In early spring of this year, the Career and Technical Education department at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was scrambling, like the rest of the world, on how to provide a quality education in an entirely different way. We had the opportunity to support the district and help them figure it out. The CTE department administrators, who oversee 36 different pathways in 15 industry sectors, wanted to empower all of their teachers and school leaders with the essential skills and understanding to teach virtually.
As you may know, most career and technical programs focus heavily on hands-on and face-to-face interactions which require specific equipment, tools, and physical environments related to their fields of study. The practical and authentic, real-world experiences that students routinely were able to perform in these programs before the pandemic had become severely limited.
In collaboration with LAUSD, carefully considering the needs of the teachers and their students, we embarked on a mission to immerse over 400 educators in learning experiences that allowed them to gain knowledge of Microsoft tools that would have the most impact on their programs.
Over several weeks i2e provided training that focused on modeling and guided instruction, while also allowing the educators space and time to practice and integrate their new skills for their classrooms and styles of teaching.
Mindset: Plan for remote-only: One of the first things we focused on was setting the stage, or mindset, that we have an unknown future with the Covid-19 pandemic unfolding we should plan for teaching remote only. If we were able to have in-person, on-site classes in the fall, we could easily integrate the best parts of remote learning technology into in-person classes; and if not, we would be prepared for a year without having students on campus. This mindset helped the educators be open to alternative ways of conducting their classes or schools and really strive to find solutions that would have real positive impacts to their programs, the curriculum they teach, and their students.
Key Takeaways: Two specific tools seemed to broadly emerge as a natural fit for LAUSD CTE. From the perspective of the CTE Administrators and school-based leaders, OneNote Staff Notebook and Flipgrid both took off. The ability to use OneNote Staff Notebook to communicate with staff members through a one-stop digital binder that can contain program or school level planning information, policies, procedures, lessons, and private staff notebooks sections streamlined and enabled consistency across all programs, as well as within programs of study or schools.
As an educator who is teaching remotely but requires a specialized physical environment like in allied health, engineering, or manufacturing, finding a tool that brings the students the relevant experience remotely is a challenge. LAUSD teachers realized right away the power of Flipgrid. Flipgrid can record and share teachable moments and lessons using available classroom equipment and space that “bring” students into the classroom; and also facilitates real, thoughtful conversations and interactions asynchronously with students about what they are learning. The teachers can easily use Flipgrid for assessment, discovery, experiments, and questions that really personalize learning.
To learn more about using Microsoft tools to support remote and hybrid learning check out these new courses for all grade-bands available in the Microsoft Educator Center: OneNote Staff Notebook:Tools for staff collaboration, Engage and Amplify with Fllipgrid, and Hybrid Learning Strategies for Success Learning
Nic Finelli is a Professional Learning Specialist at i2e-llc and Founder/Chief Learning Engineer at BlendEDTECHlearning. Stay connected with Nic via Twitter: @nicfinelli.