The micro-academy is a facilitated, co-created and emergent blend of individual and group projects and studies, exploration and skill-building, in a small-group setting. It involves both online and off-line work.
Days: Tuesdays and Thursdays
Times: 9:30a.m. to 1p.m. Eastern Time (see below for a breakdown)
Ages: 9 to 12 (this will expand in later years)
Enrollment: The tuition and application process is described in detail here
The emphasis is on deep, interdisciplinary learning about the world and one's place in it, and the development of key personal and inter-personal life skills, such as the “5 Cs” (critical thinking and problem solving; communication; collaboration; creativity and innovation; and citizenship). In addition to group work—built on solving practical, real-world challenges whenever possible—children also give monthly presentations to their peers about interest-driven individual projects they've chosen to pursue (with guidance, as needed, from the facilitators).
A cohort is like a learning team, and the development of an intentional, supportive culture is a key priority. This creates fertile ground for valuable peer-to-peer learning, deeper engagement in general, and the development of higher-order abilities to navigate life's challenges.
The team culture extends beyond the cohort. Parents (plus extended family and friends, should they wish to get involved) are invited to share interests with the group. We're also bringing in special guests from around the world (first up: renowned software tester and author James Marcus Bach, who launched his career at age 16, talking about the importance of critical thinking and how to be a self-directed "buccaneer-scholar"). Facilitators also tap into their expansive, global networks and our growing database of volunteers to help children get questions answered directly by subject-matter experts. At the meta level, this is about more than basic knowledge acquisition; it's about helping children feel heard, valued and supported, and part of something bigger.
What Happens Outside the Micro-Academy Hours?
Outside of micro-academy hours, children are free to follow other elements of their customized learning pathways, whether that involves working individually on building core skills (with the help of on-demand resources such as Khan Academy, software apps, books, or eclectic independent studies); attending tutoring sessions; participating in The Hub's à-la-carte programming, or third-party online or offline classes; or doing other activities. The sky's the limit! Overwhelmed with options? We can help you cut through the clutter, suggest tailored ideas, and offer other guidance (as well as connect you to people with specialized knowledge about things that fall outside our own areas of expertise) via The Hub's wraparound services.
Interactions among the children can continue outside micro-academy hours. Members of The Hub can share activity playlists on The Hub's private social network, to make it easier to identify shared interests and sign up for things together, should they wish to do so. They will also be able to socialize with each other on that platform.
This is the starting point for the micro-academy's daily flow. We will be agile and adapt the details—based on observations, feedback, and where the energy is flowing on a given day—in order to optimize the experience, while remaining true to the core principles and ideas.
9:30a.m. – 10:15a.m.: Setting the foundation
10:15a.m. – 10:30a.m.: Break
10:30a.m. – 11:30a.m.: Group work
11:30a.m. – 11:45a.m.: Break
11:45a.m. – 12:30p.m.: Individual work
12:30p.m. – 1p.m.: Closing circle
1p.m.: Optional extra time for group lunch
In the process of doing such interdisciplinary projects, children have opportunities to develop skills in areas such as research, reading comprehension, debating, communications, and inter-personal relations. Such projects also serve as vehicles for learning about fields such as history, cultural anthropology, economics, geography, sociology, psychology, literature, civics, biology, ecology, chemistry, physics, engineering, math, and materials science.
"The kids couldn't stop talking about class today. They thoroughly enjoyed their time with you and even continued a few games of geosearch on their own."
"So fun to hear them laughing and learning!!"
The facilitators are "real gems" and have "created digital joy, which is very hard to find."
Micro-academy enrollment comes with membership in The Hub. As members of The Hub, enrolled children and their parents also have access to the following:
Community Spaces and Events for Children and for Parents
Hub members have access to private online social lounges where they can come and go and interact with each other at any time. There will be one for the children and a separate one for the parents. There are opportunities to attend group games and other social events throughout the year, and to invite other friends and relatives to participate as guests.
The Hub maintains a curated list of third-party platforms, websites, curriculum packages and events (at a range of price points) that might interest members, to help them choose how to spend their remaining time. New discoveries will be added regularly. We'll also share examples of curated pathways, showing how the micro-academy and various à-la-carte elements can be put together to form a comprehensive whole, as well as examples of portfolios to document learning. (For more in-depth and personalized guidance along these lines, members have access to additional wraparound services.)
Priority Registration for The Hub's À-La-Carte Programming
Hub members receive early notice of and advance access to new à-la-carte programming (which will begin to be rolled out during the course of the year), before registrations are opened to the general public.
Collaborations With Other Like-Minded Learning Groups: Several learning centers around the United States that share similar values have expressed interest in collaborations, such as teens visiting The Hub to offer presentations about topics of interest to them, and occasional facilitator exchanges that will expose children to additional perspectives and locales.
Expanded Age Range: We will expand the online hub's age range to ages 9-13 in Fall 2021, and then add a teen cohort in Fall 2022.
A Full-Week, In-Person Option: The plan is to also launch a five-day-a-week, in-person version of The Hub for residents of the Washington, D.C. area, starting in Fall 2021. The physical hub will eventually offer micro-academies for younger children too. We will aim to take advantage of cross-pollination opportunities between those enrolled in the online and in-person hubs. We will also assist individuals or groups interested in opening in-person hubs in other areas.
Get in touch if you would like to be added to a mailing list to find out more details as they are officially announced for upcoming years.
The Hub will offer select online à-la-carte classes, workshops, open studio times, and other activities, for children and adults. This programming will be rolled out gradually, starting in The Hub's first year (2020-2021). Selections will be based on a combination of what people offer to lead, and what people would like to see offered. For starters, the emphasis will be on options for children ages 9 to 12, and their parents, though some offerings will be suitable to a wider mix of ages.
Some à-la-carte elements—those run by volunteers from the wider community, or by members of The Hub on a volunteer basis—will be available free of charge. Others, offered by subject-matter-experts on a professional basis, will have fees associated with them (fees will vary, but are expected to average about $15-20 an hour).
An example of free à-la-carte options that will begin in Fall 2020:
Examples of other free à-la-carte options that could be offered in the future (the individuals who step up to lead will decide appropriate age ranges and other details):
Examples of fee-based à-la-carte options (aimed primarily for ages 9 -12 and parents/adults) that are under consideration for The Hub's first year:
Hub members (children who are enrolled in The Hub's micro-academy) will have priority registration access to The Hub's à-la-carte options, after which they will be offered to the general public as space allows. Registration details will be posted on the website and sent to the mailing list as new programs become available.
Want to have a say in what's offered? Please fill out the short survey. And if you'd like to get on the mailing list, please fill out the contact form.
Wraparound Services for Members of The Hub:
We offer essential support to members (families whose children are enrolled in The Hub's micro-academy) who need assistance figuring out how to get started with independent learning, how to create an interest-based learning pathway, and how to document learning and prepare portfolios. We will also share examples of curated learning pathways and portfolios. For more detailed or specialized questions, we can either arrange a separate consulting package, or refer you to a consultant within our network of affiliates who is well positioned to address specific questions (such as how to incorporate curriculum-based learning into the mix, or how this type of learning can look during the teen years).
The Hub hosts regular online member meetings, to build community, and to check in to see how things are going, and what we should consider adding or modifying.
We are also leveraging the power of a growing movement of independent-learning communities, via our membership in 100 Roads (previously the International Association of Colearning Communities), a vibrant group of individuals who are co-creating innovative independent-learning paradigms around the United States and around the world. (From the 100 Roads website: "Colearning communities are people coming together for the shared purpose of learning, living and working without institutional boundaries and in ways that they can customize.") We will bring to the group additional learnings from our interactions with the leaders of other learning centers and networks, such as the Agile Learning Centers.
Wraparound Services for People Enrolled in The Hub's À-la-Carte Programming, and Members of the General Public:
Please refer to the consulting page for more information about how we can support your independent learning.