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

A Practical Guide To Implementing Professional Development

Yesterday I blogged about the rippling impact of professional development. Today, I share with you a resource I found.

This Continuing Professional Development (CPD) strategy, framework and employer’s guide is published by Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council, and Skills for Care’s 2009 CPD case studies publication. Though it is destined to all employers in adult social care in England, it provides an excellent model for anyone wanting to develop their own strategy.

References:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

E-Learning Study Shows Rippling Impact of Professional Development

ScienceDaily reports on Boston College researchers who engaged in large-scale randomized experiments with the purpose of studying the impact of online professional development for teachers who aimed at improving their instructional practices as well as their subject matter knowledge. In the e-Learning for Educators: Effects of Online Professional Development on Teachers and their Students study, what they observed was not only that engaging in professional development had an impact on the teachers’ performance, but that it had a rippling impact on their student’s achievements.

Boston College Associate Professor of Education Laura O’Dwyer reported that:

“The studies also show that teacher participation in online professional development can translate into improvements in targeted student outcomes.”

In addition, study Director Lynch School Associate Professor Michael Russell stated that:

“Given the positive effects found across these studies, it is reasonable to expect that on-line professional development is an effective strategy for supporting teaching in difficult-to-staff content areas, like mathematics and science.”

One could easily transpose these findings to the workplace training world and make a case for the importance of professional development of training professionals. The more we know, the more we can help.

References:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Professional Development

It is interesting to see Byrony Taylor’s take on how to use social media for professional development. I personally don’t listen to podcasts (number 3) but I do all the others most definitely. I would add that I also use Amplify, Twitter and LinkedIn as professional development tools.

  1. Be part of an online community
  2. Attend a conference or an event remotely
  3. Listen to podcasts
  4. Take part in a tutorial or watch a video
  5. Start writing a blog

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The Challenge of Keeping Up with Research when Immersed in Practice

Though I haven’t had the opportunity to read the research study, based on these reported findings, I can formulate an argument for research into practice type learning activities and communities of practice. The reality is that practionners in all fields are having a hard time staying abreast of new research developments and professional development and training needs to start looking at this issue in a new light.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg and the University of Borås in Sweden have looked at how professionals in different occupational groups seek and use information and keep updated after finishing their education. The results show that teachers seek information they can use in their own teaching and that librarians focus on helping library users find information, while nurses just don’t have the time.

The study report goes on to explain how keeping up with professional development is difficult to live up to:

While the interviewed nurses were in fact told that they should keep up with current research as professionals, they said that this is easier said than done. Nursing education is about producing texts while the nursing profession is about attending to patients. The time it takes to keep updated on nursing science research is simply not available, making such practice uncommon.

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The eLearning 2.0 Survival Guide – Assessing the Credibility of Web Sources

I delivered a presentation on The eLearning 2.0 Survival Guide e Assessing the Credibility of Web Sources at the Brandon Hall Innovations in Learning 2008 conference which was held in San Jose, September 2008.

Presentation Summary

It is no surprise that integrating Web 2.0 tools to learning is an innovative practice that is catching on quickly. Pushing the Web’s potential for democratizing information, Web 2.0 social computing practices are well aligned with constructivist learning strategies. Enabling learners to develop multiple perspectives can foster analytical and critical thinking.

What is worrisome is the transition from a spoon-fed model of education to a self-directed and discovery model without reconfiguring the approach to learning. Are individuals applying fact-checking rigour to the content they access? What criteria are they using? What do they consider to be expert knowledge? Are they simply looking for other sources to confirm what theyeve found or are they actually analysing the source of the information? Are they aware that information, correct and otherwise, spreads like memes on Web?

My presentation was largely be based on research I have done for my M.A. in Educational Technology thesis which is a qualitative study of people who write blogs on training to be used in the professional development of people who work in the field. The question lies in the authority and credibility of these blogs, and by extension Web content in general.

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