While the learning that takes place inside the traditional classroom is important, we know that students can learn through a diversity of approaches and from a variety of experiences.
Learning opportunities that are designed to address the interests and aptitudes of each student have the potential to allow every kid to discover, develop, and apply their talents to realize their full potential.
So, what if there were ways to harness the power of new learning experiences? What if there were ways to provide and give credit for learning wherever and whenever it occurred? This is not hypothetical, policies that multiply educational opportunities outside of the traditional classroom have already been implemented in other states, such as New Hampshire.
The Learn Everywhere Model
Under the Learn Everywhere model, rather than authorizing only schools, the state can authorize educational programs to complement a student’s traditional education. States already credential teacher and schools, why not also simply approve a course or a program as well? Applicants interested in offering education opportunities for students would complete an application with information about the program, including the course credit that will be offered, an outline of the program, how student progress will be monitored, and how assessment and grading will be completed. Learn Everywhere programs are built on the premise that education is not a zero-sum game, in which the additional educational opportunities take something away from traditional schools. The Learn Everywhere model expands the educational opportunity universe without taking anything away. It sees education for what it should be: an expanding universe of opportunities that can be harnessed to tailor education around the unique needs of every kid.
These are some examples of policies that can help students harness the power of new learning experiences:
- Giving students the ability to earn credit towards high school graduation through means other than the traditional classroom.
- Allowing a variety of community organizations,
from non-proﬁts to businesses, to provide educational opportunities.
- Allowing students to earn credit towards graduation through apprenticeship programs.
“Learn Everywhere” policies would require no additional funding or administrative support. These policies merely create an avenue for students to receive credit for learning that happens outside of the traditional classroom. Students who complete a Learn Everywhere program will receive a certiﬁcate with a grade from the participating program. This certiﬁcate will be provided to the student’s school by the student so that credit can be awarded.
Let’s consider a student who loves performing arts and participates in a local Boys and Girls Club (“BGC”) performing arts program. Let’s also assume that the BGC has enrolled its theater arts program as an approved Learn Everywhere program. This student now has the option to participate in the BGC theater arts program for high school credit.
While they are participating in the BGC performing arts program, they can also participate in their public school performing arts program, if they want (e.g., nothing is lost). However, if they ﬁnd that practices at the BGC program, which are three nights a week until 9 pm, do not give them enough time to do homework, they could elect to take a study hall in their public school to do their homework so they do not have to do it at night after play practice at the BGC. This student may also decide to take an elective course during that period.
While a student could attend both high school performing arts and BGC performing arts—which is one possibility —the Learn Everywhere model could allow the student to take an art class at an art museum or take performing arts at a theatre troupe and earn credits towards a high school’s students visual or performing arts requirement. Learn Everywhere captures existing student learning and creates an eco-system of additional learning opportunities for our students, wherever and whenever they occur.
In addition to creating more educational options for the student, it can reduce the level of stress experienced by the student and family, stress representing an increasing problem in our current culture. According to a 2018 national survey, nearly three-quarters of current high school students say they feel stressed out at least some of the time, including one in three of those students who say they feel stressed out all or most of the time.
What is important to consider with this example is that with or without the Learn Everywhere option, the student is already participating in the BGC performing arts program. Learn Everywhere simply ﬁnds a way for that deep and engaging learning to count for academic credit.
Example provided by the New Hampshire Department of Education.