5 Connected Learning

The “connected” in the name of this instructional approach refers to the practice of helping students create connections within and across academic experiences, professional aspirations, personal interests, and community contexts in order to enhance student engagement and deeper learning.

Students engage in personally meaningful project-based learning that results in the creation of a product or service intended to be used by an authentic audience. Learning activities are based on practices commonly found in 21st-century participatory culture, and products typically involve the use of digital tools or platforms.

Ito et al. (2013) offer a framework for connected learning design that includes the following components:

  • Peer supported: Students learn from giving and receiving peer-to-peer feedback.
  • Interest powered: Students learn from engaging in projects that are personally interesting and relevant.
  • Academically oriented: Students flourish when they make connections between school, personal interests, and goals for the future.
  • Production centered: Learning experiences are project- and production- focused, with students using a range of media, personal knowledge, and cultural content for authentic and concrete purposes.
  • Shared purpose: Learning experiences are collaborative or cooperative, when possible, or at least provide opportunities for peer learning and feedback.
  • Openly networked: Learning experiences harness online platforms and digital tools, when possible, to enhance the quality of end products, increase accessibility to resources and audiences, and improve digital literacy and practice.

Practice examples

Select the following links to read more about connected learning:


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