Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Take your teaching online
Take your teaching online

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.2 Professional development

Described image
Figure 4 Digital technologies enable us to create and connect communities of practice.

While social networking can be informal and outside the regular work environment, its value to staff professional development can be considerable (Davis, 2011). By sharing with peers and experts via networks, people can advance their online skillsets more rapidly than they would do alone. They can also solve problems or deal with issues by asking for assistance from their networks. In addition, beyond the subject matter of online education, simply developing the skill of effective networking is a part of professional development. Many educational institutions now actively support their staff to develop social networks and recognise the value of doing this.

Activity 1 Social networking tools

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

  1. Make a list of what you think are the key benefits of and challenges to using social networks to support your professional development. While you are doing this, reflect on any previous experience you might have of using social networks and whether the challenges are different now to a year or two ago.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


This activity is designed to help you to think about the use of social networking tools in your context. There are many benefits, although – as you have probably identified yourself – there are also challenges that need to be considered.