The Final Report from the Connected Learning Research Network: Reflections on a Decade of Engaged Scholarship

I am one of the co-authors of the final report of  The Connected Learning Research Network: Reflections on a Decade of Engaged Scholarship. We report on a decade’s work of MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network.

The new report describes the connected learning approach and research in the context of broader social, economic, and technological changes. Here, we have the benefit of drawing from a number of research studies conducted over the life of the network, learning from partners putting connected learning into practice, as well as dialogue and debate in the network meetings that took place four times a year for nearly ten years. Readers can find substantial updates to the connected learning model and design principles, a new synthesis of research evidence relevant to connected learning, and an overview of the studies conducted by the network.  

In a blog, the lead author of the report, Mimi Ito summarises the connected learning approach as follows:

  • We focus on how to support the interests and development of diverse learners rather than center our work on organizational goals, considering how learning and pursuits span settings such as home, school, community, and online. The focus is not on reforming a particular institution, such as schools or libraries, but on situating these institutions within a broader set of supports for youth pursuits.
  • We conceptualize learning and development as a process of network building, in which building social capital, contributing to collective goals, and belonging to communities is essential. This view is in contrast to approaches to learning that center on individual knowledge and skill acquisition and see education as a linear pipeline and progression.
  • Designing for connected learning takes an ecological and systemic approach, which emphasizes partnerships across sites of learning. It is not about implementing a particular technology or technique. 
  • Rather than see research standing apart, we believe in community-engaged scholarship. The stakeholders we study and seek to benefit have essential knowledge and perspectives that must be at the table in research and design that aims for equity and positive learning outcomes.