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Connected Learning - what does it mean to me?

Written by Kim Wilkens
February 01, 2013

Last February, I read about Connectivism while researching articles for a Contemporary Learning Theory course. It wasn’t an assigned reading, I discovered it and that is the first and only time I have encountered it in my Master of Education journey. At the time, I wondered – why aren’t we hearing more about?

“education must shift from instruction, from imposing of stencils, to discovery – to probing and exploration and to the recognition of the language of forms.”
~ Marshall McLuhan

This summer, I heard about Connected Learning at the Scratch@MIT conference where badges were brought into the discussion. I had been a badges skeptic myself until Connie Yowell of the MacArthur Foundation explained that one of the benefits of badges is how they help make pathways and connections from one’s interests to figuring out the next thing to learn transparent and equitable. This is really huge in the field of computer science which has no real pathways in secondary education. Even if a K-12 student develops an interest, most of the adults in their life don’t know how to make the connections from their interest to a career pathway.

“Many of our institutions suppress all the natural direct experience of youth, who respond with untaught delight to the poetry and the beauty of the new technological environment.”
~ Marshall McLuhan

Now through #etmooc and #educon, I am actively experiencing connected learning. It is fascinating, overwhelming, frustrating, empowering and disorienting, but my big take away is the potential that connected learning has to increase knowledge, access and voice for all. What does Connected Learning mean to you? Check out these crowd-sourced definitions from #etmooc.

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