Connected and Digital: A Reflection

Today I had the opportunity to be a panelist on a webinar entitled, “Connected and Digital: Improving Learning for All Students,” put on by the Alliance for Excellent Education in conjunction with Digital Learning Day and their Digital Learning Transition MOOC.

I’ve been exploring connected learning for a while now, and love the way the learning principles:

  • interest driven
  • peer supported
  • academically oriented

and design principles:

  • production-centered
  • openly networked
  • shared purpose

work together to create a powerful dynamic for learning.  In my view, connected learning is the embodiment of what it means to be a lifelong learner, learning because you want to, because you are interested, because you find it compelling and enjoyable.  And that is what I want for myself and for my students.  And just like my students, sometimes my interest in a topic or activity is piqued because someone drew my attention to something I didn’t even know that I wanted to learn about.

When I was invited to talk about connected learning and digital learning and the relationship between the two I had a little laugh at myself.  A couple of years ago I remember asking over and over again, as part of a group exploring connected learning, if connected learning meant digital learning.  And while I was given answers, it was this summer when I participated in the Connected Learning MOOC (clmooc) that I came to a firm understanding that all connected learning doesn’t have to be digital, but that digital tools allow for an amplification of learning that is often not possible without it.  I know it has had a profound impact on my photography as I share my efforts and connect with others across the nation and all over the world who have similar interests.

What I loved most about my experience on the panel today was the opportunity to think deeply and carefully about why I believe connected and digital learning are important in schools and their relationship to issues of equity and access.  Mary Ann Wolf, who moderated the webinar, took the time before the actual webinar to talk with each of the panelists separately about our experiences and views and then constructed a series of questions for us to think about a few days prior to today’s event.  I like the question/answer format, that while structured, still allows for a flow of ideas and responses to one another’s ideas.

I also like that although I was one of the panelists and had already done a lot of thinking about this topic, I found the conversation interesting, illuminating, and stimulating.  Comments made and information shared by Bud Hunt and Sara Hall have me thinking about aspects of connected and digital learning that I haven’t given my full attention just yet.  I left the hour-long conversation with a full brain and many more ideas to think about, as well as resources to explore and new contacts to reach out to in this journey.

If you are interested, here is the archived version of the webinar:

What do you think about connected learning and digital learning?  How are they enacted in your classroom?  In your life?

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