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Rob DiRenzo, Alex Molina, Sybil Madison-Boyd, Rafi Santo, Clare Bertrand
Expanded Learning Opportunities are reshaping when, where, and how student learning occurs. A well-designed and well-implemented ELO program can complement in-school learning and support academic growth by combining various ways for students to engage in learning. How do organizations, including schools, districts, and partners, build “expanded learning ecologies” for youth that support connected learning? The goal of this panel is to inform participants about building expanded learning ecologies to scale and across boundaries showcasing successes and challenges by presenting recent examples from Chicago, New York, and Providence, RI. To address the topic of scale, we will share examples of efforts that aim to reach many youth across many programs, beyond a single intervention or setting. To illustrate crossed boundaries, we will explain efforts to connect various nodes in a youths’ learning ecology (e.g., in-school, out-of-school, individual passion, etc.).
Chicago: The first Chicago Summer of Learning was a citywide mayoral initiative designed to expand learning opportunities for youth during the summer of 2013. More than 100 organizations took part in this effort to recognize learning in out-of-school spaces through digital badges. More than 200,000 youth participated in CSOL programs, and more than 100,000 badges were earned by youth of all ages. Chicago took a first, critical step in enacting core principles of connected learning and laying the foundation for a vibrant ecosystem of learning opportunities. As ELOs begin to signify experiences that link to content- and career-specific pathways, we expect to see even greater potential to transform youths’ lives.
New York: The NYC Department of Education’s Digital Ready program is designed to help participating NYC public high schools use technology and student-centered learning to improve their students’ readiness for college and careers. With Digital Ready’s explicit focus on student-centered learning, expanded learning opportunities play an important role in preparing students to explore, engage, and practice their interests. The Digital Ready and Hive Learning Network teams have worked to coordinate a collaborative effort between 10 innovative high schools and 13 groundbreaking Hive NYC organizations to provide students with a range of opportunities that blend in-school and out-of-school learning with experiences that are production-centered and creativity-focused.
Providence: Since its creation in 2004, the Providence After School Alliance has built two citywide expanded learning models in collaboration with the City of Providence, the Providence Public Schools and the local community: the AfterZone for middle school, and The Hub for high school. These models offer Providence youth a coordinated schedule of in-school, after-school summer learning programs for high school credit.