Theories of Connected Learning

The simplest way to define a theory is that it is a way of explaining how something works, or why something happens the way that it does. To understand connected learning, and to create effective connected learning environments, we need to understand how learning happens. Several wise people (their names are listed in the reference list at the end of the infographic) have developed explanations, or theories, as to how learning happens. These theories are very extensive, because learning is complex, and happens in different ways according to the context, the individual and the circumstances. What I present below is...

Creating Connections – understanding research terminology

If there is one thing that I have learnt in the twelve months of doctoral research I have undertaken, it is that in the Social Sciences, everyone has their own definition – for everything. Almost every word encountered, even ones you thought you understood, such as ‘paradigm’, ‘concept’, ‘model’, and ‘conceptual framework’ has many different interpretations. This does not make research easier. In fact, it makes what can be dense, heavy texts even more opaque, as terms are used in different ways, to mean different things, in different contexts. From one author/researcher to another, and even from one article to...

Learning through Connections – in theory

So part of the reason I am keeping this blog is so I can share with you the research I am undertaking as part of my doctoral studies. Writing about the ‘stuff’ that I have been reading and thinking about for my studies in a blog post is great. I love it. Why? Because when I take the time to explain what I have learnt in my own words (and in a way that is less formal than my thesis requires) I often find that I develop a deeper understanding of it, and feel more confident about writing and talking...

Networks, Networking and Network Literacy – Part One

As I continue my research into how teachers experience learning through Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), I am spending a lot of time learning about networks, networking and network literacy. Before the internet became almost ubiquitous in the developed world, to many people the idea of networking may have meant dressing in business clothes, and attending some type of function,  making small talk and exchanging business cards. Conferences and functions such as this still occur, and certain industries still depend on having the right background and knowing the ‘right’ people. However, networking is rapidly changing, and having network literacy now means more than the...

Networks and Webs – inspired by a metaphor

I love reading the work of Jenny Mackness. She is an independent researcher, who blogs about many topics that aligned with areas that are of great interest to me. Her most recent post was called “New Metaphors for Learning“, and it got me thinking about how much we rely on metaphors for understanding, and how the metaphor has come particularly alive now that we are all able to create and share visual and multimedia to express ourselves online. Jenny observes that once you begin thinking about metaphors for learning, you realise they are everywhere. She points to this fantastic presentation...

Go back in Time – for real! (No Dr Who spoilers :-))

So…true story. I found an awesome research article yesterday. What made it especially awesome was that it referred to a paper which looked EVEN MORE awesome! I know, sometimes I get excited about strange things. The reference list even had a url for this most awesome article, which happened to be a conference paper delivered in 2010. I clicked on the link and….404! Page Not Found! Noooooo! Normally, this would be enough to make anyone throw up their hands in frustration and decide that the day was better spent binge watching Netflix. But not for me. I had a secret...

Making Your Practice Public: the special sauce of professional learning!

During my studies, I have been reading a lot of research about what makes professional learning effective. Professional learning is something that governments, education systems and schools invest a lot of money in, and so as you can imagine, there is quite a lot of research about what ‘works’ and what doesn’t. In fact, there was a recent meta-analysis that included fifteen research reviews, which altogether  included 550 studies, all looking into exactly this: what key features are found in effective professional learning. What is considered effective professional learning? While what makes professional learning effective for one teacher may be completely different...

Professional Learning, Professional Development…what’s in a name?

I will admit that earlier in my career, I looked forward to professional development opportunities as a chance to escape the classroom, spend the day with adults, conversing at a professional level and enjoying a lunch where I could actually sit down and digest my food, and maybe even drink a coffee while it was still hot. While I was teaching in the Early Years, the intense pressure of meeting the needs of 30 little beings was something I loved, but also something that I occasionally needed to run away from. I tended to think of professional development days as...