The federal regulations do not specify that normal educational practice takes place only in schools. The burden of proof in demonstrating that the proposed research setting qualifies as fitting the category of “established” or “commonly accepted” falls ultimately on the principal investigator.
The broadest definition one could use is that an educational setting is any setting where one would go in order to have an educational experience. For example, a public school would certainly qualify, as would an after-school club or program, a Boy or Girl Scout meeting, or even a professional development seminar for school district personnel. As educational activities expand outside structured institutional settings to include “engaged learning” in applied settings, distance and on-line educational programs, and internships and study abroad programs, the potential for the application of Exemption category 1 may expand to include these “educational” settings and activities. Additionally, nontraditional settings may be included in "commonly accepted educational settings," as long as the educational setting is established in the local area. Examples might include a grocery store (e.g., nutrition class) or an automotive garage (e.g., safe driving or how to do preventive maintenance on a car). Finally, international and cultural differences may affect what is considered a “commonly accepted educational setting.” For example, if the educational practice is commonly accepted in a specific population such as Amish or Native Americans, it should be considered "commonly accepted" for research within that population.
An educational setting may be considered “established” in a local area if educational activities occur there on a regular basis.