CTE Distance Learning: Hands-on Learning at Home

We know that CTE educators are creative professionals, so it’s no wonder that many of you are getting creative to maintain student learning during school closures. In particular, CTE professionals are exploring how to continue hands-on learning when instructors can no longer demonstrate skills up close and students can no longer access campus facilities, equipment and technology that are difficult and sometimes impossible to replicate at home.

The following ideas have been shared by your fellow CTE educators through ACTE social media and our COVID-19 needs survey:

  • Ask students to videotape, or take step-by-step photos, of themselves performing a task they can do at home, such as preparing a recipe, working in a garden, practicing knife skills on Play Doh or performing an injury evaluation
  • Have students complete online training modules for industry certifications
  • Ask students to complete a relevant online course from a legitimate training provider and send you a screenshot showing their proof of completion
  • Use online simulators and exploratory sandboxes (these tools can be particularly relevant for health care, IT, business and marketing programs)
  • Have students write self-reflections about how well they have performed tasks they can do at home or online
  • Give quizzes through your district or institution’s learning management system (LMS)

Some of the more creative ideas shared combine multiple aspects of learning into one project. For instance, an instructor shared on the ACTE Facebook page that he is having students make a garden out of recyclable household materials. This project incorporates students writing out step-by-step instructions, developing a budget and recording their progress.

There are several concerns that CTE professionals are balancing as they try to encourage hands-on skill attainment at a distance:

  • Do students have the resources at home to complete the project? Instructors are worried about students going to the grocery or hardware store to buy supplies. Some educators are looking at how they can prepare a kit of materials that could be delivered by school bus drivers, using disinfection protocols. Other districts are talking about whether they can safely have students come one at a time to campus to complete required lab hours.
  • Can students perform an at-home project safely? Even if students are likely to have materials at home, such as cooking implements or basic hardware, instructors are concerned about student safety. According to Andrew Wermes, a CTE educator with decades of experience in safety training, now is a great time to ensure your students have completed OSHA 10-hour online training in their CTE program area and understand how to conduct a job hazard analysis. Check out his comment on this blog post for additional ideas and links to more resources about CTE safety training.
  • Is online video sharing secure and private? If you’re encouraging students to post video of their activities, it is best to do so through your LMS or through a private, shared drive or online classroom that has been vetted by your district or institution.

We will continue to share CTE distance learning ideas on this blog. Do you have a CTE distance learning idea to share with your colleagues? Post it on ACTE social media through April 15 and be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card.

In addition, check out ACTE’s growing list of CTE distance learning resources and ACTE Division webinars on teaching CTE in a time of uncertainty. These live Zoom events will be recorded for later viewing.


Check out Andrew Wermes comment on this blog post for additional ideas and links to more resources about CTE safety training