An Activity Theoretical Approach to Examining Virtual Professional Development and Informal Learning via Social Networks

An Activity Theoretical Approach to Examining Virtual Professional Development and Informal Learning via Social Networks

Joseph M. Terantino (Kennesaw State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5780-9.ch043
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Abstract

This chapter discusses the adoption of activity theory (Engeström, 1987, 2001; Leont'ev, 1978, 1981) as a conceptual framework for analyzing learning processes related to professional development and informal learning via social network environments. The discussion includes an overview of professional development and informal learning via social networks, which highlights the need for a related analytical framework. Activity theory is then described and applied to an example of professional development. This operationalization of activity theory demonstrates the ability of the framework to enable viewing and analyzing learning via social networks such as Facebook communities, wiki and blog spaces, listservs, and discussion forums. The chapter ends with several key points related to implementing activity theory as a solution to investigating behaviors in social networks and potential directions for future research.
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The Role Of Social Networks

The role of social networks in our society has evolved rapidly over the past several decades. This has been due in large part to the ever-increasing availability and capabilities of computer and internet-based technologies. Because the role of these technologies continues to evolve so rapidly, often researchers are unable to maintain up-to-date investigations. Thus, applying an appropriate theoretical framework to such innovative research, as presented by this chapter, is paramount. In addition to defining social networks and their role in our society, this section reviews social networks, professional development, and informal learning as a means to highlighting the need for implementing an analytical framework for future research related to social networking technologies.

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