Enter the $680K EdSim Challenge by January 17

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comThe EdSim Challenge submission deadline is quickly approaching with less than a month left! All simulation concepts must be submitted by 4:59:59 PM EST on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, on the Luminary Lightbox platform.

The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century. Successful simulations will pair the engagement of commercial games with rigorous educational content that strengthens academic, technical, and employability skills.

Following close of submissions, the judging panel will select up to five finalists to receive $50,000 each and advance to the Virtual Accelerator. During the Virtual Accelerator, each team will work with expert mentors as they refine their concept and build a simulation prototype.

We look forward to your ideas for expanding virtual and augmented reality in education!

Be sure to watch the EdSim Informational Webinar:

and the launch message:

If you have questions about your EdSim Challenge submission, please visit the EdSim Challenge website or email us at hello@edsimchallenge.com.

A First Job Can Change a Life

Photo of Secretary King seated to the right of panelists at the #FirstJob Compact summit

Secretary King moderates a panel at the #FirstJob Compact summit

“During my time with young people… I was able to teach them skills and, hopefully, show them that their contributions – their skills, their experiences, their imaginations – are valuable. A sense of possibility can make all the difference for an individual and for a community,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary John King at the First Job Compact Implementation Convening.

Yesterday, Secretary King provided opening remarks and facilitated a panel with youth and employers at the First Job Compact Implementation Convening. This is the second convening of its kind that seeks to establish best practices and strategies for enabling Opportunity Youth— youth ages 16-24 who are out-of-work and out-of-school—to obtain their first job. Over 100 human resources and talent leaders, as well as non-profits and agency colleagues, gathered to discuss these strategies and how to make them part of their company’s business plan.

Secretary King also announced that the U.S. Department of Education(ED), in consultation with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, intends to provide technical assistance funding to help public housing authorities connect youth who have aged out of the foster care system with high quality career and technical education programs. Through this investment, ED hopes to assist career and technical education programs to better meet the needs of current and former foster youth. The project also seeks to improve coordination among the child welfare system and other federal programs.

About one in seven young people between the ages of 16-24 are either not in school or not working. These individuals are known as Opportunity Youth. The unemployment rate for individuals 16-24 sits at 11 percent and is even higher among African-American and Latino youth (22 percent and 12 percent respectively). Early in the Obama Administration, the White House convened corporations to encourage companies to create pathways for Opportunity Youth to gain their first job. Additionally, in President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address, he announced the importance of creating an economy that works better for everybody, including a plan for Opportunity Youth to gain the work experience, skills, and networks that come from having a job. This effort will not only change the lives of youth and communities across the country, but it will also create and build a sustainable and resilient workforce.

Yesterday’s convening included companies such as Gap and Chipotle, who signed on to the First Job Compact. Through a series of engaging panels, corporations share best practices needed to move this work forward. These companies understand that the Compact’s objectives are mutually beneficial to their companies and the youth it serves. Companies often report that young people struggle to find jobs because they lack basic workplace skills and behaviors. By committing to a set of best practices to hire and support these youth, companies will be able to identify and leverage the vital skills and backgrounds these youth bring to the job and in turn increase their interview to hire ratio, retention rate, speed to promotion, and engagement scores to meet company goals. For almost a decade, Gap has engaged in This Way Ahead, which is a paid life skills and internship program that helps low-income youth land a first job at our Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic stores.

Through strong collaboration, industry and government will remain committed to reconnecting Opportunity Youth to education and workforce opportunities. Recently, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report “Work-based Learning for Youth at Risk: Getting Employers on Board” which aims to tackle the common challenge to growing youth job training by establishing the idea that employers first need to see work-based learning as a way to help their business. Read more about this report and further analysis in this blog by New America.

It is clear this this issue has already stirred national interest. President Obama recently released a fact sheet on innovative ways to fund the First Job initiative. In conjunction with ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), the Administration has engaged in a #FirstJob Skills Campaign which seeks to leverage social media and celebrities to connect youth to educational resources to help improve their employability skills. As a part of these efforts, OCTAE released a fact sheet entitled Employability Skills: Supporting Opportunity Youth to Be Successful in Their First Job. This administration firmly believes that these efforts will strengthen our workforce, grow our economy, and change lives.

Work-Based Learning: A Promising Strategy for Re-engaging Opportunity Youth

For nearly a decade, the U. S. has partnered with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to conduct reviews of various issues pertaining to career and technical education (CTE). Our efforts with OECD have enabled us to benchmark ourselves against other countries, as well as learn about international policies and practices that we might consider to improve the educational and employment outcomes for our nation’s youth and adults.

Building on our prior work, in July 2015, we again partnered with OECD—this time, on the topic of work-based learning. We were interested in this topic because we acknowledge the importance and promise of work-based learning as a way to re-engage youth, equip them with the skills that are in demand in the labor market, and connect them to potential employers.

The benefits of work-based learning are particularly important for at-risk youth as these individuals are most likely to face difficulties in connecting to the labor market and accessing good learning opportunities. At-risk youth are defined as young people who are not—or are at risk of not—working or being in school. In the U. S., there are roughly 5.5 million teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. This translates to one in seven teens and young adults. In OECD countries, there are around 40 million at risk youth. These numbers, while incredibly discouraging, present a tremendous opportunity for retooling our nation’s CTE programs and scaling up promising practices such as work-based learning to address the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable students.

OECD’s work-based learning project was designed for three purposes:

  1. Synthesize the evidence on how the benefits of work-based learning might be more fully exploited to achieve better economic and social outcomes;
  2. Document global experience of developments and innovations in policy and practice; and
  3. Deliver key policy messages on those foundations.

Eight other countries participated in the study—Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom.

On December 7, 2016, the OECD reported the results of their U. S. review, as documented in Work-Based Learning for Youth at Risk: Getting Employers on Board. The report identifies a number of policy recommendations including encouraging and offering financial resources for pre-apprenticeships; providing remediation, mentoring, and coaching to support apprentices complete their training; and offering targeted training for apprenticeship supervisors to help them succeed. The full report can be found in the OECD iLibrary.

To further help employers work with youth, the Department released Employability Skills Fact Sheet and Resources: Supporting Opportunity Youth to Be Successful in Their First Job. This fact sheet outlines five easy steps that employers can take to help youth gain employability skills that employers are looking for and that are necessary for youth to be successful in the labor market at all levels and in all sectors. The Fact Sheet is available on the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education

Expanding Computer Science Education with Career and Technical Education

csedweek_forwebGiven the tremendous career opportunities that a foundation in computer science can provide, it makes sense that we do what we can to improve access to high-quality computer science learning experiences for all students. Computer science (CS) is not about understanding how to use a word processor or create a spreadsheet. CS is about gaining computational thinking skills and is a critical skill set that all students should have in the 21st century workforce—and states, districts, schools, educators, and their partners are doing their part to expand opportunities to computer science for all.

Career and Technical Education (CTE), funded by the Carl D. Perkins CTE Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins), is an effective approach for increasing access to rigorous computer science coursework as well as for integrating computer science into existing programs of study. Many states are working creatively and innovatively to utilize CTE pathways and Perkins funds to increase access to and completion of computer science courses. From using funds to increase interest in middle school and supporting educator preparation, to dual-coding of courses and increasing access to equipment, states are working hard to maximize the use of Perkins funds to help prepare more students in their states for career opportunities.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind to help increase access to high-quality CS for All.

  • Dual-coding of Courses – Computer science courses are being offered in both CTE and non-CTE academic programs with course codes that inhibit courses from being used in multiple programs. Some states have found it helpful to dual-code these courses to strengthen their offerings, eliminate duplication of efforts and reduce the funds needed to implement computer science programs in a high school. For example, in Florida , computer science standards were jointly written to make sure that the standards met both academic and CTE expectations.
  • Dual-certification of Teachers – Having a well-prepared, well-supported educator workforce is critical to expanding access to computer science courses. Again, to prevent duplication of effort, states have found it helpful to ensure that computer science educators in high schools are able to teach computer science as part of either a CTE or academic program. These options increase the number of educators available to teach computer science while providing flexibility for how computer science is taught in both CTE and academic pathways.
  • Professional Development for Teachers – Perkins funds can be used to provide professional development for CTE educators to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to teach computer science. Because computer science educator preparation requires high-quality, intensive professional development for existing educators, states are also thinking creatively about how to use Perkins in conjunction with Title II funds to increase the number of educators who are able to teach computer science in both CTE and academic pathways.
  • End-of-Pathway Assessments – States are thinking creatively about end-of-pathway assessments for CTE students and how to ensure the demonstration of technical proficiency. States like Maryland and Idaho are utilizing satisfactory scores on the AP computer science exams as a demonstration of technical proficiency.

Perkins funding can be used to complement and strengthen computer science education in a variety of creative ways, such as collaborating with middle schools to increase CS career exploration courses in 7th and 8th grade, and making CTE CS courses students available to students who are not in a CTE program of study.

OCTAE and the U.S. Department of Education joined several federal agencies in celebrating CS Education Week, December 5-11, 2016, during which a Year of Action was announced. It continues the momentum of CSforAll following its launch in January 2016 that brought together federal, state, and local efforts to increase access to CS education. That same day in January, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, provided more insight into the importance of providing CS for All in her blog.

OSTP Senior Policy Advisor for Tech Inclusion, Ruthe Farmer, also provided a year-in-review recapping 2016 CS education milestones.

Follow #CSforAll on your favorite social media for ongoing activities.

EdSim Challenge Judges Announced

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comOCTAE is pleased to introduce the expert panel of judges for the EdSim Challenge! They bring a wealth of expertise in education, simulations, industry training, emerging technology, and venture capital to the Challenge, and share a passion for transforming teaching and learning experiences through virtual and augmented reality.

Join us in acknowledging the time, effort, and incredible array of talents the judges are contributing to the energy of the EdSim Challenge.

    Meet the EdSim Challenge judges:

  • Elizabeth Baron, Virtual Reality & Advanced Visualization Technical Specialist, Ford Motor Company
  • Nonny de la Peña, CEO and Founder, Emblematic Group
  • Marlon Evans, CEO, GSVlabs
  • Steve Isaacs, Video Game Design and Development Teacher, William Annin Middle School
  • Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code
  • Kurt Squire, Co-Director, Games+Learning+Society Center, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
  • Kiki Wolfkill, Halo Transmedia & Entertainment Studio Head, Microsoft’s 343 Industries

You can read about the judges and find more information about the Challenge at EdSimChallenge.com.

As a reminder, the EdSim Challenge is accepting submissions for simulation concepts through January 17, 2017 at 4:59:59 PM EST.

You can also sign up to receive Challenge updates here and see quick overview in the video below.

Embedding a Continuum of Work-Based Learning Opportunities in Our High Schools

photo of Johan Uvin

Posted by
Johan E. Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to join the Second Annual White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools. Leading practitioners and researchers came together to discuss how to rethink the high school experience. The event built on the progress made at last year’s summit, which generated $375 million in private and public sector commitments. After researchers shared their findings on what works, and district leaders and students talked about their Next Gen High Schools, participants engaged in action planning sessions focused on key strategies and elements of these innovative schools. I participated in a team that focused on personalized, project-based and maker learning. We talked about internships as an essential element of any future high school experience we envision for our youth and came up with specific actions we agreed to take to make more internships available to our high school students. At the end of our session, we were asked to make a commitment. I pledged to conduct research on promising practices and identify a few examples of internship programs that illustrate clearly what we want. Our team completed its initial research. I am happy to share two great examples with you through this blog.

One great example of a Next Generation High School that makes internships a focal point of the student experience is the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) at Apex High School in Wake County, North Carolina, a small school-within-a-school program that attracts students who have an interest in information technology. AOIT is organized around two pathways: programming and web development. Not all students who opt to enroll in AOIT are interested in future careers in computer programming or technology. One student who attended in the past year is interested in being an elementary school teacher and has been learning how to develop “apps” that could be used in the classroom. Another student intends to work in human services, such as at a domestic violence program, and has completed an internship in a medical facility learning how to create digital patient records.

All AOIT students are required to complete a paid 135-hour internship prior to their senior year. Most complete their internships in the summer between the junior and senior year of school at a variety of businesses in the Research Triangle such as SAS Institute, Verizon, EMC Corporation, and the Town of Cary, NC Information Technology Department. At least half of the hands-on experience must be technology-based. AOIT internships are different from a typical summer job because students are required to participate in variety of activities that help link what they learned in the classroom to what they experience at the work site. To help connect their internship to their academic learning, student interns are asked to create a Linked-in presence and contribute to an AOIT blog in which they share information about their internship experiences. A supervisor at the job site does an evaluation of the student. AOIT staff visit the workplace to review and discuss learning objectives with the student and the supervisor. When the students have completed their internships, they also are required to do a presentation about their internship experience at a special evening event.

Most AOIT students go on to postsecondary education. Many students credit their internship experiences with helping them understand critical elements of what they want to do in the future. On one hand, they might learn more about the possible requirements and challenges of their chosen field; on the other hand, they might discover that there is not a good match between what is required on the job and how they envision their future workselves – a potential computer programmer might learn that they would rather be part of a team rather than working alone on a problem. Their internship experiences help them to learn what they like, as well as what they do not like. Knowing this can help them make better postsecondary decisions.

Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, Connecticut is implementing internships at scale—paid internships are being implemented district-wide. Students who want a more focused education, different from a traditional comprehensive high school experience, can choose from among five career academies: the Journalism and Media Academy; Hartford High, Inc.; Pathways Academy of Technology; the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School; and the Nursing Academy at Hartford Public High School. In coordination with the Capitol Workforce Partners, the local workforce development board, Hartford Public Schools places academy students in paid internships that are aligned with their academy theme. Some of these internships begin in the summer between their junior and senior year. Most of the internships continue in their senior year. Interns are placed in a variety of local businesses, community organizations, and non-profit organizations. For example, some Journalism and Media Academy students complete internships at the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, while students in the Engineering and Green Technology Academy have opportunities to work at Northeastern Utilities.

These internship models show how we can meaningfully connect academic learning with the workplace. But, internships are not the only work-based learning opportunities we can consider. There are many work-based learning activities along the continuum of career awareness and exploration, career preparation, and career training and application that we can consider leading up to paid internships including: guest speakers, tours of workplaces, job and career fairs, shadowing/observation and mock interview opportunities, project-based learning based on real workplace problems, community service learning, mentoring programs, just to name a few. Trailblazing Next Gen High School leaders put these activities in a sequence of opportunities that allow students to deepen their understanding of the world of work over time. When students have the opportunity to combine these practical work-related experiences with classroom instruction, they are better able to see the relevance of their education. Our goal should be to make these opportunities available to every student, preferably as part of a well-coordinated, increasingly hands-on sequence of learning experiences.

#ApprenticeshipWorks for High School

This article also appears on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog

Photo of Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu gathered with students around a student sitting at a desk with a laptop opened.

Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu hears from students at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C. This unique public high school offers both college preparatory and vocational education dedicated to design professions and construction trades.

By offering pathways to career-ready skills, a paycheck and debt-free college credit, registered apprenticeship is the gold standard of work-based learning.

This program brings many high school students a future they never imagined. Bobby didn’t think he had many options after graduating from high school in rural Kentucky. Apprenticeship changed his life forever. During Bobby’s junior year of high school, he entered an apprenticeship program in advanced manufacturing with an employer in his hometown. After graduating, Bobby earned 30 college credits paid by the employer and completed over 1,700 hours of on-the-job training. Now, he works full time for the same company and is set to earn more money than his parents ever dreamed of for their family.

Employers see apprenticeship as a powerful tool for finding and developing talent. Parents and students see the value in a structured, earn-and-learn postsecondary pathway. Academic leaders see apprenticeship as a clear strategy for ensuring their high school and college graduates have the skills and competencies they need for tomorrow’s jobs.

While the average U.S. apprentice is 30 years old, other countries target younger workers. In countries like Germany, Switzerland and the UK, apprenticeships bridge the education system and the world of work, introducing high school students to jobs in a variety of industries. This European model enables students to connect to employment opportunities and access postsecondary education at an earlier age.

Successful registered apprenticeship programs across the country are connecting students to careers in critical, high-paying, in-demand industries such as IT, health care, and advanced manufacturing.

  • In North Carolina, the NCWorks Youth Apprenticeship program offers high school students opportunities to earn credit for secondary Career and Technical Education coursework, college credits, and on-the-job training with a registered apprenticeship sponsor. After graduation, students complete their apprenticeship along with their associate degree, which is paid by the employer. Siemens and Ameritech are part of a consortium of employers that work with local high schools and Central Piedmont Community College on this workforce pipeline.
  • In Wisconsin, the Youth Apprenticeship program, the oldest in the country, requires students to complete two years of 450 work hours per year and four semesters of related classroom instruction. Students work in advanced manufacturing with employers such as Harley Davidson and LDI Industries.
  • In South Carolina, Apprenticeship Carolina has over 100 youth apprenticeship programs sponsored by different employers such as Agape Healthcare, IFA-Rotorion (advanced manufacturing) and Hull Hospitality Group (culinary arts). Students earn their registered apprenticeship certificate before or after high school graduation.
  • The Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) youth pre-apprenticeship program is a business- and industry-driven program designed to create a pipeline for high school students to enter postsecondary apprenticeship training in manufacturing, welding, electrical work and carpentry. Employers are able to tailor the program for their specific needs and to select the career and technical education courses and students for their apprenticeship pathway. Students receive a nationally recognized credential at little or no cost.

As high schools and community colleges look for innovative ways to ensure students graduate with career-ready skills, registered apprenticeship is a ready-made solution. More employers can join this movement by partnering with local high schools. Interested in finding out how you can bring youth apprenticeship to your state? Check out the Office of Apprenticeship’s website for more resources and talk to your Office of Apprenticeship state director and CTE state director.

Editor’s note: Join the conversation about how #ApprenticeshipWorks during National Apprenticeship Week 2016 by using the hashtag on social media.

Eric Seleznow is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. Kim R. Ford is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Career, Technical and Adult Education.

Posted by
Deputy Assistant Secretary, OCTAE
Posted by
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor

White House Encourages More Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy added their voice to the national conversation on leveraging virtual and augmented reality to improve education. The blog mentioned the $680,000 EdSim Challenge that prompts virtual and augmented reality developers to create learning tools to support career and technical education that are “… as compelling as the best video game.”

The blog was published in advance of the EdSim Challenge Informational Webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 16 at 3:00pm Eastern Time. You can find more information about the EdSim Challenge on the challenge website and register for the webinar here.

Tune in Tomorrow to the EdSim Challenge Webinar

Remember to register for the informational webinar!

Graphic with text that reads: EdSim Challenge, Calling for next generation education simulations. $680,000 in cash awards plus additional sponsor prizes. Learn more at edsimchallenge.,comThe EdSim Challenge is moving forward after a fantastic launch and we are excited to host an informational webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16th from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern Time. The webinar will include an overview of the EdSim Challenge and a live Question and Answer session. Join the webinar to learn more about the vision of the U.S. Department of Education for educational simulations, as well as the Challenge timeline, submission process, eligibility, awards, and criteria.

Please register here to receive connection and login information in advance of the session. For those unable to attend the webinar, a recording of the webinar will be posted later on the Challenge blog.

We look forward to a sharing information on the EdSim Challenge and expanding virtual and augmented reality in education!

EdSim Challenge Launched to Bring Virtual Reality to CTE

OCTAE is excited to launch the EdSim Challenge with a cash prize pool of $680,000 and additional sponsor prizes from IBM, Microsoft, Oculus, and Samsung. The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century.

Successful simulations will pair the engagement of commercial games with rigorous educational content that strengthens academic, technical, and employability skills.


Simulated environments, such as virtual and augmented reality, 3D simulations, and multiplayer video games, are emerging approaches to deliver educational content. Research indicates that simulation-based learning provides students with enriched experiences in information retention, engagement, skills acquisition, and learning outcomes.

Those interested in entering the Challenge should submit their simulation concepts at edsimchallenge.com by January 17, 2017.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our informational webinar on November 16, 2016 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST to hear an overview of the Challenge and ask questions.

You can also view the complete Federal Register Notice here.

We look forward to seeing what innovators from around the country envision for the future of learning!