Connective English Language Learnings


Connective English Language Learnings
Outline Perceptions of a Personal Learning Network as a form of Professional Development among EFL Educators

Increasing student achievement requires focusing on the needs, interests, and learning preferences of teachers. Sergiovanni (2005) states that “all of the learning and all of the support we want students to experience depends in large measure on the support that teachers receive” (p. 101). To offer effective and efficient support, teachers need professional development efforts that account for these needs. Professional development deals with finding ways to address the knowing-doing gap. DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker (2008) add that “…closing the knowing-doing gap will require purposeful action to alter not only the existing structures of schools and districts, but more importantly, the cultures that have created and sustained those traditional structures” (p. 79). Thus, how one interprets “purposeful action” then becomes key to understanding its effects on organizational change. Purposeful action for administrators, principles, teachers, students, parents, and community leaders – all of whom are vital educational stakeholders – often leads to a variety of perspectives. Since teachers know how to improve education but lack the resolve to actually do it (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008), investigating teachers and how they pursue their own professional development becomes juxtaposed to a top-down, “directive control behavior” (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2007, p. 144) approach that views the teacher as the object of a professional development effort. Instead of being an object of professional development, the educator thus becomes the central focus or the principal change agent responsible for personalized learning. Personal learning networks (PLNs), for example, provide an individual approach to selecting other individuals, non-human objects, and artifacts (i.e., nodes) through both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Moreover, delivery of one’s PLN can either be online, offline, or some combination of the two. Finally, a crucial part of a PLN is that knowledge “rests in the network” (Siemens, 2006, p. 31). That is, knowledge not only resides within the individual (i.e., cognitivism or social constructivism learning theory) but also resides in one’s own PLN which can be accessed as needed. The manner in which one accesses this knowledge depends on the type of tie, connection, or link we have with the individual nodes. Indeed, it becomes more important to cultivate one’s PLN and to treat it not as an end but as a means to an end. Within the context of teaching and learning English-as-a-foreign language (EFL), educators benefit from developing a PLN as well. The social connections teachers make with others help form relationships that can assist in one’s learning. The cognitive connection that develops through social interaction helps form the mindframes that give EFL educators perspective. That is, professional development becomes a support system for developing cognitive and social connections in a way that best serves individual needs, interests, and learning preferences (i.e., a teacher’s professional competence). Thomas (1987) states that a teacher’s professional competence includes (a) language skills, (b) pedagogical skill and knowledge, and (c) knowledge about how languages are learned (as cited in Bartels, 2005). Therefore, EFL educators not only have to decide on how to develop their PLN but they must also decide on how their PLN will increase professional understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions with regard to their own teaching practice. Given that every teacher has specific needs, interests, and learning preferences, an individual approach to professional development is the paradigm that will contrast a more directive approach that sets out to list behavioral objectives and goals that educators must adhere to.

directed towards the teaching of English to students of other languages (TESOL) might be the following: EFL educators will understand that sharing experiences and knowledge with others can occur in a non-threatening environment of instructional leaders. teachers pursue understandings as well through the expression of six facets: they can.. . a continual adaptive network develops through a process of ongoing interaction with both local as well as colleagues from the global arena. As teachers reflect on the particular area or areas needing improvement. and its theories of critical mass. Mason (2008) concludes that complexity theory offers. Knowledge and learning is complex.. an understanding for a professional development effort. phase transition. Teachers might reflect on any combination of the following questions: (a) How can I improve as a communicator of English? (b) How can I improve my pedagogical skills? (c) How can I increase my knowledge about how the English language is learned? Since learning is complex.Connective English Language Learnings 2 Abridged Literature Review Designing Personal Learning Networks as a form of Professional Development Professional development through the designing of a personal learning network (PLN) shifts the focus of a strict top-down directive to a more integrated approach that stems directly from the teacher.. nodes) that collectively provide the social capital necessary to become a better teacher. As a “throughline” (Active learning. The PLN integrates social and cognitive networks in that EFL educators may use similar web tools but for different reasons and in different ways. (p.. and typical forum-based services that are often found in online communities such as those offered by Ning (2010). p. and artifacts (i. and (c) apply.. n. Like students. this understanding serves to provide an overarching idea that serves as an umbrella to more specific understandings links to the knowledge and skill sets of individual teachers. 2005). 6). Adult learning that encompasses a PLN system leads to viewing knowledge and learning through a connectivist lens and can set it apart from notions often associated with a more cognitive and constructive frame.d.). and they have (d) empathy. emergence and auto-catalysis offer most insightful perspectives on questions as difficult as those to do with the origins of life and of consciousness. An integrated approach to professional development links teachers to an array of different individuals. Viewing knowledge and learning as a complex system considers professional development as a dynamic process that subsumes teachers as learners.e. semi-synchronous. p. For example. 2008. (e) perspective. Cultivating understandings embedded within the social network create a personal learning network that is unique to the educator. (b) interpret. English-as-a-foreign-language (EFL) educators in particular benefit from knowing how to use a PLN to improve what Thomas (1987) refers to as teaching competencies. creates a PLN that serves to provide the support necessary in order to become a better teacher. specifically in the areas of English communication. 2005).the most cogent understanding of the nature of continuity and change. 5). Facebook (2010). objects. 2008. Creating a PLN requires setting professional goals that clearly mark the gap between where teachers currently are in their development with where they would like to be in the future. “diversity”.. Warlick (2009) states that PLNs can be synchronous. 16) Ball (2004) supports this claim by mentioning that “complexity theory seeks to understand how order and stability arise from the interactions of many components according to the few simple rules” (as cited in Mason.. and (f) self-knowledge (Wiggins & McTighe. and Google Wave/Docs (2010). The PLN becomes the means by which teachers create the connections they need in order to achieve their own goals.(a) describe. framing and addressing the answers to these questions become more valuable if they come directly from the teacher. utilizing on-line conferencing media. and knowledge about language (as cited in Bartels. macroblogging-type tools such as Twitter (2010). for example. all in relation to complexity theory.. “agency” (as cited in Mason. The EFL educator. In order for the six facets of understanding to emerge. or asynchronous. pedagogy. “relationships”. the social aspect of a PLN must promote what Morrison (2002) argues for in favor of Dewey and Habermas as “openness”.

Professional development affords EFL educators the opportunity to develop personal goals and to nurture a personal learning network that support the social and cognitive networks. Sardar. 2007. Chen. 2005). 2010 from http:/ / elearnspace.Connective English Language Learnings Professional development for EFL educators requires that knowledge. A comparison of what teachers know versus what teachers practice (Doctoral dissertation).pdf Siemens.e. 144) to professional development. (1999). Douglas. Retrieved on March 7.07. Instead of “directive control behaviors” (Glickman. (2006).ncu. Problem Statement The lack of focus on teacher professional development among EFL educators has resulted into teachers working in isolation.. Research design: Qualitative. New York: Pearson. & Abrams. (2005). and knowledge about how the language is learned. Retrieved on March 19. J.html Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes. G. Liang. 2010 from http://www.1016/j. Z. ultimately failing to enhance the learning of English as a foreign language. Retrieved from http://library. doi:10. Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd. they lack the wherewithal to link their knowledge to practice. T. and (c) “coaching of performance” (as cited in Wiggins & McTighe. 3 Annotated Bibliography Bartels. and autonomous so that EFL educators become entitled to create educational plans and processes that support research-based protocols. Retrieved on March 19. (2010). Although teachers know what to do in the classroom. (2007). & Ross-Gordon. administrator. Adler (1982) presents teacher roles as falling under three broad categories: (a) “didactic (or direct) instruction”. Introducing Chaos. enabling educators to improve their practice. 2010 from http://moodle.) within the network actually takes on a combination of these three roles at any particular moment. 2007. pedagogical knowledge and skill.. org/ KnowingKnowledge_LowRes. professional development remains open.. C. 2010 from http:/ / www. N. teacher. Los Angeles: Sage. quantitative. curriculum designer. interactive. As a learning ecosystem. (2008). A mixed-method study of EFL teachers’ Internet use in language instruction. and one’s understanding of how foreign languages are learned (as cited in Bartels. (2009). learning. Glickman. New York: Springer. org/ media/ CCK08_Wk5/player. 4. Knowing knowledge. 129). Therefore. pedagogical skills. Groups and networks. Gordon. diverse. M. instead of classifying the three categories as roles. 1987) such as language skills. (2008). each actor (i. G. & Ross-Gordon. (2010). Learning and leading within the TESOL field is a continuous process of developing one's English communicative skill. . I. a more personalized paradigm seeks to diversify the learning process as EFL educators thus begin to reflect and take action on how to improve a teacher’s competence (Thomas. Retrieved on March 7.tate. (2) “facilitation of understanding and related habits of mind”. 1015-1028. Gordon. 24. (2004). J. C. (1996). Pedagogy of praxis: A dialectical philosophy of education. and leading be viewed as a complex and emergent process.aspx?dissertation_id=1413 Gadotti. Instead of limiting these three roles to the teacher. Applied linguistics and language teacher education. they are classified as activities given how each one materializes through the forces surrounding any given situation. Moodle. and mixed methods approaches. NY: State University of New York Press. elearnspace. Organizing around intelligence.uaa. Siemens. p. Supervision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach. Teaching and Teacher Education. (2009).002 etc. London: World Scientific. Albany. Only once a culture of sharing has been established can a professional learning community work successfully towards systems that measure higher student achievement. Y.2007.

EFL educators rarely maintain ongoing dialogs with EFL educators from the same university let alone EFL educators from around the world. The contrary tends to be the norm today. thus sound professional development can assist in this regard. will be applied at the beginning of the study as a way to compare how EFL educators ultimately approach their PLN. By adapting a questionnaire to include research-based practices related to EFL teaching. Independent of the action research process. The patterns that will result will likely come from the EFL educator perspective as well as the external influences the personal learning network has on the individual. but rather is a connective effort where EFL educators learn how to share knowledge and experiences with others in a non-threatening way. a framework that embodies complexity theory will position individual pursuits of connectivity with all the apparent options that they entail through the recognition of patterns. 4 Purpose Statement The purpose of this study is to provide the theoretical justification for pursuing a practical approach to professional development in a way that is diversified enough to be of use to every EFL educator. pedagogical skill set/orientation.Connective English Language Learnings Developing one’s personal learning network is not a collective effort in that particular objectives are directed towards faculty. Concurrently. EFL educators also learn how to connect with other educators outside the university through understanding how to use the latest technologies and related techniques. . based on current research.e. Through a mixed methods study. Since the essence of any professional development endeavor is knowledge and learning. and knowledge of applied linguistics impact one's contribution to a personal learning network? • How does pursuing a PLN influence the English language learners' and the EFL educator's perspectives of past teaching practices? Summary A personalized approach to professional development is complex. the research and author will be one of many influences within the learning ecosystem that places the networked learning experience in terms of action research. a survey of what teachers know. interviews and observations will be used through the application of an online professional development course (led by the researcher and author) in the form of action research that will be used to provide additional qualitative and quantitative data in order to explain the ways in which EFL educators develop their PLN.. The objective is to disclose nuances of the learning process that are specific to a particular learning context (i. Research Questions • How do EFL educators develop Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) around research-based teaching practices? • How does an EFL educator's own perception of English language proficiency. professional development of EFL educators in Mexico) while at the same time present patterns that are generalizable and valid across a wider contextual learning ecosystem. quantitative data will be used to categorize areas where professional development is needed.

Retrieved on May 6.. Facebook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Glickman. Vogt.. R. DuFour. M. Complexity Theory and the Philosophy of Education. N. G. Knowing knowledge. Bloomington. (2005). C. doi:10. (1994). (2010).com/ Galloway. S.. D.. (2006). 3. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Applied linguistics and language teacher education. Native speaking English teachers in Japan: From the perspective of an insider.cfm Argyris. (2005). Retrieved on May 6.. VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).. (2010). New York: Pearson. T. (2009). & Warlick. 2010 from https://wave. (2005). 2010 from http://twitter. Strengthening the heartbeat: Leading and learning together in schools. DuFour. Learning & Leading with Technology. 2010 from http://docs. Educational Philosophy & Theory. org/ KnowingKnowledge_LowRes. (2010). & McTighe. 2010 from http:/ / www. N. New York: Basic Books. harvard. Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. Revisting professional learning communities at work: New insights for improving schools. & Ross-Gordon. 36(6). D.d. & Schon. 2010 from http:/ / learnweb. Supervision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach. D. Making content comprehensible for English language learners: The SIOP model.1469-5812.ning. Wiggins. Siemens . Alexandria. R. action. 12-16. Gordon. (2008). Retrieved on May 6. VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). New York: Pearson. New York: Springer. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. J. Grow Your Personal Learning Network. R. C.facebook. edu/ alps/tour/about. IN: Solution Tree. M. Echevarria. (2007). (2010). Bartels. (2008). Journal of English as an International Language.). Understanding by design. Ning. 2010 from http://www. 40(1). Retrieved on May 6. Google Docs.Connective English Language Learnings 5 References Active learning practice for school (ALPS). Google Wave. and achievement..1111/j. . Retrieved on May 6. J. & Eaker. Frame reflection: Toward the resolution of intractable policy controversies. Serviovanni. G. J. Retrieved on May 6. Alexandria. 2010 from http://www.x. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database..2007. (2008). (2003). (n. 127-188. & Short. Schon. Retrieved on April 6. G. (2010).com Mason. (1974). D. M.pdf Twitter. & Rein. Schooling by design: Mission. (2007)..

wisc. au/ studyskills/ writing/ bibliography http:/ / learners. writing. utoronto. purdue. edu/ writingprogram/ writing_center. ca/ advice/ specific-types-of-writing/ literature-review http:/ / www. library. ncu. aspx?menu_id=108 [2] http:/ / learners. edu/ owl/ resource/ 614/ 01/ http:/ / www. aspx?menu_id=1 [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] http:/ / www. Annotated Bibliography [7] NCU Writing Center: Conducting Research [8] References [1] http:/ / learners. canberra. edu/ writingprogram/ writing_center. edu/ olinuris/ ref/ research/ skill28. edu/ writingcenter/ wl_template. ncu. cornell. edu. Wisconsin: literature review guidelines [4] Purdue (Owl): The Annotated Bibliography [5] Cornell University Library: How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography [6] University of Canberra: Academic Skills Program. english. htm http:/ / www. html http:/ / owl.Connective English Language Learnings 6 Links Research Questions • Crafting a Research Question [1] • Research Questions [2] Literature Review • • • • • • University of Toronto: A Few Tips on Conducting a Literature Review [3] University of Madison. aspx?wc_id=42 . edu/ writing/ Handbook/ ReviewofLiterature. ncu.

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