Giving Compass’ Take:
• Schools such as MetWest in Oakland, CA, have been offering internships for high school students to gain workplace experience, but now have to navigate experiential learning in a socially distant world.
• How might this disruption impact students in experiential learning programs? How should these programs innovate during this time? How can funders help or provide resources to ease this transition?
• Read about the benefits of experiential learning for students.
Until March, students at MetWest High School in Oakland, Calif., were reporting to businesses and organizations twice a week to learn through real world internships. Down in New Orleans, students at Rooted School were taking classes in school to get certified in technical skills like 3D printing, AutoCAD, and the Adobe Suite.
While some schools offer experiential learning as optional programming, at MetWest and Rooted it is a core part of the model. In schools such as these, real world work experience, including visits to offices and meetings with mentors is a big part of learning.
So when COVID-19 brought all of this to an unexpected halt, these schools have had to reimagine experiential learning through remote learning. The end result might not give students everything they’ve come to expect, but may instead give them a glimpse into how remote life is reshaping the workplace—and the many uncertainties that come along with it.
Rooted Founder and CEO Jonathan Johnson saw that companies like GE were attracted to New Orleans, but the lack of homegrown skilled workers prevented opening operations. As a teacher, Johnson saw the vast majority of students coming from homes facing poverty. At Rooted, students take courses that earn them certifications that can make them competitive for high paying entry level jobs alongside traditional subjects like math and language arts to help close the massive wealth gap between Black and white students. Students have the opportunity to apply skills in internships in technology companies. The goal is for students to graduate from Rooted with a college acceptance in one hand and a job offer in the other.
At MetWest, all students do internships throughout their entire high school career. “People learn in authentic ways. Learning experiences should have purpose for the students and do it in a context where things have meaning,” explains Michael Cellemme, the school’s internship coordinator.
Read the full article about navigating experiential learning during COVID-19 by Jin-Soo Huh at EdSurge.
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