Prepare the future workforce with distance learning. It’s becoming a very important conversation while the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has stopped humanity in its tracks.
It’s all hands on deck.
Thank goodness heroes are already on the frontline!
Thankfully there are heroes everywhere stepping up to help make a difference in an overwhelming circumstance. The first heroes’ that come to my mind are those in the medical and first responder fields.
But one set of heroes I want to point out are the caretakers while their parents have to work at essential jobs and the educators reaching out to teach their students.
Their efforts are just as gallant. Teachers call, send out lesson plans, provide feedback, and do everything within their power to teach, but despite their efforts, I worry.
I worry that all of their efforts will not curb another epidemic on the horizon.
I’m not talking about another virus; instead, something just as bad unless we work together on this now!
To help you understand my position a little better, let’s go back just a few short months ago.
Schools across America, much less across the world were already failing to provide students with the skills needed in high demand jobs.
Now that the virus has forced students to learn at home, it presents an even bigger gap that our future employees must overcome.
I recognize that you may not understand what I am saying, so I would like to go in a different approach.
Training Industry’s Workforce Development in 2019: U.S. Policy & Practice report that one of the biggest issues in workforce development centers around education and business training as separate entities. Instead, it is recommended that both industries need to meld their training and experiences so students will participate and gain those skills quicker.
The blog also states that the average job change varies from 12-15 times and again reasserts that education and business must align their perspective for employees to see learning as continuous.
“Conversations around workforce development will continue to integrate and intersect with the higher education sector. The train has left the station on this issue, and policymakers will only become more focused on it … More and more higher education stakeholders are seeing the value in promoting a system where higher education and workforce systems function in tandem.”
Emily Bouck West, deputy executive director for Higher Learning Advocates
Distance Learning utilized in high school is a prime location where developing vital skills can take shape.
If we’re going to be serious about developing skills for future employees, we can’t allow teachers to just plug and chug a worksheet into a platform. Rather, we have to hold them to be accountable to make these lessons the best they’ve ever produced.
But we have to stop the inconsistencies we see in teaching and learning whether we’re in a school or a Fortune 500 company.
Administrators and supervisors who observe generalized approaches being implemented have the responsibility to stop the malpractice.
Instead, of them turning away and accepting a sub-par lesson, they need to get a backbone and stop the atrocity.
So as we all regroup and rethink how to make teaching-learning better, I want to suggest several steps to help reduce tomorrow’s workforce development problems.
If we as a society are serious about improving our economic future, we must prepare the future workforce with distance learning that embeds the skills that are often missing at the job site.
It begins with structure – build a schedule similar to a school day
While children are at home, what are they doing during the day? I understand there are families without Wi-Fi, but it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that students are learning at home. Should a parent not have a computer or Wi-Fi, then they must get books for children, find ways for them to get creative, and explore. Some places to find these books and other resources include their church or neighbor.
I’m sorry for venting here but regardless of income level, every parent knows that their children need to learn, and the ones who fail to make this priority should be the first to blame for the gap increasing.
Teachers must adapt their lessons to distance learning
Teachers know that they use the curriculum, but when was the last time they looked for the skills and refined the lesson to where the skills are mastered. Using this approach may be challenging for some, but it is essential.
This is not an option – it’s a must. Make it happen!
Realign the lessons to make it fun, engaging, and relevant
The top skills lacking in today’s jobs are critical thinking, creativity, and soft skills, and one of the best ways to patch this area is to stop getting away from dull work packets. Sorry – but that’s the lazy way out. Get creative, innovative, and teach the way you would want to be taught. Refer to my two blogs on best practices for distance education and making distance education work.
Focus on the Feedback
Having students comment and submit assignments should still be expected. But I ask teachers not to pass the class with a simple check. Instead, give them the laser-focused feedback they need for improvement.
Cite real-life examples and use project-based assignments
Here is where I call on our workforce development experts to collaborate with schools and use this time to build “supplemental” materials and lessons that will help to extend beyond the basic subject lesson. They need to be asking questions with school officials “how can we help bring awareness to the students who are going to become our future employees?” and “What can we provide your staff and students to help the future workforce reduce the skills missing?”
It’s always easy to watch from the sideline, but this is a crisis where everyone’s number is being called. Even if you don’t hear your name, get in the game!
A crisis shows not only its ugly faces but also present an incredible opportunity.
So what’s it going to be?
Because your number just got called.
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