The student - who we call the learner - is the center of the reorganized system. Whether he is a baby or a 20-year-old, his needs and aspirations drive a unique bundling of experiences that ensure he cultivates the agency, sense of self and competencies necessary to thrive as an adult. There is an expectation that every learner builds his autonomy over time, taking on greater and greater responsibility for his learning.
The family and other caretakers of learners are uniquely positioned to support them over time. Families are empowered with the resources, tools, and the guidance of their advocate to support decision-making based on their context and values. Families build their understanding of the opportunities and resources available, and build the skills necessary to access and grow from these experiences.
The primary role of the advocate is to help the learner and his family coordinate experiences, resources and people in service of their goals. Advocates serve as a bridge between “the system” and the community, both locally and globally. After prototyping this role with various communities, we began to see the Learner Advocate as part of a larger network who collectively accomplish a group of functions; you can learn more about the Learner Advocate Network here.
A reorganized system affords opportunities for educators to take on roles that align with their own passions, interests and expertise. Educators can still choose to play multiple roles in support of learning, such as instructional delivery, instructional design, assessment design, data analysis, operations, peer coaching, and leadership. Other educators might choose to collaborate with new teams and focus on a discrete need for students.
For more ideas on the evolving role of educators in an expanded learning ecosystem, check out this resource from KnowledgeWorks.
In a reorganized system, the learning that happens within AND beyond school is more purposefully integrated. Learning is anchored by family contexts and embedded in community experiences. Learning providers can be entities such as libraries, museums, art or cultural institutions, camps, athletic teams, after-school programs, mentoring organizations, job training programs, and many more, in addition to the more traditional schools and child care providers.
The new system facilitates greater contributions from and to the community. The advocate network works diligently to cultivate strong community connection amid high levels of trust, and to grow a local ecology of learning support. The role of community also includes the peers, cross-generational members and experts that students interact with based on their needs and interests. This could be a local, place-based community, or a global network of learning that students access online.