A model of connected teaching is needed to complement the model of connected learning. This special issue of Contemporary Issues in English Language Arts Teacher Education shares some innovative strategies teacher educators are using to prepare teachers to become connected educators. Each of the articles in this issue engages with the connected learning perspective of technology and education by focusing on an expansive ecology of learning and positioning tools as valuable insofar as they contribute to that ecology.
To better understand the impacts of participatory design in English language arts teacher education, this critical case study focuses on the National Writing Project’s Connected Learning Massive, Open, Online Collaboration (CLMOOC) that engaged educators in playing with the connected learning framework. The authors draw from 5 years of interaction data to question “open” as a fixed point of reference in the design of participatory, online learning communities. Through three rounds of remix inquiry, the authors argue that open as a design ideology is necessary but not sufficient in providing conditions for transformative professional learning. The analysis reveals a subtle shift from facilitative practices such as inviting for diversified participation and affirming for reciprocal engagement intended to elicit fuller open participation to those such as coaching toward imperfection and curating relational infrastructures that are grounded in an infrastructuring strategy that is intentionally fragmentary and incomplete. The findings illustrate facilitative practices that engage educators in dynamic connection – making in online professional learning, and prompt the field to critically consider the fallacies of open learning design.
Authentic field experiences are an important aspect of most teacher education programs, yet collaboration often is difficult because of distance and limited resources. This collective case study aimed to explore the experiences of 30 ninth-grade English language arts (ELA) students and 17 preservice English education teachers as they collaborated in a digital Third Space on activities designed with Connected Learning (CL) principles. Through the free, online tool Slack (www.slack.com), the participants cocreated video remixes and built connections without actually meeting face to face. The study aimed to assess if digital Third Spaces constructed with CL principles could provide an authentic field experience, potentially offering a chance to improve preservice ELA teachers’ self-efficacy with teaching digital literacies and offer high school students an opportunity to experiment with multimodal composition. Instruction was designed with CL principles and used digital tools to help forge human connection. The findings suggest that digital Third Spaces and online collaborative networks can serve as viable sites for authentic field experiences when face-to-face partnerships are difficult. However, they also suggest a need for ELA teacher educators to work with their preservice teachers to develop strategic ways to use digital environments to build genuine relationships.