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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Eileen Wedegartner

Skills for the post-pandemic economy. Is college still necessary?

by Eileen Wedegartner, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Is college still necessary?

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people to decide to take a year off from higher education. The ballooning price of college tuition combined with the uncertain job outlook for recent college graduates make this decision understandable. But a longer view of the value of a college degree, beyond the immediate crisis, might lead to a different calculation.

In a recent blog, labor market guru Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce noted, “…this recession has highlighted the stark divide between white-collar and blue-collar work. As many businesses turned to telework to avoid interpersonal contact among workers, it became obvious that white-collar work — and, therefore, jobs that require postsecondary education and training — is generally easier to perform from home than blue-collar work.”

Workers with a college degree have long fared better in the job market, with fewer jobs lost and a quicker transition to recovery. Carnevale pointed to the long-term trend in the labor market as automation takes hold in more places: “As interest in automation technology grows, there likely will be a greater demand for workers who have the education required to invent and use this technology.”

The future of automation is not a matter of whether, but rather of how quickly, it will happen. In every occupation from grocery check-out to surgical assistance, robotics is taking on a broader role. The jobs of the future will require the skills to develop, work with and tune technology as robots perform more and more of the manual jobs that human workers used to do.

In another blog titled “More of Today’s Manufacturing Workers Have Bachelor’s Degrees than Ever Before,” Carnevale said, “The glory days of American manufacturing are gone and unlikely to return, as the industry plays a smaller role in an economy now dominated by services. But despite its decline, manufacturing has become more productive with the help of technology and more highly skilled workers.”

Taking a break from college might seem a reasonable way of reacting to the shock waves of COVID-19. But the long-term outlook for post-secondary education is only getting more compelling. The shutdown has transformed remote working from an exception to a rule, and technology is steadily making it more efficient and more effective. The need to graduate from high school ready for the challenges of college and a career in the tech-saturated workforce has grown more urgent.

At JFYNetWorks, we maintain our focus on helping students develop the skills they will need to ensure readiness for the challenges of transition from high school to post-secondary training and the workforce. These skills include language and math fundamentals, as always. But to be ready for the fluid jobs of the evolving labor market, young people now need new-economy skills like planning, self-advocacy, realigning work, and continuous improvement. This is the emerging post-pandemic profile of “College and Career Readiness.”

It’s not the pre-COVID economy anymore. The virus has changed more than we anticipated. The playing field of work is more virtual and more volatile, and the goal posts are continuously moving.


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Keeping Students Engaged through Direct Student Support

by Eileen Wedegartner, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Responding to student needs. Engagement is the key to improving academic performance.

The JFYNet online program supports learning with online instructional tools that help students master grade-level standards and prepare for college and careers after graduation. We summarize our methodology in the acronym AIMS: Assess, Instruct, Measure, Support. The last element, Support, takes a variety of forms.

JFYNet reflects on new normal

JFYNet Remote Learning Specialists mull over the New Normal

by Greg, Eileen, Cathie and Joan

Greg Cunningham

On March 16th, the world stopped. Or so it seemed. Restaurants closed, office workers were told to work from home, and going to the grocery store felt like a sequel to The Hunger Games. (I distinctly remember a woman in the deli yelling “I volunteer as tribute” when her number was called.) We were all instructed to stay home where we quickly discovered that Zoom was not just the name of a vintage PBS TV show.

Specialists’ messages to the 2020 graduates

Hats off to the Class of 2020

from Cathie, Eileen, Joan and Greg

Cathie

When I graduated from high school, our class motto was “At this peak we begin climbing.” My message to this year’s graduates is, You have climbed the peak! Congratulations! As you stand there, you look back to your high school days and ahead to all that is before you. This is not the only peak you will climb in your life. You will pass through some valleys, and you will ascend other peaks. Cherish your time in the valleys. It is there that you grow, learn things about yourself, and gain strength to conquer the next peak. As you prepare for that next climb, I wish you a smooth ascent and a beautiful view from the top!

JFYNet staff report on the new COVID-19 normal.

Hero Educators Abound

by JFYNet’s Blended Learning Specialists: Eileen Wedegartner, Greg Cunningham and Cathie Maglio

Eileen Wedegartner

In a COVID-19 update April 2 Governor Baker apologized for not being able to name a specific date when something had happened. “I feel like March 6 to today has been one long day,” he mused. “I can’t keep track of it anymore.”

I knew what he meant. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind when life as we knew it drastically changed. Seemingly overnight, the streets in Boston fell silent and New York, the city that never sleeps, fell into a coma. Baker ordered all schools closed for three weeks and then extended it even longer, to May 4. District leaders, school administrators, teachers, parents and even students are mobilizing to try out learning in different ways. As I watch my own children navigate classroom meet-ups on Zoom and Google Hangouts, I am thankful for the efforts teachers are making to fill the void we in the community feel without school.

Stress and Pressure: Helping Students Navigate

We need to help them manage expectations effectively.


by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

Growing up, I remember there were high school students around me who had either attempted to take their own life or had done so. As a teen, it shook me to think that anyone felt that alone. It was sad, but it was also an anomaly.

In the last few years, a community near mine experienced a spike in suicides among high school students. It was enough of a crisis that the Boston Globe wrote about it in the article “After suicides in Acton and Boxborough, A Communion of Sorrow.”

The Power of Reading. Be Empowered, Get Inspired

Get Inspired

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

I can remember the moment in childhood when I was first able to read independently. We were on our annual drive to the Berkshires, a family tradition. As we got onto Route 2 I began to read the signs excitedly to my father. I read each exit number and the names of the towns. “Mohawk Trail” was easy but “Leominster” and “Winchendon” were more challenging. I distinctly remember being in the back seat of the big blue Ford LTD with my dad in the front, feeling his pride as I nailed sign after sign all by myself.

Another New Beginning-Start of school

It is exciting. It is exhausting. It is a time of transition for everyone.

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s that bittersweet time of year again, the start of school. We pack away our summer gear, bags loaded with suntan lotion, flip-flips, towels and sand, and trade them in for book bags stuffed with new notebooks. Schools have been freshly cleaned and waxed and everything has a glimmer of hope. It’s that glorious time when every desk is shining, every pencil is sharp, and every Expo marker works.

Collaboration with B.M.C. Durfee High School, Bridgewater State University and JFYNetWorks

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

In 2018-19, Bridgewater State University, BMC Durfee High School and JFY piloted a dual enrollment collaboration. The pilot offered much encouragement and many lessons. Here are some general observations, followed by specific recommendations.

All students, especially those who may be the first in their family to attend college, need support navigating the shifts in academic rigor, independent learning strategies, time management, different technologies, and other aspects of college.

Early College Reduces Inequity

A Promising Pathway to College and Careers

Bridgewater State University, B.M.C. Durfee High School and JFY’s New Partnership

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

The college admissions scandal that broke in March kept unfolding through the weeks and months like an origami of shame, exposing story after sordid story of gross inequity in the college admissions process.

As the national networks uncoiled twisted tales of bribery and deception that famous parents of means had braided to get their kids into elite colleges, local news stations were swarmed by flocks of ordinary people calling in anonymously to admit that they had written their children’s essays for them.