Canvas LMS


Modernizing Apprenticeship Training for Electrical Workers With Canvas

Northwest Line Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee

Vancouver, Washington

200 Users

Adopted Canvas: 2016

Northwest Line Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (NW Line JATC) is revamping coursework in innovative ways to support online learning during the pandemic and beyond. With Canvas, the nonprofit organization can provide a hands-on apprenticeship to aspiring journey-level professionals, create engaging new coursework, and help workers gain skills in outside line construction and powerline-clearance tree trimming.


The Challenge

Since 1957, the Northwest Line Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee has provided high-quality training that helps prepare apprentices to become highly skilled journey-level workers for employment in the electrical industry.

Initially, a collaboration between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) contractors, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and Utility Line Clearance Contractors in the early eighties Northwest Line JATC’s training eorts added power line clearance tree trimming to its focus, an essential part of the trade.

Through ties to a local community college, NW Line JATC started a successful run with Canvas and purchased their own licensing in 2020.

With the added pandemic restrictions, the JATC decided to move all classes online to continue to provide essential training.


The Solution

“We chose Canvas because of the benefits we had already experienced using it and knew we could have greater control and strong user support,” said Keith Blakeslee, Instructor at NW Line JATC. Implementing Canvas would help NW Line JATC keep the learning


Key Findings

NW Line JATC chose Canvas for the freedom it gives instructors to support individualized learning

The team has reimagined online teaching and learning in an environment that relies heavily on face-to-face instruction

The JATC program has become a resource for other organizations to model


moving forward during the pandemic, engage participants in new, interactive ways, and give instructors more flexibility in how they teach and interact with students. Still, the switch to online learning brought some interesting challenges.

“There are certain trade skills that will continue to be best-taught face to face. Taking a hands-on skill [like trimming a tree near an active power line] and conveying it online is hard,” Blakeslee said.

“Luckily, having experience with Canvas put us ahead of the game in completing the move from paper coursework to digital during COVID-19,” Blakeslee said. “Using videos, handouts, and courseware in Canvas, our nine part-time instructors can outline courses in a way that replicates how we want to provide learning.”


The shift from a semester model to a topic-based model will better meet working students’ needs and enable instructors to track student progress and outline personalized content based on their schedules.


The Results

NW Line JATC credits Canvas for helping create culture change in the apprenticeship program. Students are more engaged than ever and can learn on the go.

“Previously, students were handed their binder and books to complete their coursework on their own and would attend class once a month. Now, students and instructors have an easy way to communicate. They can note questions that don’t make sense, and we can respond. This more modern approach helps us create a more connected relationship with students.”

Today, students can complete their coursework on their laptops or their phones, wherever they are. That includes accessing the series of instructive videos published on a private YouTube account.

Throughout the pandemic, students and instructors have completed coursework entirely online, using Canvas and Zoom to review homework, go over lessons, watch instructional videos, hold discussions, and complete finals. Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, the school will move toward a hybrid learning model with face-to-face instruction and online learning.


“With Canvas, we’ve increased collaboration. Since students can complete their assignments in their truck on their lunch break, they can easily bounce questions and ideas off their coworkers and peers on the go.”

Canvas helps NW Line JATC better meet individual students’ needs. Instructors can quickly identify and support users who are less familiar with online tools and may have previously relied on books and other printed materials to continue their education.

Editing coursework to accommodate students when facing an emergency or scheduling conflict has been a huge benefit. Now, instructors can open or close assignments tailored to individual students’ needs.

With Canvas, NW Line JATC can easily divide modules across geographies to accommodate different regulations across Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Idaho. Additionally, the organization can pave the way for other skill-based programs in adopting an online or remote learning model.

“While there are many organizations like ours throughout the Pacific Northwest, we’re the only ones using a learning platform. We find that a number of these organizations are now looking to us on how to model courseware for their people,” Blakeslee said.

“With Canvas, we’re better equipped to expand our apprenticeship anywhere.”


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