The connected learning model bridges a gap between formal education (learning in the school) and informal education (learning outside of the class). In other words, connected learning consists of a student “pursuing a personal interest or passion, with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement” (Gutiérrez, et al., p.4). For example, a student’s passion for writing or drawing fan fiction content, can enhance writing skills and can be used during school assignments or writing portfolios (that may be used for applications). An important component of this is social collaboration and feedback from others.
The model identifies current issues with current educational institutions and systems and its lack of equitable opportunities. Current schooling often highlights the academic achievements of certain students and it does not provide a diverse set of learning opportunities for all students. Through this, “we risk reinforcing an educational system that only serves the interests of elites, breeding a culture of competition for scarce opportunities” (Gutiérrez, et al., p. 14).
The connected model provides more opportunities for students to engage in academic learning that is engaging and meaningful to them. In placement, my MT implemented a similar concept in which students presented a project about an interest, skill or hobby of theirs. Students worked together in groups based on shared interests and the presentation format was optional (i.e. writing, video, song, visual arts, etc.). These teaching practices work to increase student engagement, as the content is student-driven and meaningful.
As a teacher, I will work to help students make the connection between their interests and academic studies. They are not mutually exclusive and I will provide students the opportunity to collaborate and engage in their interests, while simultaneously flourish as academic learners.
Gutiérrez, K., Ito, M., Livingstone S., Salen, K., Schor S., Sefton-Green, Watkins, C.
(2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.