Creating a Hub of Learning for Public Health and Education


Providing in-person learning opportunities while adapting to shifting public health and education guidelines requires flexibility, iteration, and collaborative problem-solving. Communities that have implemented learning hubs can share their experiences and offer invaluable insight.

Navitas English Bankstown students come from diverse countries and require continual pronunciation practice; therefore, the hub uses karaoke to help their students do just that.


Learning hubs that genuinely empower their students require more than academic assistance; they must create a vibrant learning environment that fosters student engagement through authentic projects and emotional support. A great place to begin is assessing each learner’s individual needs and designing in-person experiences around those needs.

Many schools have implemented “learning commons,” or lounge-style spaces, within their school buildings. These are multifunctional rooms that combine classroom space with collaborative areas and private study rooms – typically using lounge furniture with flexible seating that enables group collaboration as well as tools found in modern libraries (whiteboards for collaborative projects) while still maintaining privacy comparable to traditional classroom space.

Some schools and expanded learning partners have collaborated to establish “learning commons” at community organizations, libraries, and private businesses – spaces open to all community members that provide an invaluable resource for both students and adults – from job search skills training sessions to computer literacy workshops and more.

The design of learning hubs must also take into account how both learners and communities will best utilize them. At Cabramatta Learning Hub, a team experimented with using a karaoke machine to help Vietnamese language students practice pronouncing words and phrases more fluently – providing a fun yet educational way for them to use their learning skills meaningfully while simultaneously promoting the hub as a place where new things could be discovered.

Staffing is another essential element of hub design. Because learning hubs operate for longer than afterschool programs, their student-to-staff ratio differs considerably, necessitating an alternative approach to scheduling and staff training. Some districts have found it helpful to synchronize training across expanded learning partners, while others provide this training themselves.

As school closures continue through the 2020-21 academic year, these community-based hubs could serve as safe learning environments for both students and families. Integrating these hubs into long-term educational strategies requires careful consideration, experimentation and ongoing collaboration.


Hubs of learning provide students with a safe space to focus on academic support and activities. These spaces may be supported by local communities or located within school walls; designed to be more inviting than hallways or lobbies and encourage collaboration, student social interactions are enhanced with this environment. Though short-term, they provide schools a blueprint they can implement during closure periods.

Community hubs provide students with a safe place to study and connect with peers while missing classroom instruction. Such spaces allow students to reengage with their education and come back ready for the 2021-22 school year, helping to increase classroom participation as they return for class in 2022-22. Furthermore, community hubs act as catalysts for collaboration within school communities as a whole and positively affect overall school wellbeing.

The effective hub of learning management requires taking care to ensure all members are healthy and safe, including providing staff with vaccinations according to COVID-19 protocols, resources needed for creating enriching environments, living wages, and paid sick days.

Schools and expanded learning partners should work collaboratively to manage these new in-person services, including determining their duration and the number of students they can serve daily programming. One hub in California operated for 10 hours with a 14:1 student-to-staff ratio initially but quickly learned this was too long a schedule – they shortened it soon down to seven hours of programming per day after this realization was reached.

Not only should school districts and extended learning providers create in-person learning opportunities, but they should also proactively identify staff professional development needs. By offering coordinated training, they will better navigate the unique challenges associated with establishing community learning hubs while guaranteeing all students receive consistent support.


Establishing a hub of learning requires extensive collaboration among stakeholders, which is especially vital given shifting public health and education guidance and the ever-evolving nature of providing safe in-person learning support during this pandemic. Learning hubs should incorporate processes to promote collaborative problem-solving, continuous learning, and feedback from students and families while offering staff ongoing opportunities to share both good and negative experiences of operating the hubs is paramount for their future success.

Learning hubs provide small groups of students with in-person academic support as well as whole child support like enrichment, social-emotional learning, exercise, and healthy meals and snacks – which may otherwise be unavailable through distance learning. Furthermore, they allow for the creation and maintenance of relationships among peers who may otherwise remain separated throughout a pandemic outbreak.

Many of these communities have also implemented strategies to foster equity by prioritizing students who may require intensive in-person learning support during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, including those from underserved communities, those with special educational needs, foster or homeless status, or students in foster care or temporary accommodation status. Furthermore, hubs must be accessible by including childcare and transportation options.

As a result of these efforts, initial hubs have grown into destinations for students of all ages, providing formal and informal academic and social activities as well as reflecting their microculture with respectable relationships, intellectual honesty, curiosity, and generosity. Their authentic problem-solving capabilities, trustworthiness, and distributed leadership have inspired other communities. When considering options for meeting learner needs during a pandemic situation, other communities must learn from these early implementers how to create hubs of learning that promote positive, safe, equitable experiences in in-person learning – helping ensure positive, secure, and honest experiences in in-person learning environments for all learners.


Learning hubs provide opportunities for students to collaborate and create. Staffed by trained volunteer staff from their community – former students and parents as well as trained volunteers from the Hub – these learning centers feature a walk-up help desk, mentors, and academic advisors for student support. Technology at these centers is designed for collaboration, similar to what active classrooms use. Students use the Hub to send images from personal devices or laptops onto in-room displays so they can work together and discuss their projects; instructors may display images from a Mac computer or personal device while a document camera captures lessons for future sharing through high-definition document cameras allowing teachers to capture lectures for future use!

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities created learning hubs as an option to provide support to students who missed classes due to COVID-19. These programs were voluntary and targeted, serving those most in need; these learning hubs strictly followed public health guidelines, including social distancing protocols, PPE requirements, and cleaning protocols.

Learning hubs provide vital professional development opportunities for school and community-based leaders. In the future, district leaders should explore how they can best incorporate learning hubs into regular school operations and curricula while offering training on collaborative methods and best practices for student-centric learning.

An effective collaborative environment demands more than the latest tech: it must also provide an engaging space where students and teachers can collaborate, brainstorm, and create together. The most successful collaborative spaces feature lounge-style furniture for maximum comfort and flexibility, as well as quiet study areas, team rooms, and group presentation spaces – as well as lounge chairs that encourage interaction.

SAP Signavio’s process collaboration hub is an easy-to-use online portal designed to facilitate effective collaboration. This hub features three sections: entry diagram, search and help area, and preview mode for unpublished processes, which are accessible only by users with appropriate access rights.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has proposed creating Hubs of Learning (HoLs) in each neighborhood, comprising 4-6 schools within that particular area. This initiative would allow schools to exchange resources in order to foster the holistic development of local communities.