What is Connected Learning?

Social Media Icons

Connected learning builds on what researchers have long known about the value and effectiveness of interest-driven, peer-supported and academically relevant learning. This type of learning seeks to tie together the knowledge we have on how youth best learn with the opportunities made available through today’s networked world. Connected learning calls on today’s interactive and networked media in an effort to make these forms of learning more effective, better integrated, and broadly accessible to expand the reach of meaningful and sustained learning.

The Connected Learning movement argues that we are living in a historical moment of transformation in the creation and sharing of knowledge, in social, political, and economic life, and in global connectedness.” Educator Innovator

Connected learning recognizes the influence of a number of different overlapping areas in the creation of learning opportunities.

  • Experiences
  • Interests
  • Technology
  • People
  • Communities
  • Academics


Three values at the core of connected learning:

1.       Equity – When educational opportunity is available to all people, it contributes positively to the greater good of the world we live in.

2.       Social Connection – Learning is most meaningful when it is a part of valued social connections and relationships (i.e., tied to real life experiences).

3.       Full Participation – Learning environments and communities thrive when all members are actively engaged and participating.


In order to realize these values, connected learning seeks to integrate the learning that young people pursue based on the following three learning principles:

* Interest-powered – Learners who are interested in what they are learning achieve higher learning outcomes.

* Peer-supported – Among friends and peers, young people are more apt to contribute, share, and give feedback to one another, producing more powerful learning.

* Academically oriented –Connected learning recognizes the importance of academic success for intellectual growth as well as creating an avenue towards community engagement, economic and career opportunity.  


The following design principles involve integrating the spheres of interests, peers, and academics, and broadening access through the power of today’s technology.

* Shared purpose -- Social media and web-based communities provide exceptional opportunities for learners, parents, teachers, and peers to engage in shared projects of a common interest. Cross-generational and cross-cultural learning and connection thrive around common goals and interests.

* Production-centered -- Digital tools provide opportunities for learners to produce and share a wide variety of media, knowledge and content in creative and experimental ways. 

* Openly networked -- Online platforms and digital tools can make learning resources accessible and visible across all learner settings. Connected learning environments are designed around networks that link together associations and groups across various sectors, including popular culture, educational institutions, home, and interest communities.


Today's technologies make resources, opportunities, and learning accessible to many more young people, resulting in a greater equity in education.  By engaging the learner and creating authentic learning experiences; educators help connect learners to their studies, workplace, communities as well as to their world.  







By Kris Powers | March 4th 2014

Sign up for our Newsletter!