Rowan-Cabarrus Community College creates free course to help parents tackle virtual learning

Published 5:58 pm Monday, September 28, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Parents have to take on more than ever with Rowan County students spending most of their time learning at home.

And Rowan-Cabarrus Community College says it’s helping parents struggling with remote learning by creating a free course for them through its R3 Career Services program.

R3 Director Keri Allman said the college has heard from parents who are frustrated and that remote learning may be here for the long run. Some of those parents are R3 clients and some are students at RCCC who are juggling classes, jobs and parenting all at once. Called the Parent Teacher Assistant Toolbox, the program is all-online, self-paced and can be joined at any time.

Allman said the course will be “exceptionally beneficial” while students are participating in virtual learning, but the tools will remain valuable after the students return to classrooms.

The course gives parents tips and advice on how to guide a student through their coursework. Things like writing better essays and basic math are part of the course, but it also contains tools for parents to use, including cheat sheets and advice on setting up a good learning space. Parents who enroll in the course can meet other parents through it as well and get advice from course coach Gina Pinyan.

Pinyan said there is even a social and emotional section of the course to help parents navigate their children through anxiety over course work and remote learning.

“My hope is that it will help parents not be as stressed,” Pinyan said, adding some parents who have started the course have commented about how much it is going to help them reduce their own stress and help their children.

Academics are not the only issue for students and parents. RSS Chief Technology Officer David Blattner said making sure all parents and students can use the software the district delivers content with has been a hurdle.

Blattner said his department is occupied now with collecting the old and distributing new devices to students, but online courses to help parents understand how to use the district’s learning management system, Canvas, are next on the list. The district has already created 90-second training videos on its website to help parents understand how to use different pieces of software and will also be distributing advice on how to set up a proper workspace at home.

Blattner said everyone’s home is different, but ideally a work space would be somewhere with few distractions and where a student has access to all tools they need. It also should be in a public area so a parent can see what a student is doing, he said.

Remote learning has been an adjustment, but Blattner said there have been fewer technology issues as the fall semester has continued. 

Anyone interested in the Rowan-Cabarrus course can call 704-216-7201 or email R3 hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.- 7 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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