The Connected Learning Lab (CLL) is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) at the University of California, Irvine. The CLL is dedicated to studying and mobilizing learning technologies in equitable, innovative, and learner-centered ways. Over 30 faculty are members of the CLL, representing a diverse range of disciplines and departments including Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Computer Science, Education, English, Informatics, Nursing, Psychological Sciences, and Sociology.
The CLL’s focus is defined by the “connected” in connected learning, which refers to both social relationships and emerging digital and networked technologies. Connected learning is when someone is pursuing a personal interest with the support of peers, mentors and caring adults, and in ways that open up opportunities for them. It differs from technology and institution centered approaches to educational technology in being people-first, prioritizing student interests, cultural relevance, and the life of communities. Connected learning is also a uniquely interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach that brings together the learning sciences, social sciences, design, informatics, and computing to develop new research frameworks, engage in pressing real world problems, and develop and test breakthrough innovations.
The research is clear that young people learn best when actively engaged, creating, and solving problems they care about, supported by peers who appreciate and recognize their accomplishments. Today’s digital world offers an unprecedented opportunity to make these forms of engaged, relevant, and interest-driven learning accessible to young people in all walks of life. The CLL investigates both formal and informal learning settings, and supports connection and alliance building across varied institutions and sectors.
The Connected Learning Alliance, a project of the CLL, is dedicated to building a cross-sector network of organizations dedicated to the spread of connected learning. The CLL also organizes an annual conference, the Connected Learning Summit, in collaboration with partners at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The CLL grows out of over a decade of MacArthur Foundation investment in the Digital Media and Learning Hub at UC Irvine, and the research of the Connected Learning Research Network and the Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network. It was established as a research center in the UCI School of Information and Computer Science in 2017, and was recognized as an ORU in 2019.