Insights From Mississippi's CTE Director

Dr. Aimee Brown
Dr. Aimee Brown

In terms of CTE and its continued delivery to students, what is the most important thing you learned from the spring COVID-19 shutdown and the fall move to blended/online instruction?

More training was needed before the shutdown. In our last faculty meeting in March, we discussed being prepared for the unknown. We also saw that 70% of students had the needed technology to complete virtual assignments. What we learned is that we were not prepared for the schools to shut down and for all students to learn virtually. More training, broadband internet services and technology are needed for students and staff.

What does CTE look like to you after the pandemic becomes a thing of the past? In other words, what are the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on CTE?

The most important thing is ensuring we are able to allow students to develop hands-on and technical skills that are at the heart of our CTE programs. In the future, we will see many CTE students completing classroom tasks in an online setting and then completing small-group, hands-on activities in the lab or in a shop setting. We will also see the infusion of virtual reality and other immersive technologies, as well as virtual job shadowing and internships. I believe our future CTE programming will be more in line with the technology skills of our 21st century CTE learners.

Did your position provide insight as to how to improve instruction in the future?

Through research and observation, I learned that the blended model of instruction is best for CTE. While there are some CTE programs that could be 100% virtual, the majority of our programs that are preparing students for the 21st century workforce require the attainment of quality technical skills. We want to put a plan in place to help all districts provide quality blended CTE instruction for students. We realize this may take a little time because there are some districts that chose the 100% virtual learning option for CTE students. We will need to work with district leaders, as well as parents and communities, to develop a plan of action that allows for CTE students to participate in a blended model that is safe and efficient for learning and acquiring hands-on skills. Even if the COVID-19 situation improves in the future, I believe that we will still see many CTE programs use the blended model.



ABOUT CONNECTIONS

Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

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