Learning networks for professional development: Current research approaches and future trends

Adriana Berlanga, Riina Vuorikari

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review

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    Learning networks are technology supported communities through which learners share knowledge with each other and jointly develop new knowledge (Sloep & Berlanga, 2011). This way, learning networks enrich the experience of continuous professional development and lifelong learning. Examples of learning networks for professional development are communities of employees who want to improve customer services, lawyers who want exchange knowledge and experience, and communities of teachers who exchange their experiences and seek for collaboration. Learning networks that support activities for educational professionals is enjoying increasing interest, see for instance Cloudworks (http://cloudworks.ac.uk/), Tapped-In (http://tappedin.org), or eTwinning (www.etwinning.net). However, the full potential and added value of these networks could be maximised if new frameworks, tools and techniques would be developed (Schlager, et al., 2009). A case in point is the European project Teacher’s Lifelong Learning Networks (Tellnet). This project aims to study professional development networks by exploring analysis and visualisation techniques to identify relevant structures and patterns, and to specify performance indicators for facilitating collaboration, innovation and creativity of teachers. Tools are investigated to foster peer-support, collaboration, and increase social capital. Moreover, specific future scenarios on the role of teacher networks for learning are developed, bringing together the evidence found with emerging social and technical trends in Europe. The above mentioned eTwinning network is taken as study case. eTwinning promotes teacher and school collaboration through the use of ICT. It is a large online network (over 150.000 European teachers) in which teachers can work with each other and learn from each other. Through this network, collaborative cross-border school projects can be started on a wide variety of subjects, e.g. having multiple primary school students working together and learning about different cultures. Additionally, teachers can attend a variety of professional development activities, such as online Groups or Learning Labs to improving both personal and professional teaching skills. The aim of this symposium is to present current Tellnet efforts that aim to understand and enhance learning networks for professional development. This includes contributions that attempt to answer questions such as: how network learning can contribute to successful continuous professional development and competence building? How could learning analytics be used in order to identify benefits of learning networks, such as social capital? What will be the role of networks in the coming years? Answering these questions requires a holistic approach that considers pedagogical and technical underpinnings, as well as individual, social and organizational aspects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Networked Learning 2012
    Subtitle of host publication2/3/4 April, 2012, Maastricht, Netherlands
    EditorsVivien Hodgson, Chris Jones, Maarten de Laat, David McConnell, Thomas Ryberg, Peter Sloep
    Place of PublicationLancaster
    PublisherLancaster University
    Number of pages2
    ISBN (Print)9781862202832
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2012
    Event8th International Conference on Networked Learning - Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, Netherlands
    Duration: 2 Apr 20124 Apr 2012


    Conference8th International Conference on Networked Learning
    Internet address


    • eTwinningTeLLNet
    • Professional development
    • Learning Network


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