Blog Post

Trust Challenge Connected Learning Webinar Series Wrap Up

For the month of July HASTAC partnered up with the Connected Learning Alliance to produce a webinar series focused on building trust in connected learning environments. An archive page with all the webinars can be viewed at


About this Series

We met in July to explore the concept that "students should have safe and trusted environments for learning,” which is one of five principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning experiences shared in the Aspen Task Force 'Learner In The Center Of A Networked World” report. We know that trust, privacy, and safety are critical to learning in an open online world, so we framed the series around the following questons: What tools do learners need to navigate, collaborate, and learn online with confidence? What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments? How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust? What role do badges play in conversations about trust in connected learning environments?


Our goal was to inspire people to think about both challenges and solutions to building trust in connected learning environments, which is the theme of our upcoming HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, the Trust Challenge, which opens on September 3.

The topics of the webinars covered:


  • Why Trust Matters in Connect Learning Environments

  • Trust Challenges Across Connected Learning Environments

  • Social-Emotional Literacies and Digital Citizenship Best Practices

  • Higher Education as a Trusted Environment for Learning


With all of these conversations around trust taking place, especially the complex social considerations of trust, it is the infrastructures that underly the social learning environments that we hope people are inspired to think through. The underlying theme and goal of this series is to think of solutions to challenges to trust in connected learning environments, or “ways to think through the creation of digital systems and tools that enable trust in connected learning.” For example, how do we:


  • design systems and digital environments that engender trust for networks of youth, parents of youth (where appropriate), and learning institutions?

  • arm learners with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to become savvy web citizens and to know when a system is safe and designed to protect their information?

  • share data across platforms and organizations in productive ways that allow learners to pursue their interests and easily share and control their data across different learning networks?

  • promote a culture of civility and respect online, enabling deeper and more supportive trusted engagement among learners, and encouraging the development of learners as responsible creators and stewards of an open, inviting, and egalitarian web?


In the webinars, we spent time reflecting on the complex relationship between trust, teacher/instructor, and learners. This conversation is part the backdrop for us to start thinking through the complex task of building digital tools that are designed to put learners at the center. A big part of this, and something that came through with all of the webinar sessions, is rethinking the hierarchy of learning spaces to allow for more dialogic and transparent interactions and learning paths. To paraphrase what Audrey Watters said during the 4th webinar on Higher Education as a Trusted Learning Environment, how do we account for students being interpolated into technology, and how do we make sure that the technological tools and solutions we are creating empower everyone involved in learning?



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