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CTE deans and students succeed in remote learning

Photo of the empty Chemeketa campus. Photo by Cecelia Love-Zhou.

In spite of the challenges created by COVID-19’s closures, Career and Technical Education (CTE) deans and students adapted to remote learning. 

CTE deans and students have had their share of struggles, but the overall transition to remote learning has been successful. This can be attributed to the programs’ online simulation software programs and supportive teachers. 

CTE Programs use online simulation software to replace their assignments’ hands-on interaction which benefited the Nursing and Machining Programs. The Nursing Program has an agreement with Laerdal, a company that provides simulation tools. This means that nursing already had access to resources making transitioning to remote learning easier.

Online simulation also provides CTE Programs an alternative to traditionally hands-on training. Sandi Kellogg, Dean of Health Sciences, said her students’ clinical experiences–in which students apply their skills at hospital or dental facilities–got cancelled. 

Her department purchased V-SIM, an online simulation program, for her students to treat a patient in a virtual hospital world. Although V-SIM can’t replace hands-on interaction, it still provides a solution to cancelled hands-on activity.

Similarly, the Machining Program uses online simulation that accurately reflected the technology students would use in-class. They used a program from the company DMG-Mori. 

“The students can actually go in and do their coding and set everything up, and the simulator would run it based on how the machining students programmed how to make a part and do it right online,” said Johnny Mack, the executive dean of CTE at Chemeketa. 

Students in the Applied Technologies Department have succeeded as well.

“One of the things that makes a student successful in these programs and these careers is they can think critically, they’re problem solvers, and they’re innovative,” said the Dean for Applied Technologies Larry Cheyne, 

The CTE instructors’ support has also helped students succeed. 

“Our teachers are always available really anytime we need help or have questions. And they’ve really gone out of our way to try and make it easier for us to learn, being that the program is hands-on. You know, Zoom calls or calling us in-person checking up on us making sure we’re understanding everything okay,” said Tegan Conklin, a first-year machining technology student.

Shifting to remote learning for the CTE Department still has its drawbacks. Students have struggled with remote learning’s distance. 

“The hardest part is not being able to actually work with the machines,” Conklin said. “A lot of working with those machines is muscle memory and learning where everything is on them. Not being able to see them and work with them, especially since we were working with new machines this term that we hadn’t practiced on yet.” 

COVID-19’s closures have affected CTE students on a larger scale as well. The closures have not only affected Chemeketa’s teaching style but also businesses. It has caused some students to lose their jobs. 

Kellogg attributes the job loss to the Health Science Department’s small decrease in enrollment. 

“Though my numbers have not decreased hugely, it’s the whole fact that even one student can’t continue their education because they’ve lost their job due to this [closure] is pretty devastating,” she said.  

Kellogg hopes that the CARES Act will allow students to remain in the Health Science Department’s programs. The CARES Act has provided money for students who lost their jobs during this time so they can continue schooling. 

Overall, CTE students and deans have anticipated to return conducting classes in-person. Chemeketa is facing uncertainty regarding when this can happen. However, there are some prospective dates for businesses to re-open. Kellog said, “Dental offices can open up on May 1.” She hoped students would be able to work at dental offices two weeks after. 

Cheyne said, “[There will be] no face-to-face or on-campus labs until after June 13. Possibly. It’s still possible. But we know June 14 is firm.” 

Chemeketa will not be hosting any on-campus activities until after June 13 or 14.

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