The demand for adult education increased partly due to the economic fallout of COVID-19 which has forced the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) Adult Education division to respond swiftly and assertively by offering remote learning to participants. Program interest has spiked approximately 100% driven by adults pursuing reskilling as a result of historical layoffs. In this changing economy adult learners are leaning toward short term non-degree programs that lead to employment. In collaboration with industry specific employers HCDE offers short- term workforce certificate programs through flexibility virtual part time or distance learning modalities. Our program has transitioned to virtual learning while maintaining student engagement and a quality educational experience.
HCDE’s Adult Education division currently offers the following programs:
• Core Construction
• Allied Health – Medical Assistant Prep, Phlebotomy, Certified Nurse Assistant
• Business Office Technology Specialist
• Customer Service/Marketing Specialist
All classes are offered virtually. Allied Health programs are virtual with a face to face lab component.
Due to COVID-19, online learning for students is becoming the mainstream in education. On July 7, 2020, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued its comprehensive guideline for a safe return to on-campus instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. The TEA stated: “Despite what will be a challenging budget year… legislative leaders are committed to fully funding in-class and remote instruction for every child…parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their children, initially, or at any point, as the year progresses (TEA, 2020).” In addition to strains on the state budget, there is another key issue impeding online learning. Many teachers do not feel fully prepared for online learning since the traditional professional development (PD) training, unless otherwise noted, prepared teachers for face-to-face instruction, which was the expected mode of delivery (Koenig, 2020). Furthermore, teacher preparation programs and PD courses are facing the same dilemma: how to prepare teachers in an online context (Koenig, 2020)? (15-minute read)
The new normal of delivering lessons via videoconferencing tools is the very definition of 21st century learning. But getting and keeping students engaged in classroom discussion…online, is another matter.
Here at HCDE’s Teaching and Learning Center, Dr. Colina Poullard supports Harris County Schools with strategies that support teachers through trainings and workshops to assist in developing engaging virtual lessons.
Read about how a debate coach with experience guiding virtual discussions explains how to get students engaged with each other and with the course content.