Educators Deserve Big Thanks for Pandemic Response

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on October 20, 2020

Virtual Teaching Pandemic Response

Back in April, I wrote about the transformations taking place in the educational system due to COVID-19. The move to remote learning was urgent and fast.

Caught off guard, educators had to quickly pivot to virtual teaching with little direction and few resources.

They went above and beyond to help students who faced challenges as learning moved online such as limited computer availability and internet access.

One image that really stopped me was that of two young girls sitting outside a California Taco Bell using their WiFi to do schoolwork. Happily, the local school district soon after gave the family a hotspot so the children could have internet access from home. We’ve also heard of committed instructors delivering hands-on equipment to students so they can complete their projects. There are so many inspirational stories.

This new school year continues to demand much from teachers as re-opening plans change day to day. Some districts have moved entirely online. Others offer a hybrid or blended learning approach. This means instructors often must create two curriculum plans.

Yet despite seemingly insurmountable challenges like these in some districts, instructors and administrators remain committed to ensuring their students continue their education and do well.

We all owe our educators a big debt of gratitude for their tireless efforts, dedication and adaptability during this difficult time. The lessons they share with their students about resilience and flexibility go well beyond the traditional classroom. Although this school year will be different, we are confident that students will continue to succeed and look to a bright future.

Thank you to our amazing teachers and administrators for making this transition possible. Their commitment offers hope to communities across the country.


Continued Manufacturing Training

Working side by side with educators through the pandemic, we have heard their urgency when it comes to providing their students with remote learning that is seamless and effective. We remain focused on our mission to help build the next generation of manufacturing workers by supporting the efforts of our frontline educators during this unprecedented period in world history and into the future.

We all know the power of technology and using it purposefully to improve learning outcomes. For instance, next year, we are piloting new virtual reality labs to deliver training. VR is an efficient way to safely build skills and allow for repeated practice after students or employees complete their eLearning curriculum and before training on real equipment. We are grateful to the educators and industry partners who are providing their valuable input as we build this program.

We regularly speak with educators who predict there is no going back to the “old” way. New teaching models are changing how instructors teach and how students learn forever. After the impressive, swift transition to online learning, the myth of education being slow to change has certainly been debunked.

As Tooling U-SME’s Director of Learning Services John Hindman discussed in a recent Technology Integration in Education virtual roundtable webinar, the flipped classroom approach is becoming a necessary reality for teachers to adapt curriculum for a virtual, flexible presence. It is all about leveraging the physical and virtual environments effectively.

The good news is that skills learned in this way are actually preparing students for operating as part of a real-world mobile workforce.

If you are an educator looking for inspiration, we have developed a new resource for our customers, our Educator Forum on SME Connect. This is a place where teachers and others interact with their peers, share best practices, and help each other navigate this new educational environment.


Employers Rely on Short-Term Training

Educators are also busy helping local manufacturers fill their pipelines, especially as the pandemic continues to impact the national economy.

By choice or need, job seekers are looking for new opportunities. Manufacturers have been quick to recognize the potential of helping those leaving the service and other industries to learn new skills to change careers.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are playing a big role in upskilling workers interested in making the move to manufacturing.

As we head into the last months of 2020, we recognize teachers and administrators are making a huge difference for students — and the manufacturing industry as a whole.

Be safe and stay well.

Tags: "Augmented Reality", "Career and Technical Education", COVID-19, CTE, "John Hindman", manufacturing, "manufacturing training", "online learning", "SME Certified Manufacturing Associate", "Technology Integration in Education", "Tooling U-SME", "Virtual Reality", XR