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Engaging Community Organizations in Education through Blended Learning Partnerships

Michael Robbins, Senior Advisor for Nonprofit Parnterships at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education discusses the advantages that blended learning can provide for strong partnerships between schools and community-based organizations.

Blended learning – blending online and site-based learning – could dramatically reshape how community-based organizations (CBOs) partner with schools and parents.  Karen Cator, who directs our Office of Educational Technology, and I have been focusing on how blended learning promises new paths for CBOs to drive greater educational outcomes for students.   Karen and I recently had the opportunity to engage with key national stakeholders on this issue at meetings in New York City.

On July 27, Karen was a featured speaker for The After School Corporation’s (TASC) Digital Learning Forum at Google New York.  The forum highlighted the potential for community organizations to use out-of-school time to bring next-generation learning to kids with the greatest needs.

That afternoon, we and TASC gathered a working group of representatives from national nonprofits, community-based organizations, schools and school districts, philanthropy, education policy, and the education technology sector.  We began developing an action agenda to improve learning opportunities through CBO-school partnerships that leverage blended learning.

We discussed how blended learning partnerships hold significant promise to spur higher achievement, deepen student engagement, and catalyze the next wave of education entrepreneurship.  We identified a need to link community-based organizations to the education technology sector so that CBOs can learn about and implement useful blended learning solutions.  We also need to define various models for blended learning partnerships that engage CBOs .

The group agreed to launch a web space with the results of our discussions and resources to expand our efforts.  When that space is up and running, we’ll link to it from our website. We’ve also posted the discussion paper for the working group (pdf). 

Michael Robbins is Senior Advisor for Nonprofit Partnerships at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.