Connected Learning may be implemented using Project-Based Learning approach

Connected learning can be regarded as a framework of an education system/approach that follow several principles helping students in learning, which includes: interest powered, production centered, peer supported, shared purpose, academic oriented, openly networked. It empowers students with the responsibility to learn from various network resources, curiously engage them to think critically in the area of their interest and to become lifelong learners. The link http://connectedlearning.tv/what-is-connected-learning and http://clalliance.org/why-connected-learning/ provides a nice background about connected learning, its need in the modern world and examples of how it has been implemented in several places.

I read about connected learning, it seemed to me that all the principles of connected learning can be implemented using project based learning (PBL) approach. PBL is implemented in engineering classrooms to help students solve real-world ill-structured problems/projects by actively and co-operatively engaging students in the tasks, which helps students to succeed. The PBL classroom implementing connected learning can design the projects according to the interests of the students (by letting students chose their project) along with achieving certain learning outcomes of the course. These projects can be aimed towards producing some kind of solution that can contribute to real-world problems (for example a software application designed of grandparents to do certain task). The principles of interest powered and production centered can be thus implemented using PBL as well as it can aim to attain academic learning. Again, in PBL environment, each member in a group shares a common interest of learning the course material, thus they have shared purpose, which help them to learn from each other and ultimately finish the project. Moreover, in PBL setting, peers from different groups can provide feedback to other groups, which help in strengthening the project output. Lastly, the unlimited networked resources assist students in succeeding through many phases of the project. For example, during project definition, students can understand the context of the project better by gathering information about the specific problem or during alternate solution generation phase, they can explore the pros and cons of different solutions of various communities engaged with similar problem to come up with their innovative solutions. Therefore, PBL is a good way to implement connected learning in a classroom setting.

One thought on “Connected Learning may be implemented using Project-Based Learning approach”

  1. I agree that project-based learning can help implement some of the principles of connected learning. However, I’m not sure that it is a guarantee, or at the least using projects is non-trivial.

    Students aren’t always interested in the project they have to work on, or the people they have to work with. By assigning project specifications and team members to each person, this can give them a narrow width in which to find interest. One way to try to mitigate this may be to try to leave the projects as broad and open-ended as possible, and have project teams choose what they would like to do. This allows them to pick what intrigues them. They could also pick who they want to work with. This still has problems in that some projects can be only so open-ended, and that members may have to compromise what they want to do for the majority vote. Similarly, there would only be so many other students to choose to work with. Some individuals even like to work alone and being in a team at all could be upsetting.

    Further, some team members may not contribute to the project very much, may not exchange emails, not make it to meetings, etc. This curtails both the individual’s and the group’s level of connectedness and sharing. Again, this is something else that would need to be considered when designing a project. Perhaps have required team meetings? Or have members evaluate and report others’ performance? Even though it is a group project, having ways to measure individual contribution and performance may be useful.

    I think project-based learning is a good avenue to consider with connected learning, it just needs to be done with a lot of thought and care.

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