ISSN 2630-0583 (Print)
ISSN 2630-0656 (Online)
Journal of Current Science and Technology
Rangsit Journal of Arts and Sciences. Vol.3 No.2 , July - December 2013.
Open teaching and personal learning networks (PLNs) as avenues of enhanced participation and reflection
Student-centered learning is the mantra of most, if not all, higher education institutions. Most of these academic settings have experimented with combinations of learning models to provide different formats of participation to ensure that classrooms would still be the central setting of knowledge creation. Attempts are made to balance the clinging attention of students to technologies that serve as comfort zones of personal knowledge acquisition over the passive experience they go through in a classroom. As most student-centered learning moves towards learning motivated by technology and while higher education is still committed to keeping most student interactions within the confines of classroom settings, be they virtual or physical, this paper provides a case for an alternative open teaching course design. This open teaching approach was experimented and tried in a Social Media in Education class for the junior instructional design students. The strategy was deliberately planned and executed so as to provide a rhizomatic structure of interaction with the use of social media technologies, to introduce the Personal Learning Networks (PLN) as learning strategies, and to underscore the importance of inquiry and intellectual exchange through the use of different social platforms. The case identifies two important areas. First is the rhizomatic design of the course employing different channels for online expression and conversation. This explores the open course’s potential to facilitate self-regulated participation. Second is the induction of the personal learning networks that embody the way students learn together with the connections, resources and tools that support their learning preferences. The paper also examines the quality of retrospection generated by the concept and practice of personal learning networks in the students through their PLN maps and explanations. This case study has several significant findings. One is that open teaching is an effective model to employ student engagement activities with the support of social technologies and platforms. Two, the open teaching rhizomatic structure is an empowering avenue for authentic reflection and intelligent interactions. Three, the induction of the Personal Learning Network by the students provides an effective retrospection time to set their goals on the onset of the course. The PLN also provided the students with a way to rethink their long term goals in order to turn the course into an enhancement of their professional discipline. Lastly, the social media technologies were able to provide good ways to encourage effective retrospection among the students. This paper also serves as a reference to open course design and delivery.