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.



3 thoughts on “Connected Learning Before the Blog”

  1. This is very interesting stuff! Thank you for bringing together the visual representation, outline and history of “connected learning.”

    I, too, have been struggling with the definition of this and what it means in today’s society. Your post helped me to see that “connected learning” is likely intentionally broad and may really be a tool of inspiration, a phrase developed to spark a discussion about how we may expand upon our traditional teaching methods to incorporate new information outlets into effective learning experiences for all learners. Regardless of the definition, it seems to be working as this concept seems to be becoming more popular and, based on its history as a way to engage people of diverse backgrounds, I think universities are ideal places to begin the process of incorporating “connected learning” into the mainstream.

  2. Really love this figure even though it definitely is quite busy. You bring up an interesting point about connected learning. When it is done poorly or without thought, it can seriously detract from the learning experience. Connected learning is about enhancing the learning experience of a student by utilizing new technologies and communities. If you just throw a bunch of technology at students and tell them it will help with their learning…well it probably won’t. Our role as educators is to show them how to utilize these tools to bolster their knowledge and understanding of the topics we are so passionate about.

  3. I appreciate you taking the time to pick apart the various given definitions of Connected Learning and showing that it is a very broad concept. I think a fairly common trap that many of us who are new to the idea of Connected Learning fall into is that it takes only certain specific forms and can only be done in particular ways. We naturally confine ourselves to the examples we see, but Connected Learning can clearly be adapted to many different situations.

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