The Leadership Link: A Connectivist Model of Professional Development for Learning and Teaching Leaders

RMIT University, Australia


Scott et al., (2008) surveyed 513 university leaders and found that the learning preferences of university leaders are similar to those of students. They propose that university leadership programs need to be:

"just-in-time, just-for-me; more focused on learning by resolving real-world problems and dilemmas of daily practice as they arise; that they need to use peer support more directly and foster reflection on experience.."

This presentation describes an innovative blended model of professional development designed for senior learning and teaching leaders in an Australian University. The model aimed to shift the focus of Continuing Professional Development away from a traditional paradigm of 'workshop' delivered by an 'expert' and instead, present it as a Professional Learning Network (PLN) where participants draw on the wisdom/experience of their peers, support each other to solve complex problems and explore artefacts on Leadership in Learning and Teaching.

The PLN was established using an action research approach and premised on the principles of Connectivism (Siemmens &Downes, 2007) which espouses the notion that "knowledge is distributed across a reciprocal network of connections, and learning develops from the ability to construct and traverse those networks".

To engage the network, an online collaboration space "The Leadership Link" was constructed. This utilised a cyclical action reflection model across separate spaces for Connection, Reflection and Creation. The network leveraged a range of social media tools to magnify and amplify the issues raised. Analytics from the on-line site and social media activity will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the PLN.

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