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How Connected Learning Can Support Teachers to Enhance the Learning Experience

  • 4 Min Read

Last Modified: Nov 29, 2021

After a year filled with unexpected challenges and disruptions, the end is finally in sight! As we look back on how most educational institutions were forced to adapt to online learning, teachers are finally feeling a sense of relief as they envision returning to their classrooms in September. Sudden school closures in March 2020 required teachers to find new ways of presenting content, interacting with students, and ensuring success. This was overwhelming and chaotic, leaving many people with the impression that online learning models are frustrating and inadequate.

Teachers were often left on their own to find resources that would work well in a remote learning environment. This frequently resulted in lower motivation, limited flexibility, lack of personalization, and difficulty establishing a strong sense of class community.

What if all educational resources were designed with the teacher in mind and focused on the importance of their connection with students? Instead of scrambling to adjust classroom materials to a new environment, what if reliable resources worked for teachers regardless of where students are located? We know that the past two years presented unprecedented challenges; we also know that disruptions to classroom-based learning happen all the time and that teachers often find themselves without the tools they need to teach effectively when circumstances require pivoting to an online classroom.

What Is Connected Learning?

“Connected learning” is a term that has been used for at least 10 years to describe various forms of active participation in the learning process (EDUCAUSE, 2013). As we explore changes to the K–12 framework resulting from the impact of remote learning beginning in March 2020, this term—like education itself—has evolved. What does “connected learning” mean today, and how will it describe education in the future?

A connected learning model offers uninterrupted engagement between teachers and students regardless of where learning is taking place. Whether education is delivered in traditional classroom settings, remotely, or a combination of both, connected learning ensures that teachers and students can move seamlessly between different environments without losing connections to their learning materials or, most importantly, each other. Connected learning today focuses on keeping teachers at the centre of education so that they can focus on creating memorable learning experiences for their students. It provides the continuity and flexibility teachers need every day. Resources like D2L Ontario Elementary digital resources embrace connected learning and give teachers the freedom and ability to move in and out of in-person and online classrooms without adjusting and transforming their teaching to meet every crisis—large or small—that could disrupt the learning model.

As a company, we are built around teachers. In addition to the educators who write, design, and develop content for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions, teachers lead the Technology, Business Development, and Product Development departments. While connections between teachers and their students have often seemed more challenging in online environments, companies that understand the importance of relationship-building and maintaining strong teacher-student connections are driving education toward new modes of teaching and learning.

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The crisis-response learning experienced by many teachers and students over the past year challenged that meaningful connection. Educators may have felt that online learning removed familiarity and interaction as teachers spent most of their time trying to make their trusted classroom resources come alive in a digital environment. Connection was often strained as teachers scrambled to find the best resources available in, what was for many, an unfamiliar online format. This resulted in teachers missing out on opportunities to engage with their students and offer support where needed.

Looking Ahead to Enhanced Connected Learning

Educational institutions, and the teachers who are their foundations, are still adjusting to the unplanned disruptions that forced everyone to explore education differently. Over a year later, we can reflect on how the essential connections between teachers and students are preserved and enhanced regardless of location.

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At D2L, we believe that whatever is coming next, teachers need support and resources to effectively connect with their students without worrying about changes and stress resulting from sudden pivots between online and classroom learning.

D2L Ontario Elementary digital resources offer a suite of tools that prioritize the role of teachers and allow them to focus on connecting with their students. When teachers have reliable curriculum-aligned resources, they can easily move within and across different learning environments without the uncertainty they experienced in 2020 and 2021. Tools that will work today and in the future are those that provide flexibility, interactivity, and stability so that teachers can focus on what matters most: connecting with their students.

As we look toward fall 2021, we believe connected learning will be an ideal educational model because it helps all teachers achieve success, wherever their classrooms are. Kids remember teachers, not textbooks. Connected learning models give teachers more opportunities to create memorable learning experiences.

Learn more about D2L Ontario Elementary digital resources

References:
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2013, May) What is Connected Learning? Connected Learning. (n.d.). https://library.educause.edu/topics/teaching-and-learning/connected-learning.

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