About

Beyond Classroom project description

The BeyondClassroom site is currently maintained by Keene State College as a continuation of our work with the Next Steps NH project.

This website was originally developed by the Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions (MCST) at their Keene State College site, in collaboration with the Q.E.D. Foundation and an advisory group of educators from around New Hampshire. Support was provided by a Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. Project partners included:

  • The Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions (MCST), an autonomous department at Monadnock Developmental Services (MDS).
  • Q.E.D. Foundation, an organization of adults and youth working together to create and sustain student-centered learning communities. 

  • Southwest Center for Educator Support at Keene State College, which offers workshops and graduate courses for teacher professional development.

  • Keene State College, New Hampshire’s public liberal arts college

  • The ELO Practice Group, sponsored by the NH Transition Community of Practice.

Ready to begin?

Are you a teacher ready to try an ELO for an individual student, but your school does not yet offer ELOs? You can begin with an ELO tied to one of your classes by going to the Individual ELO Design page. Or, try the free online ELO short course.

Is your school is ready to design an ELO program? Begin with the Program Design page.

Are you a student exploring your interest in an ELO? Look at the For Students page to answer your questions and see some ELO examples.

History of ELOs in New Hampshire 2005 – 2011

New Hampshire legislation allowing for credit-bearing learning outside the classroom dates back to 2005. In 2008, the NH Department of Education began a multi-year ELO Initiative with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF). The initiative provided financial support and technical assistance to ELO pilot sites, facilitating development of school-level systems to provide students of all types with the opportunity to experience an ELO project.

The pilot and network schools shared practices, strategies, successes, and challenges. A pattern of best practices emerged along with a strong network of partnerships. These are captured in the Final Report of Evaluation (PDF, 7 pages, 2011), a comprehensive 18-month formative and summative evaluation of the initiative by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. There were eight research questions:

  • What is the context for ELO implementation?
  • How are ELOs developed and implemented?
  • Who is served by ELOs?
  • What are the characteristics of ELOs?
  • How are ELOs assessed for credit?
  • What is the quality of ELOs?
  • What are the Initiative’s effects and short-term outcomes?
  • What have we learned about supporting ELO implmentation, impact and sustainability?

Key findings of initial evaluation

  • An ELO Coordinator is central to ELO system development, implementation and quality assurance.
  • There is fluidity in the roles of ELO coordinator, community partner and overseeing educator.
  • School have adopted different models for implementation, particularly regarding the role and time for teachers to support ELOs.

2011 ELO Initiative high schools

Schools involved in the ELO initiative included:

  • Franklin High School
  • Laconia High School
  • Manchester Central High School
  • Manchester West High School
  • Manchester School of Technology
  • Mascenic High School
  • Memorial High School
  • Monadnock Regional High School
  • Newfound Regional High School
  • Nute High School & Library
  • Pittsfield Middle High School
  • Raymond High School

2016 Research for Action Study

Research for Action (RFA) conducted a two-year study on ELOs (PDF, 34 slides, 2016) in New Hampshire.

They looked at two questions:

  • How does the quality of implementation at the school level influence student participation in ELOs?
  • What are the effects of ELO participation on short-term and longer-term student outcomes?

The study was funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF). Final Report: Results from a Two-Year Study of the Effects of Extended Learning Opportunities on Student Outcomes in New Hampshire (PDF, 72 pages, 2016)

Accessibility Practices

Our original grant stipulated that Next Steps NH web content would follow Priority Level 1 checkpoints of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and Section 508 standards for web-based Internet information/applications, which are based in part on the WAI Guidelines. The manual and automatic procedures used to evaluate the site will follow those recommended by the Web Accessibility Initiative. We now strive to achieve WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

A basic test for any webpage is to try it with a screen reader, or to imagine how information would be read by one. We also look at how a user would navigate without using a mouse or tracking pad.

Headings

Page titles are always heading level H1 and we do not use H1 for anything else. In most cases we start page headings with H2, and progress down as necessary, dropping only one level at a time. For example, we do not skip from an H2 to an H4 tag. If any level of header text is too large or too small, we manually adjust it on that particular page in the WordPress editor, while still keeping the same heading level for a screen reader.

Images

We try to use images only for decorative purposes. If the image holds content, either we will include the content in the page text, or in an alt text tag. Decorative images do not have alt tags.

Checking accessibility

We use WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool)  as a quick check of a page.

WebAIM’s WCAG 2.0 Checklist is their interpretation of WCAG guidelines with recommended techniques for following those guidelines. It is not an official checklist.

Please contact us

BeyondClassroom is maintained by Betsy Street and Steve Bigaj at Keene State College. Use the form below to contact us for:

  • Questions
  • Comments
  • ELO examples or materials to share

We would love to hear from you!