The Alliance for Excellent Education encourages all programs that interact with young learners, both in and out of school, to explore and learn more about the power of digital learning. The Alliance is working to reframe the national conversation on digital learning from “slapping netbooks onto textbooks” to effectively using time, teachers, and technology to increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and a career. In a digital learning environment, there are three important overlapping elements: (1) teachers are transitioning to education designers to personalize learning for all students; (2) time is used differently in the classroom and beyond; and (3) technology includes digital learning tools, resources, and practices.
Not only does digital learning have the power to expand learning beyond the traditional school day, it also
- increases equity and access;
- improves effectiveness and productivity of teachers and administrators;
- provides student-centered learning to ensure college and career readiness; and
- recognizes teachers as education designers.
Resources and Reports
Check out some of the resources and reports that focus on expanded learning and the benefits of digital learning in afterschool programs and the out-of-school space.
With more than 25,000 partners, the Afterschool Alliance focuses on increasing access to affordable, quality afterschool programs for all students.
Afterschool Alliance Issue Brief: Providing a Successful Route to Credit Attainment and Recovery states that afterschool programs provide older youth with critical academic supports, including credit attainment and recovery opportunities. Many educators are turning to afterschool programs to reach students who fail one or more courses, become disengaged, or want alternatives to the traditional path to graduation. Afterschool programs provide students opportunities to gain knowledge and credits through learning that takes place outside of the traditional classroom, which provides the flexibility that is critical to many struggling students.
The Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative—which is part of the Statewide Afterschool Networks—is a group of national organizations that work with states by providing them with technical assistance to build statewide afterschool networks.
Alliance for Excellent Education Issue Brief: Expanded Learning Opportunities: A More Comprehensive Approach to Preparing High School Students for College and a Career. This issue brief looks beyond the matter of learning time to consider how expanded learning opportunities—including innovations regarding where, when, and how high school students experience teaching and learning—can help overcome the unique challenges faced by today’s high school students.
“Blended Learning Partnerships for Community-based Organizations,” a paper produced by the U.S. Department of Education after convening a group of stakeholders with The After-School Corporation (TASC), argues that there are seven areas where blended learning can help community-based organizations strengthen education partnerships and improve learning opportunities and developmental experiences for students. These areas include (1) curriculum design and lesson planning; (2) alignment across nodes; (3) quality and rigor; (4) assessment; (5) student engagement; (6) human capital; and (7) community engagement.
Comcast’s Internet Essentials is a Comcast program that allows educators, community partners, and civic leaders to play an important role in bringing affordable internet service to more people.
The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project is a fifty-state initiative that harnesses the power of networks and leaders to help schools and communities leverage afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs to accelerate student achievement through research, best practices, and other resources.
The Mott Foundation supports access to high-quality afterschool programs, whether school based or school linked, especially for low-income communities. As part of this goal, Mott funds forty statewide afterschool networks that encourage key decisionmakers to support expanded afterschool programs.
The National Afterschool Association advocates for the education, development, and care of children during afterschool hours.
Statewide afterschool networks foster partnerships and policies to develop, support, and sustain high-quality afterschool and expanded learning opportunities for children and youth. Working with a broad range of stakeholder groups, including state policymakers and local leaders in education, youth development, juvenile justice, childcare, health, and workforce development, statewide afterschool networks develop systems to support academic, social, emotional, and physical outcomes for youth.
Smithsonian’s History Explorer offers hundreds of free, innovative online resources for teaching and learning American history. The site is designed for use by K–12 teachers and students, afterschool program providers, families, and individuals interested in lifelong learning. Check out some of these resources: Our Story.
The After-School Corporation (TASC) focuses on expanding the school day for all kids. The ExpandED Schools network provides public elementary and middle school students a longer school day with more opportunities for learning.
This TASC: Digital Learning Beyond School video shows students engaged in digital learning beyond the traditional school day.
This paper, TASC: Where the Kids Are: Digital Learning In Class and Beyond, discusses how technology and digital media can help schools and communities overcome learning gaps among students, and connect schools, families, communities, museums, and libraries.
This North American Council for Online Learning’s paper, Promising Practices in Online Learning: Using Online Learning for At-Risk Students and Credit Recovery, explores issues related to at-risk students and opportunities for credit recovery. Many educators find that online and blended learning are effective ways to reach students who fail one or more courses, become disengaged, or seek an alternative to traditional education. As online learning moves past the early adopter phase, the growth of online programs focused on at-risk students or credit recovery has redefined how educational technology can be used to address the needs of all students, from advanced students in search of Advanced Placement or dual-credit courses, to at-risk students trying to find the right instructional mix to fit their learning styles.
Introductory Game Design Summer Camp. Afterschool and summer learning programs are in a unique position to serve as testing grounds for innovative ways of enhancing student-centered learning through digital media and technology. The Introductory Game Design Summer Camp—a partnership between the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and a local vocational high school—is one such example. Check out this video and blog post about how the summer camp inspired one teacher to think about the ways that gaming could be integrated into the school day.
Saving Our Stories (SOS). Informal learning environments are great at providing opportunities for youth empowerment and offering platforms to explore issues that matter to them in their local and global community. The Saving Our Stories (SOS) Project—developed by the Colorado State University Writing Project—offers fourth through sixth grade English Language Learners (ELLs) an opportunity to use digital media to combine the local history of Latinos in Fort Collins with their own family experiences. Through digital storytelling and multi-media compositions, they are able to capture the voices, hopes and ambitions of youth.
Playmakers—Institute of Play. The Institute of Play is a not-for-profit design studio dedicated to creating innovative experiences that make learning irresistible. This set of seven video investigations, introduces a number of individuals—including technologists, scientists, mathematicians, architects, business people, and students—who are practicing the craft of game making and exploring the power of play.
Technovation Challenge. Technovation Challenge’s mission is to support and inspire girls to become creators and innovators. The program offers high school girls an opportunity to learn about computer science and entrepreneurship by partnering with women in technology via an online course hosted on P2PU. Together they bring their unique perspectives together to develop mobile phone applications that solve problems in their local communities.
TASCasaurus After-School Curriculum. Developed by The After-School Corporation and Hive NYC Learning Network, this curriculum provides educators in expanded learning time, after-school and other out-of-school time settings with a free, engaging, web-based model to teach kids how to move from digital consumers to active web producers.
Webmaking Activity Ideas. For educators looking to introduce the concept of webmaking into formal or informal learning environments, this website provides some great ideas for “icebreakers”, “diving in” and “hands on” activities. These lessons were created by Mozilla to help teach students how to participate and contribute to our digital society through learning approaches such as tinkering and remixing.
Green Machine: Building Sustainable Futures Curriculum Pilot. This curriculum pilot was developed by the Institute of Play as a first step toward exploring sustainability, design and engineering in informal learning spaces. A description of the goals, approach and outcomes are documented to assist other educators who may be looking to implement a similar program.
Media in Action Curriculum. This curriculum, developed by the Global Action Project, is intended to serve as a rough guide for how to harness the power of youth media for cultural expression and political change.