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Connections-based learning

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki
Connections-based Learning infographic
CBL infographic by Sean Robinson and Leigh Cassell

Connections-based learning (CBL) is a pedagogical approach to education.


Connections-based learning focuses on leveraging the various relationships within the educational structure. CBL purports that the teacher–student relationship is foundational to a student's education.[1][non-primary source needed] With that in mind CBL includes aspects of social-emotional learning. Focus is put on fostering a positive teacher–student relationship through digital and non-digital dialogue, classroom meetings, and a supportive environment. Building relationships outside the classroom is also vital for implementing CBL. These relationships include: connections with the community around the school and global partners, connections with organizations, and connections with content experts. A relationship that benefits both parties is the goal.

Connections-based learning has three major elements[2][non-primary source needed] which guide this way of seeing teaching and learning:

  1. Connection lens – This is the who of CBL. The lens focuses the class on finding a learning partner with whom to work. These partners could include a person or group in the local community, an expert in a certain field, an organization that can be supported, or another classroom, either local or global, with whom to work.
  2. Collaboration lens – This is the what of CBL. It includes a design of activities that emphasizes looking at local and global needs, building an empathetic desire to help, co-constructing learning goals with teacher and student, and making a plan of action. Students are given the opportunity to create a response to the interaction. They develop the skills needed to address what was found in the interaction.[3]:76[non-primary source needed] Students critically examine theirs' and others' possible solutions. Innovation is encouraged as students address the need. Those involved honor the connection and document their growth while the process is shared out to elicit feedback. Students use their growing network to further their learning. They respond to and reciprocate feedback.
  3. Cultivation lens – This is the why of CBL. It includes making a "better you", a "better me", and a "better us". People connect for a "better you" making positive change in the world, a "better me" developing their citizenship and character, and a "better us" creating a positive relationship that promotes mutual understanding.[3]:141[non-primary source needed]


In the HundrED article "Connections-Based Learning Should Be The Future Of Education", Josephine Lister stated, "Connections-based learning is one of the most useful tools a teacher has at their disposal, but many feel they don't have the time to utilize it—or don't realize that they could!"[4] The approach is being used in Nigeria through the Schoolinka Linking Classrooms program,[5] in Norway at the Nannestad High School,[6] in London at the International Academy of Greenwich[7], in Israel at Education Cities, in Cambodia at the Liger Leadership Academy, and Shanghai, China at Microcampus.[4] In the book Promoting Global Competencies Through Media Literacy by Melda N. Yildez, CBL and its accompanying website is recommended as a global education resource and organization.[8]

Saul Mwame, a Tanzanian youth advocate used Connections-Based Learning (CBL) to co-found a club to help visually-impaired students in his community. According to Mwame: “I started CBL … after observing that fellow students with special needs lack cooperation. So, this was the way to sensitize cooperation so that visually-impaired students can have access to academic materials …to help them achieve their goals.” [9]

In "How Do We Solve the Educational Gap Between Rural and Urban Areas? Connectivity," Josephine Lister demonstrates how connectivity helps students "engage and learn from others across the entire world." She states that "connectivity in schools doesn’t have to be a whole school model though, it can be installed into the school day through the simplest of tasks. HundrED Ambassador and Global Teacher Prize finalist, Barbara Zielonka, uses connections-based-learning to help her students learn about the real world."[10] In her 2019 book Keys to Educational Success: The Teaching Methods of a Top 10 Finalist of the Global Teacher Prize, Zielonka claims that with "connections-based learning, students have authentic experiences that cannot be created otherwise."[11]

In the article "Think Like a Teenager - 10 Methods to Motivate Teenage Learners" in the BBC British Council professional development publication TeachingEnglish, Milica Vukadin B.Ed. cites connections-based learning as a way to motivate high school students. She states "Connections-based learning is something we should all use since we are lucky to live in the digital age, where making connections is really easy. Learning by connecting with other classrooms or other students online is an amazing opportunity to use English, especially since the students on both sides come from different countries."[12]


  1. "Living Education eMagazine 2015 Fall Edition (Vol. XIV)". Living Education eMagazine 2015 Fall Edition (Vol. XIV). Forest of the Rain. October 1, 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  2. "Connections-based Learning". connections-basedlearning.com. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Robinson, Sean (2017). Connections-based Learning. Port Coquitlam: Connections-based Learning. ISBN 978-1-7751843-1-7. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lister, Josephine (February 14, 2018). "Connections-based Learning Should Be The Future of Education". HundrED. Retrieved January 14, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. Linking Classrooms Program. "Schoolinka". Schoolinka. Retrieved January 14, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. Longwell, Phil (June 29, 2018). "Connections-based Learning: The Right Way To Go". Learning Technologies Special Interest Group. Retrieved January 14, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. Gratton, Rob (January 23, 2019). "Connections-Based Learning Should Be The Future Of Education". International Academy of Greenwich. Retrieved January 16, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Yildiz, Melda (2017). Promoting Global Competencies Through Media Literacy. Hershey: IGI Global. p. 256. ISBN 1522530827. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  9. https://globalvoices.org/2019/10/13/this-tanzanian-youth-advocate-has-a-vision-for-inclusive-education/
  10. Lister, Josephine (2018-07-11). "How Do We Solve the Educational Gap Between Rural and Urban Areas? Connectivity". Medium. Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  11. Zielonka, Barbara (2019). Keys to Educational Success: The Teaching Methods of a Top 10 Finalist of the Global Teacher Prize. Nannestad, Norway. p. 22. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  12. "Think Like a Teenager - 10 Methods to Motivate Teenage Learners". TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC. Retrieved 2020-01-16.

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