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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

Triple E Framework: Extension

by Debbie Jensen

By Debbie Jensen, OTAN Subject Matter Expert
posted January 2022

Triple E logo as a Venn diagram including Engagement, Enhancement and Extension

Quick Review

A quick review of the Triple E Framework and why you want to use it:

Through the years, many frameworks have been created to improve education, helping students learn better and helping teachers teach better. You have heard of many of them; here are three: the SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition), TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge), Bloom's Taxonomy, and the list goes on. The benefits of the Triple E Framework include its simplicity and its singular focus – on the learning goals and the student.

The Triple E is a framework for educators to measure how well the technology tools they are using help their learners. The three areas examined are to engage students and enhance and extend learning goals. Hence the Triple "E." The mantra is "Learning First, Technology Second" (from Dr. Liz Kolb, the creator of the Triple E Framework).

For a review of the framework generally and articles on the first two components, go to the following links: Introduction, Engagement, and Enhancement.

Third E: Extension

The third component of the Triple E is Extension, which means connecting the learner to the real world. Through extension activities, students take what they are learning in class and apply it into their lives. In class, they can practice critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving. They apply a "big picture" perspective. For me, this is the proof of the learning – students are empowered to integrate their knowledge, make their own observations, and bring in other contexts. Extension is accomplished by creating real-world connections in our classrooms – by adding real life problems that reflect situations in their jobs or lives. For example, fraction or percentage problems can bring in shopping or cooking where students use their phones to share what they find. This allows you to keep students learning anywhere, anytime. Extension activities extend learning outside the classroom all day, every day.

Questions to Ask to Look for Extension in Your Lesson

As you evaluate your lesson, ask yourself these three questions from the Framework

  1. Does the technology create opportunities for students to learn outside of their typical school day?
  2. Does the technology create a bridge between school learning and everyday life experiences?
  3. Does the technology allow students to build skills that they can use in their everyday lives?

Skills Our Learners Need

Your choice of tech tools to use in the classroom can facilitate the skills they take away from your class. The tech that they use in class can and should be used in their lives now and in the future.
Consider what skills our learners will need in the 21st century, skills they will need daily in life, education, work, and community. Use technology that highlights those skills. Tools our learners will need include:

  1. Collaboration skills: They communicate daily on their devices on Facebook or Instagram. We assist them by improving skills to apply to Facebook groups or use of a free Zoom account. Collaboration tools include Flipgrid, Diigo, Padlet, Zoom, and Google Docs.
  2. Curation skills: Our students require critical thinking online, especially in determining what is true or false. We also need to include the skills necessary to provide information to a given audience. Curation tools include Symbaloo, Google Slides, and Microsoft OneNote.
  3. Organizational skills: As used in the classroom, learners can practice using tech to organize themselves. Extend the learning in creating documents, retrieving documents, and organizing them for presentations. Organizational tools include apps such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.
  4. Skills to design, deliver, and support their future learning:  Virtual tools include YouTube, Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Trello, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Google Slides.

Triple E Framework Logo Venn Diagram of three components: Engagement, Enhancement and Extension. The overlapping area is called the Sweet Spot.

Strategies to Encourage Extension

The Triple E Framework team created a Cheat Sheet that lists strategies for each of the E's. If you click on the links, you will find out more about each strategy. Some strategies you can use in your classroom activities to extend the learning include:

  1. Real World Issues (Problem Based Learning) - Students investigate and direct their own project
  2. Connect with Authentic experts
  3. Partner with real world organizations - Project based learning
  4. Role Play - Learners engage in a scenario
  5. Feedback - Ongoing evaluation of learner's learning
  6. Formative assessment - Monitor student understanding during learning
  7. Differentiate instruction - Use a variety of instructional strategies to meet learning needs of different students
  8. Distributed, spaced practice - Provide occasional opportunities to use the learned skill over time. Whatever they learn today they will revisit in next week and the week after and the week after that.
  9. Opposing viewpoints - Student takes the opposing side of a predominant argument or
  10. Sage on the Stage, Guide on the Side - Let learners be more involved in the process or discussion - one step more: become COO, the Chief Opportunity Orchestrator
  11. Active Learning - Learners fully participate in thinking, discussing, investigating and creating
  12. Metacognitive strategies - Learners involved in learning how they think, study and learn
  13. Online writing - Combine media forms to expand writing in our classrooms - use video and current events, poems, and photography and expand to collaborate with peers. Most of our students text each other, use Facebook, and use Instagram already. We can help improve writing but also expose them to other avenues. I had a student who through our classroom writing was able to make himself less likely to be laid off because his supervisor depended on him to write the weekly reports.
  14. Inquiry-based instruction - Learner develops questions they want to learn about
  15. Visual representation of concept, include diagraming, sketching, and graphic organizers made by the student
  16. The Muddiest Point - Students write notes on the most unclear or confusing element of an assignment, lecture, discussion, etc.
  17. Reciprocal questioning - Also called ReQuest, learners take the role of teacher and create their own questions about a topic, reading section or lesson. Think what they will learn while they try to teach a topic.
  18. Pen pals - Communicate with someone who is distant
  19. Active listening - Helps students focus on, understand, and retain learning
  20. Growth mindset classroom

Silhouettes of three people in business attire. Behind them is the title: Soft Skills
source: Wikimedia Commons

Extension Also Addresses Soft Skills

As part of Extension, we can offer students training in soft skills. Fortune 500 CEOs determined that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills and only 25% on job-related skills.  Furthermore, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employees (NACE), when employers are looking for job candidates, they named three specific traits as most critical: written communication skills, problem solving skills, and ability to work in a team. These people skills or soft skills can be included in our classrooms. They went on to break soft skills into 7 Soft Skills You Need in Today's Workforce, which are Leadership skills, Teamwork, Communication skills, Problem-solving skills, Work ethic, Flexibility and adaptability, and Interpersonal skills.

Soft Skills are a perfect match for applying extension in our classroom. In the article 15 Tips for Teaching Soft Skills (Online or In the Classroom)we see Extension at work. The article mentioned:

  • Student created scenarios to practice teamwork
  • Intentional Assignment Tweaks in which teachers change elements of the assignment at the last minute to help students learn to apply their skills to new data. This helps students apply flexibility and problem solving as well.
  • Giving and receiving more feedback practicing communication skills
  • Using project-based learning to build time management and responsibility
  • Giving students speaking opportunities such as presentation and discussion summaries
  • Including more student reflection assisting students in critical assessment of what they know and practice projecting next steps.

In Summary

The success of any teacher is in knowing you have prepared your students for their lives. They don't stay very long in our classrooms. They move on. Our job is to ensure that they have the tools to grow, thrive, and succeed outside our doors. Using Extension activities in the classroom addresses these goals.


When Liz Kolb first developed the Triple E Framework, she was responding to the observation that many teachers use technology in their classrooms to engage and entertain their students rather than to accomplish the learning objectives or goals. Through her research, she recognized three major components to successful learning.  She created the Triple E Framework for teachers to easily evaluate their own use of technology in their classroom to see if those elements are present. The three major components are Engagement, including Time-on task, Co-use, and Learning goals; Enhancement, including Added value, Scaffolding and support, Differentiation, and Personalization; and finally, Extension, including Authentic experiences, Connecting to learning 24/7, and Soft Skills. Teachers can use a rubric asking themselves questions and score the app they are evaluating. After evaluation, teachers can go back, if necessary, and modify the activity making it more effective.
Ultimately, our goal as teachers is to offer students high-quality instruction that can give them the tools to successfully and confidently move forward in their lives, schooling, and career. The Triple E Framework gives you a great tool to accomplish that.

Title of online course: The Triple E Framework with the logo at the side. Logo includes a Venn diagram of Engagement, Enhancement, and Extension

Invitation to Take Our Triple E Framework Course

If you want to continue learning about the Triple E Framework, join our free six-week online asynchronous course, The Triple E Framework. You will be introduced to the framework and take one of your own lesson plans and learn how to improve it. As the final project, you create a second lesson plan using technology applications that engage, enhance, and extend the lesson for your students. Sign up here.

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.