Framing in the Field: The Power of Afterschool Learning

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 10.28.06 AM“It is now broadly understood that expanded learning programs can and must be much more than ‘graham crackers and basketball’ – that is, they can play a critical role in young people’s lives. But what does a real mind shift look like?”

This is the question Michael Levine (Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Street Workshop) and Rafi Santo (Graduate Research Assistant, Indiana University) ask in a recent blog post, “Upgrading Afterschool: Common Sense Shifts in Expanded Learning for a Digital Age.”

Levine and Santo discuss the importance of a “mind shift” to encompass a “life-long, life-wide, and life-deep” approach to learning. They lay out key principles and specific recommendations for shaping afterschool programs in a way that builds upon what we know from the learning sciences about how best to create learning experiences for children in the 21st century.

Moreover, Levine and Santo use several tested framing elements, including the values of progress and pragmatism, to introduce their principles for designing afterschool learning programs. This is a key way to build larger support in the education field and help decision-makers see the value of integrating digital learning in afterschool programs. Consider the following statement:

“In a digital age in which technology is a central part of kids’ lives, leaders in the expanded learning-time movement need to embrace a “mind shift” so that the United States can make dramatic progress by building a system of expanded digital learning, one based on pragmatic changes that acknowledge the ways learning is happening in the 21st century.”

For advocates and practitioners involved in the digital learning movement, the article is well worth a read – both for the content and for modeling how to talk about digital learning in way that leads to wide-scale adoption.

For additional research on framing discussions on “anytime learning,” see the FrameWorks Institute’s recent report on “Mapping the Gaps on Where and When Learning Takes Place.”

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