02 SES 06 A, Digital Support For Learning: Perspectives For VET And Adult Learners
Parallel Paper Session
Social and mobile technologies offer users unprecedented opportunities for communicating, interacting, sharing, meaning-making, content and context generation etc. And, these affordances are in constant flux driven by a powerful interplay between technological innovation and emerging cultural practices. Significantly, also, they are starting to transcend the everyday life-worlds of users and permeate the workplace and its practices. However, given the emergent nature of this area, the literature on the use of social and mobile technologies in workplace practices is small. Our main focus will, therefore, be on the question of what, if any, potential there is for the use of social media in informal, professional, work-based learning. The paper provides a critical overview of key issues from the literature on work-based learning, face-to-face and technology supported, as well as social (mobile) networking services with particular attention being paid to people tagging. It will then introduce an initial typology of informal workplace learning in order to provide a frame for understanding social (mobile) network(ing) services in work-based learning. In the main our typology seeks to serve as an explanatory, analytical frame as well as a starting point for discussion about attendant issues, rather than provide a definitive map of the field. Briefly, the main nodes and branches of the typology are as follows. 1. Contexts Factors: a) work process with learning as a by-product, b) learning activities located within work or learning processes, and c) learning processes at or near the workplace. 2. Learning Factors: a) individual self-regulation, b) self-representation, c) cognitive load, and d) personal learning networks (group or distributed self-regulation). 3. People Tagging Factors: a) efficiency gains, b) cost reduction, c) expert finding, and e) people tagging tactics. A brief case study of people tagging in digital social networks in the European Commission funded MATURE project is used to illustrate aspects of our typology. Where we see a mapping to the above typology we note the relevant link, in the description of the case, in italics-brackets (we call this an indicator). Very briefly, the MATURE Project (http://mature-ip.eu) conceives individual workplace learning processes to be interlinked (the output of a learning process is input to others) in a knowledge-maturing process in which knowledge changes in nature. We conclude the paper by proposing that the answer to our research question (about social media in informal work-based learning) is that the potential is considerable, although as we will show there is need for further work. Furthermore, the analysis of MATURE example has, we claim, proved productive and we suggest that the typology we have developed has the potential to provide a fruitful tool for further exploration of the field. For example, on the basis of our analysis, we can see certain gaps in the sense that of some indicators were absent in the MATURE case analysis; on this basis we claim that learning factor indicators that would seem to be areas where future work on computer-based scaffolding could be needed are: individual self-regulation, self-representation and personal learning networks.
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