Reimagining the Culture of Learning Across the State of Maine

Maine State of Learning launches during Maine Startup and Create Week.

Six organizations – Badge Labs, Breakwater Learning, Educate Maine, Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), Maine Afterschool Network, and the University of Maine (UMaine) – and a cohort of learning providers will come together to launch Maine State of Learning on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute during Maine Startup and Create Week.

Maine State of Learning (MSOL) is a statewide effort to support year-round learning and lifelong skill building to ensure growth and success for all Maine citizens, including underrepresented or at-risk populations. This initiative, seeded at Breakwater Learning and fueled by public and private partnerships around the state, will promote learning opportunities available for all ages, recognize accomplishments through digital badges, and connect the learning to statewide proficiencies, career-pathways, and personal goals.

“With the launch of Maine State of Learning, Maine is once again leading the way when it comes to thinking creatively about how we can better prepare our students for the economy of tomorrow,” Senator Angus King said. “Proficiency-based learning can unleash incredible potential for our future workforce and this exciting, dynamic partnership will help forge a path to a stronger, more robust Maine economy.”

Maine State of Learning builds on a nationwide movement toward leveraging open digital badges to recognize and communicate skills and achievements gained through out-of-school, interest-based and experiential learning experiences. Digital badges function as evidence-based, interoperable, and verifiable records of learning that can be earned and collected across all of one’s experiences. This enables recognition of all learning and proficiencies, connection to additional opportunities, and communication of skills to necessary stakeholders like employers.

"Humans are naturally curious and always learning. Maine has a very deep history of informal and formal learning that should be recognized and valued," said David Sullivan, Head of Breakwater Learning. "Feeling successful and being recognized for your achievements are some of the best ways to motivate learning." 

Each region in Maine has distinct cultures, skill sets, and learning experiences that are not integrated with formal curricula, recognized as real learning, or connected to local opportunities for citizens. Maine State of Learning offers a viable solution to help close these gaps. The initiative will help ensure that learning experiences are connected to state guidelines and to the needs of local industries. Learning providers across the state – including schools, afterschool programs, universities, and professional training programs – will have an opportunity to promote their offerings to a broader audience and further engage current enrollees. They will be able to connect with other providers, gain a more comprehensive understanding of their learners, and better track their effectiveness and impact. Likewise, local employers will be able to promote skills that are important to them, create pathways for prospective employees, and identify the right candidates for jobs.

Maine as a whole will benefit from this initiative by supporting individuals in developing paths to success and economic mobility, developing a well-prepared workforce for our critical industries, and celebrating culture and experience throughout the state.

The idea for Maine State of Learning was presented in February of 2015 and attracted immediate interest from a myriad of learning providers and innovators. Its success requires strong partnerships with educators around the state. We are already working with an initial cohort of learning providers, including Baxter Academy, Breakwater Enrichment Center, Cultivating Community, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Maine 4-H, Maine Discovery Museum, The Maine Game, Maine Robotics, Portland Public Schools, Portland Trails, Skowhegan ASP, The Telling Room, Western Foothills Kids Association, and Wolfe’s Neck Farm.

Maine State of Learning will kick off with an initial pilot of early adopters around the state in the Summer of 2015 and then build to include additional regions and programs in 2016. For more information and to find out how to get involved, please visit www.mainestateoflearning.org. In addition, we invite you to join us on Thursday, June 25th at 12:30 at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on Commercial Street in Portland for our launch event. For more details, please visit bit.ly/MSOL_Launch.
 

Founding Partner Quotes:

“We are thrilled by the interest from across the state of Maine, as well as the innovative network and foundations we've encountered already,” said Erin Knight, CEO of Badge Labs and founder of the Open Badges movement. “This has the potential to transform the learning and hiring landscape in Maine, as well as serve as a model for other states, regions, and even countries.” For more information, you can contact Erin at erin@badgelabs.io.

“Educate Maine advocates for learning opportunities that prepare students for college, career, and civic life," said Ed Cervone, Executive Director of Educate Maine, a business-led education advocacy organization that signed on as one of Maine State of Learning’s Founding Partners. “Through open digital badges, Maine State of Learning will be helping students communicate that learning, in school and out, anytime and anywhere.” For more information, you can contact Jay Collier at jay@educatemaine.org.

“The Maine Afterschool Network seeks to expand quality learning options for our students in Maine,” according to Erin Frati, Director of The Maine Afterschool Network. “In recent years, open badges have emerged as an exciting innovation to represent the skills and competencies young people gain in a variety of settings including schools, libraries, museums, workplaces, and institutions of higher education. Afterschool programs are increasingly looking to open badges as a means of validating the learning that occurs in afterschool programs. Maine State of Learning expands this access for all in the state and the Maine Afterschool Network is proud to be a Founding Partner.” For more information, you can contact Erin at frati@maineafterschool.org

“We’re thrilled to partner with Maine State of Learning because of our shared approach to education,” said Leigh Peake, GMRI’s Chief Education Officer. “We’re always looking for ways to integrate out-of-school learning into the regular practices of the formal classroom and this is one way to reinforce that connection.  For more information, you can contact Leigh Peake at lpeake@gmri.org.

"The University of Maine is excited to be a Founding Partner of Maine State of Learning,” said Jeffrey E. Hecker, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost, University of Maine. “This initiative clearly fits with the land grant mission and vision of UMaine. Connecting learning opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom setting, will provide students multiple pathways for skill development, knowledge acquisition, and continued civic engagement. UMaine is committed to fostering lifelong learning opportunities for all citizens of Maine and beyond." For more information, you can contact Claire Sullivan at claires@maine.edu.

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About Breakwater Learning
Located in Portland, Maine, Breakwater Learning comprises Breakwater School, an independent day school serving students, age two through grade eight; Breakwater Enrichment Center, providing year-round enrichment opportunities for learners from over 50 schools in Southern Maine; and the Maine State of Learning Initiative, promoting, connecting, and recognizing learning – both in and out of the classroom – for Maine citizens of all ages. Breakwater’s mission is to engage learners in an optimal educational experience that inspires them to live well on the planet, embrace their whole being, and realize their full potential. Our programs are designed to nurture our learners' innate sense of curiosity and adventure through authentic, creative, and challenging learning experiences that have real-world applications.


Categories: Town and City Government, Information Technology, Education

Tags: Credentialing, Digital Badges, Education, Hiring, Learning, Maine, Open Badges


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About Maine State of Learning

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Maine State of Learning is a project fueled by public and private partnerships across the state to provide more learning opportunities to Maine citizens of all ages, recognize that learning through digital badges, and connect it statewide.

Maine State of Learning
856 Brighton Ave
Portland, ME 04102
United States