You are here:

Learners Without Borders: Connected Learning in a Digital Third Space

, Kennesaw State University, United States

CITE Journal Volume 18, Number 2, ISSN 1528-5804 Publisher: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education, Waynesville, NC USA


Authentic field experiences are an important aspect of most teacher education programs, yet collaboration often is difficult because of distance and limited resources. This collective case study aimed to explore the experiences of 30 ninth-grade English language arts (ELA) students and 17 preservice English education teachers as they collaborated in a digital Third Space on activities designed with Connected Learning (CL) principles. Through the free, online tool Slack (, the participants cocreated video remixes and built connections without actually meeting face to face. The study aimed to assess if digital Third Spaces constructed with CL principles could provide an authentic field experience, potentially offering a chance to improve preservice ELA teachers’ self-efficacy with teaching digital literacies and offer high school students an opportunity to experiment with multimodal composition. Instruction was designed with CL principles and used digital tools to help forge human connection. The findings suggest that digital Third Spaces and online collaborative networks can serve as viable sites for authentic field experiences when face-to-face partnerships are difficult. However, they also suggest a need for ELA teacher educators to work with their preservice teachers to develop strategic ways to use digital environments to build genuine relationships.


Moran, C. (2018). Learners Without Borders: Connected Learning in a Digital Third Space. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 18(2), 233-254. Waynesville, NC USA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education. Retrieved March 24, 2019 from .

View References & Citations Map


  1. Abas, M.C. (2016). Difficulties in field-based observation among pre-service teachers: Implications to practice teaching. International Journal of Evaluation and Research In Education, 5(2), 101-112.
  2. Afterschool Programs. (2015). Afterschool programs: Inspiring students with a connected learning approach [White paper.] Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED557938)
  3. Al-Hassan, O., Al-Barakat, A., & Al-Hassan, Y. (2012). Pre-Service teachers' reflections during field experience. Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 38(4), 419-434.
  4. Bali, M., Caines, A., DeWaard, H., & Hogue, R.J. (2016). Ethos and practice of a connected learning movement: Interpreting virtually connecting through alignment with theory and survey results. Online Learning, 20(4), 212-229.
  5. Banas, J.R., & York, C.S. (2014). Authentic learning exercises as a means to influence preservice teachers' technology integration self-efficacy and intentions to integrate technology. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(6), 728-746.
  6. Barab, S.A., Makinster, J.G., & Scheckler, R. (2003). Designing system dualities: Characterizing a web-supported professional development community. Information Society, 19(3), 237-256.
  7. Benson, S. (2010). “I don't know if that’d be English or not”: Thirdspace theory and literacy instruction. Journal of Adolescent& Adult Literacy, 53(7), 555-563.
  8. Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. (1992). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  9. Bhabha, H.K. (1994). The location of culture. New York, NY: Routledge
  10. Black, J., & Cap, O. (2014). Promising practices in higher education: Art education and human rights using information, communication technologies (ICT). Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, 6(1), 33-50.
  11. Booth, S.E. (2012). Cultivating knowledge sharing and trust in online communities for educators. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 47(1), 1-31.
  12. Brown, C., Czerniewicz, L., & Noakes, T. (2015): Online content creation: Looking at students’ social media practices through a connected learning lens. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(1), 140-159.
  13. Case, A.F., & Traynor, J. (2016). Early field experience innovations to increase positive impact on K-12 students. AILACTE Journal, 13(1), 1-21.
  14. Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry AND research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
  15. Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Constructing 21st-century teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 300-314.
  16. DelliCarpini, M., & Gulla, A. (2009). Success with ELLs. English Journal, 98(4), 133-137.
  17. Dewey, J. (1922). Democracy and education. New York, NY: Macmillan Company, 181.
  18. Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., & Pegrum, M. (2013). Digital literacies. London, UK: Pearson. Fabry, Dee. L., & John R. Higgs. (1997). Barriers to the effective use of technology in education: Current status. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 17, 385-395.
  19. Forgasz, R., Heck, D., Williams, J., Ambrosetti, A., & Willis, L.D. (2017). Theorising the thirdspace of professional experience partnerships. In J. Kriewaldt, A. Ambrosetti, D. Rorrison, & R. Capeness (Eds.), Educating future teachers: Innovative perspectives in professional experience. Singapore: Springer.
  20. Gay, G. (2003). Becoming multicultural educators. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  21. Gee, J.P. (2003). What videogames have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, NY: St. Martins.
  22. Glaser, B.G., & Strauss, A.L. (2017). Discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York, NY: Routledge.
  23. Gutiérrez, K. (2008). Developing a sociocritical literacy in the thirdspace. Reading Research Quarterly, 43(2), 148-164.
  24. Hicks, T. (2006). Expanding the conversation: A commentary toward revision of Swenson, Rozema, Young, Mcgrail, and Whitin. Contemporary Issues In Technology And Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 6(1), 46-55. Retrieved from Volume-6/issue-1-06/english-language-arts/expanding-the-conversation-a-commentarytoward-revision-of-swenson-rozema-young-mcgrail-and-whitin
  25. Kirby, D.L., & Crovitz, D. (2013). Inside out: Strategies for teaching writing (4th ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  26. Kist, W., & Pytash, K.E. (2015). “I love to flip the pages”: Preservice teachers and new literacies within a field experience. English Journal, 104(3), 131-167.
  27. Laughter, J. (2015). ELA teacher preparation 2.0: Critical media literacy, action research, and mashups. Contemporary Issues In Technology and Teacher Education, 15(3), 265282.
  28. Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2017). Implications of social network sites for teaching and learning. Where we are and where we want to go. Education and Information Technologies, 22(2), 605-622.
  29. Maul, A., Penuel, W.R., Dadey, N., Gallagher, L.P., Podkul, T., & Price, E. (2017). Measuring the experiences of interest-related pursuits in connected learning. Education Tech Research Dev 65, 1-28.
  30. McMahan, S.K., & Garza, R. (2017). Fostering preservice teachers' development: Engagement in practice and learning. Current Issues in Education, 19(3).
  31. Merriam, S.B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education: Revised and expanded from ‘Case study research in education.’ San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass.
  32. Moll, L.C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into practice, 31(2), 132-141.
  33. Munoz, L.R., Pellegrini-Lafont, C., & Cramer, E. (2014). Using social media in teacher preparation programs: Twitter as a means to create social presence. Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, 11(2), 57-69.
  34. Noddings, N. (2013). Caring: A relational approach to ethics and moral education (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  35. O’Flaherty, L. (1923). The sniper. Retrieved stories/sniper.html from
  36. Oliver, K., & Stallings, D. (2014). Preparing teachers for emerging blended learning environments. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 22(1), 57-81.
  37. Potter, J., & McDougall, J. (2017). Digital media, culture and education: Theorising ThirdSpace literacies. London, UK: Springer. Doi10.1057/978-1-137-55315-7_2Prensky,M.(2001a).Digitalnatives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.
  38. Secret, M., Bryant, N.L., & Cummings, C.R. (2017). Teaching an interdisciplinary graduate-level methods course in an openly-networked connected learning environment: A glass half-full. Journal of Educators Online, 14(2),
  39. Seglem, R., & Garcia, A. (2015). "So we have to teach them or what?": Introducing preservice teachers to the figured worlds of urban youth through digital conversation. Teachers College Record, 117(3),
  40. Stake, R.E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  41. Swenson, J., Young, C.A., McGrail, E., Rozema, R., & Whitin, P. (2006). Extending the conversation: New technologies, new literacies, and English education. English Education, 38(4), 351-369.
  42. Vartiaien, H., Pöllänen, S., Liljeström, A., Vanninen, P., & Enkenberg, J. (2016). Designing connected learning: Emerging learning systems in a craft teacher education course. Design and Technology Education, 21(2), 32-40.
  43. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
  44. White, J.W., & Hungerford-Kresser, H. (2014). Character journaling through social networks: Exemplifying tenets of the new literacy studies. Journal of Adolescent& Adult Literacy, 57(8), 642-654.

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake in the references above, please contact