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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My presentation at ISPI-Montreal’s 2006 Conference discussed A Systemic Approach to Designing Fluid eLearning Environments for Learning Organisations.
In a learning organization, a shared vision is built by linking individual and organizational performance objectives. The design of this organization’s eLearning environment must reflect this vision, empowering individuals, cultivating communities of practice and encouraging a holistic performance improvement perspective.
This presentation focuses on strategies for designing participative and collaborative eLearning environments. You will identify ways of assessing and implementing a new generation of eLearning tools that have the potential to keep learners curious, engaged, communicating and sharing, ultimately fulfilling a learning organization’s objectives.
At the end of this session, participants should be able to:
Recognize the principle requirements when designing eLearning environments for learning organizations;
Identify techniques and tools for designing networks that offer both collaborative and self-directed learning;
Describe the new generation of eLearning technologies, potential uses, strengths and weaknesses;
Select strategies for developing and implementing participative eLearning environments, and
Virtual communities of practice are environments in which individuals with similar interests can learn from one another at a distance. Learners in this case are not limited to their local peers but are able to interact and learn from those who have similar experiences elsewhere. This type of virtual community requires design and planning in order to ensure that communication flows between its participants.
Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002) define a community of practice as “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis”.