New institutions and new practices, as they arise in a highly unequal and stratified society … will take on those inequalities unless they are actively combated.
—Juliet Shor, Connected Learning Research Network
I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.—Lily Tomlin
Connected Learning is an approach that sees learning as interest-driven, peer supported, and oriented toward powerful outcomes for youth. It encourages production-centered learning in openly networked environments within communities of shared purpose. ED677 is designed to support participants in exploring equity in Connected Learning design and learning through engaging in these same practices. In this way this course strives to be a connected course about connected learning where we all work together as connected educators.
Why equity? Why connected?
The quote above from Juliet Shor comes from a 2013 webinar called Connected Learning As Pathway to Equity & Opportunity and was prompted by discussions in the larger field. In a more recent 2017 report focused on learning technologies released by the Connected Learning Alliance called From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes: Equity by Design in Learning Technologies, authors Justin Reich and Mimi Ito state that “… [new forms of learning] technologies hold tremendous promise for improving learning experiences and outcomes. Despite this promise, however, evidence is mounting that these new technologies tend to be used and accessed in unequal ways, and they may even exacerbate inequality.”
Equity is one of the key values of Connected Learning, along with learning that is social and participatory. But how do we get there? How can we engage in connected learning principles and practices in equitable ways in our learning as well as in our teaching? What kind of equitable ecosystems can we build together with youth as well as colleagues? In what ways are we considering the use of networked technologies that hold promise but may also exacerbate inequality? What critical questions are raised and what are the implications?
The assumptions of this course include:
- We are all learners and teachers.
- In order to design connected learning opportunities for the youth we work with, we need to be connected learners ourselves.
- In order to support connected learning in social, participatory and equitable ways for all learners, we must challenge ourselves to critically investigate what we are doing, why, and to what end.
- In order to expand our experiences we need to play, create and reflect together with new tools, techniques, ideas, materials and communities.
- In order to be connected learners as educators we will need to connect as peers as well to the larger field of learning and teaching.
Images by Christina Cantrill and licensed cc-by-sa. Relief image from A Quest for Parity, Philadelphia tribute to Octavius Catto at City Hall. Public installation image of Immigrant Alphabet at Philadelphia Municipal Building.