Exploring a Professional Social Network System to Support Learning in the Workplace

Exploring a Professional Social Network System to Support Learning in the Workplace

Anthony “Skip” Basiel (Middlesex University – IWBL, UK) and Paul Coyne (Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, UK)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-984-7.ch103
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This chapter sets out to explore how professionals can network, collaborate and capture informal learning in an online work-based environment. It addresses the pedagogical approaches that underpin emerging Web 2.0 technological trends and provide recommendations for future use of such online environments. Existing Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are primarily content driven with little provision for social engagement and stakeholdergenerated material. Similarly, many organisations have little or no structure for facilitating online interaction in a work based learning context. Since 2006 Emerald Group Publishing and the Middlesex Centre for Excellence in Work Based Learning have been partnering to develop, test and implement an online platform that will support collaborative, interactive learning. This link between Industry and Higher Education is critically reviewed. The InTouch (2008) platform was incorporated into the syllabus for MCEWBL’s work-based Professional Practice BA Honours programme in 2007 to support newly trained professionals as they worked through a professional development work based learning programme. The pedagogical underpinning of the course was reflective, self-directed learning and the blog, Wiki and profiling tools provided had the potential to either contribute to this aim or become a major part of how students construct their understanding of themselves in their professional practice. Emerald and MCEWBL have been monitoring the adoption, use and challenges associated with using Web 2.0 technology to support work based learning in order make recommendations about future pedagogical frameworks and approaches. This platform and related online pedagogic principles fills the gap between informal, free tools that provide little security or structure and heavyweight VLEs that offer tutor-made content, but do not naturally support social interaction for learning. The chapter provides some ideas and strategic options about implementing similar tools in other organisational settings and provides frameworks to evaluate these options in line with existing resources and capabilities. It concludes with an in-progress web-based learning design or ePedagogy that unifies the threads of the online learning experience.

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