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Exploration of Personal Learning Network Usage in the Acquisition of Leadership Competencies Open Access


Other title
Personal Learning Network
Leadership Competencies
open connected learning
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Crawford, Janet Maureen
Supervisor and department
Barker, Thomas (Faculty of Extension)
Examining committee member and department
Varnhagen, Stanley (Faculty of Extension)
McMahon, Robert (Faculty of Extension)
Barker, Thomas (Faculty of Extension)
Beckie, Mary (Faculty of Extension)
Faculty of Extension
Communications and Technology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This research is a purposeful case study exploring whether the use of personal learning networks (PLNs) by three digitally sophisticated educators contributes to their acquisition of leadership competencies. The study used an embedded mixed methods design that reflects a social constructivist worldview. Data was gathered from a self- assessment survey, individual activity logs, semi-structured interviews, and digital artefacts created by the participants as part of their normal PLN activities. Through reflecting on their self-assessment survey, being very conscious of what they wrote in their activity logs, and further expanding on their actions over the course of the interviews the educators expressed pleasant surprise at realizing the myriad of ways in which their PLNs contribute to their leadership skills. It is hoped that the findings from this case study contain a depth and richness that provide readers the opportunity to judge for themselves the transferability to their own contexts. This is consistent with the premise of open and connected education, which is at the heart of PLNs. The results indicate that for the three participants in this study their PLNs play an important role in their acquisition of leadership competencies. As a result of challenges that arose during the process, the researcher in conjunction with the participants constructed a method of categorizing organizational leadership competencies that led to the creation of individual PLN usage profiles. The usage profiles reflected the uniqueness of each participant’s PLN and the diversity of approaches taken. The study revealed that the participants saw PLN usage as an integral behaviour rather than an add-on activity. Relationships were viewed as the fundamental building ii blocks of PLNs. The study brought forth questions as to whether PLNs are a new form of digital literacy or even a reworking of the way in which the three educators think.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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