OC Pathways, Nepris team up to virtually connect students with industry experts

For the first time, business and industry partners — from around the world or down the street — can seamlessly connect with Orange County classrooms virtually and in real-time, thanks to a unique partnership between the OC Pathways initiative and Nepris.

nepris logoWorking through Nepris.com, students can engage digitally with industry experts to talk about potential careers, work on classroom projects or take virtual workplace tours through interactive, cloud-based sessions. Teachers looking to set up a work-based learning experience simply enter their request into the system, specifying the industry sector, topics and learning outcomes. Nepris automatically matches each request with professionals’ qualifications and hosts the interactive sessions.

This project has been funded by OC Pathways, a countywide initiative designed to equip Orange County students for college and career success. OC Pathways and its industry partners are developing coursework that combines rigorous academics with career preparation while promoting work-based learning opportunities for students and empowering educators with 21st century learning strategies. Created through a 2014 grant from the California Department of Education, the OC Pathways partnership is led by OCDE and Saddleback College.

Thanks its sponsorship, every K-12 and community college teacher affiliated with OC Pathways will receive a Nepris license, potentially reaching more than 5,000 students. The platform has been successfully implemented since 2013 in schools throughout the country, and recently the Orange Unified School District, an OC Pathways partner, successfully piloted the use of Nepris. The countywide rollout began in October.

“Industry partners from within Orange County and beyond now will have a direct link with schools to share their expertise, experience and enthusiasm,” said Jeff Hittenberger, OCDE’s chief academic officer. “Nepris gives equitable access to every student to experience workplace learning in a real and personal way.”

At the community college level, OC Pathways’ focus runs parallel with California Community Colleges’ “Doing What Matters For Jobs and the Economy” initiative, which aligns skills development with jobs. For community colleges to become essential catalysts to California’s economic recovery and job-creation at the local, regional and state levels, students will need to see the relationship between their educational experiences and the jobs they ultimately will pursue.

“Nepris brings a richness to classroom instruction because our students will now be able to talk with people who have already taken their education and turned that into a profession,” said Tony Teng, dean of advanced technology and applied science at Saddleback College, as well as the OC Pathways grant lead for the nine Orange County community colleges.

Added Brian Donnelly, executive director of OC Pathways: “Our primary goal is to show students a pathway from what they learn in school to college, and then into a career. Historically, it has been a challenge for students to see that what they are learning in class does have a real connection to life after school. Nepris brings classroom instruction alive in a way that typical classroom instruction cannot.”