Virtual Lab School courses are divided into lessons. Each lesson covers one or more topics relevant to the overall course competency area. Lessons contain a variety of materials including text, images, videos, activities, program tools, guides, glossaries, references and resources, and a brief self-assessment of learning. Lessons provide diverse exemplars and real life examples, practical tools, job-embedded learning and reflection opportunities, and built-in follow-up and support.
Lesson Structure & Progression
Virtual Lab School lessons use the Learn, Explore, Apply, Demonstrate (LEAD) structure to support learner's development of professional skills and knowledge.
Direct Care: Know, See, Do
Direct care Tracks (i.e., Infant & Toddler, Preschool, School-Age, and Family Child Care) use a Know-See-Do framework within each lesson’s Learn section. In the Know section, users are introduced to a topic, what the topic means in the context of their role, why the topic is important to the broader competency area, and how recent research informs our current understanding of the topic. The Know section typically begins with self-reflection to help users understand how the content applies to their lives. The Know section is followed by See, which includes video and other examples to further enhance learners' understanding and adoption of lesson content. Each Learn section ends with Do, which includes ideas and practical suggestions related to the implementation of the research-based recommendations presented in the lesson.
Training & Curriculum Specialist: Teach, Model, Observe
Lessons in the Training & Curriculum Specialist (Coaching) Track use a Teach-Model-Observe framework within the Learn section to support effective coaching of direct care staff and family child care providers (FCC). In the Teach section, there is an emphasis on what coaches need to help staff members know about a particular topic to implement appropriate practices. The Teach section is followed by Model, which explains how to model strong practices in interactions with staff, children, and families. The Learn section for coaches ends with Observe, which provides videos examples and practical scenarios, to help coaches hone their skills in observing staff members' practices and reflect on how to approach various situations in ways that support staff members' professional growth and foster quality care settings.
Management: Know, Supervise & Support
Within the Learn section of lessons in the Management Track, content is arranged using a Know-Supervise & Support framework. In the Know section, users are broadly introduced to a topic, what the topic means in the context of their management role, and how recent research informs our current understanding of the topic. The Know section is followed by Supervise & Support which includes ideas and practical suggestions related to program implementation of the research-based recommendations presented in the lesson. This section also includes videos, scenarios, and other examples to further enhance the user's understanding and adoption of lesson content to best support their program.
Each lesson in all Tracks includes an Explore section which offers learners an opportunity to reflect and use the lesson material. For example, by analyzing scenarios, video examples or case studies, surveying current practices and considering additional strategies, or examining additional resources to further understanding. Explore activities provide a structured way to "try out" the lesson material and receive feedback on content comprehension and application by sharing ideas with a coach, trainer, administrator, or colleague.
Direct care staff (including center-based staff and family child care providers) are asked to share and discuss their responses with a trainer, coach, or administrator. These discussions encourage reflection on behalf of direct care users, as they have to think, write, or speak about their practice. At the same time, the activities foster reflective supervision on behalf of the trainer or coach who reads or hears staff members’ or providers’ current understanding, asks further questions, and provides comments and guidance that lead to deeper knowledge.
Each lesson in all Tracks includes an Apply section which includes additional resources, information, or tools that users can access to support and maintain successful application of the lesson topic within their program setting and role. These resources are often tools, such as checklists or surveys, short articles, materials to share with families, links to other quality websites, classroom materials, or other types of supports provided by academic, policy, or professional organizations.
Each lesson in all Tracks end with the Demonstrate section that includes a brief self-evaluation meant to reinforce understanding of the presented material. This self-evaluation is not a strict assessment, but rather a self-monitoring of learning, and provides immediate feedback to learners.
Direct Care Tracks (center-based and home-based family child care providers)
Completion of a lesson includes viewing, reading, and understanding all materials presented in the Learn, Explore, and Apply sections; correctly completing the Demonstrate questions; completing any required activities; reviewing activities with trainers or coaches; and having the trainer, coach or administrator certify that the user has achieved competency within the lesson topic.
Registered VLS users in direct care Tracks will have their coach or trainer verify their completion of a lesson using the review and certification capabilities of the progress Dashboard. These certification features are available in the Training & Curriculum Specialist and Management Tracks.
Training & Curriculum Specialist and Management Tracks
Lessons in the Training & Curriculum Specialist and Management Tracks are self-certified and will appear as complete on a user's progress dashboard once the Demonstrate questions within the respective lesson are correctly completed.