Connections-based Learning can be boiled down to 3 lenses.  They are called lenses because the approach requires educators to look differently at subjects, curriculum, and projects. See Sean explain the lenses on Teacher Tech Trials below.

Connect - Collaborate - Cultivate

Connection Lens

Connection is fundamental to Connections-based Learning, as it should be.  The #CBL approach breaks down the walls of our classrooms and opens up the doors to connect with others to facilitate learning.  Sometimes students initiate the connection, sometimes the teacher.  But the key idea is to make a connection outside the classroom walls.  The Connect Lens breaks down into 4 possibilities for connection: community, experts, organizations, and other classes.

‚ÄčEach type of connection carries with it a host of possibilities but also requires some pressing into.  What is the process to finding another class with whom to connect?  Where can I go to find experts to support our learning in the class?  What organizations are interested in sharing with schoolchildren?  How can I connect with my local community to support what is going on there? This site is all about finding answers to these questions.  In the "Connect" page, we've tried to support you by sharing some of the more common ways to make connections.  If you don't find what you are looking for, please contact us and we will see if we can help.

Collaboration Lens

The Collaboration Lens covers the how of Connections-based Learning.  What guides our connection? What directs our response?  What will the process look like?  How will we steward our experience?  We ask these questions as we make connections outside the class.  The key to effective #CBL collaboration is to first take the time to design the #CBL with your students.  After sharing a provocation with your students, co-construct the learning goals.  What are they hoping will come from this connection? What questions do they have of their learning partner? How will they know when they have achieved their goals for the interaction?

After designing the #CBL with students and connecting with the global or local learning partner(s), the next step is to respond.  What needs to be done or created in order to help the learning partner?  What skills are needed to make that happen?  Time needs to be taken to allow students to make genuine responses to the provocation and students need support as they try to meet what they see as the needs to which they have been exposed.

While this Collaboration Lens is on, connection is fundamental to the experience.  We ask students to "Work Out Loud".  That means that that they share what they are doing, as they are doing it.  They are also keeping an ear open to how they can help others.  Using digital portfolios is a big part of the Collaboration Lens.  This gives students a place for voice and empowerment to bring about positive change.  They share their experience and are open to feedback from multiple sources to advance their own learning.

Cultivation Lens

The idea behind the Connections-based Learning Cultivation Lens is to really focus on the why's. Why are we connecting with whom we are connecting?  Why are we responding in the way we are responding?  If it all doesn't lead to betterment, then it shouldn't be done.  The betterment is broken down into three categories: a better you, a better me, and a better us.

Better You

Does what we are doing help others?  Does it make positive change in the world?  Does it move others forward in their learning or the work that they are doing?

Better Me

Does what we are doing lead to our own learning? Does cause positive change in ourselves?  Does it develop our citizenship, our character?

Better Us

Does what we are doing promote positive relationships?  Does it advance the network of caring and thoughtful individuals?  Does it strengthen local or global bonds?  Does it promote mutual understanding?

Follow the blog:

Connections-based Learning

Share with the Community

CBL Google+ Community

Look through these pages to get an idea what teachers are doing.  Reach out and share a post or a picture of what you are doing.  Ask for feedback.  Share on our Voxer chat.

Use the Connections-based Learning graphic organizer below to plan a lesson or a unit.  Bring together your big ideas, your competencies and your content into a single page that guides your connected learning experience.