paperwork
- Classwork for “Packet classes” such as Drivers Ed (this year), but Public Issues in the future.
- Honor Roll Certificates
I felt a strong need to make this work, so it involved individually scheduling pickups with families, packing content up, etc.
Almost comically, as soon as I did a “delivery” with a remote family, another piece of “Packet Work” (in this case drivers ed) came in.
To try to manage as best I could explained to the drivers ed teacher we had a fully remote student, and to contact her directly/digitally.
For other items I had to collect packaging material, envelopes, and put together these care packages that went out from time to time. Honor Role certificates, NTHS invite letters, class sweatshirts, all had to be delivered to the family, and while doable it just takes time.
If CAWD Virtual Class becomes common I would like to see where we can improve and streamline old fashioned processes:
- Create a form to input all start of school paperwork. Would go right into a database or spreadsheet. This could then be printed if a physical copy is needed.
- Eliminate “paper packet” classes. Work should be done digitally.
- Have online versions of certificates such as honor role – CAWD almost always scans these paper documents in for digital use anyway. These most be digital to print – can we access the digital files directly?
- Plan on fewer, larger deliveries to families.
I would also likely not ask families to come in, and use snail mail as the medium to get students what they need. Setting up deliveries around the schedules of 3 different families had me waiting outside for more time than I would like to have to if we scale this up.
September Presentation Issues and allowances
As part of CAWD we have constructive criticism sessions where as a class we go over the students work in a round table type meeting, designer to designer. Students take turns to give the feedback to the class, practicing a skill they will routinely use in industry.
We ran into issues. Having the remote students attempt to critique something, speak in their microphone, and have it audible to the rest of the class was problematic. At some point I had to stop saying “What was that…?” With the vast majority of the students were in the room, I had to cater to their user experience first.
Student 1 (FP) – Unstable Internet. In and out of the class. Wasn’t able to really do this due to poor internet. I know he was trying. Talked with father as well, we tried to improve the internet as best we could, but there were competing users for bandwidth at his ouse. (Family, other students, etc).
Student 2 (AL) – Parent specifically asked (along with aid) if they could be excused from this. A combination of connectivity issues with poor mental health of the student. Wasn’t an issue I wanted to push, their life was hard enough.
Student 3 (KK) – Painfully shy with medical condition that meant she had to be allowed to excuse herself at almost immediate notice to go to the restroom. If I wasn’t going to require the first 2 remote students, it felt a bit unfair to put the expectation on the 3rd.
This is something that I have not fully fleshed out and I need to work on it. We tried the “replicate the model we have in brick and mortar CAWD” and it was not as successful as we would have liked. They were able to hear the criticisms and class discussion, but it wasn’t as interactive with remote students as I would have hoped.
As we settled into school we found that we had to do our normal safety drills and expectations.
- I took students to rally point for fire drills.
- We went over Run Hide Fight / Lockdown procedures in the room.
Fire drills I had to leave my remote students on their cameras.
Safety drills I had them sit in initially.
As the year went on I found no reason for remote students to hear any of this. From one perspective of just wasting their time, to the other of the ideas of unneeded potential trauma (“Incapacitate the intruders” from the safety slides ) – what is going to our long term procedure on including remote students for safety drills?
In September I held fast that “this is what the class is doing” – we are one, lets all take part.
By mid point of the year I simply excused the fully remote students when we did this activities. When meeting with the remote students and families I explained my line of thinking, which they agreed to – but it does create unintended consequences if they are ever on site. Does that matter?
Maybe a one sheet outlining our policy of engagement in these activities would be best. I answered the same questions from the remote kids and families, it seems like it would make sense – even if just in a Frequently Asked Questions model.
Getting students CTE Hardware to run the class
CAWD requires current computer technology at a minimum. We have seen a movement in school districts to cheap Chromebooks which I hesitate to even call “computers” – they run little to none of the industry standard software.
We were able to pull retired CAWD iMac’s from storage that hadn’t been sold, and put them to use.
IT was tasked to image the computers with our industry software. I received 4 of these iMac’s. While there was an obvious speed difference, the vast majority of the software was a 1:1 mimic – and it was a heck of a lot better than a Chromebook.
I worked with each student individually to setup their own iMac so they understood how to install anything new that came up in the future.
I worked with Jim Dirmaier from Engineering and he explained the process he uses when checking out a computer. I pretty much adopted what Jim does, and used his form as the base for the CAWD form.
4 families setup times after school to come in, get hardware, sign paperwork, and go over expectations.
1 family had a hard time coming in – so with Bob’s approval I was able to sent the computer home directly with student / classmate with car. At this point I already had the paperwork signed by the family.
All hardware will be returned at the end of the school year.
Sick students / Missed the bus / Pivot to Remote?
By the time we made it to October we started to have our first sick students. Some students where simply entered as “Sick Excused”. I treated these students as I would a sick student in our brick and mortar class; just omitted them.
I started having a sick student here and there that asked to be added to the online class stream. Sure, I added them, but there wasn’t always great followthrough from the student, nor a full day of attendance – but they were already “Sick Excused”.
Questions were brought up – should the expectation that “Sick” students attend class virtually? In many ways I like this, but I have also been in-bed sick.
I also had a student that missed the bus and through an anxiety filled email wanted to be added to the online class stream. Do I mark that student down as “present”? They obviously wanted to be part of our day, but they missed the bus and were not in the room. What is EWSD “duty of care” obligation here?
As we already had a remote stream option, and we already had hybrid learning, I chose to fold the kids into the class and err or the side of “student engagement” – especially where they self advocated. I don’t think this ad-hoc style of management is good for the program, or CTE in general. We need consistency among the program, and ideally among the center.
Issues to consider and draft policy for:
- Should sick students be expected to attend virtually (remote or not)?
- Can any student request to be added to class stream at any time? What are the situations that would allow for it?
- Missed busses?
- Sending school schedules. The first two days after mid-winter break most schools are closed. Can/should we create a CTE policy that “when we are open, you are expected to be here” that would overwrite “SSA” attendance? I can say whatever I want, but if there are no teeth, it will be unsuccessful. We need need consequences.
Program Open House / Post Mortem and recommendations
This year was Covid, and a “first draft” of everything, but we need to dramatically improve our Program Open House presentations going forward if going to cater to Virtual Students.
If the idea of Virtual CAWD can get up and operational, a student and family from Greensboro won’t likely attend a program Open House in person, but likely would virtually. This means the Virtual Open House materials are going to be our touchstone between CTE and families.
There were a number of expectations for Program Virtual House videos that we were required to share. I found that while everyone tried their best, the overall production quality was pretty poor and I was a bit embarrassed at what I had to show at the start of my program. Issues included:
- Poor audio / no microphones.
- Some recording portrait mode, some landscape.
- Some putting audio backing tracks that made their voice audio unintelligible.
- Hideous text slides. Mismatched fonts, poor color choices, etc.
- Overall difference in quality of exporting.
I also think we should host and offer these asynchronously, as compared to playing them through a broadcasted classroom. The audio was presented out of the computer speaker, then recorded by the mic on the computer, and then transmitted. I had parents say they could not simply understand what was being said.
I realize that this is not in our wheelhouse, and I am likely hyper critical, but it is our brand and I am very protective of how we look “in the wild”.
CTE should come up with a Style Guide and template files which inform how teachers produce this media going forward. This will create consistent branding, look and feel, and represent us well. At the very least we should have a sign-off on media before it is shown.
A complete 180 to this is our Virtual Program Videos produced with the outside content producer. These were excellent.
We can improve here. I don’t doubt that we want to present well, we just didn’t this time.
Efficiently sharing class assets
In CAWD we have a “Public Drive”. This is akin to an island in a kitchen. Students in the brick and mortar classroom have access to this drive for quick sharing of assets. No logins, just simply a place for rapid sharing of assets between teams, groups, teachers->students, etc. Always share a copy, never originals.
Remote students just don’t have access to these internal networks. This brings up multiple issues:
- Increase in difficulty of sharing work product quickly with in-class teams.
- I had to find a way to manually share the work, but this took about 10 minutes from:
- “Ok everyone – share your work.”
- “Ok now everyone has access”.
This went from something mindless, that took seconds for the students, to a 10 minute procedure that means copying files from the shared network drive, organizing, zipping, uploading to a different publicly available server, and then alerting the remote users.
Each time assets were updated this process would have to be repeated.
I 100% think it was worth it to include our remote students, but the time needed and extra steps is something that I can’t repeat in future years. There has to be a better way.
I don’t yet know how to solve this problem, working with IT to make an alias to the internal drive could be a possibility, but would poke a hole through the network security and I don’t think IT would want to do this.
CAWD Audio Issues
When remote students where talking to us in the room, we had the audio piped through our classroom speakers. These speakers are old, but never really were a problem as they weren’t used for presentational voice from low quality webcam camera micophones into the classroom.
I initially dealt with it.
Then in early October Tom Bisson looked at me and questioned the quality of the audio, so now I knew it was more than just me. The audio just had this middling, poor quality. We played with the settings at length boosting treble, base, midrange, using the different audio controls, but couldn’t improve it that much.
We talked to Ben in AV about getting a more modern surround sound setup with a center channel dedicated to voice. We have some ways that for less than $500 we can improve the quality of the audio, and make communication less resistive. That will end up being important if we are going to run with a “Virtual CAWD” model in the future.
As of now I am going to hold off on upgrading audio equipment until we know if this project is green-lit. If we don’t have virtual students the $500 could be better spend elsewhere.
Direct Questions / Student Communcations
At the start of they year I met with virtual students and we talked about ways that we could have “raised hand” direct questions. I know some software has a digital hand to raise, but I read that this can be hard to see quickly, especially if we are a computer program heavy class with multiple windows. (I tried to read about what teachers had done in the spring for ideas).
We created a system where students would hold up a question mark drawn on a piece of paper if they had a question. In my minds eye I thought this would be a way to quickly and easily handle questions.
Showing my naiveté at managing this type of class, I soon realized the remote students could just raise their hand, as quick and easy as putting up a question mark. I could see them with their hand raised. I felt stupid, but I was learning.
I then ran into two issues I hadn’t considered that we dealt with.
The first was I had/have a painfully shy student that was less likely to ask a question that was audible on our class speakers, but would engage in a silent text to me (through classroom chat). While not as I intended, I didn’t care – I was engaging more with this student – so we ran with it.
I also ran into the problem where I like to move around the room, answer questions, lecture from multiple positions where I can. Another issue was that if I can’t see the Virtual Student screen, I don’t know when their hand is up. This was especially problematic when I am moving around the classroom in production going to raised hand to raised hand. If you aren’t routinely glancing at a the Virtual Students computer scree, you aren’t seeing their hand! So students (F particularly) just started asking for help over the speakers. Now I am a teacher that likes a certain degree of control the classroom, and you don’t yell out questions without being called on, but I had to be a bit more flexible with F (and the other Virtual Students in time) as they were just doing what was the least resistive way to get information. For small groups (3) of remote students this was fine, but what would happen if we scaled this up? I am considering a dedicated screen per remote student hung higher up so I can see at a glance / similar to seeing a student put hand up. Think of this like a video wall that you see in big organizations / nasa – the group members are viewable from all angles.
To make this work I would have to get:
- multiple monitors hung in a prominent place in the room.
- video card / tricaster specifically setup on the lead machine that would be able to manage all these video signals effectively.
If we are going to run CAWD with one or two virtual kids, I could likely just make what we have work and it would be “OK”. If we really wanted to sell this as a new idea, a new way to build in 25%+ of CAWD enrollment – we would have to improve.
Proctored Testing and implications for Virtual Learning model
As we approached the mid point of the year we start thinking about standardized testing. There are two main batteries of testing that require proctoring: WorkKeys and CAWD Web Professionals Certification Exam.
WorkKeys is the new CTE standard all programs will take. We were informed that WorkKeys would need to be taken on site, due to strict proctoring rules. My remote students are not going to be able to take this test with the rest of our cohort. This causes multiple problems:
- Remote Students will have independent production time during our testing windows. It is workable, but not ideal.
- Remote students will then be required to come in on a make up day to take the test. Speaking with the remote students and families I already get the feeling that this may be a prickly issue. Families (such as my own with my daughters) chose remote learning for a reason.
This is something beyond my pay grade, and I will act as the messenger back and forth as best I can.
Web Professionals IRC
Our certification exam through the Web Professionals Organization is similar to Work Keys. I am the proctor of this exam. I have not yet broached the subject with our Certifying Body, but following will be my proposal to deal offering proctored IRC’s to remote students:
- Exclude the student – certainly the most aggressive option, but with a snap of the finger the issue is off our plate to deal with. Certainly not best practice educationally.
- Invite the student to take the test in the room. This runs into the same issue as we have with WorkKeys – but having an IRC may be more of a magnet for students to attend.
- Work with Web Professionals and offer the exam through an audit / no certificate model. Would our organization allow the student to take the exam from their home without a proctor, without the chance to an IRC? This would get the experience of preparing and sitting for an adult level IRC, but not earn the credential. This of this as PSAT prep, or an open book AP prep exam. The student would get the experience, but not the feather in their cap.
- Invite the virtual students to come in after school, bring their laptop, and we take the exam outside. I would stay after school with the kids and we would do it around the 3/4 pm timeline. I hope this would help with family concerns about Covid, while at the same time offering a proctored environment.
What is interesting with these options is we haven’t figured out how to engage with students that are virtual due to location. If we have a student in Greensboro, Arlington, etc – what type of system can we create with proctored environments for standardized testing like WorkKeys, or IRC credentialing like Web Professionals. This will be something we encounter each and every year.
I also don’t know if due to Covid, Remote Education, a move to remote work if we are going to to have more flexibility on how proctoring works in the 21st century.
Still a work in progress. Certification exam in CAWD will be in May/June, so I simply don’t have the answer yet.
Recruiting: Virtual Program Visits for existing students.
As part of our Covid based recruiting there were 2 Wednesdays where students already at CTE could visit other programs. Academics were suspended for these days.
This model can be used for fully Virtual Students in the future.
While I was on Paternity, Will and I worked together to game plan a good experience. It involved:
- Collecting emails of students.
- Showing our 3 minute recruiting video overviewing our program.
- Showing and pushing students to our Instagram for long term connection to program.
- Engaging with students.
- Doing a short demo of some of our coursework.
- Fill the 30 minutes with as much dynamism as we can – it is our chance to recruit!
Will said these days went pretty well. Some issues:
- Some programs were confused and signed up seniors that were graduating. Will had to deal with people in his Virtual Visits that weren’t eligible for CTE next year. Why did this happen?
- My own students that visited other programs had uneven experiences, and while this is great for CAWD2 – it isn’t great for CTE:
- One program showed a silent 10 minute movie. No audio. At the end of this they teachers said thank you and goodbye. No engagement.
- Another program did about a 10 minute presentation, and said the student could leave early. The student upon telling me that was unimpressed, shoulder-shrug type of ambivalence.
I think as CTE if we to explore this model in the future we would want to have some consistency and standards program to program. CAWD will do a professional job regardless, but the good of CTE as a whole we need to have some consistency.
Both students that considered other programs have applied to CAWD2 after these visits.
Making connections with new students and families that viewed Virtual Recruiting Videos.
CTE created Virtual Recruiting videos of about 4 minutes long. These were excellent quality, and would be the way to connect with students and their families outside our service region, or who are un-interested in visiting/attending in person.
(I do realize they also work for traditional students, but that isn’t the focus of this project.)
Emmy is in charge of a form which outlines the programs students have visited “virtually”. While not required, I think it is good customer service to at the very least make a connection with these families to offer assistance and help if they would like.
I reached out to all of the students with a brief email:
- Introducing myself
- Offering links to our “About Us” page
- Breakdowns of credits / certifications / SkillsUSA results / etc.
- Pointed students to our Instagram
- Offered to help answer anything I can.
This email went to both student and parents.
Almost immediately I received feedback, and have been tending these relationships through email.
I think it is solid, best practice, proactive customer service and should be what CTE does by default.
As we all become comfortable with Remote Education, the issue of snow days become an area for expanded education. In the month of February we had two traditional school days canceled due to snow.
Day 1 – Feb 2nd. Called as a snow day that morning. School closed – day will be made up – no chance to have a remote education day.
Day 2 – Tuesday Feb 16th. Called the day prior as a “Remote Education” day.
As I have remote students already, this was an easy pivot for CAWD. I checked in with students throughout the day, had multiple deliverables, and was able to answer very specific questions from students meeting them where they were. It was a nice complement to a traditional school day where I teach to a collective, I was able to work one on one with students. While streaming wasn’t an issue, I prided myself on replying to student asynchronous emails throughout the day almost in a chat-like synchronous speed.
Going forward could we create a consistent policy regarding how we handle Snow Days at EWSD and other sending schools? As we already have the infrastructure in place to handle remote learning (and will so going forward) there really isn’t a need to go to school longer in the summer.
Full disclosure I did have a family whose parents work for Burton, and to them Snow Day = Snowboarding. This student pushed back to the idea of working on a snow day, and would rather go to school longer in June. We won’t be able to make everyone happy.
Virtual Realty and other physical class experiences
As we move farther into the 2020’s Virtual Reality development is becoming more and more popular. Be it presentations of non-VR assets, or native VR development it will be a reality of our future.
Right now the model in CAWD is we have a limited number of VR kits to move through the lessons, but these kits need to be in the classroom.
How could we include Virtual Students in these experiences?
A more passive option is connecting the VR kit to an external cable so everyone can see what the student immersed in the VR experience is seeing. Students remotely would be above to see the output of the VR. As a teacher I could include the remote students assets into our workflow, and the remote students could see the results. This would be a workable solution, but doesn’t give the remote students the chance to get hands on experience.
Another option is to buy a limited number of Google Cardboard type VR kits. These Cardboard kits fold up and accept the students cell phone as the pseudo VR headset (assuming the student has a smartphone). Positives to this would be that the Remote Student would get to experience VR hands on. Negatives are the student would not have a 1:1 mimic of the hardware that we have (as they are using their own phone), and I don’t know if we could replicate the VR Development experience the exact same as we do in class.
Likely the best bet would be a combination of the two, where students get some hands on experience, but at the same time we use their assets in our classroom and present the output.
Two other options that I can’t plan for right now:
- Student having their own VR kit. Becoming more popular, but can’t assume or know their specifications until that student is with me.
- Purchasing dedicated VR kits for Remote Students. Very expensive, not worth the investment right now.
Field Trips / Job Shadows and Virtual Students
While not something we are going to worry about this academic year, hopefully we are going to get back to “normal” in the fall of 2021. There are external events that CAWD will take part in such as Field Trips and Job Shadows, what would be the appropriate way to handle these?
For Field Trips – could students meet us at the location? For example could a remote student from MMU meet CAWD at the Essex Cinemas? Part of me says that makes perfect sense, but is that acceptable? Transportation would be handled by the family/student. This seems like a better option than an alternative work assignment. Often these events have a strong social emotional component, without the Virtual Student attending they would miss out on that aspect. Especially with Covid and the spotlight shown on students mental states, these more social events have more value than ever – to remote students maybe the most.
What about Job Shadows? Would our CWE office be able to manage this type of student that may never come to CTE? Would it be acceptable for students to go right to Dealer.com? How would the introductory meetings be handled?
Lots of questions, not a lot of answers right now. Why is the student remote? Medical condition? Location? Would they want to take part? Are they local enough to take part?
Class Parties / Game Days
Programs celebrate days before vacation, end of the year, differently. Some programs play kickball against other programs. Some programs grill outside. Some go Kayaking. CAWD typically has a pot luck Game Day celebration in the room. Everyone (including former students) come in to socialize, game, eat, and catch up.
How do we handle this with Virtual Students?
Once Covid becomes a non-issue, maybe Virtual Students would be more likely to attend these days? I have to admit I have a strange feeling about “allowing” students to attend school virtually, but they can show up to socialize? I am learning more and more about social emotional learning and realize that this may be acceptable.
What about that virtual student from Greensboro or Arlington that doesn’t have the ability to attend physically?
I think we should have a policy regardless where we encourage, require, prohibit whatever is appropriate – and this may have to have a logical connection to distance from the classroom.
Issues on the Horizon that need to be dealt with:
- Finding a student out of region to pilot program. Virtual CAWD in a non-covid year.
- NTHS for Virtual Students.
- Admissions / Step up Day for Virtual students:
- Whatever we do for Covid admissions could likely be used for Virtual students
- Recognition Night for Virtual Students.
- SkillsUSA for Virtual Students (this would be an extra duty contract of itself – glad we are just kicking the can down the road this year). So many issues!
- Class Laptops – once delivered, how do we determine who gets them? Should I have a benchmark Blender file to run as a spec test? Who decides / what decides who needs CTE hardware the most?
21.5 hours + 3 hours creation = 24.5