Take your teaching online
Take your teaching online

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Take your teaching online

1 Benefits of engaging with online networks

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Figure 2 People come together for all sorts of reasons – social and professional – and networks can help with this

We’ll start with a quote from an article about the connecting of computers together to form networks:

‘Most of the benefits of networking can be divided into two generic categories: connectivity and sharing. Networks allow computers, and hence their users, to be connected together. They also allow for the easy sharing of information and resources, and cooperation between the devices in other ways. Since modern business depends so much on the intelligent flow and management of information, this tells you a lot about why networking is so valuable.’ (Kozierok, 2005)

With just a few amendments, this quote can describe the benefits of social networking to any educator:

Most of the benefits of networking can be divided into two generic categories: connectivity and sharing. Networks allow teachers to be connected together. They also allow for the easy sharing of information and resources, and cooperation between the teachers in other ways. Since online education depends so much on the intelligent flow and management of information, this tells you a lot about why networking is so valuable.

As you will have seen in the previous weeks of this course, teaching online requires thought, planning, and perhaps a little bravery in trying new technologies and techniques. Any feelings of nervousness can be reduced by gaining support from networks of people who are either in a similar position, or who have already done what you are starting to do. Luckily, in today’s age there are a large number of mechanisms by which we can participate in networks, helping each of us to start to develop a personal network around ourselves (Ansmann et al., 2014).

It’s worth noting that networking is largely invisible to others and only partly visible to the direct participants in any exchange. This is true whether networking occurs face to face or online. It is not always clear (sometimes even to yourself) whether you are actively networking, or just having a chat – and often one can become the other without anyone formally recognising it. Networking can be something that obviously bears that name – introducing yourself to a group at a face-to-face conference or posting in an ‘Online teaching newcomers’ discussion forum, for example. But networking can also take place much less formally, for example by following relevant Twitter accounts, or by chatting to colleagues or peers.

There are a number of benefits to participating in networking activities and these will be discussed on the following page.

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