Workshops Help K-12 Teachers Create Successful Virtual Learning Environments

No matter what happens with COVID-19, online learning will be a key part of the upcoming K-12 school year for all New Mexico kids. To ensure their teachers are prepared, faculty members in CNM’s Teacher Education program designed a workshop that would help them design optimized virtual learning environments. Now, New Mexico’s Public Education Department wants to make this workshop available to all public school teachers.

“We wanted to find opportunities to reimagine how we can support teachers, engage kids, and increase access using the technology we have,” says Erica Volkers Barreiro, CNM’s Future of Work Strategist, who’s helped lead the project.

“Just as students across New Mexico deserve access to technology for remote learning, so too do our educators deserve access to professional development that supports their transition into the virtual environment,” says Gwendolyn Perea Warniment, the Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Teaching, Learning & Assessment in the New Mexico Public Education Department. “The Public Education Department (PED) is honored to work with CNM to provide support for any and all public school educators across New Mexico. This is a meaningful partnership and one that conveys the PED’s commitment to working with the institutions of higher education in the state as well as our deep commitment to the educators that serve our students and families.”

Here’s how it will be structured. Over the next week, CNM Ingenuity will be collaborating with experienced virtual educators around the state to execute a “train the trainer” model. These educators will become facilitators and then run the education workshops for the state’s K-12 teachers.

NMPED is providing free access to the training for New Mexico K-12 public educators. All the workshops will take place via Zoom and will be held August 7-18 for public school teachers. There will be up to eight workshops every day, Monday-Saturday, and there will be up to 300 K-12 teachers in each workshop. A total of about 18,000 teachers are eligible to attend.

After Aug. 18, a self-paced online course will be available for teachers who couldn’t make the in-person presentations.

The workshops themselves will cover everything from strategies for engaging students in the virtual learning environment to leveraging the virtual environment to support differentiated instruction, project-based learning, and collaborative learning. Erica says the facilitators will cover things like how teachers can use Zoom features like breakout rooms or a chat feed to help in the online classroom and discuss issues related to equity and access.

Erica says the CNM team realizes that starting a new school year virtually will be hard for all teachers and they hope to help a broad range of teachers who are navigating the transition.

“We recognize that you could be a 20-year veteran teacher who’s mastered the in-class environment, but thanks to these new challenges it might feel like you’re back to your first year of teaching” she says.

Knowing that parents will also struggle, Erica says CNM plans to partner with NMPED to offer online workshops for them, too. In the online environment, she says, parents are critical as virtual learning partners. They may also need a space in which they can discuss the challenges they are facing and the support they need to manage both work and children attending school virtually.

While everyone hopes all K-12 students will soon be able to return to a full-time, in-class experience, Erica says CNM and its partners are trying to use the current situation to find creative ways to expand educational opportunities aligned to the future world our children will be living in, and shaping.

“These are not ideal circumstances, but there is an opportunity to take what teachers are developing and learning and then use it to really reimagine how we can use virtual learning environments to enhance the face-to-face experience down the road,” she says.

Learn more about the workshops and registration.

Story originally posted on

Thanks for signing up!

Check your inbox for news, updates, events and more from CNM Ingenuity.