12598 BB: Building a Connected Learning Model within Chicago Public Schools

06/11/2015 @ 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
The Orpheum B

Organizers: Mindy Faber, Don LaBonte, Nathan Phillips
Presenters: Nathan Phillips, Becca Woodard, Kim Richards, Mindy Faber, Don LaBonte
Discussant: Julie Keane

Much of the research on connected learning has focused on informal sites of learning rather than examining how schools and teachers can support such work. In this panel, compelling case studies will be shared that break new ground in researching and documenting the possibilities and challenges of bringing connected learning into high-need, urban public schools.

Convergence Academies is a whole school digital integration model developed by the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. The model is being implemented over three years with the support of a DOE funded “Investing in Innovation” grant in two high need public schools (1,200 students, 60 teachers and school leaders).

This panel brings together researchers and project leaders to engage the DML community in a dialogue about what school-based education reform might look like within a Connected Learning framework.

By grounding this panel presentation around case studies and micro-ethnographies, we will share findings that exemplify four strategies for enacting a Connected Learning model in urban schools:

  • Cultivating professional learning communities that build teacher capacity to assume dispositions as connected educators, learning designers and drivers of change within their own schools.
  • Designing production-centered student spaces that provide mentorship, tools, challenges and partnerships with out of school domains to support student interest and choice along diverse learning pathways.
  • Creating frameworks and tools to support classroom-based learning structures that bring relevance, meaning and engagement to academic learning.
  • Leveraging the strengths of multiple stakeholders to support equity-driven transformation

Phillips’ presentation will explore the Digital Atelier, a designed learning environment that encourages student production-centered play, participatory agency and creativity. This case study takes a learning-in-place (Leander, et al., 2010) perspective that views processes of learning and interaction within the school and the digital atelier as connected to flows of culture, history, bodies, and politics streaming within, across, and without the “boundaries” of the school (Nespor, 1997).

Woodard’s presentation will show that although much work situates students as learners who draw from diverse funds of knowledge (Hull & Schultz, 2002; Moje et al., 2004), teachers are often depicted primarily in their roles as representatives of the official discourses of school. Woodard argues for the importance of locating, not just students, but also teachers as participants across varied sociocultural contexts who draw from a wide range of resources in their practice. Applying a connected learning theoretical framework to teacher practice, this paper examines a grade-level team of teachers’ diverse pathways to knowledge.

Richards’ presentation will examine how academic learning and youth cultures are integrated through six instructional designs or pillars; collaboration, authentic participation, play, choice of expression, critical response, and iterative learning. Curriculum structured around the 3Cs of Connect, Consume, Create works in tandem with the 6 Pillars to support Connected Learning principles within classroom based structures.

Project Directors will contextualize the project and also state the need for working in cross agency partnerships to create roadmaps that can lead to collective impact.

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