Virtual Organizing Professional Learning Communities through a Servant-Leader Model of Appreciative Coaching

Virtual Organizing Professional Learning Communities through a Servant-Leader Model of Appreciative Coaching

Kam Hou Vat (University of Macau, Macau)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-880-2.ch011
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This case investigates a set of empowerment concerns in the context of transforming classes of student and teacher learners (considered as department-wide learning units in higher education) into professional learning communities (PLCs). In particular, we are interested in enhancing student learning through designing a collaborative learning environment in support of problem-based learning, based on the concept of virtual organizing the various PLCs distributed throughout a higher educational institute. Of specific interest in our exploration is the generative potential of a servant-leader model of student-centered education in support of the PLCs nurtured by the development practice of appreciative coaching adapted from the established positive change paradigm of appreciative inquiry.
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Setting The Stage

The following case description recounts the action research experience of some bottom-up course-support initiative sustained by individual staff members from the Department of CIS over the years in reshaping our undergraduate learning landscape through the integration of some ICT-enabled (information and communication technologies) environments to enhance student learning. In particular, this report is based on the experience acquired through the experimentation of a Web-enabled course support environment called REAL (Rich Environment for Active Learning) initiated in 1999, and reactivated in 2008 with a renewed title as REALSpace (Vat, 2009b) to nurture an emergent interest of professional learning community (PLC) (Dufour & Eaker, 1998) to be properly described as follows. It is our lessons learned that if student learning is to improve, staff should be well informed of the PLC potential and develop the capacity to function as PLC. If students are to benefit from the PLC, they must develop a collaborative culture. If students are to develop a collaborative culture, we must overcome the tradition of teacher-centered education (teacher as sage on the stage). If schools are to overcome their tradition of teacher-centered education, teachers must learn to work in collaborative teams (as coaches by the side). If schools are to support effective teamwork to enhance student learning, there must be some technology-enhanced environment to enable learning among teachers and students. And the concept of virtual organizing fits right in to provide the mechanism of a learner-centered appreciative knowledge environment (AKE) to stimulate and facilitate a learning-centered culture of knowledge sharing to enhance student achievements. The impact of a servant-leader model of education (Greenleaf, 1977) should serve as a transformative path to enable the learning cycle of appreciative coaching (AC) (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007) on the part of teachers to enable students to tap into or rediscover their own sense of wonder about their present and future possibilities.

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