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4 Core Principles of Connected Learning

Connected learning — education that uses digital media to engage students and encourage communication, collaboration and critical thinking — is the key to student success in the information age, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The 4 Principles
The report, "Connected Learning: Harnessing the Information Age to Make Learning More Powerful," identifies four key components of a connected approach to learning.

  1. Make learners the focus. This involves helping students become lifelong learners and develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century.
  2. Help students make the connection between their own interests and their academic studies and also connect with inspiring mentors and peers to improve student engagement.
  3. Learning is continuous. Continuous learning involves linking learning to school, home and the community, so it can happen in any setting.
  4. Finally, Help learners become makers and producers by teaching them to experiment, create, produce and design.

According to the report, by incorporating these four principles into education, schools can improve student engagement and, consequently, increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for future success in college or the workforce.

A Fourth 'R'
The report identified relevance as the fourth "R," after reading, writing and arithmetic, and each of the four keys to connected learning relate to making education relevant to students as a way to help them succeed.

“In today’s digital age and global economy, students need skills that cannot be learned by highlighting facts in a textbook or filling in blanks on a worksheet. Connected learning leverages students’ interests to master core academic concepts and deeper learning skills, while equipping them with a lifelong interest in learning,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, in a prepared statement.

The full report, "Connected Learning: Harnessing the Information Age to Make Learning More Powerful," is available as a free PDF download from the Alliance for Excellent Education's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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