Two weeks ago, several members of the Edmentum team took part in an insightful three days at the ACTE Vision 2015 conference. At the conference, our team had a chance to connect with numerous inspiring CTE educators to showcase our newly expanded CTE course collection, as well as hear about all of the latest trends, challenges, and ideas in Career and Technical Education (CTE). We learned more than we could possibly get down on paper, but here we’ve compiled nine of the most meaningful takeaways that we gathered from the conference:
1. Educators are paying attention to CTE
The outstanding turnout and enthusiasm at ACTE Vision 2015 made it obvious that educators recognize the importance of CTE. We had numerous conversations with school and district administrators, all of whom were excited about the possibilities that CTE offers for students in terms of college and career preparation. CTE is clearly a priority, and educators are dedicated to networking and building partnerships in order to optimize their programs.
2. Opportunities for career exploration are key
Giving students the chance to explore various career programs is critical to helping them determine what it is they actually want to do. This kind of direction naturally engages students in their education and motivates them to be successful. Ideally, these opportunities for career exploration should be incorporated into the core curriculum. ACTE offers some great resources to support this kind of integration.
3. Tech is CTE’s friend
CTE is all about student engagement, and technology can be a great tool to further that engagement. Take advantage of online programs, apps, tools, and devices to get students directly involved with CTE curriculum via platforms that are both interesting and familiar to them.
4. Integrate STEM & CTE
There is a lot of overlap between STEM and CTE topics—and educators should embrace that! Look for opportunities to incorporate CTE learning into more traditional STEM curriculum, and vice versa. And don’t forget to address the gender gap. Girls continue to lag behind boys in pursuing fast-growing STEM careers. CTE programs can be a great opportunity to give girls hands-on experience with STEM learning and build their confidence for continued engagement. Check out this blog to learn more about encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields.
5. Don’t forget about soft skills
As the name indicates, in CTE programs, the focus tends to be on very technical skills. However, concrete, hard skills are only one aspect of preparation for post-secondary and career opportunities. Soft skills, like communication, leadership, and critical thinking, are equally necessary. These skills need to be embedded within CTE curriculum through avenues like group projects, discussions, and presentations in the community to name just a few. Take a look at this blog to learn about the top 10 soft skills for career success.
6. Look for innovative funding sources
Funding is an ongoing issue for all educators and facets of education. CTE is no exception, and adequate funding is absolutely necessary to building an effective program. Creative funding options like corporate partnerships and grants can help fill monetary gaps and ensure that CTE programs have the resources they need. ACTE maintains a database of government funding sources, and the North Carolina State Board of Education has released this guide to Developing High Quality CTE Programs through Business Engagement.
7. CTE is not a single thing
CTE is a diversified arena within education with numerous areas of specialization. This includes everything from long-practiced skills like welding and manufacturing to emerging fields like 3D printing and robotics. This variety drives student engagement, but it also calls for materials and instructor expertise across wide-ranging topics. This means that strong planning is key for all CTE programs.
8. Keep it tangible with PBL
CTE disciplines are filled with things to do, touch, and experience. This offers a prime opportunity for educators to integrate project-based learning (PBL) into their CTE curriculum in order to further engage students and show them real-world applications of the material. Check out this blog post to learn more about best practices in project-based learning.
9. Support post-secondary opportunities with dual credit
As defined by the National Center for Education Statistics, dual credit courses and programs allow high school students to earn high school and post-secondary credit for the same course. In the context of CTE, this typically means high school students have the chance to enroll in actual college classes. The dual credit approach can be a great way to efficiently utilize student time and school resources, while giving students an increased sense of ownership over their studies and preparing them for success after high school.
Interested in learning more about Edmentum’s industry-leading online solutions for Career and Technical Education? Check out our CTE Library or take a look at our white paper on addressing the growing CTE need!