Learning Connected Learning

Curated by Christina Cantrill
March 01, 2013

Connected Learning describes a set of design and learning principles meant to support a new approach to learning anchored in a rich history of teaching and learning research and theory. This collection brings together content from the NWP Digital Is website which demonstrate some of the key principles of connected learning while also opening up a discussion about the implications of this work for learning both inside and outside of school.

Connected Learning emerged from the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, of which the National Writing Project is a key member. Initially released in March 2012, the principles have now been more fully described in a newly released report, Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. The first resource in this collection points to this report as well as to a growing set of associated resources.

In the second resource, Adam Mackie, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, and Jenny St. Romain from the Colorado State University Writing Project take us through a “rhizomic” connected learning project that links youth, community members, inservice and pre-service teachers through a focus on teaching to learn and social justice. Saving oral histories in their local community, youth and adult participants in Learning Alongside: Embracing Digital Storytelling with Social Justice in Mind demonstrate principles of connected learning through production-centered and community connected work tied to real-world outcomes and implications. In its openly networked ways, this project has also involved other educators, a story shared by Danielle Filipiak in her post Using Digital Is to Explore Writing Instruction with Pre-Service Teachers: A Love Story.

Lacy Manship and her students ask Wanna See A Movie? and invite us to share in their classroom community through their documentation and stories. In this resource we see the community working together as writers, makers, video and ethnographers as they compose their stories and classroom texts. In this work, the community demonstrates the ways that it is connecting learning through production and research driven by interests, involving peers, and within a context of shared purposes and interests.

Lacy also demonstrate a view into ways of socializing assessment, a key conversation in considering equity within the connected learning framework and community (see Kris Gutierrez & Bill Penuel – Assessing Connected Learning Outcomes).

[In] just one video … I can look deeply at what children know and do in a given context.  … [One] clip alone provides data I can endlessly analyze, use to invite further reflection from the learners, center family conference discussions around, and use to support thinking about curriculum and instruction for these children and others.

Even more politically powerful is that these videos are made by the children.  So in assessing their learning, I am basing analysis upon what they are choosing to show me. … With student made documentaries as data, students and teachers together can create rich contexts and narratives through which to talk about student learning.  Socializing assessment can happen if decisions about what counts as data moves from top down models to collective decisions between students and teachers.

Paul Allison’s resource on Youth Voices and Connected Learning, originally posted as a blog to prompt discussion about connected learning, demonstrates another example of how educators are thinking about this kind of learning throught the lens of student work and creations. First, to contextualize his thinking, Paul shares his own ways of learning as a connected educator and then asks the Youth Voices community “how do we bring these practices into our classrooms?” In the post he then shares ways he is seeing connected learning happening within the Youth Voices community through examples of writing and connections that youth participants are making within the site. He then invites us to get involved:

So here are three examples of students, Evelyn, Michelle, and Misty, who are learning in connected ways. Please feel free to connect to any of these conversation yourself! We welcome your comments.

Finally, in the NWP’s Writers at Work series, a range of educators talk about writing, making and connected learning principles that provide a powerful framework for innovating practice in and across a range of learning environments and are being explored and embodied in schools, after-school programs, and informal learning situations.

In what ways are the principles of Connected Learning meaningful in your context and in what ways can and do they inform your work and practices?

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