Personalized Learning Networks (PNL’s) and VW’s

Exploring new technological resources such as VW’s and their unique environments opens new dimensions of the formative teaching and learning process. Current space-temporal barriers are opening and disrupting up the ESL teaching field. The contexts within VW’s requires thoughts about how the role of ESL teachers in VW’s. Also, an exploration of the dynamics of ESL students entering VW’s, their learning, the interaction between peers, teachers and ‘drop-ins’ or visitors is necessary. Exploring, sharing and learning in a VW unfolds venues of student network collaborations, leading to Personal Learning Networks (PNL). ESL language acquisition cannot be understood without this social and educational perspective.

Virtual Worlds are emerging as a strong educational phenomenon because they enable participants and in-world travelers to meet and socially interact with others in a variety of online environments. Users navigate these online environments utilizing an avatar. Avatars are personalized by the user and act as their ‘alter ego’ in their chosen virtual setting. There is a multitude of virtual worlds focused on education. Here a small sample: ScienceSim, Heritage Key, Active Worlds Educational Universe, Secret Builders and WizWorld Online.
VW’s invite and require a certain degree of self-organization in the personalized trajectory of improving L2 language skills. The importance of self-organization as a learning process is stated by Wiley and Edwards:
“Jacobs argues that communities self-organize a manner similar to social insects: instead of thousands of ants crossing each other’s pheromone trails and changing their behavior accordingly, thousands of humans pass each other on the sidewalk and change their behavior accordingly.”
In her article, Wendy Drexler, University of FloridaI, “The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy” states:

“Principles of networked learning, constructivism, and connectivism inform the design of a test case through which secondary students construct personal learning environments for the purpose of independent inquiry. Emerging web applications and open educational resources are integrated to support a Networked Student Model that promotes inquiry-based learning and digital literacy, empowers the learner, and offers flexibility as new technologies emerge.”

Balancing the benefits of technology and real-life experiences in the experiential realm will be a challenge for the educational system at large. The benefits of VW’s are anchored in participants’ ability to create PLN’s; enhance their imagination; to grow and learn; to create with one’s mind and fingers a world that existed only as a representation and then enter that world as active learners. One future of education is the establishment of learning communities where we come to learn with each other and from each other in a collaborative process. Collaborative processes give rise to vibrant cultures of growth and development with the result of a harvest of student achievement filled with a growth mindset, mental flexibility, curiosity, risk taking and intrinsic motivation.

Author: drcowinj

I am the Chief Marketing Officer for a start-up IT company, PeopleMovers®, a global Community Networking Platform. As an experienced executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development, change management and turn-around I worked with value-adding leadership. The primary drivers have been branding, marketing and efficiency, improved customer satisfaction and retainment, customer service, product management, cross-functional business improvements and development of sponsor presentations with sponsor meetings. On a day to day basis, I write press releases and speeches, analyze case studies, create presentations, organize media events and photo ops, press conferences, podcasts/webcasts, write video scripts, fan boards, and coordinate blogging and speaking opportunities. The Presidency of the Rotary Club of New York is dear to my heart. As the second woman to be elected in 109 years, I have a leadership role in shaping and directing the club's programs and international strategic alliances. The position encompasses being a leader, manager, and collaborator and working to further The Rotary Club of New York’s (RCNY) public diplomacy mission through the management of its United Nations International Breakfast meetings, sponsoring international Rotary scholars and amplifying the visibility of RCNY. Part of this volunteer leadership position centers around cooperation and collaboration to do "Service above Self." The Rotary network encompasses more than 1.3 million members worldwide. I am working on our International Breakfast Lecture series at the United Nations and a Harvey Relief event to increase the visibility of the club’s Rotary branding. The International Breakfast Series is streamed live on Facebook with an audience of 5000+ international viewers. Also, I am the US Ambassador of the Hepatitis Zero Campaign, a worldwide campaign dedicated to the eradication of hepatitis . As a University Pathway facilitator at EF - Education First, I conceived, designed and developed multiple portfolios of face-to-face, online and blended curricula across a variety of disciplines Courses and expertise are in Global Economics, International Affairs, Academic Writing, Grammar, and business case study seminars. For EF's Russian branch I held interactive webinars for lawyers, teachers, engineers with a strong practical applicability into real-life teaching.

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