Work-Based Learning & Bridging the Industry-Educator Divide

Narrowing the gap between the classroom and the workforce takes a collaborative and detailed approach to advance industry-relevant student learning in K-12.

Effective learning begins with robust supporting documentation for teachers developed in partnership with industry pros, illustrated in a recent case study of game milestones designed for a Game Programming 1 course by Downey Unified School District (DUSD), Livable Wage Jobs (LWJ), and indie collaborative Akupara Games of Los Angeles.  

DUSD and LWJ contracted with Akupara to deliver work-based learning in support of educators launching the Computer Science Career Technical Education Game Programming course, which includes components of C# and Unity. Twelve industry-developed milestones, supporting a two-year high school curriculum were developed. Over several months of working to infuse industry relevance into the curriculum, it became clear that documenting curriculum support for teachers posed significant issues; excellent milestones designed by industry fell short of helping educators feel comfortable and confident teaching the games. As a result, LWJ and DUSD collaborated to revamp the approach from what began as little more than a page of instruction per milestone to a workbook tutorial with screenshots with multiple entry points for students to be supported by teachers and in self-directed learning.

Bolstered tutorials represent step by step content with screenshots of what each step should look like, understanding that students enter the course with widely varying skillsets, depending on such variables as mathematics expertise, gaming experience, or the extent of a student’s background in creating digital content. The latest iteration of documentation allows for students to pace individually, completing as many as 5 steps at once, rather than having a teacher go over one step 5 times. Content supports students who are asked to start developing as though they are employees, going beyond a checklist of assignments to complete. With detailed tutorials, teachers circulate in the classroom or connect with students on Zoom to fill in where concepts are not coming together. As students progress through industry-developed milestones in the course, high schoolers transition from altering and editing a game to increased options to create sections of a game.