Connected Learning

What would it look like if we redesigned school for the world of tomorrow?

The world is changing faster than ever. Education is not.

65% of current elementary students will work in jobs yet to be invented. How do we prepare kids for an unknowable future?
Societal and technological shifts have revolutionized almost all aspects of life—including the way we work, entertain ourselves, shop and connect with others. Yet, our education system, at its core, is largely similar to how it was 100 years ago. It has been tweaked—assessments have been adapted, new subjects have been added, technology has been bolted on and new approaches to teaching have been tested—but the logic is the same: kids go to school in a physical building with others from their community where they are instructed in academic disciplines and, usually, assessed via high-stakes tests. It is no surprise that the approach to education has not fundamentally evolved. After all, it is a large, entrenched system, but this is no reason that it should not change.
"Our task is to educate their (our students') whole being so they can face the future. We may not see the future, but they will and our job is to help them make something of it." -Sir Ken Robinson
Questioning the status quo
  • In a world where we work and engage with people across the globe, does it still make sense to send kids to hyper-local schools with others just like them?
  • In a world where technology allows kids to learn at exactly the pace that is right for them, does it still make sense to standardize curriculum based on age?
  • In a world where people can work from anywhere and schedules are flexible, does it still make sense for schools to be so rigid?
  • In a world where success will depend far more on fundamentals like adaptability, creativity, critical thinking and EQ than on knowledge, does it still make sense to focus only on academic disciplines?

A paradigm shift is needed

For K-12 learning to meet the needs of the digital age, the following shifts need to take place:

Traditional school

New learning paradigm

Schools bring together kids from the same neighborhood, limiting racial, socioeconomic and political diversity and creating deep inequity in the quality of schools.
Rather than being limited by zip code, kids access a diversity of others from across their nation and the world because virtual learning eliminates boundaries.
Technology is used within the constraints of the existing system (one that was designed for pens, paper and textbooks), which limits its power to truly revolutionize learning.
Instead of fitting technology into an existing educational model, technology is used to completely reimagine how learning happens.
There is limited opportunity for kids to pursue what interests them, to move at their own pace, to manage their own schedules and to be independent.
Kids have considerable control over what they learn, how they learn it, when they learn and even where they are in the world when they learn. And they always know why they are learning what they are learning.
Extrinsic motivation
The goal of students is to get good grades and test scores to get a good job and stay there.
Intrinsic motivation
The goal is for kids to be motivated by the joy of learning and the satisfaction of achieving their potential so that they become self-motivated lifelong learners capable of reinventing their careers many times over in the course of their lives.
The primary purpose of school is to pass on information in core academic subjects and measure how well it is retained.
The primary purpose of learning is more than academics; it is to also develop fundamental skills and qualities essential to success in the 21st century: critical thinking, creativity, adaptability, EQ, communications skills and more.
Prior to the internet, the teacher was the holder of knowledge, and their role was to pass it on.
Thanks to the internet, high quality, engaging educational content is readily available, obviating the need for lectures. Teachers are freed to focus on mentoring students, providing rich feedback and facilitating meaningful discussions.
Curriculum is broken into distinct academic subjects with limited connection to one another.
Kids solve real-world problems that require them to apply skills and learning from multiple academic disciplines simultaneously. After all, the real world isn’t divided into school subjects.
Curriculum tends to be theoretical in nature with limited opportunities for applied, real-world learning.
Kids apply knowledge and skills to hands-on and/or real-world settings, creative projects or directed research.

Connected Learning is
the new paradigm

A new class of modern education companies is emerging to meet the needs of kids in the 21st century. Rather than tweaking our existing education system, they aim to reimagine education from the ground up. While they vary in terms of specific models and approaches, they share a common set of principles: they embrace technology; they break-down geographic silos; and they customize education to the needs and interests of the individual child. They offer a fundamentally more connected form of learning—connected to the world, connected to technology and connected to ourselves.
The three pillars of Connected Learning
Pillar #1
Globally connected

Connected Learning Networks are committed to breaking down the socioeconomic, racial, political and national silos that are perpetuated by the traditional zoned approach to schooling. By leveraging online learning, Connected Learning Networks bring together kids from different regions, nations, backgrounds and perspectives. They take a global approach to learning—focusing curriculum on important world and societal issues and encouraging kids to share and learn from their diverse experiences. They recognize that we increasingly live in a world where people will not live and work in the same community in which they grew up. It aims to provide kids with a global network, an appreciation for diversity and a desire to affect change at a global scale.

Pillar #2
Digitally connected

Rather than bolting technology onto an existing educational model, Connected Learning Networks leverage technology to fundamentally rethink how education happens. They embrace technology as a way to make learning more personalized, accessible and globally connected. Textbooks and lectures are replaced by the internet and live video, and kids are able to learn from home or anywhere.  Technology is constantly changing, and we can only begin to imagine the opportunities that will exist in the future to make kids’ learning better. Connected Learning Networks are committed to always being at the leading edge of using and developing such technologies and always being open to fundamentally changing the learning model as new opportunities arise.

Pillar #3
Personally connected

Connected Learning Networks celebrate the uniqueness of each child by giving kids considerable control over what they learn and how they learn it and by helping kids tap into their unique strengths and interests. They move away from the traditional approach of standardized curriculum and grouping by grades. They recognize that success in adulthood—especially in tomorrow’s rapidly changing world—will depend on one’s ability to be adaptable, constantly learning and unique. They recognize that in a world where the internet puts knowledge at our fingertips and AI is shaking up the job landscape, bestowing knowledge is far less important than giving kids the tools and mindset to be confident, independent and adaptable lifelong learners. They believe that developing skills like critical thinking, creativity, EQ and communications skills is at least as important as academics.

Education reimagined for the 21st century

Every aspect of our program and curriculum is designed to help kids thrive in a world that is global, technology-driven and rapidly-changing.
Rather than being limited by zip code, you access diverse kids from across your nation and the world. You get the support of a small cohort learning virtually together daily and a global network of such cohorts where kids can make friendships and share ideas.
Digital First
Every aspect leverages the power of technology: there are no text books because the internet contains the best content, you meet and collaborate virtually because this is where life and work is going, your learning is customized to your level and your rate of progression because technology is adaptive.
Life and work is becoming more flexible and less geographically bound - school should too. Connected Learning gives you control over what you learn, how you learn it, when you learn and even where you are in the world when you learn.
A virtual model is without boundaries. You access the best educators wherever they are. You connect with speakers and experts from around the world. The curriculum is designed according to what is most interesting to and important to you, not what is required by school boards and state authorities.
The number one goal of Connected Learning is to ensure kids love learning so they become curious life-long learners. To this end you get choice and independence, curriculum designed around topics that are relevant and interesting, a supportive coach and peer group and the chance to follow your passions.
Skills like critical thinking, creativity, adaptability, EQ and verbal/written communication are at least as important as core academics. Every aspect of Connected Learning - from socratic workshops and team challenges to self-directed badges and social-emotional learning - is designed to develop these skills.
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