Connected Learning Before the Blog

Credit: Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub (infographic not properly embedding…)

Connected Learning Before the Blog

I’ll be honest. This infographic makes about as much sense to me as the raw data from an MRI scan.

I pulled up this graphic the way I might a dictionary. I wanted a definition – “what is connected learning?” But in reality, I am rarely ever satisfied looking up just the definition of a word. I never feel that I know a word until I know the history of the word – the roots and the parts of a word. And now pedagogy is treating me a bit like the English language. I am walking into a lingo with which I am not familiar.

I’m catching bits and pieces: Connecting learning is about “connecting the many spheres of [one’s] life — peers, interests and academic pursuits.”  Connected learning is about “how to learn and how to engage and how to be flexible and adaptive and find communities and have ideas about things that [one] want[s] to do now” (  These sound like great things, but I just walked into a room in which everything is strung together, connected to everything else, and I’m not really sure I can tell you at first glance what it is I am actually looking at.

Here is the framework outlined by the Connected Learning Research Network. Here is the framework and terminology they present.

  1. The contexts
    1. Peer-supported
    2. Interest-powered
    3. Academically oriented
  2. The properties
    1. Production-centered
    2. Shared purpose
    3. Openly networked
  3. The design principles
    1. Enable everyone to participate
    2. Make learning experiential
    3. Provide constant challenges
    4. Allow for reflection, planning, and connecting the two

And holding all of these characteristics together, is the idea that media magnifies.

This is still very broad, so I decided if I am going to really understand what we mean when we say “connected learning,” I need to know about the history of this too, not just the definition.

The “connected teaching” model was developed by Mary Field Belenky in 1986 in her book “Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind.”   In 1990, the method was described as an efficient way of engaging a diverse group of students, by Charles S. Claxton in his paper “Learning Styles, Minority Students, and Effective Education.”  While the praxis has changed to include technology at the core of connected learning, the idea has always been to find ways to engage people with diverse backgrounds.