A robust learning marketplace, Bendable allows residents of all ages and backgrounds to easily discover content that is just right for them and then acquire new knowledge and skills through online courses as well as local, in-person learning opportunities. In most cases, content on the Bendable platform is free for the end user.
Because Bendable is not a plug-and-play app but, rather, is tailored to the learning needs and desires of local residents, the system won’t be launched in Maine until the summer of 2022.
In the interim, the Drucker Institute, the Maine State Library, hundreds of local libraries across the state and other stakeholders—businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions and grassroots groups—will go through a design and development process to ensure that residents in every region have direct input into what learning resources and other features Bendable Maine should include.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is supporting the initiative with American Rescue Plan Act funding provided to the Maine State Library.
Bendable made its debut in June 2020 in South Bend, Indiana, in close partnership with the St. Joseph County Public Library and in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office. Since then, more than 15,000 visitors from the South Bend area have come to the Bendable digital platform to access learning resources from over two dozen national and local content providers.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be bringing Bendable to Maine,” said Rick Wartzman, head of the Drucker Institute’s KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society. “While Maine is obviously much bigger than South Bend in terms of both population and geography, it shares a quality that is essential to Bendable’s success: a strong sense of community.
“With that as a foundation,” Wartzman added, “we are confident that over time we can deliver on Bendable’s essential promise by helping the residents of Maine become more resilient in the face of a fast-changing economy.”
As part of the Drucker Institute’s expansion to Maine, three Bendable Fellows will be hired to provide a steady, on-the-ground presence in different parts of the state and ensure that local residents’ voices are heard in the design and creation of Bendable Maine.
“This opportunity to bring a customizable lifelong learning platform for all Maine people is incredibly exciting,” stated Maine State Librarian James Ritter. “Harnessing the creativity of Maine people, universities and colleges, as well as Maine businesses and nonprofits, will be fundamental in making Bendable Maine a success.”
Bendable’s key features include:
- Community Collections—personal playlists of learning resources (classes, TED Talks, podcasts, books, etc.) on a particular subject that are put together by local residents.
- Career Collections—learning pathways, curated by local employers, that help to prepare people for some of the most in-demand jobs in their area. As users complete Career Collection courses, they receive digital badges to mark their progress.
- Community Shelves—handpicked sets of learning resources that allow local employers, nonprofits, schools and other organizations to weave Bendable into their programming and activities while supporting designated cohorts of learners.
While much of the content on Bendable centers on building skills for work, the team at the Drucker Institute has seen in its research that people are eager to learn for different reasons throughout their life—sometimes even throughout their day. As a result, Bendable includes resources on a wide variety of topics, including cooking healthier meals, better handling personal finances and understanding technology. Users can also tap Bendable to study science, literature, music, art and a host of other subjects. By offering this kind of breadth, Bendable aims to cultivate in people the habit of continuous learning.
For more on Bendable, please visit Bendable.com.