Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Craig Watkins, S. (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Connected learning is an approach to education that calls for 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.” (p. 4)

It has an equity agenda, aiming to create learning opportunities that engage nondominant youth and promote their academic, civic, or economic achievement. Connected learning experiences are production-centered, openly networked, and bring learners together around a shared purpose. While connected learning isn’t dependent on new media, new media provides many opportunities for creating connected learning environments. (See p. 12 for more.)

“Our argument is that for too many young people—particularly our most vulnerable populations of youth— their formal education is disconnected to the other meaningful social contexts in their everyday life, whether that is peer relations, family life, or their work and career aspirations. The connected learning model posits that by focusing educational attention on the links between different spheres of learning—peer culture, interests and academic subjects—we can better support interest-driven and meaningful learning in ways that take advantage of the democratizing potential of digital networks and online resources.” p. 87

“The connected learning model is an effort at articulating a research and design effort that cuts across the boundaries that have traditionally separated institutions of education, popular culture, home, and community.” p. 87