We are delighted to share the news about a special issue of the bilingual, Open Access journal Digital Education Review that we co-edited, focused on learning in and across settings and time in the Digital Age. The papers represent work from across the world—from Australia, Finland, Norway, Spain, and the United States — and five of the articles are framed in relation to connected learning.
The volume opens with an introduction we penned together with César Coll. Moisès and Cesar were leaders of a project called Bridging Learning Experiences, which described the out-of-school pursuits of young people in Catalonia. The project culminated in a conference that brought together an international group of scholars to explore cross-cultural themes and differences related to interest-driven learning. Bill was the leader of the longitudinal study of connected learning within the Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN).
It Takes a Network
Together, these articles underscore the critical role of supportive contexts in interest-related learning. They are rich with examples of how to promote more equitable learning across settings and time. These lessons include:
- Create social and material opportunities for young people to pursue a wide variety of interest-related activities. Without social and material supports, it is difficult for young people to discover new interests and develop ones they have.
- Sponsorship is critical for sustaining involvement in connected learning pursuits. Sponsors are not just adults. Peers are key sponsors in many activities that make it worth young people sticking with something they are interested in.
- Involve youth as contributors to organized activities so they have a say in the goals and nature of those activities.
- When studying connected learning, attend to both continuities and discontinuities in interest-related activities. Discontinuities are not always problematic, especially when young people want to keep spheres of activity separate from one another.
Introducing the Papers
In their article, Carrie Allen, Daniela DiGiacomo, Katie Van Horne, and Bill Penuel (USA) analyze conditions for sponsorship into interest-related programming, drawing on data from their longitudinal study of connected learning with the Connected Learning Research Network.
Javier Gonzaléz-Patiño (Spain) presents an expanded learning experience of teachers around a common interest on the pedagogical approaches of Emmi Pikler. The analysis of this experience showcase the diversity and evolution of the trajectories of participation that take place within this community of practice, and the design of its functional elements and protocols intend to inspire an expanded approach in other learning situations.
Alfredo Jornet and Ola Erstad (Norway) present a paper that draws on ethnographic study of an arts-based, community-oriented primary school that explores how the idea of “learning lives” developed by Erstad and CLRN member Julian Sefton-Green might be applied to help us understand the fluid nature of learning and living across settings and time.
Amber Levinson and Brigid Barron (USA) investigate Latinx immigrant families’ use of technology, focusing on family-initiated interest-related activities, highlighting how families make the most of the access they have to devices and content to support family learning.
Raquel Miño Puigcercós (Spain) describes some connections and tensions of youth learning trajectories and experiences across contexts and time: at home, at class, through extracurricular activities, in their free time, when they travel, with their friends and through virtual environments. Among the tensions highlighted are ones that are familiar to scholars in connected learning: when teachers assign a school activity that is related with the youth’s interests, the students did not necessarily connect them and it was in some cases frustrating to them.
Kristiina Kumpulainen, Anu Kajamaa, and Antti Rajala describe how the introduction of a Maker-oriented program into schools, FUSE Studios, shifted teacher-student relationships in the classroom. Some existing patterns of school activity persisted when design challenges were implemented as rote tasks for students to follow, but in other cases, students negotiated with teachers to expand challenges to meet novel learning goals. The findings underscore that the same tools and technological infrastructures can lead either to a reinforcement of existing patterns of relationship or new ones, depending on the social setting.