Getting Started - Real World Learning

Real World Learning is an approach to learning that involves schools working with community partners and industry experts to engage students in authentic, relevant problems, projects, and experiences that develop career awareness and readiness.

When students participate in learning experiences where they can engage with authentic audiences and purposes, they see that their academic work has meaning beyond the walls of the classroom.

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Implementing Real World Learning can be a daunting endeavor. To help and support you in your decision-making process we’re providing sets of unique resources:

The Builder

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Strategies for administrators who are implementing real world learning school- and district-wide

The Roadmap

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Turn-by-turn guidance to the destinations where educators and real world partners meet

The Resources

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Organizations, case studies, and more to support your Real World Learning journey

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The Strategic Framework Builder

Digital Promise’s Real World Learning Builder enables school and district leaders to develop their Real World Learning strategy and implementation plan. Complete self-assessments to establish benchmarks for each of the 7 pillars in the Real World Learning Framework, then select strategies to support growth.

A plan for Real World Learning encompasses 7 components:


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Defining Real World Learning, intended outcomes, and aligning to strategic initiatives

We consider the Vision pillar to be key: All stakeholders should have a shared definition and vision of what they hope to achieve by implementing Real World Learning.


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Team building, consensus building, and communications

Community Partners

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Formal, strategic partnerships with community organizations to promote mutual goals


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Design and revision to integrate Real World Learning experiences for students


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Quantitative and qualitative tools to evaluate the impact of Real World Learning and support continuous improvement

Professional Learning

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Scaffolded supports to increase teachers’ understanding of 21st century career demands and enhance their ability to effectively implement Real World Learning

Support Structures

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Resources, policies, and funding to facilitate Real World Learning implementation

Each component offers a set of strategies to help teams address key questions.

Guiding Question

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A key decision point for teams

Decision Cards

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Decisions that teams can make, based on examples from the field



Factors to consider when weighing decisions


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Supporting resources and examples to provide further insight

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The Roadmap

Digital Promise’s Real World Learning Roadmap provides turn-by-turn guidance to help educators 
and community partners collaborate on Real World Learning experiences for students.

Each of the 14 Real World Learning destinations in the Roadmap includes:


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Step-by-step guidance, checklists, and resources to help educators and partners plan, implement, and reflect upon Real World Learning activities.

Planning Guide

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Activity description, objectives, outcomes, alignment to 21st century learning standards, logistics, and examples.



Voices from the field describing successful Real World Learning experiences.

Why It Matters

“Real World Learning provides students opportunities and experiences that open avenues to exploration, curiosity, and collaboration while gaining hands-on skills and problem-solving that they can use for a lifetime.”

Amy Woods, teacher

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Real World Learning Resources

Get the supporting resources you need to make Real World Learning happen in your classroom, school, and district.

The resources include:


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Snapshots of successful Real World Learning programs and initiatives.

Voices from the Field

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Case studies of school districts around the country



Lessons, activities, and projects of Real World Learning in action


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Key terms and definitions to help teams develop a shared vocabulary


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Classroom-ready materials to implement Real World Learning

Maturity Matrix

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Learn how your program can move from initial to sustainable


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Programs and platforms to help districts implement Real World Learning

Engage students in authentic, relevant experiences and prepare them for a brighter future with Real World Learning.

Get Started

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