What is Connected Learning? Why is it useful?

My two major thoughts after our first class were:

1) What is connected learning? Why is technology such a large part of it? Why is connected learning needed or important for the future?

I still did not have a concrete definition of connected learning. I was unclear what traits a course would have to feature for it to fall into this model. Are connections being made to people, to ideas, etc? My initial impressions was that connected learning was ambiguous, more of an abstract philosophy than a specific, concrete model. So I did some light research to try to get a clearer vision of connected learning. At first I found this difficult as descriptions seemed vague. Phrases such as “seeks to”, “it asks”, and “it seeks to” seemed to stress ‘what’ connected learning wanted to achieve rather than ‘how’. After continuing to go through the course materials, websites, articles, and reports, I found myself getting more settled. I was able to synthesize common principles and see how they would aid learning.

My current short-definition of connected learning is: sharing knowledge, interpretations, and ideas with others, to the benefit of both the individual and the community. Technology is a prominent feature due to its ability to connect people across huge spectrums of age, gender, wealth, ethnicity, location, education, etc. While allowing for a broader range of individuals to connect, technology also allows for focus and specialization by connecting people with particular interests. Technology is “enabler and facilitator of human capability”.

The course material of Seth Godin speaking on YouTube in a way related to this definition of connected learning in the context of blogging. By forcing yourself to express your thoughts in words, even in rough or undeveloped fashion, it helps you to consider and articulate your ideas. This is beneficial to yourself. You’re also forced to think and to verbalize your thoughts, which adds your insight into the community of ideas, benefiting others.

2) Does connected learning work? What evidence is there that demonstrates it is beneficial?

On the Connected Learning Alliance, it lists one of the six principles of connecting learning to be “interest-powered”. It states: “research has repeatedly shown that when the topic is personally interesting and relevant, learners achieve much higher-order learning outcomes”. Reading this really helped to make things click for me. I was already curious about the relationship between interest and learning from my previous experiences as a GTA. I noticed some students would perform well and express enjoyment doing their work, while others moaned, complained, and struggled. I wondered how people are driven by different motivations such as interest, money, careers, fame, peers, parents, etc. Believing that interest could be a powerful driving force, the claim that connected learning is beneficial because it allows people to learn what they’re interested in seemed to make sense to me. With this said, I would still like to delve deeper into the data and research.



5 thoughts on “What is Connected Learning? Why is it useful?”

  1. It is true that in the same class some students are highly involved while other do nothing but complaint and struggle. However, some courses are required for your major and you have to take it even though that is not your interest/advantage. Therefore, connected learning may serve as a useful way for this problem because various resources can help you to learn. I found it is easy to understand through image rather than words. So one can learn from internet (such as YouTube) to find out the most appropriate way to help them to understand. Also, social net work may also help students to learn and share information through peer relationship. Friends may help and encourage you to learn and what they shared may trigger one’s interest of the course he/she is not interested at the beginning.

  2. I really like the way you got into the subject, karlcox! Having two objective questions and research for finding answers – for me this is a great way to get familiar with new ideas! With a very objective approach, you made clear 2 central points about Connected Learning:
    – It is about sharing knowledge, interpretations, and ideas with others, to the benefit of both the individual and the community.
    – Technology is a prominent feature due to its ability to connect people.
    Another point in your post that is really relevant, from my point of view, it is “interest-powered” feature. I completely agree that interest could be a powerful driving force. In my blog post, I have also propose to discuss further about interests and meaningful learning. Thanks for bringing that!
    Thanks for bringing that!

  3. I really like the point you made about GTAs who really enjoy their work as opposed to those who moan and groan about it. I just assumed that people who were in classes such as Contemporary Pedagogy, were taking it because they wanted to improve on their skills as future faculty. I have come to realize that some GTAs are only in it to pay for school, which I think is unfortunate for the students. In tying this in with connected learning, I think that it provides an opportunity for those who may not be interested in teaching due to the ‘old fashioned’ lecture based style, to really become passionate about teaching. Sometimes the way the message (or, class material) is presented can really get both instructors and students more motivated to engage and participate. I’m interested to learn more about the ways we can incorporate technologies into our own classrooms that I have not encountered before.

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