Landing : Athabascau University

Connected Learning: Knowledge, Networks and Identity

Connected Learning coordinates the individualized learning of students completing different courses at different levels in different locations. Each student would be assigned a faculty mentor to supervise their independent study. Such faculty would support the learner to use the social learning network tools by providing models for interaction and feedback. In addition, mentors would encourage students to participate in other learning groups, sharing their experiences, and cooperating with other students to contribute to group projects.

Connected Learning needs to embrace the principles of blended pedagogy, altering the assignments to make them suitable for use within a social learning network. Building connections shifts the role that learners will have to take from being dependent ontheir instructor and tutors to autonomously going out and finding the experts and resources for themselves. However, students need instruction on how to gather and evaluate information from many different sources, and not just work with what the instructor gives them.

What needs to be asked while observing students engaging in knowledge-building?

How do students find online resources? How do they make notes about these resources? How do they store and organize their resources for future use? How do students document their way-finding process? In what ways can they draw ideas from others and account for the different ways and paths they have found meaning from the work of others? How do they record their own thoughts in a systematic way that holds value after the course or program has finished? How can students shift their focus from the present (with getting the highest grades and getting through the course) to the future (with learning well with the intent of reviewing their content at some future time as part of a portfolio or professional project)?

But Connected Learning cannot just be focused on knowledge building, which consists of data gathering and harvesting, way-finding and sense-making. It needs to also encompass network-building and identity building as well.

What needs to be asked while observing students engaging in Network-Building?

How does a student make sense of their online learning space? How do they navigate through the available resources? Who do they choose to interact with for advice, to receive answers? Why? How do others' experiences and reflections impact personal practices? What tools are used to simplify the collection and filtering and sorting of resources? How are previously created resources re-organized in view of new information? How will students integrate multiple sources into a coherent whole? In what ways do students manage emerging topic themes from their assignments? How can students capture self-talk in a more effective way? How do students perceive the differences in using podcasting, videos, photos, blogging, etc.? How do students account for their own portfolio creation process over time? How do students document what they have learned from the feedback of peers and their instructors? How do students monitor their overall learning activity? How does it compare with others?  How do students organize and evaluate other peers' work in post-performance summaries and critiques? How can students draw in other learning into the formal learning undertaken during this course?

Learning how to learn is crucial; building a knowledge base and cultivating a support network of other learners is also vital; however, learners need to consider how their learning impacts their identity-building as well. Students need to place themselves as the center of their own Personal Viable System (Allenna Leonard's work on the Viable Systems Model), learning to be able to move between various social networks, adjusting and adapting to the roles required, and coordinating and monitoring their efforts.

What needs to be asked while observing students engaging in Identity-Building?

How does the learning environment suit me? What are the available resources, and what gaps exist? What are my own motivations for learning? What challenges do I face? What goals do I have? How am I sometimes frustrated/discouraged in reaching these learning goals? What doubts, concerns am I experiencing? Is my perspective changing? How am I shifting what I do to docment my own learning (outside of course requirements, but connected to the topics?) How do I review and reflect on my personal archive? How does the past work impact current or future work? What self-study tools and aids am I creating and sharing with others? How have I completed my portfolio? How have I transitioned as a personal learner through this course? What challenges have i overcome? How has my personal profile chaged? (if at all). What were my most significant critical learning incidents? Why were they significant? 

Blogging Spheres


Personal Sphere

Academic Sphere






  Sand Box




Writing Type

Self-Sponsored Writing

Non-Formal Performance Writing

Formal Academic Writing

Formal  Performance Writing


Connections Made through…

Reflection, rehearsal, review, revise

Shared insights, story-telling, reporting, witnessing, visioning

Berry-picking, piling, jigging, setting, weaving, path-finding, path-making, sense-making, path-sharing, sense-giving

Awareness, articulation, aggregate, reuse, remix, feed-forward, process capture, product creation, and review








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