A Guide to the Benefits of eLearning for CTE Programs
As a CTE curriculum developer, CTE teachers often come to us when looking for new curriculum. These teachers are sometimes unsure of what type of instructional materials will work best for their classroom, asking questions such as: “Is eLearning the right choice for me?” and “How is eLearning different than using the lessons I create myself?"
eLearning is becoming a top choice for many CTE teachers, but we understand it can be difficult to decide if you don’t know if it would work for you. The good thing is there are many benefits of eLearning that CTE instructors are experiencing.
In this article, I will review six big benefits of eLearning that CTE teachers experience, so you can feel comfortable in knowing whether it is the right choice for you.
The benefits of eLearning for CTE teachers are:
- Saving time with ready to use resources
- The content is always current and updated
- Curriculum is available anytime, anywhere
- eLearning curriculum helps you reach diverse students
- No need to worry about installing or updating software
- Increased student engagement and interest
In addition to the benefits, I will provide some tips on how you can make the most of your available technology when using eLearning curriculum in your CTE classroom.
How eLearning Curriculum Can Save You Time
“I’m doing a new unit and it’s literally taking me about 10 hours to plan for 3-5 days. I haven’t written my plans yet - just gathering and pre planning. Worst part of teaching isn’t the teaching - it’s the plans.”
As a CTE teacher, you don’t have a lot of time for lesson planning and staying up to date with changing standards. You want to spend time helping students learn critical hands-on skills so they will be successful in their future education, certifications, and careers.
Using eLearning curriculum can save you a lot of time, since a good option will include ready-to-use lesson plans and resources. Not to mention with eLearning, automatically graded assessments will take the burden of grading student work off of your plate.
“HealthCenter21 grades your tests for you!... I have a percentage that I can now take and put into my grade book… that takes me 2 minutes to do versus sitting there with the paper and grading.”
Shurene Major, West Port High School, FL
Updated Lessons Help You Keep Up With Changing Standards
A big way eLearning curriculum can really make a difference for a CTE teacher is in regards to changing educational and industry standards. A traditional textbook is used for 5+ years without any updates… this can be frustrating for a teacher who needs to totally rework lessons in order to meet new standards. Because eLearning curriculum is delivered as cloud-based content, it can be quickly updated when necessary… no need to wait for the next edition of the book!
An example can be shown with the HealthCenter21 eLearning curriculum for health science. In 2015, the American Heart Association changed CPR procedures. Many textbooks have not yet been updated, but the Product Team at AES implemented a new version of the CPR lessons very quickly. This was done so teachers using HealthCenter21 would have the correct procedures to teach their students without any extra work.
Anytime, Anywhere Access Provides Flexibility
Every teacher knows that no classroom can run smoothly with zero absences for an entire school year. Very often, it can be a pain to make sure a student at home stays up with work and doesn’t fall behind the rest of the class. Spending extra time creating worksheets and reminders, and then hoping someone can get the information to the absent student can be a headache.
With the anytime, anywhere availability of eLearning curriculum, it is very easy for a home bound student to stay on task… without the teacher needing to do anything extra. If the student has internet access, he or she has everything needed to continue working!
Easily Meet the Needs of Your Diverse Students
CTE programs tend to have a higher diversity in student knowledge and ability than core academic classes. This can sometimes be a challenge for a teacher. Using a traditional textbook doesn’t make it any easier with the teacher having to spend time differentiating lessons and creating additional resources.
An eLearning curriculum eases this struggle by making it easier to meet the needs of your diverse students. Students can work at their own pace to complete the required work, and the teacher doesn’t have to do anything extra. Often times, eLearning curriculum is narrated which can help students better retain information. Because of this, the teacher can focus more on students that need one-on-one time.
“With HealthCenter21 I find students are able to pace themselves so they get all the content. It has built in adaptability for different learning needs and styles. The information is available audibly with ear-buds to reinforce what they are reading on the screen.”
Terri Kines, Andrews High School, SC
No Software to Install, Update, or Maintain
Teachers are wary to try a digital curriculum because they are afraid it will take a huge amount of work for it to be set up and ready to use… and involve working with the school’s IT personnel. Unlike some digital CTE curriculum options, eLearning curriculum is cloud-based and does not require any special software to run. The only thing you and your students need to use it is internet access, and your IT person doesn’t need to be involved!
Increase Student Engagement in Your Classroom
Keeping students engaged is key in the classroom, to help your students learn better, so it’s an important part of your role as an instructor. Trying something new in order to increase student engagement can take a large amount of time and prep work. If you use a textbook, you still need to create worksheets, quizzes, projects, and many more resources.
eLearning curriculum can help increase engagement compared to traditional teaching materials. The interactive, multimedia lessons have audio and visuals to provide variation. You can also find ready-to-use projects that are age-appropriate and provide a relevant context for your students to be more interested in.
Tips for Making the Most of Your Available Technology
One of the biggest worries instructors have when wanting to use a digital resource is their access to technology in the classroom. In working with thousands of educators, we have found a few common scenarios of how CTE teachers make it work:
Technology for Every Student
Some schools are implementing one-to-one technology initiatives where each student has a device that they use throughout the school year. Other classrooms may have enough classroom computers for each student to have their own. Both of these situations are ideal for a teacher who wants to use eLearning curriculum. The availability of technology means the instructor won’t need to spend as much time organizing and planning.
One way you can make the most of this scenario is by starting the class with a lecture. After lecturing, have students sign on and go through the interactive lessons. At the end of class you can regroup and have a discussion about the lessons.
Limited Computers in the Classroom
Some classrooms have computers, but not enough for every student to use at the same time. This can still be a great setup for a CTE course using eLearning curriculum.
A common way for instructors to use this setup is to break students into two or more groups. Each group will progress through the digital lessons on shifted schedules. While one group is working on the computers, other students can be having discussions, or working on hands-on projects and skill practicing.
Computer Lab - Daily Access
If you have the option to take your students to the computer lab daily, you have a pretty good setup for eLearning. In a CTE course, you usually don’t need to have access to the lab every day, but it’s nice to have the option. You have about as much flexibility as a teacher that has technology for every student in the classroom.
Computer Lab - Once per Week
Many teachers only have access to computers in school once per week. If you are one of these, don’t worry, you have some options. You can certainly plan out your weekly lessons knowing that one day will be fully focused on completing the eLearning lessons.
Some CTE instructors have found that using a flipped classroom approach is a great way to use eLearning curriculum with limited access to computers during the school day. You could assign the digital lessons as homework to be completed outside of the classroom. Then during class time, students can discuss what they have learned and you can focus on the hands-on skills.
How To Get Started with eLearning for CTE Programs
Now that you understand the value that eLearning curriculum can give to a CTE program and have some ideas on how it could work in your classroom… how can you get started? If you teach health science, computer applications, business education, or career readiness courses you are in luck! Learn about our eLearning curriculum and how you can get started here: eLearning Curriculum and Services for CTE and Elective Teachers