Discover LinkedIn and Discover the Power of your Network

MindTools has written what I consider to be the best summary and short user guide to LinkedIn. Not only does it provides a practical definition of LinkedIn, but also defines useful terms and outlines strategic individual and organizational uses. It also includes an extremely important write up on LinkedIn Netiquette.

My personal experience with LinkedIn dates back to 2004 and I’ve found it to be a great way to stay in touch with professional contacts and follow their professional and career development. Moreover, I have been kept abreast of professional development opportunities in my field (conferences, publications, job opportunities). In addition, it has been a great resource for the promotion of my book.

From an organizational perspective, in the past two years, LinkedIn has been a great support in my current position by enabling me to grow our customer base through the promotion our organization’s services. I’ve been able to attract candidates for our company’s professional development programmes through groups and events. I’ve also been able to locate specialized resources to help us out on projects. Furthermore, I have been approached by other organizations inviting our company to collaborate or bid on projects.

I personally consider it to be an essential tool for talent and opportunity management in organizations today. If you’ve been hesitating to get started, hopefully this tutorial will give you the boost you need.

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This post is cross-posted with Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Distinguishing a Community of Practice from a Team or a Network

Lilia Efimova’s diagram clearly illustrates how a Community of practice distinguishes itself from a work team in that it goes beyond the structured boundaries of the team to seek out others with a common class of problems. That said, it is still semi-structured in that it is not driven by a common pursuit of solutions.

Efimova's team, community and network communication diagram

Team communication is heavily shaped by the shared goals and agreed communication formats/processes. It’s very much about getting things done together and strong ties that needed for it.

Communication in communities is a bit further from actual work, but still has lots of connection with it (e.g. Q&A mode, where one uses an opportunity of being together with other experts to ask for solutions for a problem). It’s usually a mix of stronger and weaker ties that help to open up and share local practices. There is enough commonality and trust to hold people together and enough diversity to support learning.

Network communication is more opportunity-based and informal. There is not much in terms of shared goals and recurrent conversations, the ties are weak or latent. However, there is enough connectivity and opportunities to communicate that result in cross-fertilisation and emergent ideas and practices.

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A Qualitative Study of Five Authors of Five Blogs on Training and Development

A qualitative study of five authors of five blogs on training and development is my thesis which was defended on August 26 2008 and submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts (Educational Technology), Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Abstract

This study analyzed what it means to be a blogger in the field of training and development—an edublogger—as well as the credibility of blogs intended for the training community. The specific research questions were posed from the insider’s or emic perspective. The objective of this study was to attempt to paint a portrait of an edublogger and uncover areas for further research.

A phenomenological qualitative research design methodology was used in an attempt to observe the connections between edubloggers and their readers, which is in harmony of the spirit of the blogs as well as to understand the essence of experiences in the blogosphere. A grounded theory was constructed from a cross-case analysis—case studies were developed using interview transcripts of the 5 bloggers and artefact analysis of each of their blogs over a 4-month period—with the intention of identifying key phenomena.

Common themes related to the edubloggers’ motivations, writing style, community building and other general practices were uncovered as. In addition, a substantial set of emerging questions specifically relating to readership and the qualitative assessment of blog content were noted.

Update March 1, 2010: My thesis has been published into a book entitlted Edublogging: A Qualitative Study of Training and Development Bloggers