Distance Learning for All: Delivering Skills-Based Education Online

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Online education provides flexibility for most, but skills-based education has largely been left behind due to the necessity for hands-on learning, scaffolded skill application, and assessment requirements. This session aims to explore how skills-based education can be achieved online so that all students can experience the benefits of distance learning.

Extended Abstract

While online education has grown in popularity among students and providers, skills-based education has been largely left out of this progressive, educational movement. This has prevented a huge population of skills-based learners from experiencing the benefits of flexible learning and increased access. With many institutions closing their doors due to overhead costs and enrollment challenges (Bauman & O’Leary, 2019), students seeking to pursue skills-based careers and fields of study may be limited in their options. This could make pursuing such educational goals and dreams a challenge due to physical proximity to educational providers and work/life obligations. The fact of the matter is, skills-based learners do not have the same access to education and flexible learning pathways that their more traditional peers enjoy.

The barrier to online learning for skills-based degrees has largely revolved around the necessity for hands-on learning, the specificity of tools/equipment/manipulatives needed for learning, viable and valuable assessment models, and the immediacy of scaffolded skill-implementation (you must successfully gain one skill before being able to move on to another). “Traditional” online learning experiences typically focus on demonstrating student learning through standard tests, quizzes and knowledge checks, and written work such as papers and reports. Likewise, traditional online coursework relies heavily on reading textbooks, articles, journals, etc. to disseminate information to students. The contrast between these two learning models combined with the typical features of most learning management systems has created a gap between skills-based educational needs and online educational resources. This gap has slowed/prevented skills-based education from embracing online delivery in many cases.

While this gap may seem a river too wide for some, it can be successfully bridged to provide skills-based learners the opportunity to take part in distance education. This session will present information on skills-based needs analysis, educational delivery options, assessment considerations, and student support models.


Bauman, D. & O’Leary, B. (2019). College closures, 2014-2018. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/college-closures#id=all_all_all