5 Guiding Principles
Opportunity Education’s 5 Guiding Principles are drawn from decades of research in Education, Learning Sciences, and Cognitive Psychology. While every student is unique and each student brings different abilities, interests, and skills to the classroom, the ways in which we all learn best are similar. We learn by doing and actively thinking and creating, practicing, and collaborating with others. We learn not just in school, but everywhere.
Each course we design uses the 5 Guiding Principles. But the Principles guide much more than that, from how we design our learning spaces to how we design the software that supports our learning communities.
The 5 Principles that guide the design of our products, resources, curriculum, programs, and more are:
1. Learning Requires Action
We believe that to learn, we must be active and engaged, driving the process of discovery, the process of building understanding, and the practice of skills. We learn by asking questions about the world and seeking answers, by testing potential solutions to problems, by making things, and by iterative trial and error. Being a mere observer does not lead to capability; only active engagement with people and the world around us does.
2. Learning Improves with Practice
While knowledge can accumulate through discovery, skill-building requires dedicated, persevering practice. As lifelong learners, we identify skills we can improve, and then practice them over days, months, and years to refine and advance the impact and outcomes of our work.
3. We Learn Better Together
It is impossible to gain skills and real insights without connecting to and receiving feedback from others. Peers, mentors, family members, and subject-matter experts all drive learning and personal growth. Collaborating with others inspires creativity and innovative thinking. Similarly, sharing our discoveries and successes is an important impetus for learning.
4. Learning Happens Everywhere, and Always
This is evident from watching small children — they learn constantly, wherever they go, and without formal instruction, classrooms, or learning materials. This pattern holds for all ages: We can learn wherever we are, but only if we possess the skills to seize those opportunities.
5. Learning Drives Personal Growth
Meaningful learning is not just concept acquisition. It is a personal process that changes how we understand ourselves, the world around us, and our place in it. We must broaden our understanding of the world, the skills we need to work in our communities and beyond, our sense of identity, and our ability to solve a variety of challenges. As we grow personally, we begin to define ourselves as lifelong learners, able to embrace and master new challenges and opportunities with curiosity, creativity, and determination.
While each of these Principles is valuable in their own right, it is when they come together that real transformation occurs.
Jolene Zywica, PhD
Dr. Zywica is Opportunity Education's Senior Director of Learning Strategy. She ensures that the resources, tools, and experiences designed for teachers and students effectively support teaching and learning. Prior to joining the team in 2014, Jolene dabbled in teaching both high school and college students, was a high school literacy coach for 5 years, and has spent over 18 years designing and studying the impact of learning programs aimed at engaging students through active learning and technology.