Creating Ongoing Online Support Communities through Social Networks to Promote Professional Learning

Creating Ongoing Online Support Communities through Social Networks to Promote Professional Learning

Maria Elena Corbeil, Joseph Rene Corbeil
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2919-6.ch034
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Professionals who want to remain competitive in their fields are turning to Web 2.0 to learn the knowledge and skills they need in order to do their work more efficiently and effectively. Through a detailed description of how one instructor transformed his online graduate courses into dynamic, interactive, ongoing online learning communities that extended beyond the classroom, this chapter provides academics and practitioners a model for establishing a professional network that learners can participate in, and replicate in their workplaces for their professional development and informal learning. An overview of the role of social networking in creating professional development and informal learning opportunities for cognitive apprenticeship, knowledge brokering, and ongoing online support communities, as well as the results of a survey conducted on students’ perceptions of the impact of the social networking strategies and tools on their professional development and informal learning in and out of class will also be discussed.
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Until recently, the term professional development typically described formal learning and training activities, usually provided by experts to train professionals in the knowledge and skills they required to carry out their jobs. Fast-paced changes in Internet and mobile technologies have changed professional development by putting the tools for the creation, selection, and sharing of learning into the hands of the end users. Stevens (2006) noted that in addition to basic learning resources available online, Web 2.0 has changed the landscape for professional development by providing tools not available in previous versions of the Web. For example, accompanying Web 2.0 is a host of communication services, commonly known as social networking tools or social media. “Web 2.0 is where anyone can not only take information down from it but also create content and upload to it. In this respect the Web is not simply a one-way means of obtaining knowledge, but also a place where you interact with the material and annotate and contribute to the content” (p. 3). Through the use of social media such as Facebook®, Twitter®, LinkedIn®, MySpace®, and others, users stay connected, oftentimes in real-time, and become active creators, not just recipients of content and information.

The changes in the technological landscape have prompted changes in learning for professionals.

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