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Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design

Written by Christina Cantrill
January 29, 2013

Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement.

The “Connected Learning” framework 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. Emerging from the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, of which the National Writing Project is a key member, these principles have now been more fully described in a newly released report, Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design.

In this report, the authors expand on the principles in an ongoing effort to draw linkages between existing approaches that share a set of core values and goals while simultaneously engaging the affordances of new media and networked technologies. Specific attention is brought to participation in and equitable access to expanded and connected learning opportunities for all learners.

Bringing together and integrating the motivations, content, and abilities from social, interest-driven, and formal educational spheres promises to expand the reach of meaningful and sustained learning.

Connected learning is described as a “work in progress” and the report is an invitation to participate in researching, articulating, and building this movement.
Open ConnectedLearning_report.pdf

Connected Learning Report Webinar Mini-Series

These Connected Learning TV webinar archives form a mini-series related to the release of the Connected Learning: An Research and Design Agenda report.

Jean Rhodes – Effective Mentorship Through Shared Purpose and Interest

Sonia Livingstone – The Realities of Youth and Peer Culture: Balancing Learning Opportunities and Risks

Craig Watkins & Juliet Schor – Connected Learning As Pathway to Equity & Opportunity

Kris Gutierrez & Bill Penuel – Assessing Connected Learning Outcomes

Connected Learning Infographic

This infographic can be downloaded and shared for web or print uses.

Exploring Connected Learning

At the NWP, as well as in many other places across the globe (see #etmooc, #literacies chat,, EdWeek) educators are learning, thinking and unpacking, together, the principles of Connected Learning.

We are Learning Connected Learning, together.

In looking at the principles of Connected Learning upon the release of the research and design agenda, Justin Reich from the Berkman Center asks key and important questions about the road from the design principles of Connected Learning pedagogy to greater equity in society. See, “Building a More Inclusive Digital Media and Learning Environment.”

At the NWP right now, we are asking related questions in an open national study group, such as:

  • What does connected learning look like with schools in the mix and in what ways does this support an equity agenda?
  • There are many ways to be connected, so what is the role of digital in these learning and design frameworks?
  • How do we foster healthy self-directed learning?
  • What does a peer-supported environment really look like?
  • How do critical pedagogical/literacies fit in?
  • And how do we support a connected vision of learning that is truly equitable?

At the Digital Media and Learning Conference in March 2013, questions about Democratic Futures in relation to Connected Learning were being explored, such as:

  • To what extent do digital media and participatory culture enable or hinder civic identity and engagement?
  • What are the benefits to young people—social, psychological, educational, political—of participation in civic life? How does youth activism benefit society more broadly? Does the use of digital and networked media alter the nature of these benefits?
  • What is the relationship between media technologies and the political uprisings currently emerging around the world?
  • How are new political actors innovating in ways that remake what it means to be an active and connected citizen in the world today?
  • What types of policy interventions best support the development of resources—educational, local, and organizational—that engender greater youth involvement in the issues that impact their communities and the world?
  • How are local and global initiatives challenging the civic opportunity gap and building civic participation along the social and economic margins? What forms of social innovation help make participation in civic life more open, diverse, and democratic?

What do you notice about connected learning? What are some key questions and inquiries for you?

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