An Agenda for Research and Design
This report is a synthesis of ongoing research, design, and implementation of an approach to education called “connected learning.” It advocates for broadened access to learning that is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement. This model is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive, and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social support to overcome adversity and provide recognition.
The report investigates how we can use new media to foster the growth and sustenance of environments that support connected learning in a broad-based and equitable way. This report also offers a design and reform agenda, grounded in a rich understanding of child development and learning, to promote and test connected learning theories.
Today’s educational institutions are struggling to fulfill their mission of providing pathways to opportunity for all youth. In the past two decades, earnings have dropped for those without high school degrees, while dropout rates have continued to remain high among vulnerable populations. At the same time, privileged families are turning to costly private schools and enrichment activities for an educational edge, preparing their children for a competitive and volatile market for professional and fulfilling jobs.