Blog

Everything you need to know about training millennials for government jobs

- Ian Winbrock, LRNG West Sacramento

I’m 28, which means I’m dead center of the largest living generation in American history. I’m a millennial. Some of you reading this will be the parents of millennials, manage millennials or be millennials yourself. Last year, those of us born between 1980 and 2000 surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. As our generation ages and continues to enter the workforce in greater numbers, we will be bringing our life experiences and quirks with us. Hiring managers, department heads and middle managers have to deal with us for the foreseeable future. We prefer technology-driven collaboration. We value and trust information coming from our contemporaries. We want to control our own projects and learning opportunities so that we can grow. We have an innate drive to do social good. Simultaneously, the Silver Tsunami is starting to hit the shores of government sector employment. State, county Read More

The Infrastructure of Learning in a Net-Centric City

- Kari Keefe, LRNG Kansas City

Kansas City is a net-centric, digital city. To be fair, this is a self-appointed label, but nonetheless, Kansas City makes a good case for it. I believe that net-centricity is a status, not a state, and we are constantly striving toward that goal. Cities are usually place-centric: you go to a particular place in order to do a particular thing. But now digital is not just a method, it’s a strategy, and when it comes to learning and education, the infrastructure of how information moves and is accessed creates a new opportunity for cities to reimagine how this information serves our community and its citizens in the connected age. In 2012, Google Fiber selected Kansas City as the location for its first fiberhood: the first neighborhood ever to receive gigabit internet. In response, Kansas City launched an entire strategy around how we communicate, engage, recreate, entertain, work, educate, interact, and Read More

LRNG Cities create impressive learning opportunities this summer

- Kylie Peppler, Chief Learning Officer

For our LRNG Cities, it truly was a summer of innovation. In just a few short months, 12 cities across the LRNG network created and launched a whole range of passion-to-purpose playlists designed to engage youth in exploring and pursuing their passions and provide new opportunities to hone valuable skills for the 21st century workplace. From game development and fashion design to civic engagement and local governance, these diverse playlists combine online learning with real-life opportunities that connect youth to their communities as well as industry professionals in their field of passion. See what our LRNG Cities created this summer: An Introduction to Civic Engagement by Pittsburgh guides youth in identifying areas where public governance has the most impact on their lives and provides techniques for getting involved and making a difference through technology. The Playlist culminates with an XP that allows youth to apply their new skills by addressing Read More

Big Data is a Big Deal

- Jane Zanzig & Matt Gee

Learning data science can provide youth with some of the most powerful tools of change available. Data scientists have the power to find injustice and mistreatment in police records. They have the power to predict and prevent a child from getting lead poisoning. They even have the power to influence Presidential elections.The job of a data scientist — a person who can make sense of big data by combining the tools of computer science, machine learning, and statistics — was ranked as the #1 job in 2016 by Glassdoor; computer science is now the most popular major at many universities; and more and more jobs in every field are requiring computational literacy to get ahead. Meanwhile, the need to diversify and democratize this high-valued skillset is becoming increasingly apparent.The Center for Data Science and Public Policy (DSaPP) at the University of Chicago has led the way in applying data science Read More

Digital On-Ramps Introduces Digital Badging to Service Programs At Philadelphia Event

- Andy Stutzman, LRNG Philly

Digital On-Ramps, a workforce development program in the Office of University and Community Partnerships at Drexel University, recently shared the LRNG digital badging initiative with a broad group of service organizations as they explored how digital badges  might be used to track the work of service fellows.“Exploring Service Competencies and Digital Badging in Philadelphia and Beyond” was an ideal event to demonstrate how effectively digital badges can track young people’s learning and accomplishments. Among the attendees were service groups from the Philadelphia National Service Organizations Committee, national service programs, and service groups as far away as Chicago and Minnesota.LRNG is providing a youth-first, web-based platform focused on providing year-round, connected learning experiences for youth. Philadelphia was selected as one of eight new cities to launch the initiative this summer, and Digital On-Ramps was chosen as the anchor organization to lead the pilot, branded as LRNG Philly. Why might digital badging Read More

Learning Happens Everywhere. How Do We Make it All Count?

- Patricia Monticello Kievlan, LRNG Pittsburgh

One of 12 LRNG Cities nationwide, LRNG Pittsburgh is led by The Sprout Fund, Pittsburgh’s leading nonprofit agency supporting innovative ideas, catalyzing community change, and making the region a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family. Sprout stewards the Remake Learning Network, a professional network of educators and innovators working together to shape the future of teaching and learning in our region. Remake Learning has been nearly 10 years in the making and we see the network as a model for other communities interested in building collaborative education innovation networks. Recently, we published the Remake Learning Playbook to share the inside story of our experience and provide other communities with a practical resource to guide their work. Remake Learning supports learning opportunities that happen in all kinds of settings, from museums and libraries to schools and after-school programs.  We believe that learning happens everywhere, and our community Read More

Virtual exchange holds promise for refugee education

- Leila Toplic, LRNG CMO, @ltoplic

Across the globe, forced displacement has hit a record high — more than 65.3 million people, or one person in 113, have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. The United Nations’ Global Trends report notes that on average 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, creating the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Of more than 21.3 million refugees worldwide, more than half are children. Trauma, poverty, social isolation, and a lack of access to education are creating a bleak future for a generation of young people who are being given little reason to hope for a better tomorrow. Helping this displaced generation find a sense of purpose and a path to a better future including employment is critical for their individual futures, their home countries, and our collective well-being as a global community.“We should start thinking of refugee camps and Read More

Summer of innovation

- Connie Yowell, CEO of LRNG (@Connie)

School is out for summer and LRNG has kicked into high gear. Thanks to our 12 LRNG Cities and a growing list of local and national partners and supporters, thousands of young people across the country are connecting to engaging and exciting learning and workforce development opportunities in their communities and online.As we build out our learning ecosystem, it is wonderful to witness how enthusiastically mayors, educators, organizations and corporations have embraced and enhanced the LRNG vision for redesigning learning for the connected age. Young people nationwide will have new opportunities this summer to pursue their passions and develop high demand workplace competencies and skills through online learning as well as through workshops, Turn Up events and summer jobs programs in our LRNG Cities. It’s been a busy quarter. During the three months since our last newsletter, LRNG has: Rolled out the first of many planned national Playlists co-designed by Read More

Getting workplace ready is in fashion this summer thanks to Gap Inc.’s LRNG Playlist

- Leila Toplic, LRNG CMO, @ltoplic

Today’s job market is tough for young people. Too many teens and young adults are un- or underemployed, even if they have a college degree. Meanwhile, 38% of employers last year reported on the annual ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey that they had jobs they couldn’t fill because applicants lacked the right skill sets. Now more than ever, employers have a key role to play in closing the skill gap for our nation’s youth. I’m excited to share how LRNG has teamed up with one of our employer partners — Gap Inc. — to help reverse the trend.The partnership has created The Business, an online LRNG Playlist that draws from Gap Inc.’s Plan Ahead college and career-readiness curriculum. Plan Ahead has been a required course for 9th graders in the San Francisco Unified School district since 2010 and has a proven track record of success. By starting with young people’s interests, Read More

U.S. mayors lead the way on innovation through digital badges

- Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento (@MayorCabaldon) and Connie Yowell, CEO of LRNG (@Connie)

The promise of digital badges took a giant leap forward today with a resolution passed by the nation’s mayors. And for millions of disconnected and marginalized young people in the U.S., the future just got considerably brighter.The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution today during their summer meeting in Indianapolis that encourages cities across the nation to embrace digital badges for workforce development, employment, financial aid, higher education, and “a broadened conception of student and school outcomes.” The resolution also encourages city leaders to leverage LRNG’s learning platform as a shared digital badging framework. For mayors, digital badges can be a powerful tool for community improvement. Badges provide avenues for mayors to work across sectors – with employers, local school districts, colleges, and civic institutions – to close gaps in educational attainment, workforce development, and employment of local talent. LRNG stands ready to support mayors’ work with its youth-centered Read More

How Your Business Can Help End Our Nation’s Opportunity Gap

- Connie Yowell, CEO of LRNG (@connie) and Janiece Evans-Page, Vice President for Global Giving at Fossil (@jyevanspage)

There is a litany of statistics that show our country is facing a sharp and growing divide between young people who have access to 21st century learning opportunities and those who do not. Dismal rates of high school learning engagement. Persistently high dropout rates among underserved youth. Inordinately skewed college completion rates that leave young people from poor families ill equipped to compete in today’s marketplace. And more than 5.6 million “opportunity youth” across the country who are disconnected from school, work and hope for the future.Perhaps what is most surprising about this bleak data is how few people find it to be surprising. They might not know the exact statistics or the full extent of the challenge. But whether they are among the 40% of employers who are unable to find skilled workers to fill jobs or ordinary people whose own young adult children are struggling to finish school Read More

New Partnership to level up high school learning

- Connie Yowell, CEO of LRNG, @connie

Today at the 13th Annual Games for Change Festival, LRNG’s GlassLab Inc. announced a partnership with Take-Two Interactive Software, 2K and Firaxis Games to bring Sid Meier’s popular Civilization V digital game to the classroom. CivilizationEDU will be distributed to high schools in North America in early 2017 through GlassLab’s nonprofit game-based learning and assessment platform.With annual Gallup polls showing more than 60 percent of high school students are not engaged in classroom learning, LRNG is excited to bring new educational tools to the classroom in formats students are already deeply engaged with.GlassLab Inc. will add a learning analytics engine to CivilizationEDU, harnessing the popularity of gaming and turning it into a powerful tool for assessing students’ progress on 21st century learning skills that are not easily captured on standardized tests.A historically based strategy game, CivilizationEdu will provide students with the opportunity to create historical events and experiment with the Read More

Eight New Cities Join LRNG Movement

Our first competitive call for new LRNG Cities was a big success, drawing a large pool of exciting applications from across the country. The decision was tough, but on March 10 at SXSWedu in Austin, we announced a major expansion of LRNG movement with eight winners of the 2016 LRNG City Challenge. Each of the winning cities will receive a grant of up to $50,000, made possible by support from the Fossil Foundation to begin networking learning opportunities in their communities and kick off LRNG programming this summer. They join our four pilot LRNG Cities in Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. We are proud to add these communities to the LRNG movement: LRNG Central Ohio The Central Ohio community comprises the 14 counties in the Columbus metropolitan area. Central Ohio is home to more than 270,000 youth ages 15 to 24 — 11% of whom are disconnected from school and Read More

LRNG Product

Would you like a sneak peek at the LRNG tech platform? Join us on Friday, April 1, 2016, at 1 p.m. PDT / 4 p.m. EDT for a demo of a prerelease version of the LRNG City and youth experience. Learn what the online youth experience will look like in LRNG Cities this summer, as well as how cities and organizations can use LRNG’s Playlist and Badge builders to transform existing learning content for broader digital access and credentialing. Register here for the LRNG Organization and Youth Experience Preview.

Summer of Opportunity

- Connie Yowell and Jessica Lindl

It’s hard to believe that just six short months ago, we stood together first in D.C. and then in San Francisco to announce the launch of LRNG. Our goals for this movement are as audacious as we believe they are essential, and the last half year has flashed by in a blur of heads-down hard work, leavened by our vision for how, working together with you, we can create an ecosystem to reimagine, redesign, and revitalize learning for young people who most need alternate paths to success. Thanks to our dedicated staff, our forward-thinking partners and supporters, and our incredible LRNG Cities, we are gearing up for a summer of opportunity for young people across the country. The first quarter of 2016 has been dedicated to expanding the LRNG ecosystem. Kicking off the year, we hosted Partner Summits in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco to onboard interested cities, organizations and Read More

How Employers Can Help Tackle the Opportunity Gap for Youth

- Leila Toplic

When I was 18-years-old I landed my first job teaching English and art in a Bosnian refugee camp in Hungary. What I lacked in teaching skills, I made up for with passion and grit. I worked tirelessly to find creative ways to engage my students in learning these subjects both in and out of the classroom. I even went so far as to organize a basketball camp with the American International School in Budapest so refugee youth could learn English through their teamwork and passion for sports. The school headmaster saw these qualities in me, which is why she gave me a chance. I learned so much — both personally and professionally — in my role as a teacher and I never would have had that opportunity if I hadn’t had an employer who believed and invested in me. This is why I’m so honored to now have a job Read More

Championing Workforce Opportunities for Youth

- Connie Yowell

In February, I was honored to stand up at the White House with LaunchCode, Philadelphia Youth Network, Microsoft, Hyatt, and other Champions of Change to tackle the problem of the summer “opportunity gap” for youth. While young people from more affluent and socially connected families spend the summer at camps and internships where they can build their skills and resumes, it creates an opportunity gap for many low-income youth that contributes to ongoing gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success. Summer youth employment programs play a pivotal role in addressing the opportunity gap. A summer job serves as a launch pad for developing lifelong habits and skills for the workplace, however fewer and fewer youth can find them. Last July — the peak month for employment — just under half of 16- to 24-year-olds held a job. As a result, many youth find themselves in an ongoing Catch-22 where Read More

Badges: A Community Commitment to Changing the Game for Learning

- Connie Yowell

Digital badges are a game changer. As we as a nation struggle with how to address the deep inequities plaguing education and workforce opportunity in the 21st century, badges are a critical tool for breaking through institutional barriers that lock too many young people out of traditional paths to success and pursuing what they’re interested in. But changing the game is never a simple, straightforward task, as Mozilla Executive Director Mark Surman points out in his recent post. Mark and I first teamed up to to work on badging in 2011, launching the Open Badges project while I was at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation overseeing the Digital Media & Learning program. Since then, badges have come a long way — with many lessons learned. As Mark notes: Perhaps no surprise to some, we learned badges cannot exist in a vacuum — to flourish, they need active communities Read More

Calling All Cities: Take the Challenge to Revolutionize Learning

- Jessica Lindl

How could your city change the future of learning? Six innovative cities throughout the country will answer that question by taking the 2016 City Challenge to join the LRNG movement. Will your city be among them? From Chicago and Dallas to Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., LRNG is redesigning learning for the connected age — and is now set to add six additional communities across the U.S. Cities have until Feb. 19 to apply for up to $50,000 in funding from the Fossil Foundation to become an LRNG City. LRNG is an innovative, youth-centric movement that turns learning into a lifestyle, allowing young people to co-design their own learning experiences, pursue their passions, and find new paths to 21st century opportunity and jobs. Using a technology platform to connect partnerships and learning opportunities both locally and globally, LRNG holds the promise of delivering immediate, transformative change to millions of youth who Read More

A Tale of Two Cities of LRNG

- Cathy Lewis Long, Sprout Fund and Lisa Nutter, Philadelphia Academies Inc.

Pittsburgh’s pilot LRNG city and new city hopeful Philadelphia discuss LRNG’s 21st century approach to learning. LRNG has launched the 2016 Fossil City Challenge to spread the movement to six new urban communities this summer through grants of up to $50,000. In this Q&A, Cathy Lewis Long of the Sprout Fund, which has spearheaded a pilot LRNG city in Pittsburgh since 2014, joins Lisa Nutter of Philadelphia Academies Inc., which is applying for a Challenge grant, to talk about the future of learning. Q. What is an LRNG city? Cathy Lewis Long: To me, it’s a city that has harnessed all of its assets and resources for learning — as well as the virtually endless resources available online — to create a new experience of learning for young people. We’re living in this incredible moment in time with the ever-expanding presence of technology in our lives: connecting us to the Read More

Redesigning High School: An Open-Walled Approach

- Connie Yowell, Collective Shift and Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, National Writing Project

There is broad agreement today about the need to redesign our nation’s high schools. Ideas and initiatives abound from the schoolhouse to the White House for how our nation can reinvent a 19th-century-model school system to better serve the needs of 21st-century students. But the reality is that in today’s ever-more complex, information-saturated, globally connected age, schools can no longer do it all. And indeed, they should not be expected to do so. No one institution can provide the array of skills and competencies that today’s young people need to succeed in life, work and community. To truly create the high school of the future, schools need an open-walled approach that incorporates the rich and highly flexible learning resources already available outside the classroom. Including access to mentors, workplace internships and opportunities to pursue interest-based learning at community institutions or online, high schools must have support to create a positive Read More

What Are You Into?

The Passion Collector mobile app will give teens a way to pursue their LRNG interests on the go. Three quarters of teenagers now use a smartphone. For many young people, that palm-sized computer they carry in their hand or pocket feels a lot like an extension of their very being. LRNG wants to transform their tech devices into mobile platforms for teens to find and pursue their passions — and link those interests to career opportunities in the real world.The Passion Collector — a concept now under review by the Reach Higher Career App Challenge hosted by the U.S. Department of Education — will include a quiz that helps teens define what they are interested in. Based on their answers, the app will recommend Playlists they can pursue to develop skills and competencies and help guide them through career-choice decision-making. We know that today, learning can and does happen anywhere Read More

Looking for a Few Great Ideas

Musical artist John Legend credits a teacher with encouraging him to develop his musical talents and follow his dreams. Now he is paying it forward with support for LRNG Innovators in partnership with the National Writing Project. LRNG Innovators challenges teachers to bring innovation into the classroom and — with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — gives classroom teachers funding to put their ideas into action. The 2015 LRNG Innovators Challenge is now open. Applications are due January 13, 2016. Connected Learning research and practice has demonstrated that all young people can achieve and learn when they are given opportunities to follow their interests, receive support from peers and mentors, and have time and space to create work that is meaningful to them. Out-of-school programs and community institutions like libraries and museums provide rich learning opportunities that young people value, but in many cases these Read More

Corporate Partners At Play

LRNG is excited to announce that we’re working with EA to develop one of our Playlists, a breakthrough approach to learning that provides fun and engaging ways for young people to acquire technical skills and workforce competencies.Playlists consist of linked sets of learning Experiences, Resources and Events — both in-person and online activities. When completed, often in whatever order a young person chooses, Playlists lead to mastery of a skill or competency, and ladder up to become interest-driven Learning Paths. Young people who complete a Playlist earn a capstone Digital Badge. This badge in turn can unlock additional learning challenges, such as the chance to showcase their work at an event, meet with an expert mentor, or access an internship opportunity. LRNG Playlists and Digital Badges help young people identify and follow interest-driven paths, and make critical connections to real-world opportunities. Together Playlists and Badges fuel young people’s creativity and Read More

City + Schools + LRNG = Success

- Gigi Antoni, Big Thought

Summer is our huge opportunity to do something really important for every child in Dallas. It is the time of year to provide children with rich learning experiences outside of the classroom. We have the resources right here in our city. We have the power to transform young lives. Research has shown since the ‘70s that summer is a time for learning loss, a time when children go hungry, a time when children are the victims of crime, and a time when there is significant erosion of social-emotional learning. This is particularly true in Dallas because one out of three children live in poverty. The impact on the achievement gap is that children not engaged in summer learning fall behind as much as two months each summer, and that loss is cumulative. Without intervention, a student could lag behind as much as two grade levels by the time they reach Read More

Co-designing a Brighter Future

- Connie Yowell and Jessica Lindl

As we head into the new year, I look ahead with hope and gratitude. Thanks to the many partners who are supporting our vision, the evolution of learning is firmly underway.Since launching in October, LRNG’s network of schools, businesses, cities, nonprofits and community institutions is quickly scaling up as we prepare for the national rollout of the tech platform next year. By bringing together existing in-school, out-of-school, employer-based and online learning experiences, the LRNG ecosystem will deliver immediate, transformative change to youth across the country by creating 21st century paths to success. LRNG has 30+ badging opportunities already in beta testing with youth advisors. Our team is co-designing Playlists with city, corporate and program partners for Spring 2016. And our engineering team remains on track to launch the LRNG youth platform next spring. In 2016, we will add 11 new Cities of LRNG nationwide for a total of 15 cities. Read More

A Great Idea Sprouts and Grows

With the launch of LRNG in October, the evolution of learning is underway. Cities of LRNG will scale up to 10 to 15 cities in 2016. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look back at the pilot cities where a great idea took root, blossomed and grew. Chicago Launched in summer 2013 and anchored by DePaul University’s Digital Youth Network, Chicago’s City of Learning effort has been a national model for other sites. Chicago’s network has engaged nearly 60,000 youth through partnerships with over 100 youth-serving institutions and organizations, such as the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Mikva Challenge. In addition to face-to-face programs, Chicago’s City of Learning has provided youth with access to hundreds of online challenges on a diverse range of topics, including poetry, coding, and sound production. Washington Led by the DC Trust, the “District of Learning” fully launched in early 2015 and now Read More