In the early spring of 2020, the Career and Technical Education department at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was scrambling. Like the rest of the world, LAUSD was working on how to provide quality education in an entirely different way. We had the opportunity to support the district and help them plan for remote teaching. The CTE department administrators oversee 36 different pathways in 15 industry sectors. They wanted to empower all their teachers and school leaders with the essential skills to plan for remote teaching.
As you may know, most career and technical programs focus heavily on hands-on and face-to-face interactions. These require specific equipment, tools, and physical environments related to their fields of study. The practical and authentic, real-world experiences that students routinely performed in these programs before now had become severely limited.
In collaboration with LAUSD, we embarked on a mission to immerse over 400 educators in professional learning experiences. These sessions 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. Educators were given space and time to practice. They worked to integrate their new skills for their classrooms and teaching styles as they planned for remote teaching.
Mindset: Plan for remote-only
One of the first things the training focused on was setting the stage or mindset. This focused on the 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. If not, we would be prepared for a year without having students on campus. This mindset helped educators be open to alternative ways of conducting their classes or schools. They explored solutions that would have real positive impacts on their programs, the curriculum they teach, and their students.
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. It easily can contain program or school level planning information, policies, procedures, lessons, and private staff notebooks sections. This streamlined and enabled consistency across all programs, as well as within programs of study or schools.
As an educator who is planning for remote teaching 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. Flipgrid can facilitate real, thoughtful conversations and interactions asynchronously, not real-time, with students about what they are learning. The teachers can easily use Flipgrid for assessment, discovery, experiments, and questions that personalize learning.