When you hear the word “learning”, what comes to your mind? Probably, you’d think of a classroom, teacher, lessons, books, blackboards and such. This is not surprising because, for decades, this has been the standard classroom structure.
The teacher imparts his or her knowledge of the subject with the help of resources such as books, and the students are expected to absorb this information. There have been small developments, such as using modern electronic devices and utilizing eLearning tools through the Internet. However, when you look at it in the bigger picture, the way we learn in school has barely evolved, especially in contrast to how the society and environment around us are drastically changing.
Because of the development of technology and the Internet, students of all ages have been showing more interest in things like reading blogs, watching online videos, and chatting with friends, which are seemingly unrelated to the lessons being taught in the classroom. This frustrates a lot of teachers, as kids these days tend to see lessons in class as being more boring than what they can learn outside the classroom. This is where Connected Learning offers an alternative.
What is Connected Learning?
Connected Learning is a kind of learning model that integrates academics, personal interests, peer relations, and other career-related areas with the help of digital technology. Recognizing that all these components create a person’s learning environment puts the learner at the center of this learning network, wherein specific components may vary from individual to individual. The learner will then actively take part in expanding his or her knowledge by making more and new connections in this network. Connected learning consists of multiple directions and multiple layers, giving a more holistic approach to learning.
Connected Learning’s Values and Principles
Connected learning is defined by its values and principles rather than by a certain method or technology. Proponents of this model believe that learning flourishes and is more meaningful when it is available to everyone, when all members of the community actively participate in the learning experience, and when learning takes place in the context of a social relationship and shared values.
In its commitment to these core values, connected learning builds on three long-standing learning principles. First is that interest motivates an individual to gain new knowledge or skills. Simply put, the more relevant the topic is to the learner, the more he or she learns. Next is that peer-supported learning encourages the learner to be more engaged in the learning process, making them give feedback to each other, share, contribute ideas. Lastly, Connected Learning recognizes the importance of linking the peer culture and interest-driven activities to academic studies towards intellectual growth and real-world opportunities.
Furthermore, Connected Learning takes advantage of today’s technology and digital media to make learning even more effective. Through social media and web-based communities, learners can share common interests and goals not only with same-aged peers but also with adults of different backgrounds. Digital tools also enable individuals to create, design, and experiment actively, all of which develop the mentalities and skills for lifelong learning. The Internet and various online platforms make an abundance of learning resources available to the learners. Learning is also reinforced by creating a link between school, home, and community. Connected Learning utilizes these technologies to integrate the learning principles, thereby creating a more powerful learning experience.
How can it work in the classroom?
The Connected Learning approach incorporates real-world connection into academic disciplines such as science, math, and history. The students, with the guidance of their educators, make these connections by utilizing online resources or tools to deepen their knowledge of the subject and by giving and getting feedback from peers and teachers. They create their learning pathway towards academic success in accordance with their interests and goals. This develops the learning dispositions needed for mastery and problem solving instead of just memorizing information. By doing this, Connected Learning enables the learners to apply and use these developed skills to other areas within or beyond the school setting.
Connected Learning is still in its early stages of development, but it has the potential of being the game changer when it comes to learning.
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