Connections-based Learning changes the question from "How can we learn this?" to "Who will engage with us in learning?". This leads to a drastic change in the way we teach. In order to make this fundamental shift, the research has to be sound.
Willms, Friesen, and Milton (2009)
A study that developed a measure of student engagement recommending that students solve real problems, learn from the community, and connect with experts and expertise.
This study also speaks to the need for the involvement of the Sustainable Development goals within classes. As we teach the SDGs, we escape the the rigid structure of subjects. Respect and equality become a focus. Solving real problems becomes the starting point, not an add on. As we teach the SDGs, working together within the community and the globe just makes sense. Discussing real world issues become commonplace in the classroom. As students are asked to help tackle global problems, they must engage with experts both learning from them and speaking into solutions. The connection is very apparent.
Visit the Teach SDGs site by the Global Goals Educator Task Force for more information about bringing the Sustainable Development Goals into your classroom.
You can see the thread of meaningfulness weaving through national standards.
British Columbia Core Competencies
Whether it is in the area of Communication, Thinking, or Personal and Social Responsibility, students are engaged when they are presented with tasks that matter. A focus on making connections guided by what the world needs gives students an opportunity to work on genuine endeavors. This work requires the exercise and development of excellent communication skills, effective problem solving skills and a heart that demonstrates care for oneself and the world around.
"More than ever, we are all connected as many local problems are global and global problems are local. Whether we aim to address environmental concerns, reduce prejudice, or pursue specific projects to make a better world, videoconferencing can transcend geographic boundaries and provide an impetus for action. When students can listen to, and see, peers from across the world share their perspectives, challenges, and hopes, they can grow as global citizens who understand issues in new ways. When used well, videoconferencing allows students a passport around the world, opens their eyes to their place in it, and their responsibility to care for the earth and each other." - p. 130
David Sengeh from "Creating Innovators"
"I did pretty good in school but I don't remember much at all from the things I learned in class. Those are not what stayed with me but rather it was the connections ... the professors, the students."
Tony Wagner's research into innovation in his book Creating Innovators is full of young people who have done amazing things. Weaved throughout the book is a theme of how the connections that these innovators made propelled their passions forward. It was the connections the innovators made that helped them move beyond where their schooling could take them and into the realm of innovation.
In the book, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Bransford et al. posit a new theory of learning from new research techniques. As they look at the science of learning, their recommendations for teacher practice include connections to helpful outsiders, working scientists, and communities of learning.