CTE Centers Adapt, Integrate New Educational Technologies

CTE Centers Adapt, Integrate New Educational Technologies

In response to the pandemic in 2020, many Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers in New Hampshire began to look at ways to integrate cutting edge technology into its programs.

“Investments in technology have enabled us to create interactive and virtual educational experiences for students,” noted Vaso Partinoudi, director of Career and Technical Education, Milford High School & Applied Technology Center.

She said the challenge to creatively engage students is heightened in CTE programs.

“Our whole focus is to provide experiential and technical training to high school students that prepares them for college and careers,” she said. “This type of learning is hands-on, which is difficult to achieve when you cannot physically get together.”

Emerging online educational learning platforms like NewselaPear Deck and Nearpod, however, have provided teachers with the ability to virtually engage students in new ways. Tammy Andrew, a computer science teacher at Milford High School who teaches several CTE classes, cited her use of Nearpod as one example.

“Nearpod enables me to make nearly any educational resource — PowerPoints, Google Slides, or any video — interactive,” she said. “Students can personally or anonymously respond to a video, for instance, and share responses. Students can respond to each other, too.”

In a computer programming class, Andrew said students can begin an assignment on a piece of paper or a Google document. If students are visual, they can use their cell phone or camera to submit an assignment. A digital timer, which can be turned off by the student, provides a countdown for those that require it.

“Students have a voice in how they learn,” said Andrew.

At the height of the pandemic, Kim Daniels, marketing educator at Milford High School & Applied Technology Center, said Nearpod helped teachers conduct synchronous lessons while all students were remote.  

“Nearpod allows a teacher to cast a PowerPoint on the students device that the teacher controls,” she said. “It also allows for quick check-ins for understanding through a variety of activities that the students can engage in together as a class, even though they are at home learning alone.”

According to Andrew, the pandemic has accelerated the technology adoption rate by school districts.

“We are two to three years ahead of where we would be otherwise if it were not for COVID-19,” she noted. “We are pushing the abilities of Zoom, Canvas and Nearpod into the future because we need these things now.”

Such technologies, while enhancing CTE, cannot replace hands-on lessons and work-based learning.

“A computer is not a substitute for face to face learning,” Daniels said. “The opportunity to provide instant feedback and offer corrections while we watch students work is missing during remote work days.”

Jen Haskins, president of the New Hampshire Career and Technical Administrators Association, agreed and said all CTE centers statewide are “creatively working” to meet the need for experiential learning in the state.

“We continue to work with many stakeholders, including industry partners, to provide students with real-world learning opportunities like apprenticeships and internships,” she said. “With the aging of New Hampshire’s workforce and the ongoing pandemic, CTE is more important than ever.”

Milford High School & Applied Technology Center is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.

CTE Centers, Industry Partners Creating Career Pathways for Students

CTE Centers, Industry Partners Creating Career Pathways for Students

One of the value propositions behind Career and Technical Education (CTE) in New Hampshire is to provide hands-on learning for high school students, an objective that often involves industry partners.

“We work with industry to create real work opportunities for students,” said Rich Paiva, Career Development Coordinator at Wilbur H. Palmer CTE Center, who helped launch an internship program in welding two years ago.

This program involves Spraying Systems Co. in Merrimack. 

“Before the pandemic, we had students tour their facility during Manufacturing Month in New Hampshire,” explained Paiva. “The students met the welders and were able to ask questions.”

One student, Shea Williams, found some answers.

“Between the program and the tour, he realized this was the career path for him,” said Paiva.

This realization led to a conversation with Joe Ruelas, Vice President Operations at Spraying Systems Co., and ApprenticeshipNH.

“We had to work out some details and how we could combine our program with the time spent at Spraying Systems so Shea could earn high school credits while over there,” explained Paiva. 

This creative arrangement enabled the hours Williams spent in the welding program to roll over into a full apprenticeship at Spraying Systems after he graduated from school last June.

“Spraying Systems is now sending him to Manchester Community College for an Associate’s degree,” Paiva said. “It is going great.”

Ruelas agreed.

“Shea has done very well for us,” he noted. “He has willingly accepted being trained on everything. He has a good work ethic and, most importantly, works well with others. He will one day be a good welder, hopefully, for our company.”

Citing his working relationship with Paiva as a big reason why Spraying Systems Co. developed apprenticeships, Ruelas said there are several advantages to creating them.

“One is to provide students the opportunity to learn a trade or skill in manufacturing,” he explained. “The other is to create and maintain a culture at our company of passing on knowledge to less experienced people and people who strive to learn more. The last one is to help improve the community.”

As for how his apprenticeship experience has been at Spraying Systems, Williams said it “has been awesome.”

“I am able to learn lots about my chosen trade of welding,” he said. “I am also being trained how to do many other procedures in manufacturing, such as sandblasting, pressure testing, and even some machining. I enjoy the company of my coworkers, and I enjoy the work I do.”

The experience for Williams is priceless.

“The best part of the apprenticeship is being able to get up in the morning and do something that I enjoy doing and can take pride in,” he said. “Welding is something that I enjoy putting a great deal of effort into, and being given the opportunity to learn and get job experience at the same time is something I am certainly grateful for.”

According to Paiva, Williams’ experience is “a textbook example of CTE.”

“We are here to help students explore career pathways, and Shea’s experience is possible through innovative partnerships with external stakeholders and industry,” he said. “Everyone benefits with CTE.”

Wilbur H. Palmer CTE Center is one of nearly two-dozen CTE centers throughout the state of New Hampshire.