As the fall semester nears, schools and universities across the world are still having to learn how to deal with the new realities of life, and Idaho is no exception. Social distancing measures have made educators find ways to adapt familiar learning practices into something different.
For Continuing Education and Workforce Training (CEWT), the first part of the year served at showing us what areas were more well-adapted to the sudden change, such as our apprenticeship and health programs, and what places would need more adjustments, such as our cooking and crafts classes.
“We had a growing popularity with our cooking classes that unfortunately had to be cancelled for the summer. And we may not be able to offer them this Fall as we used to-- social distancing severely limits the number of students we can have in a classroom or kitchen,” said Gary Salazar, CEWT’s director. “That challenge has forced us to look at new ways we might still offer those and other classes.”
Instead of seeing these potential shortcomings as ‘failures’, Salazar and the rest of CEWT’s team saw them as a way to approach situations from a different angle instead.
For example, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, CEWT’s children summer camps had to be cancelled. However, Ryan Pitcher from the College of Technology, Energy, Systems Technology & Education Center (ESTEC) had come up with a solution to the program.
He suggested offering the STEM summer camp as a series of online classes instead. At that proposal, “[CEWT’s] thinking did a 180 degree change,” said Salazar.
“There were so many challenges that had to be figured out, it needed a lot of rethinking and planning, but it came back and is currently in progress,” Salazar explained. “The feedback so far has been great.
Thanks to the innovative leadership from Ryan, from Katie Leishman and from so many others who contributed, including the staff here at CEWT, it is becoming a terrific success and will be a model for future such events. It is one of many examples around this campus of a challenge that primes the pump of inquiry and lets innovation, agility, and persistence shine.”
Another example of CEWT’s adaptability is its students and staff members becoming accustomed to online meetings. Where the typical office setting meant that coming to a solution was as simple as walking down the hallway, with people now working from home, resolutions require strong communication and planning.
“I am fortunate to work with such a talented team at CEWT. Their continued support and high level of communication has not dropped off at all. They know their jobs and they pull together so well that performance has never been an issue,” said Salazar. “I am confident that while we are working on the current opportunities in front of us, there will be a point ahead of us when we can bring some of those popular classes back. We are planning on it because we all grow as we help others grow.”
Registration for Fall classes is now open; click here to know more about what to expect this fall semester.
Also keep in mind that you will not be receiving a catalog this semester like you might be accustomed to-- but still keep an eye on your mailboxes. We will be sending out postcards with information on how to register for classes.
Also, be sure to check back in to the blog later this week. Our upcoming episode of CEWT Talk will have Gary, assistant director Jason Batalden, and apprenticeship coordinator Paul Dickey as they discuss the state of CEWT. You don’t want to miss it!
If interested in learning more about CEWT’s courses, visit cetrain.isu.edu or call (208) 282-3372.