A Vision for Connected Learning at PA
In the Fall 2013 edition of Andover Magazine, Head of School John Palfrey offers this definition of Connected Learning at Andover: “(it) means that we focus on the interconnected learning experiences of our students in a vibrant, diverse residential community. We encourage students to learn from teachers in traditional classroom settings as well as from the many communities with which they engage, online and face-to face—peers, mentors, sports teams, global communities, those engaged in public service—and to draw meaningful connections between and among those experiences.”
Connected Learning is a powerful and positive frame through which to think about all the ways that we—as Andover teachers and administrators, coaches, community members, and co-learners—can support and guide students as they learn within and among their varied experiences. It invites us to understand and embrace our students’ desire for a different kind of teaching and to partner with them in their efforts to process, reflect on, and grow through their exposure and interactions with different concepts, disciplines, technologies, people, and environments.
Rather than starting with technology and applying it to education, Connected Learning begins with a belief in the value of varied learning experiences and asks us to consider how “technology and other affordances of our day can improve student learning and our approaches to teaching.” Connected Learning propels us to think creatively about the variety of people and tools that enable students to explore deeply, proactively pursue their interests and shape their particular learning trajectory, and conceive of their own education in the broadest possible terms.
These concepts are both inspired by and echo conversations around the future of education that are happening on a national scale, and in particular, via the work of the Connected Learning network. Educators and scholars, students, learners, designers, coders and other participants are aligned in their desire to help students to draw deeper connections between school and life beyond the classroom. They emphasize the need to teach skills such as creative and design thinking, problem-solving and effective communication. These skills, coupled with a networked, interest-driven approach, can uncover and “create new pathways to college, career and civic pursuits.”
Connected learning is about much more than plugging youth into technology. It’s about forging links between classroom academics, students’ interests, and opportunities for youth to engage socially with peers and mentors. It’s about empowering students to transition from passive recipients of discrete knowledge into active and engaged learners who discover, connect, invent, and produce – and along the way acquire the higher-order skills they need to thrive in the today’s world. (From the Connected Learning Checklist)
For more examples of Connected Learning at PA, see: A Course in Experiments: Connected Learning through Game Design and Connected Learning in Practice: the Sidney R. Knafel Map Collection.