#MAKINGTHEGRADE: Trade schools find workarounds for teaching amid COVID-19

Posted at 10:48 PM, Apr 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 13:12:03-04

BOISE, Idaho — As students across the country are coming to grips with their online learning programs, some are learning only a fraction of what they should be.

Boise based trade school, Dennis Technical Education Center (DTEC) prides itself on providing its student’s state of the art, hands-on learning opportunities under the watchful eye of industry professionals. Since moving to online learning, students and faculty are learning that their interactive teachings can’t be taught online. DTEC principal, Jason Hutchison says, “we’re not under any delusion that we can replicate regular activities that would be taking place at our school.”

Teachers at DTEC have to find ways to teach hands-on demonstrations; in a hands-off environment. Tyler Merryman, a first-year welding instructor, says this time of year, “we spend probably at least 90% of our time in the welding lab.” Students missing that time in the lab are missing opportunities to develop their fine motor skills, skills that set them up for success for the rest of the following year.

Merryman tells Idaho News 6 since transitioning to online learning, he’s had to rewire his curriculum, “we’ve gone back to more of a theory-based approach.”

After asking if he’s worried about the long term effects online learning will have on his students, Merryman says, “with them losing that valuable hands-on it does- it does make me worry that they might be a little behind.”

DTEC’s certified nursing assistant and EMS programs also greatly affected, “we pulled back our interns and apprentice students, um pulled them back out and ask that we not engage in those with our industry partners for now.”

Those industry partners in collaboration with DTEC are being flexible and working on a game plan, “so that our students will eventually go down the road and get those certifications even if they’re delayed …there’s a plan for each individual trade or industry” says Hutchison.

Even though schools within the Boise School District are out for the rest of the year, Merryman, like all of his colleagues, misses his students and can’t wait to see them again.