Developing Appreciative College Experience with Personal Learning Networks

Developing Appreciative College Experience with Personal Learning Networks

Kam Hou Vat
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch353
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One of the 21st Century teaching and learning enhancements in higher education is the use of personal learning networks (PLNs) (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011; Weisgerber, 2009; Nielsen, 2008). By a personal learning network (PLN) ( An important learning theory in support of PLN comes from George Siemens (2004) in his now famous article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, where it is argued that learners create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge. Indeed, PLNs share a close association with the concept of personal learning environments (PLEs), which as described by Martindale and Dowdy (2010), is a manifestation of a learner’s informal learning processes via the Web. Moreover, it has been observed by Ivanova (2009) that different learners contribute and derive knowledge in a PLN, through individual choices of peculiar PLEs, VLEs (virtual learning environments), and relevant social media. In particular, the PLN learner chooses who to interact with in such media, and how much to participate. Oftentimes, the learner enters the PLE with certain goals, needs, interests, motivations and problems that are often presented to the people they include in their PLNs. Increasingly, PLNs are becoming an important part of professional development in various fields with different businesses creating their own e-learning content and PLEs for their employees’ individual and organizational learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Appreciative College Experience: A learner-centered student nurturing practice based on the essence of whole-person education, emphasizing the holistic development of a person including various aspects such as intellectual, physical, social, moral, and spiritual development of students, especially in higher education.

Appreciative Inquiry: An inquiry paradigm concerning the co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In its broadest focus, it involves systematic discovery of what gives life to a living system when it is most alive, most effective, and most constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms.

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs): PLNs are deliberately formed networks of people and resources capable of guiding one’s independent learning goals and professional development needs.

Personal Learning Environment (PLE): An electronic environment developed by individuals to make use of Web and mobile technologies to organize online various learning/knowledge assets, services, and activities for the convenience of learning and transfer among people in the form of learning communities. PLEs are also referred to as PLNs sometimes.

Connectivism: Learning, defined as actionable knowledge, can reside outside of our persons (say, within an organization or a database), and it is focused on connecting specialized information sets. The connections that enable us to learn are perceived to be more important than our current state of knowing. Besides, our decisions to synthesize and recognize connections and patterns are based on rapidly shifting foundations. New information is continually being acquired – the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital; the ability to recognize when new information alters the learning landscape based on decisions made before is also critical.

Personalized Learning: An personal development scheme to encourage individual’s online participation of learning activities, say, in the context of higher education institution (university) where individual students and teachers need to participate online to individualize, facilitate, encourage, and empower student learning online.

Web 2.0: This term was coined to describe web sites that use technology beyond the static pages of earlier web. It is closely associated with Tim O’Reilly because of the O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference held in late 2004.

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