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The Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning (NExT) is Revolutionizing K-12 Education.
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Summer Bash Logo

NExT continues to create connections across schools, districts, and roles in education. Given current COVID19 constraints, we have moved all of our events to online modalities.

  • Inspire – We archived videos from the Summer Bash – find them here. Use them as resources to help engage your stakeholders, revisit ideas, find info & links to more resources.
  • Learn – NExT and CAPS Network also recorded a series of 10 webinars on profession-based experiential learning. These will become accessible via the NExT Commons, so if you have not joined NExT yet, please do so here.
  • Connect – NExT is offering a series of free webinar discussions for k12 educators currently developing their skills with online and hybrid teaching. For more information, please join  NExT.
  • Create – Plans for fall, new approaches to learning, projects, connections. How do you keep yesterday’s energy in motion? Find us on Twitter (@DrLydiaY; @lportnoy; @Chris_Unger) and #NUNExT

We hope you’ll join NExT for access to future events and our Commons platform.

Mobilizing and supporting the experiential learning movement

NExT, Northeastern University’s Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning, based in Northeastern’s Graduate School of Education, serves as a platform connecting kindergarten-12th grade (K-12), higher education, industry, and community partners around the shared goal of making experiential education accessible to learners at every level. The network supports educators and community stakeholders in developing high-impact experiential teaching and learning practices, generates and distributes research based in school and classroom practices, and provides timely, relevant, and accessible professional development for educators

NExT Mission

One bold mission. Endless experiential learning opportunities

The Mission

To elevate experiential learning and make it accessible to every learner, NExT brings teachers, administrators, higher education, and industry partners together to share bold ideas and visions. Our action-oriented network of experiential learning practitioners and leaders collectively seeks to leverage experiential learning as a method for transforming schools, districts, communities, and educational systems.

NExT members develop leadership and application at multiple scales: in the classroom, in schools and districts, and in collaboration with higher education. By cutting across boundaries of learning sites, NExT members, alongside Northeastern’s Graduate School of Education, are enabling transformative learning for more students, by recognizing and celebrating experiential opportunities across all levels and settings. In turn, the collective work of NExT is directly supporting the evolution of the Graduate School of Education at Northeastern as it becomes fully experiential – changing teacher preparation, educator development, and doctoral studies. NExT’s partners include educators and administrators from the Barrington, Rhode Island Public Schools, the BV CAPS Network, Iowa BIG, Cathedral High School, and many more. NExT has evolved from a Northeastern initiative to a truly collective network of passionate, diverse stakeholders who connect in person and through our NExT Commons platform.

NExT has two primary objectives:

  • To support educators and educational leaders across the world in realizing experiential learning is for the benefit of their students and their communities, and
  • To connect educators and leaders across regions and roles so that they can learn and gain inspiration from a community as they pursue their initiatives.

In addition to these two primary goals, NExT supports educators as they explore and document the outcomes of experiential learning in their communities; connects educators as members of a global learning community of discovery; and shares with the wider public and with policy-makers how experiential learning can enhance student engagement and deepen student learning in their local contexts.

Now what?

NExT offers multiple pathways and opportunities to connect:


In-person and virtual pop-up events across regions, as well as a yearly in-person convening in Boston, facilitated by faculty in the Graduate School of Education, drive the network’s energy. Participants at NExT summer convenings and pop-ups develop action plans during CREATE sessions, which inform their work for the academic year and beyond. Gatherings bring participants together to share visions and practices that support the individual as well as the shared pursuit of experiential learning across communities. In addition, students from Northeastern’s Graduate School of Education, as part of their program’s residency, connect and collaborate with NExT participants at select events, widening and deepening the network and its mission.


Working with NExT, the Graduate School of Education offers development opportunities for educators that meet the needs of network participants at all career stages. These include non-credit workshops, badges, and Professional Development Point (PDP)-bearing certificates, as well as full masters and doctoral degrees in education. We leverage the full suite of Northeastern’s educational resources to support the rigorous practice and scholarship of experiential learning.


Through program assessment, research partnerships, and access to leaders in experiential education, NExT supports the mutual discovery of experiential learning’s impact on individuals, schools, industry, and our wider communities. As a research institution, Northeastern provides tools and supports for the network’s powerful model of distributed, practice-based inquiry.


Recent NExT Virtual Webinars

  • On October 29, 2019 we hosted a conversation with Ben Owens and Alissa Cheek of the Tri-County Early College in Murphy NC on the impact the school had has on students’ lives: A fork in the road: Changing the lives of youth in a rural community.  If you would like to access to this recorded webinar (and modules within it), email us at
  • On January 28, 2020 we hosted a conversation with educators from the SLATE Valley (VT) and Barrington (RI) schools on how they are pursuing personalized deeper learning: How two districts employ PBL for personalized deeper learningIf you would like to access to this recorded webinar (and modules within it), email us at

Recent Events

  • NExT-CAPS Summer Bash: Experience-Powered Learning in a Time of Disruption, July 21, 2020. Links to videos here.
  • [POSTPONED due to Covid-19] The NExT Seattle (WA) Pop-Up, Tacoma School Visit, and Northeastern GSE Activities – March 13 and 14, 2020, at and near our Northeastern University–Seattle campus. Planning a virtual version of the Pop Up – further details coming soon!
  • [POSTPONED due to Covid-19] The Vermont-New Hampshire Pop-Up – February 7 (weather postponement), then March 6, 2020, at Upper Valley Educators Institute, Lebanon, NH. “Digging into Deeper Learning in VT & NH.” Planning to reschedule for October 2020 – details to come!
  •  The NExT Charlotte (NC) Pop-Up – November 9, 2019, at our Northeastern University–Charlotte campus. “Creating Inclusive Prosperity for All: Learning from Experience.”
  •  The NExT Annual Summer Convening 2019, July 15-17 on our Northeastern University Boston campus. “NExT: A Global Network with a Local Focus”

To learn more, or to participate, please email us at

Turning experiential learning ideas into action

The NExT Summer Convening

Each summer we bring educators from across the country and beyond to “learn with and from one another” in the pursuit of experiential learning for student agency, opportunity, and equity. This includes classroom teachers, private and public school and school system leaders, higher ed educators, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and community stakeholders. Participants showcase their efforts to the wider community to “inspire and empower” one another in the pursuit of experiential learning in their own contexts. The convening includes INSPIRE, LEARN, CREATE, and CONNECT sessions, structured so that educators leave with an action plan for what they can do to further catalyze and mobilize inspirational practices in experiential learning in their communities.

NExT Regional Pop-Ups

While it is wonderful to bring educators from across the country to learn with and from one another during the summer, we are also hosting several one-day “pop-ups” at our regional campuses and elsewhere. These pop-ups enable educators within those regions to focus on local priorities and experience NExT energy while showcasing local efforts to pursue experiential learning. These pop-ups are also designed to INSPIRE, and to enable participants to LEARN, CREATE, and CONNECT during a day of action planning.

We have and/or will be hosting pop-ups in Charlotte, NC, Seattle, WA, and Lebanon, VT, as well as Toronto, Canada. For specific dates, see Upcoming and Recent events section above.

NExT Virtual Webinar Series

To be sure that as many educators and other interested stakeholders as possible can learn about the efforts of our growing network of NExT members, we are also hosting some virtual sessions over the year. Interested educators are encouraged to attend the webinar events in order to participate, ask questions, and make connections with other attendees. We hope to see you live if you can make it. The webinars will also be recorded and posted in our NExT Commons (read more about that below) for easy access at any time for those who sign up but cannot join us on the day. The webinar schedule for January to June 2020 will be added soon.

NExT Commons

NExT Commons is the platform on which NExT participants can collaborate with their peers and develop their knowledge and skills. It is a go-to space to connect with like-minded colleagues as well as a trusted source for research, resources, and information. NExT Commons also allows access to Northeastern and its faculty, as well as materials and professional development curricula with credits that may be stacked toward an advanced degree within the university’s Graduate School of Education. To learn more about joining NExT Commons, please email

Women viewing a poster at a NExT event

Experiential learning educators opening doors, not just minds.


Meet some of Northeastern's Graduate School of Education faculty and administrators who lead the NExT Initiative

Lydia Young

Lydia Young - Director of the NExT K-12 Network of Experiential Learning Educators

Dr. Lydia Young serves as the Director of NExT, Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Education network for experiential and equity-focused educators, and as an Associate Teaching Professor in Education. Dr. Young envisions NExT as an opportunity for networked educators to combine academics with experiential learning opportunities, regardless of context & systemic barriers; thereby, allowing equity gaps to be directly addressed by school & teacher leaders.

Joe Griffin - Interim Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Education

Joseph is the Interim Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Education, where he also holds a faculty appointment as an Associate Teaching Professor. Joseph has previously served in a variety of roles within the University, both within the Chancellor's Office and other college based roles. He served as the Vice Chancellor of Educational Innovation, the Associate Vice President of Business Development, and Acting Vice Chancellor of Regional Campuses within the Office of the Chancellor. He also served both as Associate Dean of Partnership & Engagement and as Faculty Director for graduate programs in Analytics, Informatics, and Project Management. Prior to joining Northeastern, Joseph worked in a variety of roles within the construction, land development, and real estate industry.

Mary Loeffelholz

Mary Loeffelholz - Dean, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies and Vice President, Lifelong Learning Network

The mission of Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies is to provide lifelong experiential learning that unleashes the capacities of aspiring individuals in all stages and walks of life. We meet learners where they are with programs that break down boundaries between work and learning, connect students with employers, and foster inclusive prosperity in every community we touch.

As dean, I have encouraged the creation of knowledge networks such as NExT as a transformational model in kindergarten-12th grade (K-12) education. NExT and the other knowledge networks we are building are global communities of learners and practitioners, wherever they are located—whether in industry, in government and the public sphere, in K-12 and higher education, in social entrepreneurship—that continuously circulate knowledge and know-how from the worlds of research and practice, and that use the extended network as a basis for innovation and discovery of new knowledge.

Kelly Conn

Kelly Conn - Graduate School of Education Faculty Member

I hope to bring my knowledge of STEM, research methods, and proposal development to help facilitate the design, implementation, and documentation of the many different ways in which K-12 educators from across many different contexts are inspiring and empowering their students to engage in quality experiential learning opportunities that both foster deeper learning and engagement.

Kim Nolan

Kim Nolan - Graduate School of Education Faculty Member

My work as a K-12 science educator and administrator working in alternative schools gives me the background to work with K-12 educators to create powerful learning experiences. My focus is on helping educators create a space where students are empowered to direct their own learning.

Lindsay Portnoy

Lindsay Portnoy - Graduate School of Education Faculty Member

Drawing from a deep knowledge and passion for cognitive science, I look forward to working with educational stakeholders across the NExT network to transform the nature of today’s classrooms and enhance the learning experiences of our youngest citizens. As a former public school teacher, successful female founder and entrepreneur, author, and researcher, I bring the lens of cognitive science and authentic assessment to our shared work at NExT. Together we will create a more equitable system of education by building solutions that can scale to meet the needs of today’s most pressing issues. From designing and developing transformational educational initiatives to measuring the efficacy of those innovations to ensure maximum impact, we will work to ensure all of our children have access to high quality and purposeful learning from K to gray.

Corliss Thompson

Corliss Thompson - Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education

As a former elementary teacher and current teacher of graduate students, I believe that tapping into the lives of students and the world around them creates a powerful learning experience. And through my NExT initiative, I will focus on research and program evaluation—helping educators engage in experiential learning at the highest level.

Chris Unger

Chris Unger - Graduate School of Education Faculty Member

My primary interest is in supporting educators to think about how they can redesign their learning environments to make their students' learning far more meaningful, relevant, personally engaging, and of value. My areas of expertise include innovation and entrepreneurial activity in schools and school systems, innovative school designs, and student-centered, self-directed learning. In the NExT initiative I hope to contribute to educators' exploration and pursuit of experiential learning as a means for significantly increasing student engagement and deepening their learning.

NExT in the News

Our initiatives are making headlines

Build Skills for 2030 Now with These Ideas | September 13, 2019 The start of a new school year is a great time to think about long-term plans for the upcoming year, but also the plans we need to make for our students for years to come. Each day there are news alerts on topics such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, digital citizenship and literacy and their relation to education. These are the trends and terms that are already a part of our world and will become an increasing part of our future. READ MORE

When NExT Is Now | August 9, 2019 How could we use experiential learning to reframe educational problems as opportunities and make learning more equitable globally? Over 100 educators representing thousands of educational settings across the country recently gathered at our 3rd annual summer convening to discuss this important question. READ MORE

“What We Do with Our Students Is Real Work that Real People Do in Real Situations”

NEWS@Northeastern | July 17, 2019 Educators from across the country convene at Northeastern to discuss how they employ experiential learning to create meaningful, authentic learning opportunities for their students and communities. READ MORE

Re-thinking Educator Preparation: Experiential, Connected, Applied.

GettingSmart Podcast | March 20, 2019 Interview with Kelly Conn, Associate Teaching Professor and Cherese Childers-McKee, Assistant Teaching Professor, Northeastern University Graduate School of Education. READ MORE

What makes high school students want to study science, technology, engineering and math?

News@Northeastern | March 11, 2019 What makes high school students want to become interested in science, technology, engineering, and math? And what motivates them to pursue careers in these fields? Three Northeastern University faculty members in the Graduate School of Education have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to answer these questions. READ MORE

The Future of Learning, What’s NExT? | March 8, 2019 As we explore, pursue and design innovations connected to the future of learning, we have discovered that success in transformation lies in expanding our capacity to design meaningful learner experience (LX). By focusing on LX, we are able to apply a “design from the edges” mindset grounded in a suite of learning practices, innovations and collaborative networks to deliver change. READ MORE

Developing the Whole Child One Collaboration at a Time | November 21, 2018 Barrington schools are home to some of the most forward-thinking educators in our country. Several years back Northeastern’s NExT initiative inspired the Barrington district to make the leap towards experiential learning and the results have been staggering. READ MORE

The Need for Revolutionary Networks | August 19, 2018 At Northeastern University, we have decided to join in the revolution for more student-centered, personalized, and impactful learning for all students in K-12 through a developing network of experiential learning educators we call NExT. READ MORE

Don’t Call it a Moment; Experimental Learning is a Movement

News@Northeastern | July 26, 2018 In the late 2000s, educators in Iowa were challenged to reinvent high school in Cedar Rapids. Perhaps it was a peculiar request, given that all three of the district’s high schools have graduation rates near the 90th percentile. READ MORE

Building the Future of K-12, Here at Northeastern

News@Northeastern | July 20, 2018 Sixth-graders at Barrington Middle School in Rhode Island imagined a room in what will become the new Barrington Middle School, currently under construction. READ MORE

JFF Horizons: Building New Bridges to the Future of Work and Learning | June 18, 2018 Last week I attended JFF (Jobs for the Future) Horizons, a conference that served as a powerful reminder that we won’t be able to prepare our students for the rapidly changing world and technologies like AI if our education, policy, and private sector systems continue operating in silos. READ MORE

School Models: Pick Your Favorite Flavor | June 12, 2018 There is quite a buzz right now in the K-12 world around models of learning that focus on providing students with relevant experiences. READ MORE

Sketchbooks. Makerspaces. Student Startups. Inside America’s Largest Personalized Learning Experiment, How One Rhode Island ‘Lighthouse Laboratory’ Is Reimagining School | May 1, 2018 It was the silence that made technology teacher Rebecca Henderson look up. Moments before, her sixth-graders had been giggling over two robots, which they’d nicknamed WALL-E and Eve, from the popular Pixar movie. But now, they were huddled in a circle, whispering. READ MORE

Northeastern Launches Initiative to Bring Experiential Learning to K-12 Classrooms

News@Northeastern | July 10, 2017 Building upon its global leadership in experiential learning in higher education, Northeastern University is launching a first-of-its-kind initiative to introduce this successful model to the K-12 education system. READ MORE

Participants listening to a talk about NExT

About Northeastern’s Graduate School of Education

The Graduate School of Education brings to bear more than a decade of experiential learning expertise in its programs, attracting students who have a vision for change and who want to drive improvement in education. The school also prepares educators for leadership with research-driven experiences that combine theory and practice, helping them solve real-world and emerging problems through innovative learning and teaching. Graduate School of Education faculty are collaborative and student-centered mentors who come from varied, related careers, and who inspire and empower students to make a positive difference in the lives of others through innovative scholarly activity.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global research university that pushes learning and discovery far beyond the boundaries of classroom and campus. This distinctive approach is built on a tradition of actively engaging our university community with industry and nonprofit partners around the world. Northeastern is the recognized leader in experiential learning, powered by the world’s most far-reaching and innovative cooperative education program. We offer students opportunities for professional work, research, service, and global learning with more than 3,000 employers in 136 countries and on all continents, including Antarctica. The same spirit of engagement guides a use-inspired research enterprise that integrates faculty across disciplines to solve global challenges. Our regional campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle; Silicon Valley; and Toronto are platforms for flexible professional learning programs, undergraduate and graduate experiential opportunities, and industry research partnerships.

Questions? Contact us at

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