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P-Tech Schools: The Remaking of Career, Technical Education

May 30, 2014

For nearly four decades, economists have been discussing what is generally referred to as skill-biased technical change. That is, the degree to which technological transformations — computerization and automation — privileges high-skill workers over low-skill workers. Schools are under increasing pressure to design classrooms, curricula, and learning experiences that help students develop the kinds of design, engineering, and creative skills that are a better fit for innovation economies. One model of s Read More...

Support the n00bs: Community Design for Inclusivity

April 11, 2014

A common topic of discussion among our team of Leveling Up researchers is how communities maintain different barriers to entry. Every community, be it an online forum for Worldwide Wrestling enthusiasts, One Direction fangirls, or Starcraft II players, has its own etiquette and sets of rules for entering the community and becoming a full participant. But for platforms that wish to continually attract a new and engaged user base, designers must think through how to minimize barriers to entry. In essence, lea Read More...

The Powerful Combination of Interests and Peer Culture

April 5, 2014

The connected learning model emphasizes the importance of peer culture and interests in fueling members’ participation and learning in the rich activities and opportunities these communities create. In interest-driven communities, it is the passion or interest that leads people into joining the community (Gee and Hayes 2010). As a researcher who has focused on interest-driven communities, I sometimes take this for granted. But the depth of what this means to members - that they are able to find a communit Read More...

Supports for Help and Feedback in Peer-Supported Communities

March 3, 2014

As I’ve described in a previous post focusing on the professional wrestling community, the Wrestling Boards, help and feedback are key ingredients to an active peer-supported community. Peer-support is one of the three main spheres of the connected learning framework. But what enables help and feedback? Analysis of the Leveling Up case studies suggests two major supports for help and feedback: community design and community culture. Community design refers to the way in which online communities intentiona Read More...

Tracking “Interests” in Interest-Driven Learning Communities

February 19, 2014

Why the interest in interests? Learning researchers have long posited that when animated by passion, learning can be rich, relevant and resilient (Hidi, 1990; Renninger, 2009). The connected learning model, building on part of this research, focuses on supports and mechanisms for building environments that connect the spheres of interests, peer culture, and academic life. Alignment between these spheres is echoed in the learner biographies from our case studies of online communities. Our learner biograph Read More...

What It Takes: All of Us

February 11, 2014

This has been a groundbreaking year for the field of youth mentoring. With little fanfare, two large-scale, rigorous evaluations have been released, both of which suggest mentoring relationships have meaningful impact on young people. First, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada announced a very ambitious, ongoing study. Although still early in the study, researchers David DeWit and Ellen Lipman have found preliminary results that show children with mentors exhibi Read More...

New Research (and a story) about teachers

January 21, 2014

Sometimes a simple anecdote can illustrate a point far better than mounds of research.  It was written by Jerome Groopman, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In this excerpt, from a recent New York Review of Books, Groopman highlights the vital importance of teachers that “get” their students and understand their strengths. I never learned to type. The best I can do is hunt and peck with two fingers while l Read More...

A new year and a new book

January 17, 2014

It’s the start of a new year and time to take stock. It’s been three years since the launch of the Connected Learning Research Network and the Leveling Up project, and a year and a half since the launch of this blog. Along the way, we’ve delved into stories of knitters, boy band and wrestling fans, fashionistas, eSports enthusiasts, and game makers, as well as how the online world is supporting their learning, sharing, and civic engagement. The cases we’ve developed over these years have both confir Read More...

*This* is Learning: How Perceptions of Learning Relevance Matter for Student Success

December 20, 2013

This is the first of a series of posts by the authors on learning and social fields. They draw on multiple research cases to articulate how different contexts determine valued forms of learning. Parent: “I think [Fashion Camp] teaches in an educational way. Is it academic or is it educational? That’s two different things. No, it’s probably not academic from a teacher’s standpoint...I believe 100% of it is educational, but I don’t believe it’s academic.” Interviewer: “So educational meanin Read More...

A Home within Home: Physical Challenges and Online Connected Learning Environments

December 13, 2013

Some of the characteristics of connected learning environments are that they allow for full participation and aim towards equity in their participation.  As we have seen with the fibercrafting community of Hogwarts at Ravelry, the group actively works to keep the group open to and welcoming of members of all backgrounds, setting a low bar for participation in activities and membership in the group. Through member interviews, an interesting theme that has emerged for some Hogwarts at Ravelry members is how Read More...