INF530: Blog Task 2 – Connected learning and digital literacy


Looking back at my initial notes on “connected learning” I have scrawled “What is this? There are no decent succinct definitions!”. This is not a criticism of the course content, it is my usual reaction when confronted by theoretical constructs. However, my reaction is a good bellwether. I do not work in an education institution and if I don’t understand a concept, then it usually follows that others within my organisation will struggle as well. This means that it is worth me documenting not only an understandable explanation (when I find it) but also the process of how I got to that understanding so that I can (hopefully) bring others on the journey.

It was watching the following video a couple of times that helped me to come to grips with what “connected learning” meant.

After watching the above video, I revisited other resources on connected learning, such as this infographic and things made a lot more sense. For my I benefit I came up with the following definition of connected learning:

Learning opportunities are everywhere and people can learn anywhere. Digital enables this as it connects people with resources and communities.

I believe the challenge for students will be the same struggle I myself had with the concept of connected learning. Can they identify what connected learning is and how they can benefit from it? Do they have the skills to think critically about their learning experiences and apply what they learned in one arena to different contexts? I believe an important role that I can take is in helping to curate other possible learning experiences for students/colleagues but also to highlight that people are already having “connected learning” experiences, just in many cases, people don’t realise.

I have been thinking how I can curate resources but also help validate learning that is already occurring. Source: British National Gallery

At the same time as helping colleagues with the concept of “connected learning” there is the need to challenge supervisors and managers within the organisation to accept learning experiences acquired outside of formal learning channels.

For me, connected learning requires digital literacy. Bawden (2008), helped me to come to an understanding of “digital literacy”. My own definition would be:

Where a person actively knows the norms and conventions of a platform (i.e. Could tell you what they are), can use the advanced features of a platform to interrogate the data available, and can think critically about the information they find.

I often feel I have a lack of digital literacy when it comes to some digital platforms.

This differentiates from what I see a lot in my own organisation that I think of as “passive digital literacy”, where a person understands how to use a particular platform to get information but could not explain to you how they would use the platform.

I can see the requirement for metacognition about a digital platform as being vital to students getting the most from connected learning and so I have started to consider how I can help students/colleagues develop this deeper form of digital literacy (and whether I have this type of digital literacy on the platforms I use).



Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from
DMLResearchHub. (2015). Connected Learning: The power of making learning relevant. Retrieved from


  1. Sam, quite a reflective post that illuminates how difficult it is sometimes to understand concepts and then apply them. I appreciate your discussion around this and your sharing of personal definitions and contextual application. Good use of supporting media. I would like to have seen a wider range of literature referred to. A good effort.

  2. Great post Sam! I loved how you used the images to visualise your thinking, as a visual learner myself I found your post easy to understand because of the meaning added by the pictures.

    I also grappled with the concept of digital literacy. I wrote a post on it recently about an interaction I had with one of my students. ( The post references a really good framework on critical digital literacy that you might find beneficial.

    I am very curious what would connected learning look like in your workplace? And I wonder if or how actually different it would be from how it would look in my classroom?

  3. Thanks Claire!

    I really enjoyed the reflection in your blog post and the way one comment from a student prompted you to go on a journey of discovery!

    The framework you shared for digital literacy is really interesting. I think I am going to have to read it through a few more times to get the nuance and difference between a few of the categories e.g. persona and decoding as currently they seem very similar to me.

    When considering your question about connected learning I found the following definition helpful “Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievements” (Ito et al., 2013)

    As I am not a teacher I don’t presume to know how things work in the classroom but I imagine the difference to be:

    Connected learning at younger ages I think would need to be grounded in safety for the student and ensuring the learning medium is appropriate for their age. Once that has been satisfied I imagine it requires the teacher to prompt meta-cognition within the student, so that the student can than appreciate that learning opportunities are all around and are translatable to many situations.

    There is not a great difference within the workplace to that of the classroom but due to the limited time for learning and development at work there is a much larger need for workers to use self-reflection to identify and engage in connected learning that has application within work. The added challenge is demonstrating or explaining how your learning meets a specific work outcome. The challenge for work therefore is how to give workers the skills to identify appropriate connected learning and convey why it is appropriate.

    Would you say that this more focused approach to connected learning is an evolution of connected learning in the classroom? I would be interested to hear your opinion as I could be totally off the mark!

    Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. BookBaby.

  4. I really enjoyed your blog post Sam! As a teacher myself, I feel sometimes I get bogged down in my own perspective of how I see the classrooms and aspects which we frequently talk about such as connected learning.
    In particular I liked the questions you posed:
    Can they identify what connected learning is and how they can benefit from it? Do they have the skills to think critically about their learning experiences and apply what they learned in one arena to different contexts?
    Within my context I have heard the your second question referred to as the ability to know whether they [students] are achieving a surface, deep or transfer level of understanding. Obviously from a teaching perspective you would ideally want all students to reach the transfer level – like you described, the ability to apply what they have learnt in one area to a different context. I feel giving students the language to articulate their knowledge is a step in the right direction to achieving this.

    Your definition of digital literacy connected with me; perhaps you could of included an ability to share this knowledge with someone else? When we are truely digitally literate would one be able to pass this information on to another? Just my wonderings.

    Again – a great blog post!

    • Thanks Angela, and it really helped to hear about it from your perspective.

      As you say, the levels of understanding was definitely what I was trying to define. I only really read about them in this weeks’ module and so it helpful that you have put them in to context!

      Yes, as you raise a good point, digital literacy should (probably) include an ability to share this knowledge with someone else. I say *probably* because I know some wonderfully skilled coders but they cannot translate their knowledge to me because I am not on their level (and they don’t have the teaching skills to make the information available at my level). Despite this, I would say they are still digitally literate.

      One extra component of digital literacy that that I believe I missed was highlighted in module 3.2 of the course. That is the need to incorporate “safety” in to the definition of digital literacy. In my view, it is not enough just to know how to use a system. You need to be able to use it safely (by understand issues such as the privacy implications). This is highlighted in Open Universities definition of digital literacy:

      “Digital literacy includes the ability to find and use information (otherwise known as information literacy) but goes beyond this to encompass communication, collaboration and teamwork, social awareness in the digital environment, understanding of e-safety and creation of new information.”

      A knowledge of the risks and how to mitigate them will allow for longevity online (as in real life)

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts Angela!


      Digital and Information Literacy Framework. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from

  5. Hi Sam,

    I enjoyed reading your post on connected learning and digital literacy. I particularly liked your analogy of teachers/ facilitators being knowledge curators. With information being so accessible these days, the role of teachers is changing from a ‘walking enclyopedia’ to being more of an information and digital guide. The concept of connected learning seems to acknowledge the potential of connecting people and information through digital platforms. Of course being able to engage in digital environments requires a basic level of digital literacy.

    I have observed a similar situation to your workplace, where teachers are expected use and teach digital technologies with little experience themselves. Obviously, this is not ideal and can result in a low buy in from students or worse; failing to establish a safe learning environment due to a lack of understanding of the technology being used. Just as teaching students to identify bias in newspaper articles, I think it is important to share with students how digital literacy can affect their online experiences.

    While at a conference, I heard Alan November speak about teaching students to use Google search operators and the importance of explaining how Google searches work through URL matches. His article below gives a good example of why building digital literacy is crucial to students who are now surrounded by information but, lack the skills to navigate through it effectively.

    Thanks for the interesting read!

    November, A. (2012, Febuary 27). Teaching Zack to think. Retrieved April 22, 2018, from November Learning:

  6. Thanks Gemma,

    That article you shared is interesting and useful!

    I was reading an article from Topic 4 today (“Designing Google Earth activities for learning earth and environmental science”) and it raises the issue of digital literacy among teachers an impediment to implementing Google Earth in schools.

    I think “peak” digital literacy is approaching whereby there are only so many platforms that people can be across. In this environment it will be important that teachers can identify the important emerging technological tools and reflect on how they can be implemented to achieve learning outcomes.

    Bodzin, A. M., Anastasio, D., & Kulo, V. (2014). Designing Google Earth activities for learning earth and environmental science. In Teaching Science and Investigating Environmental Issues with Geospatial Technology. (pp. 213-232). Springer Netherlands.

  7. Hi Sam,
    Thanks for your post, I watched the video you posted on Connected Learning a couple of times as well because when completing the readings and writing my own blog post, connected learning was something that I also was working to form an understanding of what this actually means in a digital setting.
    If you are interested, here is my post –
    I really liked the simple manner that the clip you chose summed up what ‘Connected Learning’ is meant to be and linking it to learning and skills for today.
    Connected Learning with Digital Literacies are new concepts to me and when delving deeper in readings, they make complete sense that teaching and learning will change based on what is accessible to users and they will continue to change and grow based on what is thought of and created in the future.
    Therefore, us as educators will need to provide students with skills in order for them to be digitally literate. This in itself is a new concept and for me, quite difficult to package in a neat box what this means. Educators (who were not born in a digital world) are now teaching Digital Literacies to digital native children. How is this best done and most effective?

    It was great to read your blog as a non teacher and read about your thoughts when working around these concepts. Thanks for setting your blog out in an engaging and easy to read format! A great read 🙂


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