Bridging the Gap Between In-Person and Virtual Learning | MillerWelds

Bridging the Gap Between In-Person and Virtual Learning

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Learn how one high school welding instructor bridges the gap between in-person and virtual learning with OpenBook™, a free learning management software that provides an easy tool to teach welding concepts and techniques that are specifically aligned with the American Welding Society (AWS) SENSE standards.
Student using OpenBook software in class
Welding class posing with Welcome to Somerton sign and Miller welders
Students using OpenBook software in class
Students on laptops in a classroom

OpenBook™ learning management software

Finding current and relatable welding materials can be down right time consuming, especially when that information also needs to engage with your students and be accessible online.

Christopher Smart, weld instructor at Kofa High School in Yuma, Arizona, is juggling both in-person and online welding courses – just like most instructors are during this current environment. With multiple classes throughout the day and a total of 101 students within his welding program, he needed an online tool that would bridge the gap between in-person and virtual learning. 

Thankfully, three years ago, he had already been using OpenBook™ as his emergency substitute plan to assign homework and quizzes. He quickly began incorporating it into his own curriculum as a supplement to aid student learning. “It gives my students that extra touch to dig deeper and get information that industry-professionals are saying,” said Smart.

Customizing your curriculum 

With OpenBook™, instructors have the ability to customize each module and can incorporate it into their current curriculum. For example, Smart included modules from the Introduction to Welding section combined with his existing teaching materials and developed his own introductory crash course for his Level One students. He also was able to create an in-depth course that consisted of ten modules focusing on the techniques and processes for his Level Two class. “For the modules my students are completing now that deal with welding techniques, those that are in the shop are starting to pinpoint what they are seeing and gaining knowledge from it,” said Smart. 

As a younger high school instructor and alumni from Kofa High School, Smart is able to relate to the students and break down high-level welding material in a more understandable way so his students can comprehend and go further with the information. And OpenBook™ has been that interactive tool that helps his students truly understand the material. 

“OpenBook is a great framework that helps you build. It’s simple for my students to use and I can see that they are recognizing the terminology, picking up the concepts faster, and able to identify different welding techniques. It’s pretty easy for my students to get going, keep going, and stay on top of it.” – Christopher Smart, Weld Instructor 

Typical week in class – pre COVID

Yuma is one of the sunniest cities and very hot. So, students don’t get into the shop until late September or October – the perfect opportunity to begin with safety protocols and learn about leadership materials for his Level One students. Once it’s cool enough, Smart will lecture one day and then have his students apply what they’ve learned in the shop – rotating day by day whether it’s a lecture or shop day – adjusting for quizzes and tests. 

Level Two students are in the shop almost every day and are involved in various of community outreach projects. Last semester, students worked on a Welcome to Yuma sign including the detailing of palm trees and mountain ranges. This sign won a lot of awards from SkillsUSA. Another included restoring an existing City of Somerton sign. Students repainted it, welded and cleaned it up to bring it back to life. “This year, students are working on custom weld trees for our weld booths. We were lucky enough to have material donated to us and my Level Two class will be using seven different welding processes to complete this project,” said Smart. 

Typical week in class – now

Once COVID hit, Smart’s lectures went outline. The school transitioned to a hybrid schedule where he had half of his students one day and the other half the next. Smart began using modules that he hadn’t introduced before, teaching more theory since his students couldn’t be in the shop. 

“Once we were able to go back in-person, we headed straight to the shop to get the fun, hands-on experience”, said Smart. “OpenBook modules are used once per week to reinforce theories, vocab, and instructional videos. OpenBook makes it equitable for grade purposes for my virtual students who aren’t able to be in the shop,” said Smart. 

Try it out today 

Try out OpenBook™ today for free to get familiar with the easy-to-use online interface and learn how you can integrate it into your classroom curriculum and learning objectives. With various e-Learning modules, weld lab activities and pre-curated quizzes, you can be confident in the course materials so you can focus your time on student learning.

The Quick Start Guide on the help page shows you how to get started. For more information and to gain full access to our step-by-step instructional videos, visit here. For teacher software setup videos, click here to watch them now.