Cultivating a Personal Learning Network that Leads to Professional Change
Dissertation Proposal Submitted to Northcentral University Graduate Faculty of the School of Education in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
by BENJAMIN STEWART
Prescott Valley, Arizona July, 2012
Abstract Professional development stems from what an educator knows and is capable of doing. In the past, professional development has been rooted in local workshops, conferences, and other isolated learning pursuits that have often left a gap between theory and practice. Today, open informal dialogues about teaching and learning have been found to have a positive impact on professional learning that leads to higher student achievement. Improving student achievement in Mexico is currently a problem in Mexico where students are well behind other countries in terms of their reading, math, and science scores. To address this issue, researching how informal pedagogical dialogues emerge will provide the professional learning framework necessary to yield the open and ongoing teacher support needed to increase student achievement. A multiple case study will explore how 21-30 English-as-a-foreign language (EFL) educators from three different Mexican universities interact within a personal learning network in terms of ideational, material, and social interactions. Utilizing a qualitative research design, data will be collected using an initial survey, public websites, focus groups, and interviews. A cross-case analysis will be conducted in order to recognize divergent and convergent patterns between PLNs themselves as well as between contextual information related to each case. The findings show thatâ€Ś
Table of Contents
List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ iv List of Figures................................................................................................................................ v Chapter 1: Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1 Background ................................................................................................................................. 2 Problem Statement ...................................................................................................................... 6 Purpose........................................................................................................................................ 8 Theoretical Framework ............................................................................................................. 10 Research Questions ................................................................................................................... 14 Nature of the Study ................................................................................................................... 15 Significance .............................................................................................................................. 16 Definitions ................................................................................................................................ 17 Summary ................................................................................................................................... 21 Chapter 2: Literature Review .................................................................................................... 23 EFL Teaching Knowledge ........................................................................................................ 25 Professional learning community ............................................................................................. 39 The Complexity of Learning..................................................................................................... 48 Actor-network Theory (ANT) .................................................................................................. 54 Personal Learning Network (PLN) ........................................................................................... 59 Summary ................................................................................................................................... 66 Chapter 3: Research Method ..................................................................................................... 68 Research Method and Design ................................................................................................... 70 Participants................................................................................................................................ 72 Materials/Instruments ............................................................................................................... 73 Data Collection, Processing, and Analysis ............................................................................... 77 Methodological Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations ................................................ 87 Ethical Assurances .................................................................................................................... 88 Summary ................................................................................................................................... 91 References .................................................................................................................................... 93 Appendix A ................................................................................................................................ 106
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey ....................................................................................................... 106 Appendix B ................................................................................................................................ 116 Informed Consent Form .......................................................................................................... 116 Appendix C ................................................................................................................................ 118
List of Tables
List of Figures
Chapter 1: Introduction One of the most effective means of professional development is through informal dialogues about teaching and learning (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). But professional learning is complex and can depend on how people socially interact with each other, the materials they use to remain active, and the emerging ideas that result from social dialogue. Developing pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) as a network between ideas, material, and people ultimately emerges from a complex process that is highly specific to the context, situation, and person (Driel & Berry, 2012). Indeed, understanding PCK can be viewed as an ideational, material, and social network of nodes that is in a constant state of flux. Through an actor-network theory worldview, network nodes can be viewed as actants which are any physical or non-physical entities that have an effect on some other actants (Latour & Harman, 2010). Through semiotics, a holistic view of language, visual signs, and symbols provides a clearer picture of any given phenomenon (Lawes, 2002). The purpose of this research is to explore how educators in higher education interpret personal interactions and related material use to an open and ongoing contribution to one's professional learning (i.e., changes to one's understandings and behavior). The objective is to provide an open and sharing professional learning framework that can be adapted across various disciplines and educational contexts. This study seeks to better understand the distributed nature of learning, specifically the role of materiality in the workplace (e.g., professional web tools) and the basic assumptions of what constitutes professional learning (Fenwick, 2009; Fenwick, 2010). The results of this study will contribute to the scant research currently available regarding how
facilitative discussions permit open and diverse discourse through the development of means, ways, and ends (Zhang, Lundeberg, & Eberhardt, 2011). Chapter 1 begins by providing some background that sets up the problem statement related to the lack of professional learning support for educators in Mexico who are concerned with the low scores students currently have in reading, math, and science. After the problem statement as been presented, the purpose of the study follows leading up to the theoretical framework for the research and the research questions. The chapter concludes by explaining the nature of the study and its significance to the current body of literature. Background What constitutes a successful educational institution has been well-researched and can be summed up as follows: educators begin with certain prerequisites (i.e., knowledge, interpersonal skills, and technical skills) that provide the basis for instructional leaders to design tasks (i.e., direct assistance, group development, professional development, curriculum development, and action research) that set out to unify organizational goals with teacher needs with the sole intent of improving student achievement (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2007). But a more specific narrative around professional development appeals to more complex and non-linear attributes of the learning process. For instance, professional development can be termed as teacher development which Glatthorn (1995) defines as â€œthe professional growth a teacher achieves as a result of gaining increased experience and examining his or her teaching systematicallyâ€? (as cited in Villegas-Reimers, 2003, p. 11). Understanding what constitutes professional growth (i.e., learning) uncovers the complexity and non-linear aspects of the
learning process that instructional leaders need when trying to unify institutional goals with teacher needs. Understanding the complexity of professional learning is contingent on how teacher knowledge is defined. The development of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), for example, emerges from a complex process that is highly specific to the context, situation, and person (Driel & Berry, 2012). PCK is that expertise that allows teachers to effectively and efficiently present subject matter to students (Shulman, 1986). But English language educators who learn English as an additional language require additional knowledge. Termed language teacher competence (LTC), this type of knowledge stems from three relational and interdependent domains: (i) language competence (i.e., the ability to communicate meaning), (ii) pedagogical competence (i.e., skill sets of one person that prompt learning in another person), and (iii) language awareness (i.e., knowledge about language or KAL) (Cots & Arn贸, 2005). For EFL educators working in Mexico who have learned English as an additional language, they must then contend with the following types of knowledge: (a) content knowledge (non-linguistic), (b) pedagogical knowledge, (c) language proficiency knowledge (i.e., ability to speak and writing in an additional language), and (d) language awareness (i.e., knowledge of applied linguistics). If professional learning for native-speaking educators is complex, professional learning for those educators who teach using an additional language becomes even more complex given the types of knowledge involved. Given the current state of the educational system in Mexico, gaining a better understanding of what constitutes professional learning remains crucial. The reason EFL educators are the focus of a professional learning inquiry is twofold: (a)
understanding how EFL educators learn will also provide a possible model for those monolingual educators who either do not have concerns with language (between students and teacher) or who might have concerns with language and wish to know more and (b) bilingual educators are in a better position than those educators who only speak English or Spanish so that they might potentially interact with more English and Spanish-speaking communities through both face-to-face dialogues and public web sites. Also, there is currently little support for professional development in Mexico, which trails 21 other countries from around the world: just over 40% of Mexican teachers receive support compared to an average of nearly 70% among other countries from around the world (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). Due to the lack of support in professional development, little can be done to improve an educational system that trails behind 48 other countries when comparing student scores in reading, math, and science (Shepherd, 2010). To provide additional professional development support to EFL educators in Mexico, a better understanding of how informal dialogues related to teaching and learning is needed. Of all the different types of professional development that have been used in the past (e.g., education conferences and seminars, mentor and peer observation, and professional development networks), informal dialogues that improve teaching rank the highest in relation to its impact on student learning (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). Therefore, understanding how informal dialogues emerge remains the objective of this study; one that appeals to complex, adaptive, nonlinear feedback networks that places leadership not as a topdown directive that treats teachers as objects, but rather as an emergent, interactive process
embedded in context and history (Uhl-Bien, 2011). This is a shift towards focusing on people and away from a more traditional approach that is directed towards practices and programs where (a) isolated workshops, (b) changing initiatives that fail to create a conducive learning environment, and (c) implementing summative assessments that simply recapitulate past events with little-to-no ongoing support are the norm (Reeves, 2010). Focusing on people through informal dialogues about teaching and learning provides the basis for cultivating a personal learning network that provides the support educators need to increase professional learning. In order to research informal dialogues related to teaching and learning, a professional learning community is contrasted to that of a personal learning network (PLN). A professional learning community consists of a domain, practice, and community (Wenger, McDermott, Y Snyder, 2002). There are elements of shared interested, shared set of practices, and joint membership in a professional learning community that set it apart from a PLN. A PLN in contrast, is a collection of connected patterns that join (a) concepts, ideas, perspectives, and beliefs; (b) objects, materials, technologies, and artifacts; and (c) people. PLN can occur synchronously (i.e., real time), semisynchronously (i.e., nearly real time, such as microblogging), and asynchronously (i.e., aggregators, videocasts, etc.), and although PLNs can roam beyond normal geographical areas, they can easily be limited to like-minded discussions (Warlick, 2009). So although this limitation might also apply to professional learning communities, a PLN offers the greatest potential for diverse dialogues when educators stretch their worldviews to appreciate a wider range of perspectives. This research will investigate how informal dialogues related to teaching and learning emerge in terms of a PLN. The lens from which a PLN will be
presented will be rooted in complexity theory and ANT. One of the tenets of ANT is the notion of actants. An actant is any physical or nonphysical entity that has an effect on some other actant, which can also be a series of embedded actors, just as human cells make up a person (i.e., teacher) who makes up a department, which makes up a school, etc. (Latour & Harman, 2010). Another aspect of ANT is the notion of semiotics. Semiotics refers to how interpretation is dependent on a holistic view of how language, visual signs, symbols, etc. collectively provide a clear picture of any given phenomenon (Lawes, 2002). Thus, a material semiotics approach to this study will set the level of complexity behind how ideational, material, and social entities relate and form patterns that contribute to one’s professional learning. The goal of this research is to explore the complexities and relationships behind the informal dialogues that EFL educators engage in so that such learning environments can be created in a variety of contexts, across a variety of disciplines. If this can be achieved, then more opportunities for more open, ongoing professional development support will result which is currently lacking in Mexico’s educational system. Problem Statement The educational system in Mexico currently trails behind 48 other countries in terms of student scores in reading, math, and science (Shepherd, 2010). Furthermore, educators find little support for their own professional development in Mexico, which trails 21 other countries from around the world – just over 40% of Mexican teachers receive support compared to a global average of nearly 70% (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report also suggests that 60-
65% of Mexican teachers have no formal induction and mentoring programs, which is high when compared to a global average of only18-20%. Of all the different types of professional development being implemented across schools (e.g., education conferences and seminars, mentor and peer observation, and professional development network), informal dialogues that improve teaching rank the highest even though most professional development efforts are limited to ineffective workshops and conferences (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011; Darling-Hammond, 2010). At present, little research exists relating the distributed nature of learning, specifically the role of materiality in the workplace (e.g., professional web tools) and the basic assumptions of what constitutes professional learning (Fenwick, 2009; Fenwick, 2010). By understanding the role of materiality and the basic assumptions of what constitutes professional learning, designing a professional learning experience that focuses on the informal dialogues that improve teaching provides the first step in addressing the relationship between teaching and student achievement. This multiple case study seeks to explore how ideas, materials, and English-as-a-foreignlanguage (EFL) educators in Mexico socially interact with others via primarily online informal dialogues geared towards improving teaching and learning. EFL educators in Mexico were chosen in order to provide a model of professional development that is feasible and scalable to an international narrative that potentially could extend to over 120 English and Spanish-speaking countries (i.e., more than 19 million people) (NationMaster.com, 2012). Failure to conduct such a study will lead to a continued lack of support for professional development that currently is needed to improve the educational system in Mexico.
Purpose As a means for providing better professional development support in Mexico, a qualitative multiple case study seeks to explain how EFL educators interact with ideas, materials, and with other educators through open, informal dialogues based on how to improve teaching and learning. Specifically, this study will explain how EFL educators in higher education who currently teach at three different universities in Mexico conduct open, informal dialogues and contributions to open educational resources (OERs) within public web sites. The EduQuiki (2012) wiki will be the initial hosting web site where contributions and forum discussions will originate. But since participants will be given the option to contribute to the public web site of their choice, additional web sites may also be used. To obtain information about informal dialogues about teaching and learning, various data collection strategies will be employed: electronic artifacts which include contributions and informal dialogues uploaded to the Internet, user statistics obtained by Wikispaces (e.g., page hits and number of user edits), focus groups, and pre- and post-interviews. An exploratory study, the purpose is to analyze how participants connect ideas, opinions, and perspective; materials; and individual educators via a personal learning network in such a way that fosters informal pedagogical dialogues. And since most of the informal dialogues will be conducted openly online, a secondary purpose is to understand what challenges EFL educators face when conversing with others in public web sites. In order to study how participants conduct informal pedagogical dialogues in public web sites and to better understand the challenges they face when doing so, three types of online textual data will be collected: (a) contributions, (b) informal dialogues, and (c) personal
reflections. Contributions will be based on evidence of educators creating, reusing, remixing, and redistributing electronic artifacts in the form of open educational resources. Informal dialogues are those synchronously, semi-synchronously, or asynchronously dialogues that occur from written forum posts. Personal reflections are those conversations conducted between the participants and the researcher (i.e., focus groups and interviews). The way in which these three types of data are to be analyzed will be framed in terms of a PLN. The purpose for researching informal pedagogical dialogues that set out to reveal a dynamic PLN bifurcates into two types of pattern recognition. The first type is to seek patterns between the PLN as a theoretical concept and the individual case study, which for the purposes of this study, is the individual educator (i.e., unit of analysis). The PLN for this multiple case study relates to the collective network assemblage of ideas, materials, and other educators within an open and online social exchange. Another way of looking at a PLN is a set of interrelated nodes that form a collective network assemblage. The constituents that make up the collective network assemblage are dependent variables (i.e., ideational, material, and social network nodes) that form patterns in terms of certain independent variables. The independent variables for this research are those that relate to the educatorâ€™s situation or context: institution, age, experience, as well as other personal descriptors. Thus, in order to understand the theoretical concept (i.e., PLN) one needs to understand the individual case or unit of analysis (Stake, 2006). The second type of pattern recognition is by conducting a cross analysis between case studies. By taking any single independent variable (e.g., institution), a comparison between cases among dependent variables will show where convergent and divergent patterns exist. During the 10-week data
collection process, a holistic, multiple case study researching informal dialogues will likely produce discourses around curriculum, assessment, and instruction in terms of educators’ understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions. The rationale is to provide insight into what teachers say and do when encouraged to conduct informal pedagogical dialogues that are rooted in teaching practice. By understanding the dynamic nature of a PLN as a interrelated nodes that form a collective network assemblage, further insight into the complexity of professional learning will lead to better professional development frameworks that seek to improve student achievement. Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework for this multiple case study is based on what constitutes teacher knowledge, complexity theory, and ANT. Specifically, this study seeks to find out how informal dialogues among EFL educators in Mexico emerge within a complex and adaptive EFL teacher knowledge-based network (i.e., one’s understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions). Teacher knowledge can be based on depth of understandings that emerge from a combination of facets: explaining, interpreting, apply, having perspective, having empathy, and having self-knowledge (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). In terms of EFL teachers, language teacher competence (LTC) emerges from three relational and interdependent domains: (i) language competence (i.e., the ability to communicate meaning), (ii) pedagogical competence (i.e., skill sets of one person that prompt learning in another person), and (iii) language awareness (i.e., knowledge about language or KAL) (Cots & Arnó, 2005). Because many of the participants have learned English as an additional language, Cots and Arnó’s (2005) notion of LTC is
particularly useful since teacher knowledge is not only in terms of knowledge and understanding of content, but also knowledge related to being an English speaker and writer (i.e., skill-based) and knowledge about how others acquire the language (i.e., knowledge-based). Understanding what is meant by teacher knowledge underpins how the learning process can take place. Shaping what a teacher knows (i.e., understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions) can occur within a professional learning community (PLC). All PLCs share three common elements: a domain, practice, and community (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). The authors stress that a PLNâ€™s domain, practice, and community share a sense of commonality: (a) a domain with a mission statement or shared common interest; (b) a practice with a shared set of ideas, tools, information, and language; and (c) a community with the acceptance of group membership. And although learning can occur within a PLC, the focus of this research is to see how informal dialogues about teaching and learning emerge whether they occur within a PLC or not; that is, to focus on the complexity of learning through ANT. Complexity learning has long been researched in the hard sciences but more recently has included the social sciences as well. Two key concepts that relate complexity theory to learning is the idea of feedback loops and sustainability. Feedback loops are usually associated with teacher and student feedback based on performance evidence, but it is also the nonlinear logic that entails circular and recursive relationships between human and non-human devices (Kay, 2008). Over time, interacting objects (i.e., human and non-human collective) depend on prior experiences when making decisions through a process of memory formation (Johnson, 2007). The memory formation process is what allows interactions to remain sustainable. Sustainability
of a complex system results from the synergies that exist supporting the claim that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Kayuni, 2010). Through ongoing synergistic systems model, self-organization and sustainability exist despite a central controller or decision-maker that dictates how others are to behave. Within the framework of complexity theory, ANT explains how learning centers around the individual (as opposed to a PLC) through a personal learning network. Understanding how ANT relates to a PLN requires defining what is meant by actant. ANT consists of a network of actants that can be anything that acts or that can be acted upon, whether human (i.e., social) or non-human (i.e., textual, conceptual, or technical) (Latour, 1997). The actants then act as ideational, material, and socially-connected nodes within a collective network. An aggregation of connected nodes (i.e., relational actants) forms a local, variable, and contingent actor-network method and theory that is derived from material-semiotics (Alexander, 2004). Material-semiotics from an ANT worldview “…describes the enactment of materially and discursively heterogeneous relations that produce and reshuffle all kinds of actors including objects, subjects, human beings, machines, animals, ‘nature’, ideas, organizations, inequalities, scale and sizes, and geographical arrangements” (Law, 2007, p. 2). The author points out that ANT’s material-semiotics describes the performative nature of human and non-human relations that lead to some aggregated effect (e.g., object, person, artifact, etc.). Hence, this study investigates the performative nature of ideas, materials, and people as a collective aggregate that presents itself as a dynamic effect or PLN. And at the same time, the PLN as a dynamic effect of interrelated nodes, will be framed in terms of an individual case. The individual case, or unit of
analysis, for this study is the EFL educator. As a point of departure, a PLN incorporates complexity theory and ANT’s material semiotics but goes one step further. Whereas ANT focuses on how social behavior occurs within a network, a PLN takes on a connectivist approach in finding out how learning occurs within a network (Bell, 2010; Bell 2011). This research will trace complexity and heterogeneity by asking participants what they do and how and why they interact the way they do within a PLN; in doing so, one escapes the tendency to homogenize and unify participants' particular surroundings (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). Simply, complexity science provides a “clear, comprehensive, congruent, cohesive, and consistent explanation of particular aspects of reality” (Shoup & Clark Studer, 2010, loc. 63). Professional learning from a complexity theory lens is expressed in terms of recognizing learning patterns that result from self-organization without the benefit of a central controller (Mitchell, 2009). An inquiry into PLNs is a descriptive journey into the educator’s learning trajectory in order to better understand the web relations that exist at cognitive, ideational, social, and material levels. Understanding such a learning trajectory enables stakeholders to better frame professional learning as the complex set of relations that it is, and is the precursor for understanding the complexity around improving student achievement resulting from insight into the complex web relations that make up any reality. Whereas ANT focuses on how social behavior occurs within a network, a PLN takes on a connectivist approach in finding out how learning occurs within a network (Bell, 2010; Bell 2011). A PLN is an individual's recollection of ongoing distribution of boundary nodes over time (i.e., both human and non-human objects) that directly interact with each other via unidirectional
or bidirectional forms of communication with the intent of fostering both intentional and incidental ends. For the purposes of this study, a PLN is an aggregation of socio-technical patterns; that is, patterns between ideas, material objects, and people which are actants in and of themselves. Hence, in order to provide more professional development support to educators in Mexico, this research seeks to shed light on how informal dialogues about teaching and learning intersect with reflective dialogues regarding educatorsâ€™ awareness of their own dynamic PLN. This awareness becomes transformative as they interpret the various nodal relationships of their PLNs â€“ an awareness that reveals itself through the contributions, informal dialogues, and personal reflections that emerge and adapt over time. Research Questions Improving the educational system in Mexico requires providing more professional development support. Professional development should lead to open, ongoing professional learning that leads to informal pedagogical dialogues both at the local and global level. But because there are various reasons as to why teachers from around the world choose not to take part in professional development (e.g., conflict with work schedule, no suitable professional development, family responsibilities, too expensive, lack of employer support, and do not have the pre-requisites), this study will focus on informal dialogues about teaching and learning which teachers do feel have the greatest impact on their professional learning (OECD, 2011). These informal pedagogical dialogues then underpin the discourse between EFL educators regarding how a socio-semiotic and dynamic network adapts to a particular open and online learning environment. The following research questions are based on an open and potentially ongoing
professional learning design that provides a model for how professional development can better support educators who are concerned with improving the Mexican educational system: 1. How do EFL educators in Mexico conduct open and informal pedagogical dialogues that enrich a personal learning network? 2. How do EFL educators in Mexico confront challenges when openly sharing informal pedagogical dialogues within a personal learning network? Nature of the Study This multiple case study will rely on qualitative data to examine how EFL educators in Mexico conduct informal dialogues about teaching and learning and how teachers reflect on challenges related to sharing dialogues openly within their network. Three Mexican universities will be chosen in order to find 7-10 teachers from each institution (i.e., 21-30 participants in total) who are willing to participate in the 10-week course. Biweekly focus groups (i.e., Google+ Hangouts), biweekly informant written reflections and public websites will be used in order to collect all necessary data. EduQuiki (2012) will be the initial web site for the study, but other public web sites may be used at the discretion of the participants. In addition to the focus groups, reflections, and public websites, twenty-minute interviews will be conducted for each participant before and after the data collection period in order to gain further insight into their perspectives. All data (i.e., recorded interviews and focus groups and written data obtained from public web sites) will be coded using mainly predetermined codes based on the literature review (e.g., ideational, material, and social interactions; fractals, etc.) along with additional latent codes that may emerge from the data collection process. From the raw codes, analytic memos will be
used in order to reflect and extract categories, themes, and patterns that evolve around the ideational, material, and social aspects of a PLN. Raw codes (i.e., dependent variables) will also be linked to participant descriptors (i.e., independent variables) such as institution, education, and years of experience among others in order to search for any additional converging or diverging patterns that may exist. Dedoose (2012) will be used to analyze all data. Significance The findings of this study will inform teachers and all other educational stakeholders how to create an educational ecosystem around (a) informal pedagogical dialogues and PLNs and (b) the challenges EFL educators face when sharing ideas and contributions openly in a public website. Currently, there is little research related to how the distributed nature of learning, specifically the role of materiality in the workplace (e.g., professional web tools) and the basic assumptions of what constitutes professional learning take place (Fenwick, 2009; Fenwick, 2010). Moreover, professional development tends to focus on practices and programs instead of people; that is, building professional learning around practices and programs tends to lead to isolated workshops, change initiatives that fail to create a conducive learning environment, and summative teacher evaluations that simply recapitulate past events with little-to-no ongoing support (Reeves, 2010). For these reasons, this study sets out to analyze how informal dialogues and shared, reflective inquiry reveal the distributed nature and complexity of professional learning in higher education. The distribution of learning will be viewed in terms of a PLN or a connection of ideas, people, and materials that are interrelated and adaptive over time. Knowing how EFL educators conduct informal pedagogical dialogues in terms of a
dynamic PLN can offer a more engaging and effective professional development framework. As EFL educators in Mexico begin getting used to openly sharing and contributing with others publically, open access learning transforms into a framework for educators to unite local issues related to teaching and learning to open and informal dialogues. The informal dialogues of teaching and learning then complement other qualitative and quantitative learning analytics that collectively provide for a variety of indicators that allow greater perceptiveness into the level of engagement within a professional development program. A PLN at its core is personal and underpins one’s entire professional learning experience. “Personalization elevates human learning to new heights while encouraging everyone involved to seek more” (Bonk, 2009, p. 352). As educators become motivated to seek out learning experiences on their own, a more sustainable learning experience ensues. As professional learning becomes more sustainable, a more ubiquitous professional development effect begins to provide the support needed to help close the gap between where Mexican learners are today and where they need to be in the future. Definitions The following are key terms that relate to the context of the study and help provide perspective in framing the notion of a PLN as a means for one’s own professional learning. Boundary nodes. Boundary nodes are people, groups, organizations, communities, and devices the learner directly interacts with (i.e., unidirectional or bidirectional) as part of a PLN). The term is synonymous with the notion of actants within an actor network (Latour, 2005) and is limited to those with a direct connection or those defined as having one degree of separation from the learner or central node (i.e., individuals and artifacts that a learner directly maintains
contact). Connectivism. Connectivism is a learning theory that integrates chaos, network, complexity and self-organization theories, defines learning as residing also outside the individual and throughout the network itself, and recognizes that the decision-making process requires the learner to adapt to a context that is in a constant state of flux. The following are eight principles associated with connectivism as a learning theory: (a) importance of having a diversity of opinions, (b) connecting specialized boundary nodes, (c) learning residing in non-human appliances, (d) the capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known, (e) cultivating connections is a precursor to facilitate learning, (f) ability to connect between fields, ideas, and concepts, (g) currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge), (h) decision-making as a learning process (Siemens, 2005). Language Understanding Integrated Sense-making Learning Experience (LUISLE). LUISLE incorporates aspects of the SIOP model with one exception. Instead of merging content and language objectives, LUISLE merges understandings and language objectives. Open educational resource (OER). Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution (United Nations..., 2011). Openness: The notion of openness relates to the underlining condition required in order to grow a PLN. A PLN must be open in the sense that OERs and OEPs are shared freely, enabling others to â€œreuse, revise, remix, and redistributeâ€? (Wiley, 2008) resources and processes. Personal learning network (PLN). A PLN is an individual's recollection of ongoing
distribution of boundary nodes over time (i.e., both human and non-human objects) that directly interact with each other via unidirectional or bidirectional forms of communication with the intent of fostering both intentional and incidental ends. For the purposes of this study, the term PLN is used instead of community of practice in that a PLN places more emphasis on sociotechnical relationships of the individual (based on ANT and complexity theory) and is less concerned with cultural-historical perspective of group practice, which are characteristic of communities of practice (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Analyzing a PLN will embark on investigating complex changes to a PLN over a mesolevel period of time (i.e., period of weeks), but will not include group or collective notions of personal identity and socio-cultural dimensions that can generalize and possibly distort the overall purpose of this research: to shed light on learning principles that are applicable to anyone regardless of socio-cultural-historical background. Quintain. In a multiple case study analysis, a quintain is what bounds various case studies together; that is, any object, phenomenon or condition under study (Stake, 2006). The author stresses the importance of addressing a â€œcase-quintain dilemmaâ€? (p. 7): researchers should avoid focusing too much on the individual case while ignoring important details to the quintain or collective target. But at the same time, understanding the quintain is impossible without understanding individual cases. A case-quintain dilemma is provoked by a case-quintain dialectic: â€œThe Themes originated with people planning to study the Quintain. The Findings originated with people studying the Cases. These are two conceptual
orientations, not independent but different. To treat them both as forces for understanding the Quintain, the Analyst keeps them both alive even as he or she is writing the Assertions of the final report. The Themes preserve the main research questions for the overall study. The Findings preserve certain activity (belonging to Case and Quintain alike) found in the special circumstances of the Cases. When the Themes and Factors meet, they appear to the Analyst as both consolidation and extension of understanding” (pp. 39-40). The notion of a quintain provides the basis for approaching data collection and data analysis of multiple case studies. Sheltered Instructional Operation Protocol (SIOP) Model. The SIOP model provides the basis for making subject-matter more comprehensible to English language learners who are taking content courses with native-speaking learners. Aspects of the SIOP model include specific techniques that make input more comprehensible at the planning, implementation, and assessment stages (Echevarría, Vogt, & Short, 2004). Although the SIOP model was originally intended on teaching and learning English as a second language (e.g., learning English in the United States), the notion of comprehensible input has been well researched to include also the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language (e.g., learning English in Mexico) (Krashen, 2003). This study does not seek to defend what is “comprehensible”, but rather to use the SIOP model as a basis for communicating challenges English-as-a-foreign language educators face in terms of their own teaching and learning. Understandings. Understandings are the “moral of the story, or rather, of [the] unit”
(Wiggins and McTighe, 2011, p. 80). When implementing a lesson, the goal is to create an educative experience where evidence provides successful results in terms how students develop six different facets: (a) explain, (b) interpret, and (c) apply concepts; (d) show empathy, (e) perspective, and (f) self-knowledge (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005). The six facets of understanding then become the basis with which all other performance verbs are labeled. For example, performance verbs such as describe, teach, and model fall under the facet of explanation while critique, translate, and judge fall under the facet of interpretation (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011). A non-hierarchical view of the six facets of understanding is a different approach to classifying performance verbs compared to Bloom's revised taxonomy. Bloom's revised taxonomy categorizes understanding as a lower order thinking skill along with additional performance verbs such as interpreting, summarizing, and explaining (Churches, 2008). Within the context of this study, LUISLE unites understandings and language objectives in tandem; that is, understandings and language become means and ends simultaneously. Summary The objective of undergoing any professional development pursuit is to view leadership as a complex, adaptive, nonlinear feedback network that is emergent and consistent of an interactive process that is embedded in context and history (Uhl-Bien, 2011). This study seeks to fill the gap in current research by investigating the distributed nature of professional learning from a material-semiotic perspective and by describing the basic assumptions of what constitutes professional learning (Fenwick, 2009; Fenwick, 2010). A qualitative multiple case study will explore how EFL educators in Mexico conduct open and informal pedagogical dialogues that
enrigh a personal learning network along with any challenges they may face. From an ANT and complexity theory framework, conceptual, social, and material-based networks will emerge by collecting various types of data: group discussions, interviews, participant reflections, content analysis, and pre and post teacher survey related to informal pedagogical dialogues via public web sites. Providing additional insight into what constitutes professional learning in education lays the groundwork for further discussion as to how to measure, support, and share alternative forms of assessing how an educator understandings, increases pedagogical skill sets, and determines the dispositions needed in order to become an expert learner â€“ a prerequisite for teaching students too how to become an expert learner.
Chapter 2: Literature Review The term professional learning community has become ubiquitous to a point that it has essentially lost its meaning (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008). Schools rely on mandate-driven change and isolated staff development sessions which historically have not worked (Tomlinson, Brimijoin, & Narvaez, 2008). Little research has been conducted on how interactions between one's PLN lead to a change in teaching practice from the educator's perspective. Few would argue against adherence to school mission and vision statements that are measured by how well students transfer learning through purposeful tasks and a maturation of habits of mind (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007). But the way in which a teacher interprets a school mission or vision statement in relation to professional goal setting and solving will ultimately determine how faculty make decisions that are more people-oriented as opposed to being more program-oriented (Reeves, 2010). This research sets out to provide an interpretive explanation into how interactions within a PLN lead to change in teaching practice and how a teacher is driven to improve within the context of a school mission or vision statement. Instead of a supervisor being a proponent of directive change around predetermined goals and objects, this study seeks to facilitate the teacher in achieving personal goals set by the educator, which are aligned with the overall mission and vision statement of the school. The search strategy for developing the literature review stemmed from a variety of strategies and tools, which utilized a two-stage search approach. Besides using scholarly texts from a personal library, different educational databases were used to search articles, books, dissertations, and other scholarly texts. Some of the educational databases that were used most
often were EBSCOhost Education Research Complete (2012), ERIC (2012), Gale Academic OneFile (2012), ProQuest Education Journals (2012), SAGE Journals Online (2012), Science Direct (2012), Taylor & Francis Online (2012), Ebrary (2012), ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (2012), and Northcentral University Dissertations (2012). In addition to the aforementioned educational databases, Mendeley (2012) papers research catalog was used to find additional sources pertaining to topics associated with the dissertation thesis. The first stage when searching topics related to the dissertation thesis yielded Boolean searches that were conducted based on various keywords and phrases which included but were not limited to the following: personal learning network, personal learning environment, professional learning network, professional learning environment, professional development, professional learning, complexity theory, chaos theory, emergentism, actor-network theory, and material semiotics. Boolean searches were also used during the second stage of the search strategy, using the Mendeley desktop (MendeleyResearch, 2011). The Mendeley desktop is a dedicated program suitable for applying Boolean searches throughout all collected sources imported into the program (either manually or directly from the browser) and also organizes sources into folders, tags, keywords, and open online groups which helps facilitate others who wish to comment and suggest additional sources related to the study. The purpose of the literature review is to provide the theoretical framework supporting the notion of a PLN as a means for oneâ€™s professional development. The following literature review begins with the idea of EFL teaching practice being the what behind any professional development pursuit. Teaching practice in general is presented in terms of understandings,
knowledge, skill sets, and disposition whereas educators in the EFL professional who are English language learners themselves might also have additional goals related to improving individual English proficiency skills as well. The rest of the literature review deals with the how of professional learning. Complexity theory provides an argument for non-linear learning (i.e., gaining understandings, skill sets, and dispositions) that at times is chaotic and emergent but can show signs of stability, mobility, and dynamic attributes. In addition to complexity theory, the section on actor-network theory (ANT) underpins learning by justifying how connections across a network form, decay, or can remain fairly stable over time. One of the key features of ANT is framing ideas, material, & individuals as a result of prior relationships formed over time, and how simplifying reality to dichotomies (e.g., teacher/learner, researcher/practitioner, expert/novice, etc.) can be avoided by viewing the nodes of a PLN not as being fixed but as a complex adaptable network of socio-material relationships that exhibit a potential to act. This ontological view of professional learning is the premise for the PLN â€“ a theoretical concept rooted in the contextual dimensions of each individual language educator as the unit of analysis for this study. In the final section of the literature review, the PLN becomes the basis for oneâ€™s professional learning which emerges from interacting with other educators, materials, and conceptualizations in order to recognize complex, emergent, dynamic, and networked patterns. EFL Teaching Knowledge Understandings. Any teaching practice is based on understandings. Bloom's revised taxonomy categorizes an understanding as a lower order thinking skill along with other related performance verbs such as interpreting, summarizing, and explaining (Churches, 2008). But for
the purpose of this study, the term has a broader sense. Understandings are the “moral of the story” or concept, idea, or notion (Wiggins and McTighe, 2011, p. 80). When implementing a lesson, the goal is to create an educative experience where evidence provides successful results in terms how students develop six different facets of understanding: the learner can (a) explain, (b) interpret, and (c) apply concepts and the learner has (d) empathy, (e) perspective, and (f) self-knowledge (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005). The six facets of understanding then become the basis with which all other performance verbs are labeled. For example, performance verbs such as describe, teach, and model fall under the facet of explanation while critique, translate, and judge fall under the facet of interpretation (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011). A non-hierarchical view of applying the six facets of understanding avoids the notion that lower critical thinking skills are a necessary precursor to higher order cognitive development. The notion of thinking about understandings in term of facets is not new. To help educators not confuse knowledge with understandings when designing rigorous performance tasks, five facets were originally introduced as a means for rethinking, reflecting upon, reconsidering, and revising the meaning of what was learned and what was believed: the learner can (i) explain and interpret and the learner has (ii) performance know-how, (iii) perspective, (iv) empathy, and (v) self-knowledge (Wiggins, 1998). But to 'really understand', the now six facets of understandings (i.e., explain, interpret, apply, perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge) collectively contribute to the degree students can (i) draw useful inferences, make connections among facts, and explain their own conclusions in their own words and (ii) “transfer learning to new situations with appropriate flexibility and fluency” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011, p. 58). Just
as the six facets apply to learners in the classroom, so too do they apply to the understandings faculty are to develop according the school mission and vision statements (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007). This cognitive approach regarding how people learn is applicable to any subject, but in terms of EFL teaching practice, a further discussion is needed. In addition to the language teacher being able to form and promote understandings with learners, language teacher competence (LTC) more specifically articulates what is meant by declarative knowledge (i.e., understanding or knowing that...) in terms of teaching English as a foreign language. LTC emerges from three relational and interdependent domains: (i) language competence (i.e., the ability to communicate meaning), (ii) pedagogical competence (i.e., skill sets of one person that prompt learning in another person), and (iii) language awareness (i.e., knowledge about language or KAL) (Cots & Arn贸, 2005). KAL (language and pedagogical competences will be discussed later) includes in part, topics such as second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and language assessment which incidentally may or may not be synonymous with the term content knowledge. KAL and content knowledge are synonymous if the language teacher is giving a course in psycholinguistics; that is, giving an English for academic purposes class where the subject knowledge is not solely linguistic. But if the language teacher is giving a general English course, then KAL (e.g., psycholinguistics) and content knowledge (e.g., English related to real-life themes) diverge. Thus, KAL and content knowledge become the precursor for developing enduring understandings or the big ideas that students should retain after the details have been forgotten (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005). Besides knowing what the desired results are for a particular class (i.e., KAL, content
knowledge, and understandings), teachers who have an understanding about the different types of evidence required to assess student achievement, are better equipped to provide the support needed to improve student achievement. Assessment can be categorized into three areas: (I) formative assessment or assessment for learning, (ii) summative assessment or measurement of learning at the classroom level, and (iii) a combination of summative assessments at the program level (e.g., overall grade point average or GPA) (Yorke, 2010). Assessment can also be considered as falling along a simple to complex continuum: informal discussions, academic prompts, quizzes and exams, and performance tasks respectively (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005). Regardless of the combination of assessments used to measure and promote learning, assessment design that aligns to curricular aims preclude instructional design and implementation, also called “assessment-illuminated instruction” (Popham, 2008a, p. 265), or “backward design” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005, p. XX). In the field of teaching EFL, various forms of evidence need to measure and promote both understandings but also language. Assessing the EFL classroom includes collecting evidence related to vocabulary use, course content, and various other types of assessments collected throughout the course (i.e., behavioral assessments that measure language and conduct) (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004). More specifically, criterion-referenced tests are used to compare a student's performance to a standard or criterion (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2007). A standard often used in language learning is the Common European Framework which influences how many language coursebooks are designed and also provides extensive descriptors that provide the criteria for rubrics used for more qualitative-based assessment instruments (Council
of Europe, 2011). Similarly, measuring understandings can result from having a rubric containing the six facets of understanding as a standard of performance that aligns to curricular goals (Wiggins and McTighe, 2011). Assessment for learning (i.e., formative assessment) complements summative assessment in a various ways. â€œFormative assessment is a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of students' status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics (Popham, 2008b, p. 6). This joint commitment between teacher and learner is an active and intentional process that continuously and systematically gathers evidence of learning with the express goal of improving student achievement (Moss & Brookhart, 2009). Eportfolios and performance-based assessments, for instance, offer additional examples of formative assessments that lend themselves to a more authentic learning context that assesses not only the end product but the process as well (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2007). Thus assessing of learning and assessing for learning complement each other by providing the evidence necessary (i.e., qualitative and quantitative data) to make more accurate inferences on student achievement. Once assessments that align to desired results (i.e., curricular aims) have been determined, educators then move to the next step: planning the learning sequence. An approach to planning a learning progression that is conducive to higher academic achievement emerges from a myriad of factors. English language teachers need to believe in the students, know the subject matter, help students form connections with the subject and other aspects of the students' lives, promote academic language, promote interaction with both content
and students, and articulate the importance of how students are ultimately responsible for their own learning (Waldron, n.d., as cited in Rothenberg & Fisher, 2007). Together, these aspects emerge through differentiating instruction; that is, teachers reflect on how content, processes, and products can be differentiated based on the students readiness, interests, and learning preferences through the implementation of meaningful tasks, flexible grouping techniques, and ongoing assessment and adjustment (Tomlinson, 1999). Landrum & McDuffiep (2010) performed a literature review related to differentiated instruction, learning preferences and learning styles and concluded that each are have an educational benefit if based on a type of â€œindividualizedâ€? instruction that is a) planned in a way that builds on what individual students currently know and can do and targets meaningful goals regarding what they need to learn next; and (b) accommodations and modifications to teaching and testing routines are made in order to provide students with full and meaningful access to the content they need to learn (p. 9). Thus, the level of individualization and differentiation that occurs throughout the learning sequence will depend on the particular role the teacher plays. At any given moment, a teacher will assume different roles. The role a teacher assumes will depend on the type of action the student is to perform. If the learning goal is acquisition, then the learner might be asked to define, identify, memorize, recall, select or apprehend where the teacher takes more of a didactic role; if the learning goal is meaning, then the learner might be asked to analyze, critique, interpret, synthesize, or compare and contrast where the teacher takes more of a facilitative role; and if the learning goal is transfer, then the learner might be
asked to create, design, solve, or troubleshoot where the teacher takes more of a coaching role (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011). By comparison, a teacher could mediate between students, teachers or experts, parents, administrators, and community leaders; inspired students and authentic learning environments; content and skill development delivery (i.e., face to face or online); and assessment as advancing learning and the creative process (Mehisto, Marsh, & Frigols, 2008). Although the roles teachers assume are many, they are necessary in creating an learning ecosystem that allows the language learner specifically to combine the learning of an additional language with advancing one's critical thinking skills. Educators may approach the transformation of language learners to become better critical thinkers from a variety of directions. Bloom's revised taxonomy ranks performance verbs from lower order thinking skills to higher order thinking skills as follows: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating (Churches, 2008). Another approach assumes a non-hierarchical list of verbs that serve as a guide when promoting higher order thinking skills: appreciating, assigning, associating, classifying, combining, committing, comparing, condensing, converting, defining, describing, designating, discriminating, extending, identifying cause and effect, imaging, linking, observing, predicting, reconciling, role-playing, separating, selecting, triggering, utilizing, and verifying (Mehisto, Marsh, & Frigols, 2008). A more practical and humanistic approach is to use the term understandings to mean any performance verb that falls under one of the six facets: explain, interpret, apply, perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). That is, the degree to which a learner understands, is the degree to which a learner can perform actions verb that fall under as
many of the six facets as possible. Promoting understandings among language learners rejects the notion that certain verbs automatically be performed first, as in the case of Bloom's revised taxonomy. When learning understandings and language together, both understandings and language become means and ends: the language learner becomes a more critical thinker through the use of an additional language and the language learner improves language skills through the practice of being a more critical thinker. Bringing together understandings and language learning requires counterbalanced instruction. Skehan (1998) originally proposed the idea of counterbalanced instruction in order to push learners who were either form-oriented or meaning-oriented in the opposite direction (as cited in Lyster, 2007). Counterbalancing form and meaning shifted to counterbalancing content and language within language immersion programs avoiding the tendency to overemphasize one at the expense of the other (Lyster, 2008). At the same time, the SIOP model, which emerged from the Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) in the United States, provided a way to operationalize how sheltered instruction makes content more comprehensible to the English language learner through careful planning, implementing, and reviewing classroom procedures (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004). In Europe, the Content and Language Integrated Learning in Bilingual and Multilingual Education (CLIL) approach set out to triangulate content, language, and learning skills (Mehisto, Marsh, & Frigols, 2008). But since all understandings require some degree of both enabling knowledge and subskills that center around content, the act of counterbalancing language changes from content to understandings. Skills. The skills of becoming a better teacher are vast. One pedagogical approach is to
ask, What can I do as an educator that will lead to more effective instruction? An educator can (i) establish and communicate learning goals, track progress, and celebrate success, (ii) help students interact and practice with new understandings, knowledge, and skills, (iii) help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge, (iv) engage students throughout the lesson by establishing and maintaining effective relationships, (v) establish and maintain classroom rules and procedures, (vi) communicate high expectations for all students, and (vii) develop effective lessons organized into a cohesive unit (Marzano, 2007). Another approach is to promote teacher leaders regardless of title or position. A teacher leader is one who has the willingness to (i) mentor and coach others, (ii) communicate with all teachers regardless of personal affiliation or preference, (iii) grow by bringing new ideas to the classroom and school, (iv) become a more competent communicate of one's ideas, (v) engage in creative and problembased issues that address higher student achievement, and (vi) share with others and to take risks in front of peers (McEwan, 2003). Indeed, the skills needed to become a better teacher require a joining of pedagogical skill sets with leadership skills such that the learning community within a school encapsulates all educational stakeholders (i.e., students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community leaders). But harnessing one's skills, whether pedagogical or based on leadership, involves some degree of materiality or material use (e.g., educational technology and ICTs). Educational technology provides the means for teachers to become better communicators as well as providing the skill sets needed to promote learning in another person. The International Society for Technology in Education (2011) has developed a list of standards and
performance indicators that set out to engage students and improve learning, enrich professional practice, and to provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community. The technology standards teachers should facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments, model digital-age work and learning, promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, and engage in professional growth and leadership. Also, there is a unification between instructional design (e.g., behaviorism, cognitivism, and social constructivism), educational media (e.g., film, television, online video, and social media), and educational computing (e.g., computers, internet, and mobile devices) such that a single term, educational technology, begins to show how future trends emerge (Newby, Stepich, Lehman, & Russell, 2010). Some of the trends include more use of electronic books and mobile technologies, augmented reality and game-based learning, and gestured-based computing and learning analytics (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011). But the prevalence of educational technology does not go far enough to closing the gap between affordances and actual higher student achievement. In a survey of current literature, Neubauer, Hug, Hamon, & Stewart (2011) posit that the ubiquity of current technologies has done little to facilitate collaboration and student-centered learning in schools to the degree that strategies are needed in order to leverage Web 2.0 tools in order to help students prepare for the challenges of globalization, automation, and complexity (Neubauer, Hug, Hamon, & Stewart, 2011). Facilitating learning can occur through a variety of possible methodologies: tutorials, hypermedia, drills, simulations, games, tools and open-ended learning environments, tests, and web-based learning (Alassi & Trollip, 2001). These
methodologies are of little use if teachers are not provided with a set of technological tools and the instructional designs and procedures needed to explain how the technological tools may be used (Zhang, 2010). The author proposes dealing with challenges using a complex system perspective that involves a principle-based approach instead of a procedure-based approach; one that requires the educator, or “grassroots innovator” to reflect across the macro- and micro-level (p. 240). So the skills required to use ICTs under proper contexts, pedagogical skills that engage learners efficiently and effectively, and leadership skills that promote the leadership skills of others collectively apply to all teachers, but leave out communicative skills that are especially relevant to non-native speaking language teachers. Educators of any subject rely on the ability to communicate meaning, but non-native speaking language teachers especially rely on language competence as it can strongly influence one’s identity. Language competence as part of an LTC (i.e., along with pedagogical competence and language awareness) is particularly a contentious issue when it comes to the individual native or non-native speaker educator in relation to a particular social setting (Davies, 2011). The native and non-native dichotomy has led to a more detailed description of language identity not only in terms of language proficiency but also in terms of how the speaker perceives individual language proficiency and how others view the speaker's proficiency: these more detail descriptions include bilingual speakers, English as a first language speaker, second-generation English speaker, English-dominant, L1[native language]-dominant, and English-variety speaker (Faez, 2011). Regardless as to how one classifies language identity – oftentimes dichotomously referencing teachers as native or non-native speaker – sensitivities in linguistic problems learners
encounter should be recognized and dealt with when learning an additional language (Rao, 2010). The author coded and categorized qualitative data taken from an open-ended questionnaire and interviews and revealed that “…language teaching is an art, a science, and a skill that requires complex pedagogical preparation and practice” (p. 66). For this reason, EFL teaching practice and to a lesser degree teaching practice in general become interdependent associations of skill sets that include language competence, technology, leadership, and pedagogy: skills that are associated with a teacher’s understanding of curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Dispositions. The teaching practice in the area of EFL, like in other subject areas, require not only that teachers have understandings and knowledge of the subject and the appropriate skills sets already mentioned, but also the disposition to engage and learn with others. Indeed, “dispositions are the engine of performance in teaching, linking inner values and commitments with action in the context of practice” (Carroll, 2012, p. 38). The notion of linking inner values and commitments with action were revealed after conducting a case study of a teacher candidate taking a teaching practicum class over the course of 10 weeks. The study shows that certain performances of understanding that the teacher candidate can implement in class (e.g., learners making connections, implications, and relationships) can provide “a critical tool for assessing the trajectory of learning dispositions for ambitious teachers” (pp. 60-61). The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Educators (NCATE) and many state departments of education in the United States have adopted a philosophy that no longer is it enough that teacher candidates have knowledge and skills in a certain area, but now must also possess the
appropriate disposition for the profession (Duplass & Cruz, 2010). The appropriate disposition then links with the knowledge and skills that lay the foundation to becoming a teacher leader â€“ an expectation that extends to all teachers from the novice to the expert (Bond, 2011). Thus, teacher educational programs have incorporated a four-step process for measuring dispositions among teacher candidates: (i) clearly define what is meant by dispositions, (ii) determine how this process can be operationalized, (iii) determine the the types of assessments needed to evaluate dispositions, and (iv) collect and analyze data on these assessments and use it to revise program's focus and assessment of dispositions (Shiveley & Misco, 2010). Defining dispositions can vary. The NCATE defines dispositions as follows: Professional attitudes, values, and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors as educators interact with students, families, colleagues, and communities. These positive behaviors support student learning and development. NCATE expects institutions to assess professional dispositions based on observable behaviors in educational settings. The two professional dispositions that NCATE expects institutions to assess are fairness and the belief that all students can learn. Based on their mission and conceptual framework, professional education units can identify, define, and operationalize additional professional dispositions (The National Council..., 2012). Another way of looking at dispositions is to categorize them as anything that isn't considered knowledge and not labeled as skills so that to mark someone as an â€œeffective educatorâ€? would result from an amalgamation of all three (Wasicsko, Callahan, & Wirtz, 2004). The authors
reached this conclusion by surveying the literature and by asking four fundamental questions: a) What is meant by dispositions? b) How will the definition be used in the conceptual framework? c) How will dispositions be assessed? and d) What can be done to get commitment and buy-in from faculty and administration? (pp. 2-6). To take the notion of dispositions one step further, educators can develop certain habits of mind; that is, â€œthe dispositions that are skillfully and mindfully employed by characteristically successful people when confronted with problems, the solutions to which are not immediately apparentâ€? (Costa, 2008). Having the right habits of mind, more than the proper knowledge and skill, becomes a precursor for interacting within a personal learning network, or support system that one relies on as a learning educator â€“ an issue to be addressed in more detail later. Once a definition of dispositions has been established, stakeholders then determine which dispositions are needed in order to be successful and how those dispositions will be measured as in the following: professionalism, open-mindedness, ability to listen, a belief that all students can learn, reflection, temperance, self control, and patience to name a few (Shiveley & Misco, 2010). The belief that all students can learn and the willingness to collaborate with all stakeholders, for instance, underpins how making public promises or collective commitments with all stakeholders contributes to the success of one of the most successful high schools in the United States: Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008). Being held accountable to different stakeholders provides the basis for operationalizing dispositions through transparent and public dialogue. Effective educators with the proper dispositions are held accountable to the degree that
teaching behavior can be assessed. Knowing what constitutes evidence for developing dispositions provides the basis for operationalizing performances of understanding (Carroll, 2012). Several of the six facets of understandings mentioned earlier also lay the groundwork for providing the appropriate evidence for assessing dispositions, such as empathy, perspective, and self-knowledge. Moreover, two competing approaches of assessing dispositions in education include quantitative measures, reductionism, and cause-and-effect relationships that link to standards on the one hand; and a more qualitative, descriptive, interpretive, and discursive approach on the other (Diez, 2006). Teaching practice is an amalgamation of understandings (which includes enabling knowledge), skill sets, and dispositions. These three dimensions to teaching are interdependent and emerge and develop over time. When assessing teaching practice through ongoing professional development, one of the biggest challenges is to provide an unbiased judgment that leads to unreliable interpretations of an educator's conduct regarding what one knows; what one can do; and what attitudes, beliefs, ideals, ideas, and experiences one has (Duplass & Cruz, 2010). What follows is an explanation as to how community change occurs within a professional learning environment. Professional learning community Domain. From a community of practice perspective (CoP), professional learning occurs as a result of a shared domain of interest (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Without it, a CoP cannot exist since â€œit gives the members of the community a common ground to work with and provides a sense of identity thereby giving purpose to and generating value for the CoP's
members and stakeholders” (May, 2009). This can lead to an organization legitimizing a welldeveloped domain whereas marginalizing CoP members with an ill-conceived domain (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). The process then to develop a valuable domain is much like an individual working with a group of individuals towards a type of community purpose statement that is contingent on its relevance to the mission and vision statements and values of the organization. In education, schools develop a learning-related plan in the form of a mission statement (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007). More broadly, a professional learning community (e.g., a school) rests on four interrelated pillars: (i) mission – Why do we exist? (ii) vision – What do we hope to become? (iii) values – What commitments must we make to create the school or district that will improve our ability to fulfill our purpose? (iv) and goals – What goals will we use to monitor our progress? (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2008). In terms of a CoP, legitimizing a domain equates to acknowledging alignment to these four pillars of a professional learning community. Just as domains are legitimized based on how they align to the four pillars, individual learning goals are legitimized within a CoP domain. Learning-related planning not only occurs at the group and organizational level, but also at the individual level. One approach in planning for professional learning is to start with the ends (e.g., mission and vision statements) and follow up with ways and means. The Goals and Roles Evaluation Model (GREM) takes such an approach by dividing up performance assessment into two categories: development phase and implementation phase (Stronge, 1997). Under GREM, the development phase consists of determining the mission of the school,
translate the mission into individual responsibilities, and determine the type of performance indicator that each individual is to carry out. The implementation phase includes collecting data from the individual's performance, compare the performance to some benchmark, and promote change that seeks to improve the program through professional development. A linear approach to professional learning such as GREM provides a common dilemma in professional development between personal development and organizational learning (Scales, Pickering, Senior, Headley, Garner, & Boulton, 2011). Another approach to professional learning is to base it in action research and action learning. Part of a teacher's job when not teaching is to be a continuous learner by keeping abreast of current research on teaching and learning, enhancing professional skills, and engaging in action research at the school and district levels (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007). But a more personalized approach to professional development avoids domains or preplanning at the organizational level altogether. Action learning, for example, branches away from action research in that the former focuses on learning through action while the latter is based on a research method grounded in practice (McGill & Beaty, 2002). Although the term action learning can vary, it is usually associated with having the following key features: (i) sets of about six people, (ii) action on real tasks or problems at work, (iii) tasks or problems are individual rather than collective, (iv) questioning as the main way to help participants proceed with their tasks or problems, and (v) facilitators are used (Pedler, Burgoyne, & Brook, 2005). Hence, action learning requires a purposeful pursuit in addressing the existential questions What do I stand for? and What am I trying to do? (Pedler & Burgoyne, 2008), two questions that
underpin understanding how teachers create a personal learning network that leads to personal change. Practice. A domain based on intentionality, or goal setting, provides the basis for establishing a set of practices that reside somewhere between the individual and the community. The term practice can be thought of as a â€œset of frameworks, ideas, tools, information, styles, language, stories, and documents that community members shareâ€? (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). But practice is not only contingent on sharing ideas, tools, and information within a community or group (i.e., a collective), but also occurs at the individual level through action learning. And although action learning lacks the empirical and experimental evidence needed to qualify it as a rigorous research standard, Leonard and Marquardt (2010) presented a meta-analysis by synthesizing 21 quantitative and qualitative studies related to action learning and found that action learning can promote transformative learning experiences for the individual which converged with similar findings from Kueht (2009) as well. The notion of practice then, presents an assortment of dichotomies: community members versus non-community members, intentional learning versus incidental learning, the individual versus the community, and quantitative versus qualitative research designs used to collect information about the effectiveness of practice. These same dichotomies along with others will fade when learning through practice is viewed through an Actor-Network Theory (ANT) framework which will be discussed later. Another aspect of practice which emerges through the sharing of experiences with others is the idea of reflection. One of the key features to action learning is that it is based on tasks or
problems at work, but this does little to distinguish between problem solving and problem setting. Practitioners (e.g., educators) who think about doing something while they are doing it are reflecting in action (Schon, 1983). According to Schon, reflecting in action avoids the idea that goals, ends, and objectives are presented as fixed or isolated cases that need resolving; that is, to reflect in action is to learn how to problem set as the practitioner continues to reevaluate (i.e., problem set repeatedly) as the context changes over time (1983). As practitioners share experiences with others, they reflect on action (i.e., after the fact) which provides the means for discovering how one's knowing-in-action might have contributed to some unexpected outcome (Schon, 1987). Consequently, practitioners reflect not by framing personal experiences around a predetermined problem that is generalizable to a particular group, community, or organization, but rather they reflect on more local problems that emerge through one's own tacit knowledge. Community. Professional learning through practice can occur within a community. Associating the practice with community accomplishes two things: (i) “it yields a more tractable characterization of the concept of practice – in particular, by distinguishing it from less tractable terms like culture, activity, or structure” and (ii) “it defines a special type of community – a community of practice” (Wenger, 1999, p. 72). Wenger goes on to add that a community of practice (CoP) can be viewed as a unit whereby communal membership is contingent on mutual engagement (1999). Moreover, community practice results from securing commitments and establishing partnerships that encumber a set of cognitive, analytic, and sorting skills (Hardcastle, Powers, & Wenocur, 2011). Hence, the relationship between practice and community depends on the scope of a domain of shared interests that align to a particular set of
goals within an organization, a practice that is based on common knowledge needs, and the amount of assistance individuals receive in finding the benefit of networking and sharing knowledge with others (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). But when considering how professional learn in the workshop (e.g., educators within a school organization), placing less emphasis on practice yields to a slightly different perspective. A community can be framed in a variety of ways, in part, under the assumption that a community consists of individuals networking and sharing ideas with others. A community can also be stated in terms of a gesellschaft or gemeinschaft, which are German for society and community respectively. According to Serviovanni (1999), gemeinschaft is essential to building community within schools because it promotes a we identity that families provide; it fosters a shared space or locale for individuals to interact; and it bonds people together via a common goal, shared set of values, and a shared conception of being (See Table 1). Table 1
Focuses on I
Focuses on we
Separated in spite of uniting
United in spite of separating
Personal Relationships Goals Society Unity
Communities also embody a “civic virtue- the willingness of people to sacrifice their self-
interest on behalf of the common good” (Serviovanni, 2005). In a professional learning context, a professional learning community (PLC) then achieves the following: (i) has a shared purpose, clear direction, collective commitments, and goals; (ii) focuses on learning based on a collaborative culture; (iii) pursues a collective inquiry into best practice and current reality; (iv) embraces the notion of learning by doing; (v) has a commitment to continuous improvement; and (vi) is oriented to results (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2008). Whether termed as a CoP or a PLC, professional learning emerges from having a certain level of commonality among a group of people: some degree of mutual engagement (i.e., reciprocity), goals, values or collective commitments, purpose, direction, and a degree of common or best practices. But accounting for professional learning with a particular domain, practice, and community is limited without an understanding of how learning emerges. Professional development stems from a learning ecology. Current technological advances have given rise to different professional learning trajectories which have extended beyond time and space constraints of the past (Day & Sachs, 2004). New affordances result as learning trajectories become more “collaborative, developmental, collective, inquiry-based, personalized, varied, supportive, contextualized, proactive, and andragogical” (Días-Maggioli, 2004, pp. 5-6). The reason learning trajectories are more supportive, for example, is because educators have more opportunities to interact via live communication (i.e., synchronous communication) and offline forms of communication (i.e., asynchronous forms of communication). As a result, the learning ecosystem expands beyond the educational organization to the degree that learning trajectories become more inherently adaptable to their
surroundings; as a result, personal interactions are more likely to shift from being congenial, as found in most conventional schools, to collegial, something that is lacking in todayâ€™s schools (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2007). But an adaptable learning trajectory within a community-based educational organization is unlikely to occur without understanding the role of leadership. In order for leadership and learning to coexist within an educational organization, a shift in culture needs to occur. Value-added dimensions to leadership, for instance, create a shift from planning to purposing; from giving directions to enabling teachers and the school; from providing a monitoring system to building an accountability system; from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation; and from congeniality to collegiality (Serviovanni, 2005). From a professional development standpoint, this shift in culture might be from external training (workshops and course) to job-embedded learning; from presentations to entire faculties to teambased action research; from learning individually through courses and workshops to learning collectively by working together; and from short-term exposure to multiple concepts and practices to sustained commitment to limited, more focused initiatives (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2008). This shift in culture is contingent on how teacher leaders are granted leadership roles as an entitlement which seeks to place those who have the ability and will to act in the forefront of the decision-making process (Serviovanni, 2005). Independent of position or title, educators begin to distribute leadership responsibilities in order to add value to the learning and sharing process that leads to such a cultural shift. To further articulate the dichotomous shift in cultural leadership, differences can be
drawn between human rationality and assessing individuals’ assumptions. The expectation that human behavior is a zero-sum game assumes a model I theory that supports the notion that individuals are objective, level-headed, and intolerable of publically testing one’s assumptions – see Table 1 (Argyris & Schon, 1974).
Competition Rationality Publically testing assumptions
Maximize valid information
Individuals are rational
Maximize free & informed choice
Maximize internal commitment to decisions made
Argyris and Schon add that organizations work more effectively if leaders adhere more to a Model II theory, one that maximizes valid information, free and informed choice, and internal commitment to decisions made by practitioners (1974). Similarly, the same dichotomy can be viewed as being a “Clockwork I” and “Clockwork II” theory whereas the former works by regulating the master wheel and master pin of a clockwork organization (top-down) and the latter requires the “cultural cement” of norms, values, belief, and purposes of the people to assure coherence between the cogs, gears, and pins that all spin independently of each other (Serviovanni, 2005, pp. 33-34). Finally, professional learning within an organization can be viewed as being a tight and loose leadership style, somewhere between an autocratic approach and a laissez-faire approach – giving educators, for example, the freedom to be autonomous and
creative but within a systematic framework committed to nondiscretionary priorities and parameters (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2008). Professional development has been viewed as having a domain through a set of common practices within a network of people who share ideas and experiences with others. Common characteristic have emerged that suggest ideally that groups of people share a common mission, goals, or purpose (i.e., intentionality) via research-based practices and principles, sometimes referred to as best practices, all within a single unit referred to as a community albeit one that can also interact with other communities. From this point on, the term professional development will be referred to as professional learning as it pertains mainly to how a network community evolves around a particular individual (i.e., educator). Shifting the unit of analysis from a community or set of practices to the individual requires a framework based on complexity theory and actornetwork theory, not to debunk the notion that learning occurs in a CoP or PLC, but to argue that such a shift is required for the sake of learning efficacy. The Complexity of Learning Feedback loops. Complexity Science is â€œthe study of the phenomena which emerge from a collection of interacting objectsâ€? (Johnson, 2007, pp. 3-4). One of the key features of a complex system is the notion of feedback loops. Interacting objects, such as teachers and supervisors, have traditionally viewed feedback as teacher observations and assessment (i.e., teacher evaluations) which have embraced various underlying assumptions: (i) observation and assessment lead to personal reflection for the purpose of improving student achievement, (ii) observation and assessment can benefit both teacher and supervisor (or any involved), and (iii)
when teachers see improvement, they are more likely to continue such improvement (Sparks & Loucks-Horsley (2007). In a professional learning community, feedback might occur in topdown and bottom-up approaches between administrators and supervisors and teachers such that a balance between these two approaches is ideal for organizational learning. But feedback loops entail a broader notion than just observation and assessment between teachers and supervisors. Feedback loops cover any cause and effect relationship. Feedback loops entail circular and recursive relationships between cause and effect through nonlinear logic (Kay, 2008). Since interacting objects are human, decision-making and subsequent actions are based on feedback loops that depend on prior experiences that lead to memory formation (Johnson, 2007). As memory formation builds over time, these recursive relationships render a synergistic effect; that is, when faced with the nonlinearity of professional learning, the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts which is a key tenet to complex systems (Strogatz, 2003). The author goes on to say that whole systems can only be evaluated holistically and not an aggregation of evaluating individual parts. What sets feedback loops apart from a linear perspective is that the latter adheres to a reductionist stance which results from direct cause-and-effect relationships; hence, the aggregation of the parts is exactly equivalent to the whole. But feedback loops tend to take on different meanings depending on the context. Since feedback loops are situational, not all feedback loops yield equivalent change events. From an organizational standpoint, the tendency is to frame feedback loops as having little effect on the individual whereas feedback spirals, for example, are seen as being more
recursive (Costa & Kallick, 1995). A feedback spiral is an ongoing dialectical process where an original theory-based concept is applied in practice, reviewed, and subsequently reapplied in a forthcoming event (Blindenbacher & Raoul Nashat, 2010). But because complex systems are made up of humans, recursiveness becomes an inherent aspect of feedback loops that do not result from direct cause-and-effect relationships, as already mentioned. Moreover, feedback loops can be expressed as generating a change in another person – a positive feedback loop – or expressed as not evoking any change in another person – a negative feedback loop (Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008). The complex nature of feedback loops then, creates a generative, dynamic system that emerges from experience. Besides feedback loops, another attribute of complex systems is one of sustainability. Sustainability. The degree that a complex system is sustainable depends on its non-linear structure. Like complexity theory, chaos theory relates to wholes and the relationships between constituent agents, contrasting the often reductionist concerns of mainstream science with the essence of the ‘ultimate particle’ (Mason, 2008b). The butterfly effect has been the signature of chaos since the 1979 paper by Lorenz called, Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas? (Strogatz, 2003). Strogatz goes on to define a chaotic system as one with small disturbances which grow exponentially fast, rendering longterm prediction impossible. DeWaard, et al. (2011) researched a massive open online course (MOOC) in relation to complexity theory by collecting descriptive data from public online spaces and then performing a content analysis. They found that a MOOC is exemplar of an open and adaptive, complex system which provides a possible solution for new educational
environments that fit the “Knowledge Age” of adult learning today (p. 112). But since a chaotic system appears to be random, yet is deterministic, the sustainability of a system will depend on how change transpires over time. To provide greater insight into the dynamics of a non-linear system within an educational context, for example, a deeper understanding of how chaotic and complexity systems converge and diverge follows. A complex system lies somewhere between a linear and chaotic system. As previously mentioned, a linear system is one that is reductive, and is an aggregation of constituent elements that equal the whole. At the other end of the continuum, a chaotic system is one that appears random but is actually deterministic. Like chaotic systems, complexity is the study of systems of interconnected components whose behavior cannot be explained solely by the properties of their parts but from the behavior that arises from their interconnectedness (English, 2011). They are both nonlinear and are synergistic in that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One key attribute to a complex system is the synergies that exist as in the case with Kayuni (2010) who researched a community secondary school policy that managed to persevere despite apparent overwhelming challenges. Through a chaotic and complex framework, the author distinguished complex systems from chaotic systems by explaining that the former self-organize and are dynamic in how they order and structure themselves throughout the growing process whereas the latter continuously transform into more complex systems which undergo irreversible changes. Thus, the author goes on to explain how most innovation occurs “on the edge of chaos” – somewhere between chaos and complexity – where most creativity and innovation occur; in the case of Community Day Secondary Schools, new policies followed a period of poor quality and
lack of relevance in education, yet innovation did occur in the form of developing a new teacher service commission, greater communication across schools who adapt the new policy, and an increase in public awareness and participation within the education sector (p. 9). Change that transmits through professional learning systems then can benefit from self-organization and sustainability, and can demonstrate progress within the network, even though over outcomes might be to the contrary. Self-organization and sustainability suggest an absence of a central controller which is an essential constituent of non-linear behavior that creates embedded patterns of sustainability, or fractals (Johnson, 2007). Fractals are common in both chaotic and complex systems and help to bolster sustainability throughout the system. Many natural phenomena that exist today are fractals which are repeated patterns at various scales such as maps, mountains, snowflakes, and even languages (Mandelbrot, 1977). In Image 1, for instance, the tree illustrates a fractal structure in that the entire tree consists of small trees, which are made up of smaller trees, and so on (Dooley, 2008). In social organizations, a â€œfractal time ecologyâ€? can exist where day-today leadership patterns connect with similar patterns observed over the course of weeks, months, and years (Dooley & Lichtenstein, 2008). According to
Smitherman (2005), a fractal-like pattern of dynamic relations is also present within the classroom, where social media can be used to increase social interaction with less temporal and special constraints (as cited in Casey & Evans, 2011). However, she goes on to describe behavior in a nonlinear system as not only being chaotic, but also fixed and periodic. In terms of fractals and their relevance to a learning organization then, is to realize that just because human behavior may appear to be random, inconsistent, and haphazard, does not necessarily mean that there are simpler behavioral patterns that scale not only over time but hierarchically as well. If simpler behavioral patterns scale, sustainability in the sense of a multidimensional learning ecology is more likely to occur (Pavlovich, 2009). A nonlinear dynamic perspective provides a framework for understanding the complexity of an educational organization that places professional development at the fore. In additional to deterministic chaos - complex patterns that result in apparent randomness â€“ nonlinear social behaviors can also be described as being stable but necessarily repetitive or what Lorenz (1993) refers to as â€œcomplex attractorsâ€? (as cited in Marion, 2008, loc. 578). For example, continued technical support for educators lead to a consistent pattern of greater risk taking and experimentation with online social tools. Although nonrepetitive behavior exist, there is a tendency for teachers to try web tools if provided adequate support. Over time, individuals decide whether or not to begin experimenting with new web tools (given ongoing technological support) by choosing one complex attractor over another. When certain conditions result in a person choosing one attractor over another, a third tenet of nonlinear dynamic systems emerges termed bifurcation (Goldstein, 2008). Deterministic chaos, complex attractors, and bifurcations
collectively create a nonlinear dynamic system that provides the framework for professional learning to occur. Within an educational system, nonlinear dynamics describe professional learning throughout one’s career in terms of how adapting to one’s surroundings over time and making choices that seem small if considered in isolation actually add up exponentially over time as in the case of the butterfly effect explained earlier (Bloch, 2005). As the practitioner engages in a unique learning trajectory, embedded patterns of behavior may occur statically, periodically, and chaotically. The embedded interactional patterns that depend more on personal connections than on one’s race or social background offer insight into relationships between the individual and the group (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). This relationship equates to how the individual influences others and how others influence the individual. The actor-network theory (ANT) supports how complex interactions between humans and nonhumans in that it is not considered a single or coherent theoretical domain, but one that is developing diversely in response to current challenges (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). Actor-network Theory (ANT) Translation. ANT provides a more appropriate framework for how people learn and practice in the field of education. ANT embraces four central ideas: (a) the world is made up of actors and actants, (b) no object is inherently reducible or irreducible to any other, (c) actants link to one another by way of translation, and (d) actants are not inherently strong or weak (Harmon, 2009). Of the prior four central ideas, the final one (i.e., that actants are not inherently strong or weak) leads to an additional set of notions relevant to professional learning: actants are
a result of their concreteness; people and objects are what they are; and there is little need for dichotomous notions (i.e., labeling) such as novice and master teacher, those who lead versus those who are led, and theory versus practice (Harmon, 2009; Gomart & Hennion, 2004). Namely, distinctions between theory and practice, those who lead and those who are lead, and other dichotomies often found in the field of education do not exist from an ANT perspective. For this reason, professional learning brings people and objects together through a process of knowing, or an enactment that results from connections with other people and things (Fenwich & Edwards, 2010). Translation, as a central tenet to ANT, elucidates why terms such as professional development and training yield to the more descriptive term, professional learning. Translation can be defined as an ontological frame with regard to how entities change over time (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). From an ANT perspective, describing the notion of society, for instance, does not consist simply of ties or connections that link humans and nonhumans, but instead is a result of translation: the momentary associations between humans and nonhumans that are characterized by the way it gathers together into new shapes (Latour, 2005). An ontological approach to the process of learning is minimized when terms like trained teachers or professional development seminars suggest that individuals move from being less to being more or nothing to something. Moreover, translation is complex in that ongoing interactions act as either positive or negative feedback loops that lead to emergent network change (Johnson, 2007). Transformational change that occurs at the individual level can also entice change in others (and vice a versa) through what is referred to as â€œherd behaviorâ€? (Strogatz, 2003, p. 265). Thus,
change and the relationship between social practice and professional learning remain connected entities within a networked-system. Actors (i.e., actants) are networks and vice versa to the degree that actors (i.e., networks) are not inherently strong or inherently simple nor complex, but can be examined in terms of how traces of associations remain after some educational performance (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). But instead of viewing sociology or social practice as being contextual or even embedded with cultural norms, sociology - or social practice more specifically â€“ can also be viewed as being traces of associations (Latour, 2005). Tracing associations not only form agencies but also form ideas, identities, rules, routines, policies, instruments, and reforms as well (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). Thus, the practice of teaching and learning results by recognizing how associations or alliance formation grow and perish over time, and how these associations relate to humans, materials (e.g., ICTs), and concepts. Understanding how to improve EFL teacher practice stems from understanding how people learn. From an ANT perspective, people and objects are linked through relational materiality. Relational materiality is the notion that all entities (i.e., individuals and objects) are produced through relations and that entities are performative in that they are produced in, by, and through such relations (Law & Hassard, 1999). Thus, professional learning emerges by having the educator recall how relations form and to learn how the performative value of the network transforms the individual (e.g., through a change in teaching practice). Individual transformation, or professional learning, becomes the recollection of how relations form through a nondiscrete and dynamic network. Individuals, groups, and objects that make up the individual
nodes of a dynamic network are seen as being in a continual state of flux, where agency (i.e., the actant) and structure (i.e., the network) intertwine through heterogeneous assemblages (Law & Hassard, 1999). Thus, improving professional learning emerges through continue support in how educators recall how past, current, and future assemblages (i.e., events) take shape (Fenwich & Edwards, 2010). In doing so, supervisors begin to transform teachers to instructional leaders â€“ a notion that relates more to will and ability than to position, role, or title. Material semiotics. One of the tenets to ANT is that everything comprises of actors. An actor is anything that has an effect on other things; therefore an actor can be of any size, real or unreal (i.e., all actors are in essence real), physical or non-physical, and an actor contains other actors ad infinitum (Latour & Harman, 2010). The idea of an actor embedded within another actor and so on, is much like to notion of fractals mentioned earlier (e.g., a tree within a tree, within a tree etc.). An actor might be an abstract concept, idea, or belief or something more concrete like a pencil, computer, or some other physical object. The interrelationship between actors, as in a network, becomes the unit of semiotic analysis. Semiotics takes a different approach to data collection and analysis than typical qualitative research designs. For instance, instead of an inside-out approach, semiotics takes an outside-in approach (Lawes, 2002). Lawes compares these two approaches by explaining how a group of people might interpret a box of chocolate cookies (i.e., biscuits) and how the interpretation does not simply come from a single personâ€™s interpretation, but rather a whole hosts of communicative signs and symbols, referred to as culture (e.g., language, visual signs, music, etc.). Hence, the unit of analysis stems from the connection, relationship, and interaction
among a set of actors and not just the individual. The notion of semiotics underpins the complexity of actors; even though they may show signs of stability, they exist as an effect of an irreducible relationship of actors. Since actors can be conceptual, biological, social, and material, the way in which signs and symbols relate can be viewed as material semiotics. An actor-networkâ€™s material semiotics is not a theory in the same way that sociology asks the question why, but rather is more of a methodology which asks the question how (Law, 2007). As such, the term material semiotics becomes a more accurate term than actor-network theory in how natural, social, and technical objects become enacted within a web, how they associate and exercise force, and how they persist, decline, and mutate over time (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). Because network actors are an effect of complex distributions of constituent actors interacting with each other, no two actors are ever exactly the same and are constantly adapting throughout each node of the network. Since actors can cease to exist or become obsolete, understanding a network equates to understanding it in relation to its durability and mobility. Various forms of semiotic durability and mobility impart different effects on the interdependency of constituent actors or on the actor itself. Material durability refers to the length of time an object (i.e., actor) will last, and strategic durability refers to the sustainability of processes or activity patterns within the actor-network over time (Law, 2007). Law posits that a thought or speech act, for example, is much less durable than an idea transferred to text; and relational patterns among human and nonhuman actors typically remain purposeful as long as ongoing discourse is maintained. Moreover, the overall durability of an actor network depends
on the stability of an object in a different space (i.e., different set of constituent actors), also referred to as an â€œimmutable mobileâ€? (Jones & Latour, 2005, p. 16). Semiotic durability and mobility then, refer to how people, thoughts, and artifacts persist, grow, and decay over time (i.e., temporal) and through different spaces or environments (i.e., spatial). Understanding the interdependent, temporal, and spatial nature of actors across a network underpins the notion of a personal learning network. Personal Learning Network (PLN) The different facets of a PLN. The current shift in how people learn has created a dependency on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the degree that growing a PLN has become an imperative for educators who want to stay connected to the changing world that we are charged with introducing to our students (Warlick, 2009). A personalized network of people and materials has value when directed towards professional development events which are based on teacher responsibilities, are ongoing, and are tailored towards the educator in terms of years of service and personal preference (Bauer, 2010). From an ANT perspective, network learning constitutes connecting people, materials, and conceptualizations from forming associations or connections that make up a PLN. A PLN takes a holistic approach in associating and defining constituent parts. An attempt to distinguish between network types tend to create terms such as professional learning environment (PLE), professional learning network (PfLN), and PLN, each with its own particular meaning. For instance, PLEs tend to focus on blogs, wikis, and other ICTs as creating affordances for learners to be in more control of what and when they learn (Al-Zoube, 2009).
PLEs then are framed as predicating PLNs that are focused more on personal relationships to exist that ultimately leads to more specific PfLNs, or networks of collaborating professionals and experts via professional organizations (Ivanova, 2009). If a network is defined as a collection of nodes (i.e., a collection of actors), then an ANT PLN is any particular aggregation of socioconceptual, biological, and technical nodes that make up a particular individual at a particular point in time. Hence, an individual may appear to be immutable and inevitable, but in essence is the effect of complex sets of previous dynamic events and negotiations within networks. The black-box metaphor is often used when discussing ANT as a way to address the tendency of examining the interworking of the box (i.e., network) and instead study the discourses, controversies, and relationships that shaped its role (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). This is precisely the approach taken when discussing PLNs â€“ not as fixed structures that are examined in isolation, but rather as fluid socio-material networks that are an effect of prior nodal relationships. From an ANT mindscape and for the purpose of this study, a PLN is any relationship or association of actors that links individuals, material, and conceptualizations. A key tenet to a complex PLN is that of communicative flow. Communicative flow (i.e., relational ties) is either unidirectional as when a lecturer disperses information out to a group of students, or bidirectional which is a more discursive event between nodes, individuals, or actors (Wasserman & Faust, 2008). Most people communicate directly with friends, a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend â€“ also referred to as communicating up to three degrees of separation (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). This small-world effect demonstrates how directly (i.e., a friend) and indirectly (e.g., friend of a friend) one can outwardly effect the network and
how the network can directly and indirectly influence the individual. Knowing how and when connections form help lead to a particular type of complex network formation that lends itself to how individuals learn in a sociotechnical environment; that is, how connections do not randomly connect but rather are scale-free (Crook, 2009; Barabási, 2003). In effect, the small-world phenomenon is a unifying feature of diverse networks found both in nature and in technology (Strogatz, 2003). But understanding the true complexity of a PLN embodies not only the direction of the relational tie (i.e., unidirectional or bidirectional) but also the strength of the relational tie itself. Network connections that make up a PLN can vary. The ties educators form with others can be referred to as either strong or weak (Granovetter, 1973). The author terms strong ties as those friends or colleagues who are in close contact – i.e., within one degree of separation – and those who share a strong bond whereas weak ties are friends of friends (or friend of a friend of a friend) that one may know but have little contact with. To leverage a PLN around ongoing professional learning requires a holistic understanding of strong and weak ties that connect with nodes – which are networks themselves - that provide the greatest potential for learning. The potentiality of learning or agency then is not inherent within the actor or node, but rather in the associations that relate to the actor or node (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010). Recognizing directional ties that exist between network nodes provides insight into network topologies that exist in social interactions. Choosing the network nodes that best make up a PLN is not a random event. If educators formed a random PLN, it would be illustrated as a normal distribution, or bell-shaped curve
whereby the number of colleagues an educator interacted with would be virtually the same in number, or at least fairly close to the mean (Barabási, 2003). But networks are not random but are scale-free and assume a Pareto distribution where a small number of entities typically have the largest percentage of influence (e.g., small number of computer brands accounting for most of the computers sold, a small number of employees or owners accounting for the largest percentage of income earned, etc.) (Barabási, 2003; Buchanan, 2002). In education, educators do not choose with whom they will interact simply by chance, but rather form purposeful relationships based on personal needs, interests, and learning preferences. Thus, a PLN has less to do with the number of constituent nodes and more to do with how scale-free, material semiotics associate with purposeful and dynamic, and relationships. Simply, an educator pursues a scale-free PLN in terms of connectivity (See Image 1). The idea that some nodes have more connections than others can be explained in terms of a “scale-free network” (Strogatz, 2003; Barabási, 2003; Barabási & Albert, 1999). The Pareto distribution or power law distribution is ubiquitous in terms of how nature and material interact: language, demography, commerce, information and computer sciences, geology, physics and astronomy (Newman, 2006). Newman specifically lists the number of citations of papers as one
example of a power law distribution in that much of the literature that is cited is linked back to a relatively few number of authors. To understand the literature then is to understand to trace the associations (i.e., deeper citations) that lead up to one particular source, for example an article from a journal. Similarly, reflecting on one’s own perspective is to trace the associations that lead to a particular conceptualization or behavior. A growing PLN bifurcates critical awareness into the prevailing and precarious interactions of the moment with a dynamic view of nodal relationships that change and adapt over time. Since the educator is the central node of the PLN, this two-pronged approach to critical awareness becomes the basis of growing into a more reflective practitioner. The way in which an educator reflects on thoughts and experiences will depend on one articulates the dynamics of a PLN. The development of a PLN is the effect of how an individual forms directional ties that emerge from a nonreductivist phenomenon (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). Interactions that lead to strong and weak ties emerge through a scale free network, or a collection of nodes that are not connected to any one dominant entity or node within a network (Strogatz, 2003). Instead, clusters of subnetworks referred to as being “ego-centered” consists of a focal actor (i.e., ego) with “alters” or ties that link other to the ego (Wasserman & Faust, 2008, p. 42). Another way to refer to clusters is in terms of “hubs” and “connectors” (Barabási, 2003, pp. 55-64). For the purpose of this study, hubs (e.g., a link between a large number of nodes), nodes, (e.g., any entity the educator connects with), connectors (e.g., a single node with a large number of connecting nodes), and connections (e.g., the directional flow of information that exists between any two nodes) will be used to articulate the dynamics of cultivating a PLN. The
cultivation of a PLN drives professional learning and the change process. Professional learning. An essential aspect of ongoing professional learning is one of sustainability; that is, the way in which educators become interdependent in such a way that both formal and informal learning emerges free from coercion. In a small-world network topology, chaotic and random networks are at opposite ends of a continuum where a small-world network resides somewhere in between (Pieris & Fusina, 2009; Watts & Strogatz, 1998). A small-world network includes the following two features: (a) a low average path length between network nodes (e.g., individuals can easily connect with others via a small number of intermediaries) and (b) a “high transitivity (most of a person's friends are friends with one another)” (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). The notion of high transitivity can also be expressed in terms of a strength in ties, or a “combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy (mutual confiding), and the reciprocal services which characterizes the tie” (Granovetter, 1973). Professional development, or more accurately, professional learning can be viewed in terms of coaching educators in how recognizing and adapting between network nodes become beneficial to both the individual and the network. Creating opportunities to network is synonymous with professional learning. A network is based on connections and contagion or the spreading of an emotion or idea across a network, and can be ephemeral or lifelong, casual or intense, or personal or anonymous (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). Additionally, complex and network learning stems from the following principles: (a) learning occurs when there is diversity of opinion, (b) learning happens when connections are made with other individuals and with non-
human devices such as technology, (c) one's learning potential is more important than what one knows right now, (d) facilitative learning emerges through the cultivation of one's PLN, (e) recognizing patterns and tendencies is a required skill for the future, (f) learning activities require up-to-date and relevant content, (g) the act of making a decision is vital, (h) planning on what to learn requires perspective, and (i) any supported truisms should be confined to particular context; that is, based on time and space (Siemens, 2005). ANT relates to connective principles by not distinguishing between human and non-human objects as static entities in-and-of themselves (Law, 2007). As a result, professional learning in the field of education is the coaching of educators to come to recognize the potentialities that exist between people, materials, and conceptualizations by realizing dynamic, network patterns as an effect of prior experiences. A learning network may also be viewed in terms of an ecological unit whereby the individual learner adapts to the network and the network takes shape because of the individual (Educauseâ€Ś, 2011). Within this context, a PLN ensues from an ongoing aggregation and pruning of boundary nodes (i.e., human, non-human, and conceptual) which have the following characteristics as they relate to material semiotics: (a) semiotic and materialistic rationality (a change in one node effects a change in another), (b) heterogeneity (a respect for diversity), (c) precarious process deriving from a temporal orientation (synchronous and asynchronous
intentional and incidental learning), and (d) spatial considerations (online communities, face-toface meetings, etc.) (Law, 2007). In terms of professional learning among educators, educative experiences become based on how a change from one individual influences a change in someone or something else, and vice versa. This notion thus becomes the basis for seeing the value in educators sharing ideas and experiences, caring that someone else might benefit from their sharing, and daring to take risks both as a life-long learner and teacher. Sharing, caring, and daring carry different meanings depending on the theoretical viewpoint one subscribes to. In a community of practice (CoP ), there is a need for understanding the role of the overall structure [i.e., the community or practice as the unit of analysis] in how it promotes a more intentionally systematic benefit regarding how knowledge is to be managed (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Another theoretical perspective assumes the activity itself provides the means for culturally embedded tools to mediate between the person and the outcome, and that certain rules mediate between the person and the community (Rizzo, 2003). But from an ANT perspective, and more specifically a connectivist perspective, the individual learner becomes the unit of analysis in that the socio-technical and conceptual elements of a PLN originate from the individual learner's perspective in terms of how the network effects a change in teaching practice and how the individual learn effects change to the PLN. Summary Understanding how educators pursue professional learning vis-Ă -vis interaction within a PLN and any necessary artifacts is complex. Professional learning from an ANT framework
holds that (a) the world is made up of actors and actants, (b) no object is inherently reducible or irreducible to any other, (c) actants link to one another by way of translation, and (d) actants are not inherently strong or weak (Harmon, 2009). Not categorizing actants (i.e., people or objects) as inherently strong or weak allows for a more open and transparent learning affordances devoid of social or positional hierarchy or any preconceived conceptions of how materials (e.g., web tools) are to be used. Thus, through complexity science, the emergent properties of phenomena are examined as a result of interactions over time (Johnson, 2007). Specifically, informal dialogues related to teaching and learning have the greatest participation levels among teachers and highest level of impact when compared to other types of professional development (e.g., workshops, conferences, etc.) (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). This study seeks to provide a model for creating greater professional development support to educators in Mexico by providing broader affordances for educators to carry out informal dialogues related to teaching and learning within a complex PLN. It seeks to fill the gap in current research in understanding the distributed nature of learning, specifically the role of materiality in the workplace and the basic assumptions of what constitutes professional learning (Fenwick, 2009; Fenwick, 2010). By gaining further insight into the complexities of informal dialogues as a means for professional learning, great support for professional development effort will help improve the current state of the educational system in Mexico.
Chapter 3: Research Method As a means for providing better professional development support in Mexico, a qualitative multiple case study seeks to explain how EFL educators interact with ideas, materials, and with other educators through open, informal dialogues based on how to improve teaching and learning. Specifically, this study will explain how EFL educators in higher education who currently teach at three different universities in Mexico conduct open, informal dialogues and contributions to OERs within public web sites. The follow research questions will drive the data collection, analysis, and reporting processes: (a) How do EFL educators in Mexico conduct open and informal pedagogical dialogues that enrich a personal learning network? and (b) How do EFL educators in Mexico confront challenges when openly sharing informal pedagogical dialogues within a personal learning network? The Mexican educational system lags behind other countries in terms of student scores in reading, math, and science (Shepherd, 2010). Moreover, professional development typically focuses on practices and programs instead of supporting people in the end leading to isolated workshops, change initiatives that fail to create a conducive learning environment, and summative assessments that simply recapitulate past events with little-to-no ongoing support (Reeves, 2010). Any professional development endeavor that seeks to address these problems should scale; that is, it should offer the greatest potential for educators to grow in terms of interacting with others by way of a PLN. For this study, 21-30 EFL educators will be recruited from three different local universities, which will require that each participant be teaching at least one course in English. A face-to-face orientation and subsequent online survey will provide
the basis for selecting the participants of the study. The two main criteria for choosing the participants will be their willingness to participate online and their technological readiness levels. A content analysis will be conducted on all online contributions and any communication discourse that results from online forum discussions (e.g., EduQuiki Wiki, personal blogs, etc.) and personal reflections and interviews. Personal reflections, interviews, and focus groups will be conducted in order to obtain deeper perspective in how participants frame their personal learning network as a connected network of ideas, materials, and people. When assessing an individualâ€™s PLN as a construct, qualitative data should be credible, transferable, dependable, and confirmable (Trochim & Donnelly, 2008). In order for data to be credible, the researcher will take on a participant observer role in assuring that the reporting accurately reflects the participantsâ€™ perspectives. This will be done by triangulating types of data already mentioned in order to achieve deeper understandings of the PLN as a socio-technical network. In terms of transferability, the cross-case analysis along with the research method itself is meant to be scalable and adaptable to many different educational contexts. Making sure qualitative data are dependable depends on the extent that a changing context is continuously being considered as part of the analysis and in the final reporting. Finally, as data is being collected, all evidence will remain openly online so to maintain a clear audit trail for those who wish to compare fieldwork with the reporting and those who wish to duplicate the research method for future studies, also referred to as confirmability. For all private information obtained for the study, an informed consent form (see Appendix B) will be used so to maintain a level of ethics and integrity in full accordance to institutional review board standards.
What follows is a detailed description of the overall research method and design used to research informal pedagogical dialogues that link to PLNs, followed by a description of the participants and instruments used to collect the data. The process in which data was collected is explained as well as the type of analysis used to better understand the complexity of PLN formation. To conclude, methodological assumptions, limitations, and delimitations will be explained, which will conclude with a section on ethical assurances with regard to the entire research method design. Research Method and Design This multiple case study will employ a qualitative research design. A qualitative research design allows participants to share interpretations through an inductive, emergent, and holistic approach (Creswell, 2009). Qualitative methods focus primarily on what people say and what people do that will enable researchers to understand the meaning of a particular phenomenon, event, or activity (Gillham, 2010). A qualitative approach also allows for a greater wealth of detailed descriptive data on a smaller number of case studies in comparison to quantitative approaches (Patton, 2002). And from an ANT perspective, qualitative data provides a rich, descriptive narrative in understanding the related attributes between network nodes (McCormick, Fox, Carmichael, and Procter, 2011). Although frequencies and numeric data may be used in this study, all data that serve as dependent variables (i.e., relationships between conceptualizations, materials, and people) will originate from qualitative sources (e.g., content analysis from electronic artifacts, forum posts, and personal discussions). Participant descriptors that serve as independent variables will be a mix of qualitative and quantitative data: institution,
years of teaching experience, among others. Although this study is rooted in a qualitative research design, it does embrace a multimethod research approach. When conducting a content analysis study, qualitative data can also be expressed quantitatively by developing frequencies of topics and themes. Quantitative data that has originated from qualitative data is considered a qualitative research design based on a “methods” (as opposed to a “methodology”) definition (Creswell & Clark, 2007, p. 12). But since participant descriptors obtained in this research (i.e., independent variables which are quantitative data) will be obtained from a survey applied at the start of the data collection process, a multimethod research (as opposed to a mixed methods design) thus describes the most appropriate research method design for this study (Morse, 2003). A multiple case study as a qualitative research design will be used in order to study the following: (a) understand how EFL educators in Mexico conduct open and informal pedagogical dialogues that enrich a personal learning network and (b) understand how EFL educators in Mexico confront challenges when openly sharing informal pedagogical dialogues within a personal learning network. The theoretical concept that binds the individual cases together is the PLN. Defining a theoretical concept is necessary when doing multiple case studies in order to avoid losing sight of what is being researched; that is, to best understand the conceptualization, one needs to understand the context or case study from which the proposition is based (Stake, 2006). Thus, the unit of analysis, or individual case, will be the EFL educator and the proposition will be the PLN. To preserve the integrity of the case study, special care will be taken when collecting and analyzing data at the smallest unit of analysis or the EFL educator
(Patton, 2002). To this end, reification of a PLN will stem from researching what educators say and do with regard to ideational, material, and social interactions. This avoids researching conceptualizations in the abstract and instead adheres to a more concrete description of topics related to the participants' real-life experiences (Yin, 2009). By researching informal pedagogical dialogues among EFL educators, the intent is to draw connections between what educators say and do in terms of an emergent and dynamic PLN. How interaction patterns and related materials correspond with each other can be voiced in terms of associations. Instead of relying on direct, one-to-one associations generated by statistical generalizations (i.e., sampling groups and inferential statistics), analytical generalizations will be conducted at the PLN (i.e., construct) level as a means for recognizing patterns related to theoretical concepts (Yin, 2009). Researching how informal pedagogical dialogues enrich a PLN thus, requires an understanding of how EFL educators choose conceptualizations related to teaching and learning (e.g., knowledge, skills, dispositions, curriculum, assessment, and instruction); how EFL educators use and reflect on material objects; and how EFL educators socially interact with others. Participants The participants for this study include 7-10 EFL educators who teach adults from three different institutions (i.e., public or private universities, English institutes, etc.) located in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Mexico (21-30 educators in total). An online survey (Stewart, 2012b) will be administered to all research candidates from each of the three universities in order to select the 7-10 EFL educators most likely to participant and conclude the study. The
participants who are likely to be chosen will be based on their willingness to openly share personal teaching and learning experiences with other colleagues by openly interacting through online web sites and their level of technological readiness levels. Participants are not required to have a certain level of technological prowess, but they must have some experience with technology and the willingness to use technology throughout the study. The participants for the study must have at the time of the study at least one class with adult English language learners (i.e., 18 years of age or higher) teaching general English, academic English, or English for specific purposes classes. Since all activities will be open, and since all educators from each of the three institutions will be invited to participate in the study (along with educators from outside the three institutions), it is possible to have participants of the study interact with educators who are not part of the study. Although the interviews, focus groups, and personal reflections will be limited to the participants of the study, the content analysis could include educators that are not part of the chose participants of the study. Opening up the research design for this study speaks to the scalability and potentiality of actants to interact within a professional learning environment that is grounded in complexity theory and ANT. Materials/Instruments The initial online survey (See Appendix A) sets out to determine how EFL educators use and feel about technology in the language classroom (Stewart, 2012b). It also determines how willing EFL educators are to share teaching and learning experiences openly with other colleagues. The survey also includes content related to the SIOP model such as planning for
understandings and linguistic objectives, implementing certain strategies that make input more comprehensible, and adhering to a variety of forms of assessment when evaluating the learner. The materials used to collect data for this study (e.g., surveys, ICTs, and OERs) serve as mediators in how they circulate throughout the personal learning network in ways that transform, distort, and modify the meaning or interpretation they are to conduct (Fenwick and Edwards, 2010). The survey is designed to establish the descriptors of the participants that will be used to draw patterns around ideational, material, and social elements of oneâ€™s PLN. In addition to the online survey, the EduQuiki wiki (2012) will be the hosting web site for participants to make contributions and to conduct informal discussions in the form of forum posts. EduQuiki will also house web links to related topics concerning curriculum, assessment, instruction, and topics related to applied linguistics (i.e., teaching and learning an additional language). The website is meant to provide a starting point for educators to share with others, but participants are free to choose the web sites they desire, as long as the web sites are open to the public. If participants already interact using other technologies or websites, EduQuiki would then only be used to collect private communication related to personal reflections. Personal reflections will be obtained through the e-mail messaging service provided by Wikispaces (i.e., EduQuiki). Since public websites are not limited to EduQuiki, data collection instruments used to conduct a content analysis may include any public web site. Public and private sharing around ideas and experiences will be expressed in terms of a language and understanding integrated sense-making learning experience (LUISLE) (see Appendix C). This instrument is meant to serve as the primary mediator allowing participants to
collaborate with each other through the development of teaching, learning, or research materials that are being published with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution; that is, open educational resources or OERs (United Nations..., 2011). Since the common thread among all participants of this study is that they teach English language learners, LUISLE is partly based on the SIOP model which is designed to make content more comprehensible to the English language learner (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004). The notion of comprehensible content emerges from the Comprehensible Input Hypothesis that stresses the importance of making receptive skills, like reading for example, more beneficial to the language learner (Krashen, 2003). The SIOP model then, includes three aspects to teaching practice: planning, implementing, and assessment. Within each of the three aspects, various techniques are utilized for making content more comprehensible for the English language learner. For example, in the planning stages, teachers plan for both content and language objectives. During the implementing stage, linking new knowledge with prior knowledge (i.e., scaffolding) helps language learners to connect new concepts with old. The assessment phase might include formative approaches that unite instruction and informal feedback loops in order for teachers and students to consider future learning sequences and tactics respectively that best provide learners to achieve lesson objectives. For the purpose of this study, the SIOP model offers a basis for establishing key items to an initial online survey and LUISLE. In doing so, a common lexicon that is generally accepted by the language teaching profession may be used. The purpose for adapting the SIOP model is to provide context with which EFL educators may converse, and is
not to find evidence that supports the effectiveness nor the ineffectiveness of the SIOP model in particular as there are no current studies that provide such claims (What Words Clearinghouse, 2009). Although many of the specific techniques that make up the SIOP model also apply to LUISLE, there are some key differences. First, instead of counterbalancing content with linguistic objectives as in the SIOP model, LUISLE counterbalances understandings with linguistic objectives. Counterbalancing in this sense means that understandings and language serve both as means and ends simultaneously. The term understandings allows for a level of authenticity when teaching English language learners as there is typically a moral to a particular lesson; that is, the goal is not just to improve language but also to complete a performance task that affords learners to explain, interpret, apply, gain perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005; Wiggins and McTighe, 2011). Second, the LUISLE and the SIOP model address assessment as a formative learning progression that incorporates a variety of traditional and alternative forms of assessment: informal discussions, academic prompts, quizzes and tests, and performance tasks (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005; Popham, 2008b). Finally, LUISLE includes a section where participants can reflect on any aspect of the planning, implementation, and assessment stages whether it be reflection on action or reflection in action (Schon, 1983). The reflective nature of this study is well integrated throughout. All of the materials and instruments used in this study are designed to promote a network approach in developing into a more reflective practitioner. The online survey, initial interview, contributions and informal dialogues openly being published to EduQuiki will collectively frame
subsequent reflections and vice versa. All personal reflections will be emailed via the email service offered by Wikispaces. Personal reflections will remain private to the degree participants choose not to discuss them as part of any contributions or informal discussions that later are published publically online. Regarding the integrity of the LUISLE and the online survey , a qualitative item analysis will be conducted by an expert in qualitative research and applied linguistics to help assure that content and writing conventions are structured such that the research questions and instruments are properly aligned (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2007). Moreover, many technologies may be added or be discontinued throughout the research period as participants make decisions in how they choose to interact with both human and non-human devices. Since participants will be encouraged to share openly, the validity and reliability of the instruments will also be public knowledge. Data Collection, Processing, and Analysis The data will be collected over a 10-week timeframe. In order to recruit the participants for the study, an online survey and initial interview will be applied. The online survey (Stewart, 2012b) will be administered at the beginning of the data collection process in order to determine the best candidates who are most likely to complete the study. The online survey will also establish independent variables for each participant (e.g., institution, age, education, and English proficiency level), which will complement other forms of data collection such as focus groups, interviews, personal reflections, and information obtained from public websites. Determining independent variables provides necessary case-study information that helps better understand the
theoretical construct under investigation (i.e., an EFL educatorâ€™s PLN). In addition to the survey, an initial interview will also help determine whether a candidate will likely conclude the study. The interview is meant to not only determine the commitment and comfort level of the EFL educator using technology, but will also be used to clarity any information obtained from the survey. A final interview at the end of the study will be used to compare information gathered from the initial survey and interview. Once participants have been chosen for the study, they will begin by taking an orientation that allows them to become familiar with the EduQuiki wiki website as well as accessing LUISLE (i.e., an open educational resource). Once the one-week orientation session has been completed, each participant will be asked to upload one LUISLE by Wednesday of each week during the 10-week data collection process. The participants will then be asked to make at least two substantive discussion posts to two separate LUISLEs (i.e., one post to each LUISLE) previously designed by other EFL educators. Substantive posts are those between 150-250 words and can either be presented as initial questions or observations related to LUISLE content or they may be responses to a colleagueâ€™s post. The responses can be from LUISLEs designed during the current week or they may be related to LUISLEs designed from prior weeks. Participants will be free to choose with whom and how often they are to interact with other EFL educators through contributions to LUISLEs (e.g., creating, adapting, or redistributing OERs), online discussion posts, and any related face-to-face dialogues that happen to transpire. LUISLE contributions and discussion posts will be documented using open, public web sites while faceto-face interactions will emerge via recorded discussions. Although each participant will be
encouraged to participant as often as they would like, the estimated time to upload their weekly LUISLE and minimum two weekly responses should not take the participant more the 30 minutes per week. In addition to contributions made to LUISLEs and online discussion posts, personal reflections will be submitted via emailed. A content analysis will be conducted on all LUISLE contributions, discussion posts, and personal reflections that are with the exception of personal reflections, uploaded to open, public websites. Information from personal written reflections will be introduced into subsequent focus group discussions and interviews as needed to generate more informal pedagogical dialogues. The initial web site where informal pedagogical dialogues, LUISLE contributions, and personal reflections will be uploaded will be EduQuiki (2012). In the case of personal reflections, the EduQuiki email system will be used. Since EduQuiki is an open wiki, it is possible that non-participants â€“ those educators who are interacting with participants but are not the participants chosen to take part in the study â€“ may join EduQuiki, contribute to LUISLEs, and post comments to LUISLEs just as participants of the study are asked to do. Participants who contribute to EduQuiki and post discussions as comments to LUISLE are actually contributing to an Open Educational Resource (OER). This research design is to provide participants opportunities to interact with OERs and with other EFL educators in ways that generate diverse informal pedagogical dialogues as a basis for open, ongoing professional learning. Hence, for those participants who choose to make contributions to public websites outside of EduQuiki, a Twitter hashtag will be used to aggregate participant contributions across the Internet.
Since participants will be given a choice as to which public web sites they can use, various forms of online spaces are possible. The approached used for this study will be considered a qualitative bricolage which allows for whatever resources are available for doing the best possible job (Patton, 2002). Accordingly, online spaces may include other wikis, blogs, and Moodle platforms among others that are free and open to the public. Essentially, materials are any web tool EFL educators use as part of a dynamic PLN. Support will be provided as needed, but EFL educators will be encouraged to use the tools and web sites that they feel most comfortable using. Since EFL educators will be encouraged to share their experiences openly, using the web tools of their choice, an audit trail will be inherent throughout the data collection process, which will yield opportunities to evaluate first-hand the data used to conduct the study should one decide to replicate it or wish to evaluate its credibility. As participants of the study contribute to LUISLEs using the websites and web tools of their choice as well as carry out informal pedagogical dialogues around LUISLEs, biweekly videoconferencing sessions will be scheduled with each respective group of EFL educators from each of the three institutions via Google+ Hangouts (2012). Each videoconference will last approximately one hour. Discussions from virtual conferencing sessions will be recorded and published online and will link to prior discussions and contributions made by participants and non-participants in an effort to triangulate information from various sources: survey, contributions, discussions, and focus groups. For the purpose of this study, non-participants will only be included in the study to the degree that participants interact with them throughout the data collection process. Both participants and non-participants will be informed that what they
contribute in EduQuiki and other public websites online may or may not be used for research purposes. A module on ethics (EduQuiki: Module 1…, 2012) covers ethical considerations and disclosure related to the study. Content analysis. Content analysis will be based on all qualitative data that has been converted to text: (a) contributions made to LUISLE (i.e., creating and remixing OERs), (b) comments related LUISLEs made by other EFL educators, (c) interviews, and (d) focus groups. A collaborative social research approach will rely on collected data, which will be reflexively used as feedback to craft action and will be used as information to understand the context and theoretical concept behind each case study (Berg, 2006). The author suggests a standard set of analytic activities for collecting and analyzing data that are appropriate for this study: •
Data are collected and converted into text.
Open codes and coding frames (i.e., axial coding) are analytically developed and affixed to analytical memos.
Materials are sorted by categories, identifying similar phrases, patterns, relationships, and commonalities or disparities.
Sorted materials are examined to isolate meaningful patterns and processes.
Identified patterns are considered in light of previous research and theories, and a small set of generalizations are established.
Specifically, directed content analysis will be used to analyze qualitative data. Under a directed content analysis approach, codes are defined before and during data analysis based on theory or prior research (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). For this study, coding will be categorized as types of
interactions (i.e., ideational, material, and social), types of communication (i..e, synchronous, asynchronous, and semisynchronous), and delivery (i.e., face to face and online). Within these codes more specific codes that relate to each other will provide further details. For example, online delivery will be further divided into forum discussions and LUISLE contributions. Further examples of predetermined codes that link to theoretical concepts related to this study include teacher pedagogical knowledge, teacher dispositions, and concepts related to complexity and actor network theory. In addition to using a pre-established coding system as a directed content approach, analytical memos will be used to reflect on the research process as it unfolds in terms of what has been learned, any emerging insights, and any future actions that are necessary (Ely, 1991). In order to analyze data, a multilevel coding system will be used to identify theoretical conceptualizations. Specifically, open, selective (i.e., for category development), and axial coding systems will be used to patterns from the bottom up: raw data to category development to thematic development to theoretical concepts (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Hahn, 2008). An open coding system will be used to gather direct quotes and general ideas when quotes become too wordy which will be taken from public online data (content analysis), from discussion groups conducted via live conferencing and any face-to-face meetings and participant reflections. The final step in analyzing the data collected from the multiple case study is to carry out a cross-case analysis in order to resolve the dilemma between the cases (i.e., individual educators or schools) and the collective target (i.e., PLNs) â€“ or what Stake (2006) refers to as a quintain. The author suggests that a â€œcase-quintain dilemmaâ€? exists when doing a case study that can be
summed up as follows: The Themes originated with people planning to study the Quintain. The Findings originated with people studying the Cases. These are two conceptual orientations, not independent but different. To treat them both as forces for understanding the Quintain, the Analyst keeps them both alive even as he or she is writing the Assertions of the final report. The Themes preserve the main research questions for the overall study. The Findings preserve certain activity (belonging to Case and Quintain alike) found in the special circumstances of the Cases. When the Themes and Factors meet, they appear to the Analyst as both consolidation and extension of understanding (pp. 39-40). To resolve the case-quintain dilemma, theoretically based coding schemes (i.e., a directed content analysis) will allow for understanding the PLN as a theoretical concept in terms of the individual case study (i.e., unit of analysis). Since a directed content analysis also allows for defining codes during the data analysis, some themes may emerge due to the complexity and chaotic dimensions of professional learning. The data analysis then allows patterns to emerge between the PLN and the case study and between cases. In order to look for patterns between the PLN and the case study, the most significant change (MSC) technique will be used to provide context as participants discuss any emergent features of their PLN (Davies & Dart, 2005). The MSC technique will be used to orient the 10 online biweekly discussions and will help guide online LUISLE comments as well. The overarching question underpinning the MSC technique (via participant reflections, group
discussions, and online contributions and comments) is as follows: Looking back over the last one-to-two weeks, what do you think was the most significant change in your personal learning network that contributed to your own professional learning? Additionally, more specific questions related to the aforementioned question will be linked to LUISLEs as well as ongoing discussions carried out prior by the participants. The MSC technique will be used to connect themes around the educator's PLN and any transformations that occur over the research period with regard to ideas and practical experiences educators might have had (Davies & Dart, 2005). As change stories (CS) begin to unveil over time, asynchronous (e.g., wiki contributions, threaded posts, and personal written reflections), synchronous (e.g., group discussions and interviews), and semisynchronous (e.g., Twitter, Google+, etc.) forms of communication will develop around questions that relate to PLN dynamics. In order for a CS to be considered significant, three separate but interrelated concepts must be present: (a) the degree to which network patterns and relationships are recognizable, (b) the degree of intentional and incidental change within a PLN that exists, and (c) the perceived impact a PLN has on oneâ€™s teaching practice. The second type of change to oneâ€™s PLN relates to network principles: (a) an increase or growth in the number of direct, network nodes (i.e., actants), (b) a pruning or reduction of network nodes, and (c) a change in how information flows between two connected nodes (i.e., unidirectional, bidirectional, or the value of information flow itself). Dedoose (2012) will be used to assign weight to those network nodes (i.e., actants) that serve as constituents to the CSs found to be most significant. The MSC technique also allows for a basis for developing a hermeneutic circle
throughout the data collection process. In order to understand the interpretive influences that lead to a dynamic PLN, a hermeneutic circle will be implemented in order to draw out experiences and interpretations from the participants of the study. The hermeneutic circle links parts to the whole and the whole to its parts, and includes layering interpretation bound to specific temporal and spatial constraints or contexts (Patton, 2002). It also acts as a way of working out or accounting for the strangeness of an utterance, text, or action in relationship to the utterance, text, or action as a whole; in doing so, the historical perspective of the interpreter [i.e., the researcher] is less likely to distort the actual meaning of the utterance, text, or action (Schwandt, 2007). The hermeneutic phenomenological analysis was chosen over a phenomenological analysis because the former seeks to find meaning as people are constructed by the world while at the same time are constructing the world based on individual backgrounds and experiences – the latter simply attempts to unfold meaning as they are lived in everyday experience (Laverty, 2003). As teachers interact with LUISLE, other wikis, blogs, forums, and weekly focus groups, the researcher becomes fundamental to the unfolding of the hermeneutic. To promote the hermeneutic circle, a facilitative process will foster questions, topics, and materials that encourage informal pedagogical dialogues that connect certain actions, ideas, and material (i.e., parts) to the PLN (i.e., the whole) and vice versa. The role of participant observer. As the researcher, I will promote “...an awareness of the discourses within which both the research and the researcher are embedded as well as to the ways in which the contexts of the research refer back, reflexively, to prior experiences and knowledge constructs”, also referred to as “reflexivity” (Mills, Durepos, & Wiebe, 2010). By
promoting reflexivity, I will guide participants through a dual reflective awareness of (a) becoming (i.e., partaking in a connective experience in terms of interacting within a PLN) and (b) understanding my influence as one of several nodes that might impact how participants ultimately make decisions regarding how they choose to interact within their PLN. Reflexivity is a valid approach to addressing this duality referred to as a double hermeneutic which is an iterative dialectic that moves between the subject and the object as well as between research design and interpretation of data (Mills, Durepos, & Wiebe, 2010). To avoid the paradox of â€œendless reflexivityâ€?, I will provide guidance to each educator as needed by offering choices and will refrain from making biased suggestions or decisions as to whom they should interact, the related materials participants involved (i.e., means), and the topics they choose to discuss (i.e., ways). I will remain as outsider to the extent that participants will be principally responsible for making decisions as to the means and ways of interacting via their PLN. My role as researcher will be revealed throughout the research period as a result of an interpretive process of reflexive inquiry. The process of reflexive inquiry will evolve around three main questions: (a) What do I know?, (b) What do the participants of the study know?, and (c) What does my audience of my final interpretation know? (Patton, 2002). That is, the level of public sharing of ideas and experiences along with any challenges participants face will be categorized in terms of the role I play as the researcher and what I bring to the interactive process, what the participants of the study know and their reaction to my participation and the participation of the other participants, and what is ultimately revealed when reporting the findings. Through transparent communication throughout the research design, the objective is to
make the reflexive inquiry as open and engaging as possible to the degree that there is little difference between what the participants know, what I know as the researcher, and what finally ends up being reported. The process of knowing myself as the researcher and the participants will evolve as the study concludes and the interpretation of the findings unfolds. The focus of this research is to embark on a transparent journey of open interactions that transpire over time. My involvement will purposely avoid directives which could cause some educators (who are used to being directed) to discontinue the study, and instead promote risk-taking experiences in making their own learning as open and transparent as possible. Methodological Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations This study will be based on the following assumptions: 1. Participants will be under no obligation to answer any particular way or conduct behavior according to any institutional mandate. It will be assumed that participants will offer honest discussions about how they feel and how they choose to interact with others given the fact that each participant will sign a consent form and anonymity will be respected on any private information shared. 2. Upon prior verification from school coordinators and supervisors, it will be assumed that any information obtained openly or as a result of the study will not have a negative impact on any current or future teacher evaluations involving the participants of the study, respective administrators, and respective institutions. 3. It will be assumed that participants will understand their right to withdraw from the study from the moment that study begins until the findings are officially published.
Since this is a multiple case study on the complexity of PLNs, it is impossible to shed light on every possible network node that extends outward various degrees from each participant (e.g., a colleague of a colleague of a colleague, etc.). To overcome this limitation, only the most salient aspects of an EFL educatorâ€™s PLN will be explored; that is networked nodes that relate directly to the participle will be included in the study. Another possible limitation is that participants might feel disconnected from the process since most of the data collection will be done on the Internet. To address this limitation, orientation sessions will be conducted face to face as well as published online in the form of live conferences and videos so that participants receive the guidance and support they need. Although the objective of this multiple case study is to reach saturation, it is limited to teachers who teach English language learners at three different universities in the city of Aguascalientes in the country of Mexico. The study is not inferential to any particular population but a descriptive look at differences and more importantly similarities in how English language and possibly professionals in general learn. This study is also limited to English language teachers who have some degree of Internet connectivity and some degree of comfort level when it comes to using technology. This study will be less relevant to those English language teaching professionals who totally disregard technology or do not have the skill sets to do the most basic functions. Ethical Assurances When conducting a qualitative research, the researcher has the personal obligation to respect the rights, needs, values, and desires of the participants (Creswell, 2009). Because this
qualitative study requires teachers to share ideas and experiences openly online, ethical issues become especially important since teachers are often ridiculed by colleagues for showing initiative and imagination, trying out new methods, and trying different curricular arrangements (Bagin, Gallagher, & Moore, 2008). To assure proper safeguards are in place to deal with such ethical issues, an ethical issue checklist will be used (Patton, 2002): 1) The participants will understand the purpose of the study; that is, they will be asked to share ideas and experiences with other educators openly online by completing an informed context form. 2) The study will provide an opportunity for the educator to meet and collaborate with other colleagues with similar and different perspectives. There is a potential benefit for building a collegial relationship that could extend beyond the scope of the research. Perhaps additional incentives could be worked out with the help of respective coordinators and supervisors. 3) Risk assessment will be carefully considered. a) The basics of open authoring will be explained, specifically how Creative Commons License works in terms of copying, modifying, distributing, and mixing open educational resources, and how to handle copyright material (Fair Use and the TEACH Act). b) A proper netiquette policy will make explicit the way participants are to remain respect for each other in light of different perspectives and opinions. 4) Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the study. a) Approval will be obtained from the Institutional Review Board at Northcentral University before data is to be collected.
b) Participants will be assured that all private information will be used only for the purposes of the study for a period of no longer than one year, at which time all information will be destroyed or deleted entirely. c) Anonymity will be respected with regard to any data that is not shared publically. d) Participants will understand that all anonymity is lost when posting information to an open website. Even if information can be removed from the website, which may be possible in some cases, participants will understand that completely eliminating publically posted information may be impossible. e) The participants will understand when information can and cannot be removed from a particular website. When information removal is possible, participants will have the option of doing so at any time at their discretion. If information is removed before the publishing date of the dissertation, that does not automatically exclude it from the study. Special care will be taken in working with participants as to what will be published and what will remain on the Internet. f) In the case of a public website, participants will understand that information will be maintained as long as the website itself remains open, which likely will extend well beyond the date findings will be published. g) Either the participant's real name or the participantâ€™s EduQuiki login name will be used when publishing the findings related to any information shared openly online. Pseudonyms will be used to generalize private reflections in a way that respects the confidentiality of the participant.
h) Participant concerns, interests, and requests will be considered when reporting data. i) All ethical issues pertaining to this study will be openly published online. In addition to the above list, the Belmont Report, which is text designed to protect human subjects against unethical research practices, will be the basis for maintaining ethical research standards based on three principles: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice (Belmont Report, 1979). With regard to respect for persons, participants of the study will be treated as autonomous individuals who are capable and have the right to make their own decisions regarding their own personal goals, the materials they decide to use, and the way in which they choose to interact with others. For the purpose of this study, beneficence relates to maximizing the participantâ€™s potential for further cooperation with other educators by treating each participant as daring, sharing, and caring individuals by respecting the terms of the informed consent form as well as adhering to the itemized list above will minimize risk. Finally, those who benefit most from the research should be equally distributed among all participants in that the research should not set out to put some participants at a disadvantage. To maintain justice, data collection and reporting will emerge from participatory dialogues between researcher and participants so that not only are participants and respective institutions not being exploited but that the research also serves some common good. Summary This section discusses the research method used to investigate (a) how EFL educators in Mexico conduct open and informal pedagogical dialogues that enrich a PLN, and (b) how EFL educators in Mexico confront challenges when openly sharing informal pedagogical dialogues
within a PLN. Researching informal pedagogical dialogues through a multiple case study research design is intended to understand the dynamic nature of a PLN as a theoretical concept along with gaining insight into the context that surrounds the particular case study (i.e., the unit of analysis). Considering 7-10 English language educators from three different universities in Mexico, data will be collected in order to search for emerging patterns that form and influence informal pedagogical dialogues in terms of a PLN. Personal reflections, focus groups, online discourse through contributions and comments, interviews, and an initial survey will provide the means for collecting and analyzing MSC stories related to their PLNs. Due to the complexity of networks, assumptions, limitations, and delimitations were also presented. Finally, since most of the data collection process will involve open, online discussions, special ethical concerns will be required to assure that participants understand how the information will be used in the study and to the degree of what they share will remain confidential and their autonomy maintained.
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Appendix A EFL/ESL Teacher Survey
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 2 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 3 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 4 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 5 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 6 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 7 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 8 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 9 of 10)
EFL/ESL Teacher Survey (page 10 of 10)
Appendix B Informed Consent Form Purpose: You are invited to participate in a research study that is being conducted for a dissertation at Northcentral University in Prescott, Arizona. The purpose of this study is to examine the link ( if any) between an ongoing development of a personal learning network (PLN) and the pursuit of oneâ€™s own professional development. There is no deception in this study as I am interested in obtaining a qualitative information with regard to current teaching practices in terms of behaviors, relationships, activities, and actions. Participation Requirements: EFL/ESL educators will be asked to participate in a variety of online and face-to-face sessions this semester about current teaching practices, behaviors, attitudes, and actions that relate to teaching English to students of other languages. The only requirement is that you are contractually obligated to teach at least one EFL course at the Panamericana University, Aguascalientes campus during the August â€“ December of 2011 semester. Research Personnel: The following person is involved in this research project and may be contacted at any time: Benjamin Stewart, 449.910.7400 ext. 305; email: email@example.com. Potential Risk and Discomfort: There is no known risk in this study and there will be no repercussions due to individual or group opinions with respect to individual or group evaluations. In other words, you will not be penalized in any way (e.g., teacher evaluation, future contractual opportunities, etc.) for sharing particular viewpoints or experiences throughout the period the study is to be conducted. You reserve the right to withdraw from this study at any time and in doing so will also not affect your teacher evaluation in any way. Potential Benefit: Although there are not direct benefits (i.e., incentives of any kind) for participating in this study, the participatory nature of the study is meant to assist each educator in
terms of becoming a better practitioner. The potential benefit is intersubjective and will depend on each participant who chooses to participate in this study.
Anonymity/Confidentiality: The data collected from non-public
websites (i.e., surveys, personal reflections, etc.) for the purpose of this study are confidential. All data are coded such that your name is not associated with them. In addition, the coded data are available only to the researcher associated with this project, and the researcher will not share whether an educator is participating in the study or not. Right to Withdraw: You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without penalty. I would be happy to answer any questions that may arise about the study. Please direct your questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org Signatures: I have read the above description of pursuing professional development in terms of developing a personal learning network and understand the conditions of my participation. My electronic signature indicates that I agree to participate in this study. * Type your name here:
Please indicate your consent with your electronic signature by checking "I agree" and typing your full name below. Thank you I agree
Language & Understanding Integrated Sense-making Learning Experience (LUISLE)
Language Objective(s): ____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ Key Vocabulary
LUISLE Features Preparation _Adaptation of Content _Links to Background _Links to Past Learning _Strategies incorporated Integration of Process _ Reading _Writing _Speaking _Listening
Scaffolding _Modeling _Guided practice _Independent practice _Comprehensible input Application _Hands-on _Meaningful _Linked to objectives _Promotes engagement
Grouping Options _Whole class _Small groups _Partners _Independent Assessment _Informal Discussions _Academic Prompts _Test/Quiz _Performance task
Reflective change: Consider how your lesson plan addresses an educational challenge with regard to preparation, scaffolding, grouping configurations, etc.) and how this challenge is associated with a change in behavior, opinions, and/or attitude that took place today/this week/this month?
How did (or could) your personal learning network contribute to this change in behavior, beliefs, and/or attitude?