My doctoral research focused on the epistemology, practice, and evaluation of connected learning. Connected learning emphasizes the power of making connections across contexts, disciplines, people, and time. By encouraging students to connect academic work to personal hobbies, passion projects, after school jobs, and community living, educators imply that those activities have educational value when framed and considered through a pedagogical lens. Although digital environments are not required for connected learning, they tend to enhance the magic, opening up an entire world of multimodal creativity, collaborative opportunities, and performance and sharing. Digital or analogue, connected learning helps students develop holistic learning lives: leveraging personal interests, contexts, and goals to create a personalized approach to learning that is relevant, impassioned, and meaningful to them.
For me, connected learning became a way of life. In the past two years, I have explored collaborative approaches to reading, coaching, course design, and conferencing. Building on my personal interest in photography and layout, I explored the use of images and design in information dissemination – an interest that eventually led me to design infographics for the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia. I developed the *best* personal learning network in the world, which has facilitated countless professional collaborations, mentoring and mentee relationships, faster routes to finding answers, and loving support of so many kindred spirits. Yes, connected learning has definitely increased the amount of love in my life.
Eventually, though, the dissertation was defended. Graduation happened. The summer was passed reflecting on the entire experience and exploring educational and institutional research. It was challenging and high-yield but also temporary. It is time to move on.
Therefore, I am excited to announce that I will be joining the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute (GEHLI) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as their new Associate Director. For almost twenty years, GEHLI has promoted the development of current and emerging leaders within the university and community. Programming is tailored to the needs of emerging university leaders, department chairs, women leaders, and minority political leadership. It strives to inspire exemplary or transformational leadership through experiential and social learning, coaching, and long-term mentorship. (Do these strategies sound familiar to any connected learning scholars?)
I have been given a fantastic opportunity, and I look forward to learning with and from the GEHLI team. As for my contribution, I bring with me the connected learning habit of mind: a practice of collaborating across disciplines, creating across contexts, and engaging in public scholarship. Let the adventure continue.
Featured Image: Brooke Cagle on unsplash.com