Learning that is empowered recognizes learners as active par- ticipants in their own learning and engages them in the design of their experiences and the realization of their learning outcomes in ways appropriate for their developmental level. As such, learners have power to choose their educational experiences as they progress through competencies. Harnessing his or her own intrinsic motivation to learn, each learner strives to ultimately take full ownership of his or her own learning.
Community-embedded learning is rooted in meaningful relationships with family, peers, qualified adults, and community members and is grounded in community and social interaction. It values face-to-face contact, as well as opportunities to connect virtually, and recognizes the significance of establishing continuity in children’s lives through the development of stable relationships. Independent exploration and practice; collaborative group work; structured, intentional instruction; and structured and cooperative play, among other experiences, are integrated to develop learners’ competencies. Both peers and adults are recognized as integral partners in learning.
Authentic, relevant and contextual
Authentic, relevant and contextual learning is an approach that uses such factors as the learner’s own passions, strengths, needs, family, culture, and community as fuel for the development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Learning experiences are leveraged to bridge gaps and meet learning challenges; designed to expand interests, opportunities, and perspectives; and responsive to learners’ passions. At the same time, they are rooted in real-world contexts and empower the learner to demonstrate his or her learning in a variety of authentic ways and settings.
Permeable-walled learning acknowledges that learning happens at many times and in many places and intentionally leverages its expansive nature in the learner’s development of competencies. It creates and takes full advantage of opportunities in a variety of communities, settings, times, and formats. All learning experiences, whether highly structured or exploratory and experiential, are valued, encouraged, and integrated into the learner’s journey. Play, recreation, technology-enabled experiences, community-based work, and service opportunities, for instance, are all recognized as legitimate vehicles for learning.
Competency-based learning is an alternative to age-or grade-based learning. In competency-based learning, each learner works toward competency and strives for mastery in defined domains of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Learners’ trajectories toward mastery are guided and managed, rather than placing the emphasis on their achievement of specific benchmarks in a fixed amount of time. Competency-based learning recognizes that all learners are unique and that different learners progress at different paces.