15 Drexler ,”The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy”


Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1081.


The paper aims to encourage further discussions about building personal learning environments for K–12 students and offers teachers a basis on which a networked learning environment can be enhanced. It aims to determine how a teacher can develop a networked teaching strategy while offering a basis where pupils regulate the teaching cycle more effectively.

Networked teaching, constructionism and connectivity values educate the education system and provide the basis for future studies that can investigate the effect of networked learning on K-12 learners and educators. Constructivist and connectivist principles can be used to explain teacher-facilitated, student-created personal learning environment designed in this study.

Networked learning refers to how information communication technology can be applied to enhance connections between learners, tutors, learning community and learning resources. Networked learning connects all these components together. It provides personal learning environment for learners and provides learners the opportunity to accomplish their own learnings. Blogging an example personal learning environment through which students can respond to others’ opinions and have more interactions with peers.

Networked Teacher Model is a model of which instructors build professional connections to support teacher practice, this model was developed based on feedback from instructors. The examples from Couros’ network include colleagues, media, print and digital resources, the local community, blogs, wikis, video conferencing, chat, social networking services, online communities, social bookmarking, digital photo sharing, and content development communities.

Networked Student Model is supported by emerging web applications and open educational resources. This model can promote inquiry-based learning and digital literacy, and it provides flexibility to master a new technology. In this process, the instructor provides guidelines for students, assist students understand the content, apply appropriate tools, and provide support in forming digital literacy knowledge and skills Student choice is a significant component of the Networked Student Model as it exemplified an important requirement for self-regulated learning (Boekaerts, 1997). Some features of networked student model:

  • Student develops its own knowledge based on social interactions and experiences
  • Students can communicate with experts in the virtual world.
  • Constructivist approach.
  • Developed based on Couros’ teacher professional development for K-12 student.
  • Four primary categories: academic social contacts, synchronous communication, information management, and really simple syndication.
  • Social Contacts: teachers, classmates, students outside of the class, and subject matter experts
  • Synchronous communication: video conferencing and instant messaging
  • Information Management: locating experts, evaluating resources, accessing scholarly works, and finding other open educational resources
  • RSS allows students to subscribe to changing content and makes tracking changes easier. Examples include blogging, subscription readers, podcasts, wikis, social bookmarking, and other social networks.
  • Represents the tools available to the student for constructing a personal learning environment on a specific topic of study.

In terms of the networked student, once content becomes available, web applications will be published to help manage content. The material submitted in a structured format will be utilized by the learners. Finally, people who want to explore the same subjects can access the personal learning environments. The students who joined networked learning builds understanding based on it in other situations. This information is part of the network which the learner will activate at any time in the future. The interconnected classroom builds a node-by-node personal learning environment. When these links have been established, they need to be reviewed and developed to help further teaching.

Key points

Prototype was designed based on theoretical framework. Both documentation data and physical artifacts were included. This study was designed based on the theoretical framework of connectivism, constructivism, and networked learning, and the implementation was conducted at a K-12 independent high school in the southeastern part. The research projects lasts for nine weeks with 15 participants. As part of self-regulated learning, students have his or her own choice to select contemporary issue topics. Students were motivated to retain network connections with learning goals. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations were applied to build a personal learning environment. The test was designed in a blended format, students attended face to face class meeting for three days, and online courses for two days.

The design of the teacher-facilitated, student-created personal learning environment in this study was based on constructivist and connectivist principles. Students attended class three days face to face and two days online. Moodle was used to organize course materials. The class included 15 students representing the final 3 years of secondary school in the United States. Eleven students were in grade 12, two in grade 11, and two in grade 10. For the networked student project, each student selected a contemporary issue or topic for which he or she had an interest. The students will be encouraged to maintain various network connections with the learning goal.

Documentation data and physical artifacts were included in this study. Open ended survey was designed to study student perceptions of the learning experience relative to their autonomy and comfort with the networked learning format. Each day, a new tool was introduced for about two weeks. When using the Networked Student Model, the teacher addressed two key factors. First, web applications that create the private teaching atmosphere needed to be familiar to students ; it needed significantly more framework because it was the first moment each pupil entered the Networked Student Model. Goodyear’s pattern for networked learning were applied in the preparation and implementation phases of the unit (Gooyear, 2005).

Four components of the assessment process for the Networked Student Model:

  1. Continuous performance evaluation in daily tasks to help build and sustain a personal learning environment
  2. rubric evaluation at the end of the design of the personal learning environment
  3. essay writing
  4. synthesize topic content.


All fifteen students completed assignments and constructed their own personal learning environment. Eleven responses were positive, three negative, and one neutral.

There was minimal and inconsistent integration of technology by teachers in high school. Students had little prior exposure to digital literacy skills. Responses relative to the use of technology were positive in 10 instances, negative in 3, and neutral in 2. Most positive responses were related to increased comfort with technology and improved learning through its use.

  1. The main purpose of the initiative was to create a personal learning environment as a substitute for a traditional textbook. The success was evaluated on the basis of teacher-built evaluation rubrics.
  2. The learners use technology to finish initiatives was recognized as significant because students had little previous contact to technology as a teaching instrument. The pcs at school were available to all learners, but few knew the web applications used in the venture. Nor have many regarded technology as a key teaching instrument.
  3. Time and work were concrete comparative steps from the point of view of the student and showed his or her capacity to self-regulate the learning procedure.
  4. Students were given some indication as to whether they were able to study other topics in this format with less intervention by a teacher.

Discussion questions

  1. How the networked student model be applied in your own teaching contexts?
  2. How can we use social media to create better learning environments for students?

Additional resources

  • Chang, C. & Wang, H. (2009). Issues of inquiry learning in digital learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(1), 169–173. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00850.x.
  • Nielsen, J. L. (2019). Educational Designs Supporting Student Engagement through Problem-oriented Project Learning supplemented by processes within Practices of Networked Learning—The Roskilde Model as inspired by the pragmatist tradition. In Conference Critical Edge Alliance 2019.


  • Boekaerts, M. (1997). Self-regulated learning: A new concept embraced by researchers, policy makers, educators, teachers, and students. Learning and Instruction, 7(2), 161–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4752(96)00015-1.
  • Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational tTechnology, 26(3). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1081.
  • Goodyear, P. (2005). Educational design and networked learning: Patterns, pattern languages and design practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 21(1), 82–101. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1344.
  • Ma, Y., & Harmon, S. W. (2009). A case study of design-based research for creating a vision prototype of a technology-based innovative learning environment. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 20(1), 75–93. https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/25226/.
  • McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. (2010). Personalised and self regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1100.



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Online Learning Toolbox by Evrim Baran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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