The Flipped Classroom and Personal Learning Networks

My final post for #openflip Spring 2016 includes discussing the fourth facet of a flipped classroom: a personal learning network (PLN).

Professional learning is to become self-aware of one´s personal learning network in how it contributes to a particular experience. A PLN is having the self-knowledge of how learning spaces, groups and networks, and all forms of learning come together at any particular moment and how they adopt and adapt over time. A PLN is about understanding ideas (beliefs, opinions, thoughts, etc.), materials (objects, technologies, etc.), and human relationships (uni/bidirectional communication, strong and weak ties, etc.) not as isolated notions, but as associations that are influenced by each other. In a flipped classroom scenario, a learning network can be viewed at any level: individual, pairs, small groups, whole class, domains, institution, district, community, global, etc., but what makes a PLN personal is that the power and prestige (from a network and not a sociological perspective) are revealed through the understanding of how all ideational, material, and human nodes connect and surround the individual (e.g., student, teacher, etc.). Thus, the individual remains the unit of analysis but cannot be taken out of context. Understanding a PLN (i.e., a learning network at the individual level) becomes a prerequisite for understanding a learning network at the group level, for instance. Understanding a learning network at the classroom network is to understand the learning networks of various groups, pairs, and individuals, etc. Within the context of formal education, an educator has a responsibility in bringing about awareness of student PLNs as well as one´s own PLN. An expert learner is one who has a high level of self-awareness of a purposeful PLN at any given time and how it adopts and adapts over time – a PLN is at the heart of understanding what a flipped classroom is; how it is employed; and how effective, efficient, and engaging it can be for both learner and educator. In order to become adept, one needs to adopt and adapt a PLN.

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