By HANNAH NIEDERRITER
Faced with the emergence of rising COVID-19 cases in Venango County, several schools have bitten the bullet of transitioning to virtual learning; Venango Technology Center (VTC) was no exception to these circumstances.
Shortly after Cranberry High School’s shift to an entirely remote learning model, VTC followed suit beginning on Nov. 16. As COVID-19 cases are sure to fluctuate in the upcoming months, virtual schooling is set to continue so long as the parent school districts remain online. This also means that it is possible some school districts will send their students back physically while other districts will remain virtual for a longer period of time according to VTC administration.
Vo-Tech students are currently accessing their schoolwork through online platforms varying from teacher to teacher as a result of the diversity of courses. Google Classroom acts as a means of daily attendance and as the gateway to other assignments. As a substitute for students without the convenience of internet access, paper materials are provided.
Although procedures seem smoother by the day, it wasn’t necessarily easy for the hands-on programs offered by VTC to upheave their roots in physical learning.
As explained by Sarah Campbell, Coordinator of Student Services at Vo-Tech, “While teaching hands-on skills is better suited for in-person instruction, our instructors have adapted to this current situation. Each program area has a different approach and different tools available to them for delivering their instruction.”
Campbell went on to reflect on the present complications that come hand in hand with remote learning.
“It is challenging for students who do not have reliable internet service. It creates another hurdle in already stressful times for families and students. And as with any new system, there is a learning curve for both the students and teachers when it comes to the process of online learning.”
Shifting focus to a more positive note, a majority of the shops at VTC have been able to utilize online, interactive programs to bolster students’ understanding of their courses in a manner more similar to how they would learn in person. These programs require the employment of virtual equipment and tools to accomplish tasks pertaining to the targeted topics of each course.
Cengage, an example of the aforementioned platforms, is a program the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning class takes advantage of in order to practice troubleshooting by utilizing virtual testing equipment to identify problems with refrigeration manifolds and fuses. Additionally, VTC Electronics Technology students have been using Amatrol LMS, an online platform which permits students to virtually complete electronic projects.
Not all of the kinks of virtual learning have been worked out for staff and students, but Venango Technology Center has made strides in the positive direction. In the words of Sarah Campbell, “As time has progressed, it seems that everyone is much more adept at the process than they were on day one,” and that is all anyone could ask for when faced with the tumultuous times and uncertain future with COVID-19.
Hannah Niederriter and Ava Fischer are students at Cranberry High School and members of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications class.