1.4 Opportunity

“A college degree has become a requirement for most good jobs but is no longer a guarantee of acquiring one.”

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design, by Mizuko Ito et al.1

Opportunity-oriented learning is directed towards helping teens achieve academic, economic, or civic success, so they perform better in school, build skills that prepare them for a 21st century workplace, or connect with their communities. More importantly, connected learning emphasizes opportunity now, not just in the far-off, theoretical future of a post-school college or job market. Connected learning programs make the benefits to teens visible and tangible, motivating them to fully engage. Participants walk away with knowledge and skills they can use immediately.

What does opportunity-oriented learning look like?

  • Teens are connected to mentors with professional experience
  • Programs relate to civic, economic, or academic development
  • Teens see immediate value in activities
  • Activities result in items or performances teens can use to demonstrate their achievements to teachers or future employers…
  • … and library staff or mentors help teens understand the connections between their specific activities and broader marketable skills

Opportunity-oriented learning in action

In the following TED Talk, Geoff Mulgan describes how the UK's studio school model has taken teens from the lowest to the highest grades by letting them "learn for real."

6:16

Geoff Mulgan

Reflection: Learn to DJ Lab

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library runs a popular Learn to DJ program for teenagers. Participants in the program have performed at public events and some have even earned money. Watch the video, then reflect on the questions below.

4:01

Salvador Avila

  • What is the immediate opportunity for the teen participants?
  • What are the longer-term opportunities that the teens may have because of their participation in this program?
  • How would you help a teen translate their experience with this program into bullet points for a resume?

Self-Assessment: Opportunity

How well do your youth services and programs incorporate the principle of opportunity?

Example Your Rating Points
Teens are connected to mentors with professional experience 😃 😐 😱
Programs relate to civic, economic, or academic development 😃 😐 😱
Teens see immediate value in activities 😃 😐 😱
Activities result in items or performances teens can use to demonstrate their achievements to teachers or future employers 😃 😐 😱
Total

1: Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design, by Mizuko Ito, Kris Gutiérrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, and S. Craig Watkins.