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Foster Connection: Establishing Collaborative Spaces in Nursing Education

Updated: May 25, 2021

Connected learning, a student-centered approach to education, leverages current advancements and progressive environments to enhance collaboration in interactive spaces. It is a modern, useful approach for developing purposeful opportunities that connect learning from multiple areas of one's life. Connected learning encourages active participation and is applicable across generations, while complementing diversity in communities of learners.

Lifelong learners can bridge education with opportunity through connected learning. As educators remain aware of multi-generational diversity, as well as varying degrees of experience with technology, curricula is designed to understand and support learning that addresses the variety of styles present in the group. While continuously assessing the needs of the learning community, nurse educators promote development that is level appropriate by assisting students to form connections between the content they learn inside and outside of the classroom. Educators use principles of connected learning to encourage experiences that develop shared considerations to socially integrate concepts and develop deeper collaborative thought. Additionally, students working within a student-centered connected learning environment are apt to increase focus and retention of material, establish connections between personal interests and studies, subscribe to a lifelong endeavor of learning, and approach learning with creativity and experimentation.

The connected learning core principle of establishing shared purpose incorporates connected communities of learners that flourish around mutual goals and interests. The principle of shared purpose supports cross-generational leadership and the development of new insights, along with both individual and collaborative ownership of new understandings. Peer-supported learning allows for the exchange of ideas among peers, while each learner shares personal experiences and interests. We appreciate how collaborative learning experiences blend various life practices, theories, and attitudes regarding professional and educational involvements. Additionally, we enjoy how more classroom time is distributed to the social context of learning, thus lending way to the cultivation of new ideas via peer feedback and reciprocation. Remember, the nurse educator acts as the facilitator to prompt connected education experiences, so that student interactions successfully allow for the development of mentorships, which foster greater understandings of theoretical beliefs.

Pause, Reflect, and Plan:

How have I used connected learning, knowingly or unknowingly, in the past? Was I the facilitator or the student? If this approach is brand new to me, who in my professional or personal circle can I explore this with? Am I interested in fostering a connected learning environment in my academic classroom or on my clinical floor?

Our hope is that the information provided here regarding student-centered connected learning, and the accompanying multi-generational considerations, is enlightening and stimulating. There is so much potential for experiential learning within education through the implementation of the connected learning model, which can enhance nursing empathy, boost age-related funds of knowledge, and contribute to improved patient care!


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