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Resources for Teaching Trades Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Los Angeles, CA

Resources for Teaching Trades Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As schools close across the country and as skilled trades teachers work to reach students who are sheltering at home, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools hosted three online conversations among our network of skilled trades teachers to ask: how are you teaching skilled trades online?

Below, we’ve compiled their recommended ideas and resources for remote trades teaching and learning. Scroll down for resources divided by trade!

Prepare for the future: Students can achieve certifications that can be completed virtually, including OSHA 10, OSHA 30 and SkillsUSA’s Career Essentials, and work on resume-writing, updating Linked In profiles and creating cover letters for sample job postings. One teacher is having students practice budgeting by determining and defending their proposals and purchase lists for spending grant money; another is creating his own “certificate” for students to be accepted by local developers, who know the teacher and his program.

Refresh on the basics: Returning to past lessons along with a few new ones in math, technical reading and writing and blueprint interpretation and design can keep students learning the concepts behind the hands-on work.

Get creative at home: Given that few students have tools at home, much less the tools of a fully equipped shop, teachers are encouraging small projects with household materials, like making bridges from spaghetti or furniture from cardboard. Auto teachers are having students evaluate parents’ cars or neighbors’ vehicles (from a safe distance!), and one teacher is helping family members become evaluators so that, in the summer, students can earn credentials and involve their family members in a unique way.

Flexible schedules: Without the structure of a school day, teachers are switching up routines. Many check in daily to keep in touch with students while only delivering lessons or assignments a couple times are week. Some are exploring block scheduling, with content only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and self-guided work the rest of the week.

Essential work: Depending on their skills and where they live, senior students can pursue internships at industries that haven’t shut down and have been deemed essential businesses in their states.

Social media stars: A few enterprising teachers are launching YouTube channels and recording themselves giving lessons, or starting new social media accounts to keep in touch with students.

Going old-school: For students who don’t have online access, our prizewinning trades teachers are making daily phone calls and delivering homework packets to students’ homes. One welding teacher even sent along a raw piece of metal and a grinder for students to do something hands-on at home.

Keep in touch: Students today are not only losing precious time in school—they’re watching a national crisis in slow-motion. Teachers are focusing hard on maintaining social and emotional connections and checking in on students’ mental health. And they’re having some fun—one 2018 winner played an April Fool’s prank on his students by telling them they would need to make up all the lost time in the summer and next school year.

Take time for yourself: There’s no way around the simple fact that is hard and has never been done before. Teachers are flying the airplane while building it with no manual. We hope that all teachers take the time to take care of themselves.

Resources by Trade

Welding and Manufacturing

  • ToolingU: Welding and manufacturing lessons from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, free at this time (Recommended by 2018 winner Matt Erbach of Streamwood, Illinois)
  • Online proctoring for metalworking certifications (Multiple recommenders)
  • Free resources, software, add-on for running toolpaths and posting code (Recommended by Matt Erbach)
  • V-Carve Pro: 30 hours of online tutorials, available through a free trial (Recommended by Brent Trankler of Sikeston, MIssouri)





  • CDX: An online gateway with simulations of wiring and diagnostics, with 11 free online activities here (Recommended by 2017 winner Roxanne Amiot of Bridgeport, Connecticut)
  • Electude: An online platform for basics and theoretical learning, with free simulations and free trials until August (Multiple recommenders)
  • Haynes Manual: Several free manuals, guides and tips for study (Multiple recommenders)
  • Today’s Class: Interactive lessons and other resources, offered for free at this time (Multiple recommenders)
  • ASE Education Foundation: ASE-accredited programs can access free training from industry sponsors and training for teachers on distance learning (Recommended by our team)
  • Goodheart-Wilcox Publishers: Free online textbooks and workbooks (Recommended by Jeff Cesari of Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania)
  • Raybestos: Free how-to videos (Recommended by Roxanne Amiot)


Construction and Carpentry

  • NCCER: Resources for virtual learning, including many recently made free of charge (Recommended by 2018 winner Adam Bourne of New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Instructables: Lessons for in-home projects, including woodworking (Recommended by 2018 winner Josh Gary of Sutherlin, Oregon)
  • Woodworking resources: A weeks-long curriculum put together by a teacher (Recommended by Josh Gary)


HVAC and Plumbing

  • PHCC Foundation: The pre-apprentice course is free until June 30 (Recommended by our team)


Multi-trade and Miscellaneous

  • OnShape: a free, online program for making CAD and 3D printing designs (Recommended by Michael Schweinsberg, a 2019 winner from Westminster, Maryland)
  • FlipGrid: Students can record and post videos to share with their classes (Recommended by 2018 winner Brad DeMent of Delaware, Ohio)
  • EdPuzzle: Ask students to respond to a video and verify that they watched and answered, available in a free version that provides 20 videos (Multiple recommenders)
  • CareerSafe: for OSHA 10-hour certification (Multiple recommenders)
  • Skills Building Blocks: Soft skills lessons (Recommended by 2019 winner Troy Reichert of Guernsey, Wyoming)
  • ICEV Online: Free courses through the end of the school year in trades including construction, manufacturing, agriculture and transportation (Recommended by our team)