“Interests power the drive to acquire knowledge and expertise. Research shows that learners who are interested in what they are learning, achieve higher order learning outcomes. Connected learning does not just rely on the innate interests of the individual learner, but views interests and passions as something to be actively developed in the context of personalized learning pathways that allow for specialized and diverse identities and interests.”
In a recent Gallup Poll 60% of U.S. high school students reported that they were either not engaged or actively disengaged from school. At the same time, the modern workplace recognizes passion, dedication, and initiative as important qualities in young applicants.
But culture is evolving and graduating toward a society that is driven very much by personal interests. Technology and the internet have played a large role in creating a framework that supports and promotes interest-driven activity. Apps and online browsing are designed around experiences that cater to personal interests and allow people to customize how they interact.
“They should be immersed in new worlds, new learning environments that might be outside of the norm. so they can give their minds the opportunity to express wonder, and i think it is through that wonder that interest is created,” says Christian Greer a former VP at Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Interest-driven learning is certainly not new or revolutionary. What is new is the possibility of creating the tools, programs, and infrastructure that actually support learning based on an individual’s interests. Connected Learning asks how to design learning around personal interests, how to encourage exploration and development of those interests and create pathways that lead from interest to real world opportunities.\
The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Arcelor Mittal Design Studio is a space where young people can begin to explore and tinker with architecture through the Lego Design Studios. They can further develop their interest online through DiscoverDesign.org or participate in a design program like Urban Sculptor where they get hands on experience with real-world architecture problems.