#YourEdustory – What is Connected Learning and WIIFM?

This prompt had me stumped for a few minutes. I’ve got a bit of a handle on connected learning but what was WIIFM? A new learning theory? The ultimate educational techno app? Some sort of radio station for Nintendo fans? I had to Google it…oh What’s In It For Me – one of those new-fangled acronyms that people apparently speak in these days. I get it now LOLZ.

Well, that makes this week’s topic so much simpler. I’ll start with what I know off the top of my head and then do a bit of digging around to add a bit of credibility.

Connected learning is, but is also more than, connecting what you want students to learn with what they already know and are passionate about. It is allowing students to follow their passions and interests and capitalise on the learning opportunities these present. Connected learning is also about taking advantage of the opportunities our globally connected world presents. Technology can enable learners to connect with other learners of similar interests or with experts in the field, regardless of their age, stage in education, and where they physically are – in the same classroom, city, country or anywhere in the world. It is about giving student’s ownership of what they learn and where and how they learn it. Connected learning is social and participatory. With connected learning every student can be a teacher and every teacher a learner too.

WIIFM? It’s pretty much a no-brainer I think. Think about yourself – when have you learnt the most and with the most enjoyment? 9 times out of 10 I’d say it’s when it is related to something you are passionate about. I’ve always maintained, particularly with things relating to technology, that there’s no point learning how to do something unless you have an immediate need for that skill. And I don’t mean it’s just pointless, rather that you won’t learn it effectively and retain your new knowledge or skills. It’s part of why my motto is “Learn, do, teach”.

So what’s in it for me is students who are engaged and interested in what they are doing. Students who don’t actually view what they are doing as “work”. My daughter recently started in year 11. She plays the cello and is studying VCE music. I was taken aback and impressed at how excited she was when she got her timetable and discovered she has music three times a week (instead of three times a fortnight previously) and made the comment “it’s not like class, it’s what I do”. I’m so pleased for her that for at least one of her subjects she has passion as a motivator.

If you google Connected learning you’ll find the Connected Learning site, a project of DML Research Hub and Connected Learning Alliance. I don’t think these organisations “own” connected learning as such but with the likes of Howard Rheingold and Mimi Ito behind them their credibility and authority is pretty high. And their websites provide lots of useful case studies, stories, ideas, videos and links including this great infographic which sums it up pretty neatly I think:

Connected Learning