Chase Eskelsen M.Ed. is an educator of more than 15 years with experience in digital education ranging from full-time online school administration to launching hybrid schools as the COO of an education nonprofit. In between the full-time online schools and the hybrid schools he worked in academic policy and government affairs effectively fighting for good student-centered accountability and against bad education legislation. After seeing the benefit of a digital educational backbone bringing the very best of digital learning and partnering that with the very best of an in-person experience, he decided to launch his own educational firm to support new, innovative school options as they launch hybrid programs. He is also very involved in parent advocacy where he believes that parents know their kids better than any policymaker or politician ever will and because of that, parents should have the right to enroll their kids in the best school for their family. He also hosts the FerskenED Edupreneur Mastermind where he supports education entrepreneurship for new business owners in their first three years.
In a world where technology and education are increasingly intertwined, forward-thinking businesses should be reimagining their spaces to foster a unique and engaging learning environment. One exceptional idea is how a business could transform approximately 15,000 square feet (1,393 square meters) of its existing space into a cutting-edge hybrid school. Combining a digital backbone with a focus on project-based learning and personalized experiences, this school could provide a remarkable educational opportunity for students. In this article, we’ll explore five innovative ways this hybrid school benefits both students and families while igniting a passion for learning.
Blending Technology with Real-World Experiences:
At this hybrid school, a digital backbone supports a dynamic curriculum designed to enhance students’ knowledge and skills. By leveraging technology, students have access to a wealth of resources and interactive tools, enabling them to explore subjects at a personalized pace. The integration of technology is not meant to replace human interaction, but rather to amplify the in-person experience. Yes, the campus is digital-first, but that does not mean that it is digital only. Instead, the digital infostructure starts to give the students the foundation and assignment information and then springboards them to hands-on, in-person project-based learning experiences. Students use digital tools and a digital curriculum to research, collaborate, and present their projects, while their physical presence allows them to engage in hands-on activities, group discussions, and valuable face-to-face interactions.
Internships and Future Opportunities:
At this hybrid school, the commitment to student success extends beyond the classroom walls. Recognizing the importance of real-world experience, the school has established a unique program that offers internships within the partnering company for high school students. This invaluable opportunity allows students to apply their knowledge and skills in a professional setting, gaining practical experience while still in school. By collaborating with professionals, students develop a deeper understanding of their chosen fields and explore potential career paths.
Consider this example. A junior in high school takes a marketing class as an elective during the first semester. Upon completion of this course, they join the marketing department of the host company and get real-world experience sitting in staff meetings, having tasks assigned, and participating as a member of the team with deliverables and presentations completed during the second semester. Now the student has the book knowledge and work experience that can be put on a resume for their future job search.
Potentially one of the key benefits for the student is low-risk job placement where they get to experience what it would be like to be an employee at a marketing department. If they like it, great—they can work directly into that company post-graduation if a position is available and for those who inevitably don’t like the marketing team, they now get another year to experience another department at the company. The best part is, they don’t spend $100,000 on a marketing degree to only later graduate from college and start working at a marketing firm only to realize that this is not the right fit for them. The company gets a pipeline of potential talent served up to them each semester which makes the company happy. The students also get real-world, hands-on learning through these internship opportunities in a low-risk environment to test up to 4 different departments at a company before leaving for college or entering the workforce post-high school graduation.
These internships provide a steppingstone for students to graduate with a competitive advantage. Armed with hands-on experience, they enter the job market equipped with the skills, confidence, and connections necessary to thrive. By fostering relationships within the company, students may even find themselves with job offers waiting upon graduation, ensuring a smooth transition from education to the workforce. This exceptional feature sets the hybrid school apart, creating a direct pathway to future success and empowering students to turn their passions into prosperous careers.
Project-Based Learning for Holistic Development:
Embracing project-based learning, this hybrid school nurtures students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills. Through engaging projects, students work in groups and individually to explore real-world challenges, fostering a sense of ownership and autonomy. By connecting theory with practice, they gain a deeper understanding of concepts and develop practical skills that prepare them for the future. The school emphasizes the importance of presenting these projects to staff, encouraging students to showcase their achievements and cultivate confidence in their abilities.
Flexible Attendance Options:
Recognizing that each student’s learning journey is unique, this hybrid school offers flexible attendance options. Students can attend the in-person experience at different rates or amounts of time throughout the week, accommodating their individual needs. This flexibility allows families to personalize their child’s education, ensuring a balanced approach that considers their academic, extracurricular, and personal commitments. Whether attending full-time or choosing a hybrid schedule, students benefit from the school’s immersive environment and the opportunity to learn both from their peers and dedicated educators.
This also opens the door for high-impact internships during the school day by flexing the learning experiences before and after work-based opportunities allowing students to attend specific staff meetings or department work sessions. This flexible offering is also ideal for high-performing athletes and actors, musicians, and singers to perfect their craft during the times available with their teams, coaches, or available practice times. This becomes very evident when considering ice hockey only has a certain “ice team” available or perhaps for winter sports athletes to ensure they’re out on the mountain during peak weather hours and flexing the learning experience to before or after that training time.
Facilitating Smooth Transitions for Expat Families:
One standout advantage of this hybrid school is its ability to support international expat families within large multinational corporations. For families frequently moving from location to location, educational continuity can be a significant challenge. However, by leveraging the digital backbone and project-based learning approach, this hybrid school ensures a smooth transition for students from state to state or even around the world. The curriculum is designed to be adaptable, allowing students to seamlessly join the school community and continue their educational journey, regardless of the physical location. The school becomes a consistent anchor, reducing the negative impacts of mobility and providing stability for expat families.
Nurturing a Worldwide Mindset:
With its focus on project-based learning and the inclusion of international expat families, this hybrid school fosters a larger vantage point among its students. By collaborating with peers from diverse backgrounds and engaging in cross-cultural exchanges, students develop a deep appreciation for different perspectives, cultures, and ideas. This prepares them to thrive in an interconnected world and become impactful citizens who can positively contribute to society.
The transformation of existing space into a hybrid school can revolutionize the educational landscape. By combining technology, project-based learning, flexible attendance options, and internships, this school offers an unparalleled learning experience. Students not only benefit from the dynamic in-person environment where they collaborate, create, and present their projects, but they also gain exposure to real-world scenarios through internships, setting them on a trajectory toward career success. With its commitment to personalized education and worldly perspectives, this hybrid school paves the way for students to thrive in an ever-evolving world.