Creating Authentic Online Learning Experiences through Personal Learning Networks
Concurrent Session 3
Educators often struggle with creating meaningful peer-to-peer learning for online students. Findings regarding developing and implementing peer-based learning networks in online/hybrid programs will be presented. Experiential themes provide a model for developing PLNs in hybrid/online programming. Attendees will reflect on ways to create PLNs at their institutions.
As online programs continue to compete in an ever-crowded student marketplace, many colleges and universities find themselves needing to differentiate and create unique and authentic learning experiences for students. A critical aspect of online learning that is often discussed, yet not thoroughly operationalized, is peer-to-peer learning. The Community of Inquiry framework has reinforced the importance of this type of learning in online classes; yet as educators, we often struggle with how to create space for peer-to-peer learning outside of traditional online discussions, peer review, or group work.
At the same time, as online educators are looking for new ways to uniquely provide programming, professionals are paying more attention to Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). A PLN is “being part of a ‘connected’ community provides support for getting specific needs met, solving personally relevant and meaningful problems, and developing professional expertise” (Moreillon, 2016, p. 65). PLNs can take many forms as one progresses in their careers. The authors of this study recently formed a PLN, stemming from a Online Learning Consortium’s Institute for Emerging Online Leaders (IELOL) cohort. This PLN has resulted in a research collaborative, personal and professional gains, and a forum to discuss best practices of online teaching and learning. The PLN is comprised of educational administrators from a diverse set of higher educational institutions across the United States. The roots of this presentation stem from metacognitive discussions amongst a PLN regarding developing and implementing PLNs in online and hybrid programs.
During this session, findings from an autoethnographic study of PLN members who have reflected on developing and implementing peer-based learning networks in online and hybrid programs at their institutions will be presented. Through these collective experiences, themes from these experiences are framed as a model for developing personal learning networks which can be appended to online programming at any institution to augment traditional curricular learning, connect students through their shared academic and professional experiences, and create a sense of community and ambition that would compare to in-person community and connection building that often happens in on-campus programming. Session attendees will be asked to reflect on the themes and the opportunity to create a co-curricular PLN for students at their institutions to serve as a proxy to the type of community that is created in traditional face-to-face programming.
After attending this session, attendees will be able to:
Identify the benefits of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), and
Create a vision for implementation of a co-curricular experient at home institutions.
Moreillon, Judi. 2016. “Building Your Personal Learning Network (Pln): 21st-Century School Librarians Seek Self-Regulated Professional Development Online.” Knowledge Quest 44 (3). ERIC:64–69. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1087618.