July 25, 2020

Drucker Institute Aims to Create a ‘City of Lifelong Learning’ with Bendable

With Bendable, the Drucker Institute has created a pioneering platform that supports communities in a fast-changing world.

Earlier this summer the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University announced the launch of its community-based lifelong learning system, Bendable. The system made its debut in South Bend, Indiana, in close partnership with the St. Joseph County Public Library and with support from the Mayor’s Office.

Bendable couldn’t be more timely as a global pandemic has forced students and workers online. The system allows residents of all ages and backgrounds to easily acquire new knowledge and skills through online courses and—once quarantine is eventually lifted—with in-person learning opportunities, too.

The system is designed to help individuals find the learning resources that are just right for them. In most cases, content on the Bendable platform is free for the end user.

The Drucker Institute plans to expand Bendable to another 10 to 15 cities over the next five years.

“For too many people, learning ends when they finish their formal schooling,” said Rick Wartzman, head of the Drucker Institute’s KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society. “Increasingly, however, economic opportunity—as well as dignity—hinges upon lifelong learning. Bendable is a system that makes the most highly relevant kinds of learning radically accessible for all of a city’s residents.”

The institute’s long-term goal, Wartzman added, “is to forge a ‘city of lifelong learning,’ making South Bend more resilient in the face of a fast-changing economy—and now, COVID-19.”

A distinguished group of partners & sponsors

Google.org and Walmart.org provided the lead funding to develop Bendable.

A highly collaborative team created the system over the past two and a half years: IDEO designed the user experience. Carbon Five built the digital platform. Credly put together Bendable’s badging and credentialing regime. And FSG developed an evaluation framework that will help guide day-to-day decision-making and longer-term goals.

The system in South Bend features more than 1,000 learning resources from 18 local and national content partners. They include Cell-Ed, Common Threads, the Drucker Institute, edX, Forever Learning Institute, GCFGlobal, Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Indiana University South Bend, the IT Sector Partnership, Ivy Tech, Khan Academy, La Casa de Amistad, LRNG, Penn Foster, Sokanu, South Bend Code School, Study.com and Venues Parks & Arts.

“Many of the resources you’ll find on Bendable are geared toward learning for work. Some are geared toward helping you improve your and your family’s everyday life. And some are just fun,” said Sarah Zaner, the Drucker Institute’s senior director of lifelong learning. “We’ve tried to put together a learning ecosystem that has real breadth and depth, while still making sure that everything being offered is tailored specifically for the needs and interests of a particular community.”