Immersive Hybrid College Experiences for Online Learners at ASU Prep Academy


Finishing up a project sprint is an easy task for students enrolled in ASU Prep Digital’s pilot program at ASU West Campus this past spring. At the end of May, the students presented a culminating project after surveying communication styles, desert ecology, and the criminal justice system over the semester-long course. The goal of the program was to provide ASU Prep Digital high school students a meaningful college immersion experience one day per week – connecting with professors, students and resources on an actual college campus. Not only did students learn about life on a college campus, they increased skills in collaboration, communication and design thinking.

True to the mission of ASU Prep – to design new models for educational success and raise academic achievement for all learners – and with the pilot now complete, ASU Prep is launching two new learning models in 2022-23 school year. ASU Prep Local and ASU Prep Experience provide ASU Prep Digital students with an innovative hybrid learning experience that blends the flexibility of online learning with the collaboration and experience of a college campus.

Both programs use ASU Prep’s core digital learning platform to develop skills and knowledge which can be applied during the experiential on-campus learning one or more days per week. ASU Prep Experience is a one-day per week on-site program to allow ASU Prep Digital students to learn in real-world, project-based workshops with ASU Faculty. Based on the model developed this past spring, students partner with university professors and departments to complete authentic and real-world learning that is assessed against the ASU Prep competencies and 21st Century skills (as articulated in the ASU Prep Profile of a Learner). The spring term provided four learning experiences which included student-designed original pieces in the HYSA makerspace, an analysis of law and the criminal justice system around a wrongful conviction case, environmental psychology with a bioblitz experience, and communications deep-dive with the ASU West Communication Lab.

To meet the needs of every learner, educational ecosystems need to continue to diversify experiences.

Nate McClennen

In 2022-23, the ASU Prep Experience will be located on the ASU Poly and Tempe campuses. Students earn ½ honors elective credit if they successfully complete the experience by demonstrating proficiency around the competencies.  

ASU Prep Local, inspired by the ASU Local which launched  in California (Los Angeles), Washington DC and Arizona (Yuma), provides a more intensive 2-day per week on-site program. Students take one ASU course per year that are linked to college and career pathways. The ASU Prep Local program connects semester-long learning experiences into a four-year coherent program that supports the development of student interests and pathways. Students enter in cohorts and stay within their group as they progress through the multi-year experience. Like the ASU Prep Experience, students are immersed in long-term, university-partnered, real-world projects. Additionally, students get support from a Personalized Learning Advisor (in addition to the support from ASU Prep Digital team of teachers and Learning Success Coach).

To meet the needs of every learner, educational ecosystems need to continue to diversify experiences. Microschool models, like ASU Prep Experience and ASU Prep Local, are building options for ASU Prep Digital students in the Phoenix area who want a hybrid approach. The personalization of the online learning elements combined with the collaborative and university integrated, in-person experiences, increases existing opportunities within the ASU Prep ecosystem – and access for students.

The pandemic forced hybrid and remote learning into the mainstream – mostly through the repeated waves of infection in communities. Clearly large shifts had to be made. Transferring this learning to new and innovative school models is critical to advance our understanding of learning models that can meet the needs of every student.

More learning:

ASU Prep Experience student reflection 1

ASU Prep Experience student reflection 2

This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures, please see our Partner page.


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