Networked learning conference Maastricht 2012
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Learning Networks for Professional Development: Current Research Approaches and Future Trends

Symposium Organisers: Adriana J. Berlanga & Riina Vuorikari
Open University of The Netherlands


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 , Tapped-In, or eTwinning . 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).

Introduction - .pdf

Learning Analytics in a Teachers' Social Network

Manh Cuong Pham, Yiwei Cao, Zinayida Petrushyna, Ralf Klamma, Information Systems and Databases, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

What is the social capital of a European teacher? We cannot give an answer for every teacher in Europe; but we have developed some measures for teachers participating in the eTwinning portal run by European Schoolnet as a case study. Driven by the idea that teachers collaborate across the borders with the support of an electronic platform, we were able to find correlations between social network analysis measures like degree and betweenness centrality as well as the local clustering coefficient, activity statistics about usage of eTwinning and the quality management of European Schoolnet. Only the combination of the three measures gives us indicators for the social capital gathered by a teacher. This learning analytics combines structural properties of the lifelong learning network of European teachers with the concrete usage statistics of a large-scale pedagogical social networking site using wall messages and blogs for communication among teachers and an established decentralized quality management framework which is unbiased by central policies. All work is implemented in a series of analysis and visualization prototypes working on anonymous data set extracted from the eTwinning network at certain time points. From this we can draw also on the evolution of the collaboration network as whole as well as on the development of the social capital of single teachers and their communities. As we have extracted different network structures mirroring the project and contact network of teachers and the online activities, we can compare the different factors contributing to the social capital of teachers.

Social network analysis, learning analytics, information visualization, data mining, lifelong learning, professional development, learning networks.

Full Paper - .pdf

Supporting Teachers’ Networked Learning Skills for More Online Engagement

Kamakshi Rajagopal, Adriana J. Berlanga, Peter B. Sloep, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands

This article looks into professional networks and their evolution into their current state as blended networks. The eTwinning network, a network of European schools, is described as an example of such a professional network for teachers, where studies from the TellNet project show that many teachers in the online network are isolated. As the eTwinning network wants to evolve into supporting more continuous professional development activities, the current disengagement of members needs to be resolved. Several potential underlying causes for the disengagement are described, as well as an approach to technical support that aims to engage the members in gaining the most from their participation in the network.

Learning Networks, personal learning networks, eTwinning, TellNet

Full Paper - .pdf

Teacher Collaboration in the Context of Networked Learning. Current eTwinning Practices and Future Perspectives

Romina Cachia & Yves Punie, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), European Union Joint Research Centre (JRC), Seville Spain

This article identifies emerging trends and challenges for teacher networking and collaboration in the context of networked learning based on a review of existing literature and on three consultation workshop with practitioners and stakeholders. In total, around 70 different people have been consulted to explore the potential of networks in the context of teacher collaboration. We argue that while the future of learning has been discussed extensively, the role of teachers, and more specific the role of teacher collaboration through networks is perhaps less taken into account. This article aims to demonstrate the importance of current and future networks for teacher collaboration and to highlight key issues to be taken into account for the further development of teacher networking, both as a practice and as an object of study. In general, teachers themselves are quite positive on the use and potential of ICT-enabled networks for improving the quality of their work, and they would like to see a more widespread use of ICT for collaboration with their peers, especially across borders and cultures. However, recognition of this work as part of their continuous professional development is regarded as important, as well as support and training to deal with data management, privacy and security issues. There is also a strong need for pedagogic training which empowers teachers with the required ICT skills to help their students become digitally competent and for guiding students towards more exploratory and creative interaction with ICT tools. It should be highlighted that already today; the eTwinning platform proves to be quite a significant activity for those teachers involved. Openness, flexibility and interoperability are regarded to be important for the future development of teacher collaboration networks.

Networks, collaboration, teacher training, eTwinning, future of education

Full Paper - .pdf

The symposium has, furthermore, a keynote by Riina Vuorikari: “Studying Informal Technology-Mediated Learning Networks: A Case Study on eTwinning Analytics”. The keynote outlines the context for the Tellnet research and its chosen methods to study professional social networks (e.g. social network analysis, information visualisation, future forecasting), and illustrates the value of analysing users’ interactions with various tools and interfaces to provide insights into professional networks regarding cooperation and collaboration.

Keynote Abstract



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