Why careers professionals should engage with social media

I’ve been working on a paper abo ut the relationship between career exploration, career IAG and technology. I originally wrote a bit about the value of social media for professional development. This bit ended up getting cut out, but it may be of interest to someone so I thought I’d stick it up on the blog….

 

Social media tools such as blogs, micro-blogs and social bookmarking sites offer ways for groups of people to interact around a common interest. It is possible for these tools to be adopted by professional communities who wish to use them for information and practice sharing and professional development purposes. Professions where social media has been utilised in this way include teaching (Luehmann and Tinelli, 2008), museums professionals (Madsen-Brooks, L, 2009) and librarians (Dupuis, 2009). Where communities of practice have utilised social media tools they have provided a social learning space within which professionals can engage in professional development.

 

The use of social media has been found to facilitate the learning process by encouraging reflection (Beale, 2007). The process of writing about an experience, publishing it to your peers and receiving feedback on your reflection is a powerful process for learning especially in a professional context where you are part of a pre-existing community of practice. There are a number of examples of this kind of use of social media tools within the careers world. Notable examples include David Winter’s Careers – In Theory blog (http://careersintheory.wordpress.com/) and Helen Curry’s Careers Service 2.0 blog (http://helencurry.wordpress.com/about/). There are also a small number of careers professionals active on Twitter and rather more on Linkedin where the UK HE Careers Professionals and ICT in Careers Work groups are moderately active.

 

Given that the careers profession is fragmented across a number of professional bodies and employers as well as being geographically spread it is believed that this kind of decentralised approach to professional development could be useful. The opportunity to share information and insights on a regular basis with those whom you share some concerns is one of the biggest opportunities offered by social media. It is however perhaps work noting that careers professionals employed by local authorities often find that their employers have restrictive internet use policies or even internet filters that prevent the use of social media sites. 

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6 comments

  1. I’m pleased to see mention of social media, the learning process, and reflection. I recently wrote a guest post in which I suggested that reflection and the associated increase in learning can be accomplished with microblogging: <a href="http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/2010/03/17/do-we-learn-more-through-microblogging-by-tony-ratcliffe/">Do We Learn More through Microblogging?</a> Responses definitely supported microblogging as a learning tool, but the question of reflection needed more exploration. Do you have any thoughts, or knowledge of specific research, on this particular aspect?

  2. In my experience, I’m not sure reflection is the main reason IAG practitioners use these tools. In local authorities, you are quite right that these sites are blocked. if they are used at all, they are used to disseminate information and reach out to others with similar interests in the field. I’ve been a regular user of Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious and various Diigo, LinkedIn and Google groups – mostly to connect with others and to share my thoughts on issues. I had not heard of David Winter’s or Helen Curry’s blogs.There is a desperate need to bring all these contributions together (more effective groups?). CEIAG research still seems fragmented, isolated from, and having limited impact on day-today CEIAG. We still do not reach out sufficiently to practitioners and meet them on ground they are comfortable with (and have access to).

  3. I’m not suggesting that professional development/reflection is the only reason to use Web 2.0 tools, but I think that it is an important one. It is also the one that reliably gives back value most quickly. You say that reflection isn’t the main reason that IAG practitioners are using these tools – so what is?Are you on the ICT in careers work LinkedIn group?

  4. No I’m not on that group – that’s another problem – how do you know about these groups to start with? I will be now though 🙂 Practitioners are well-versed in reflective practice through their NVQ portfolio-building and Reflective Practice/supervision meetings etc. This is about building competency, and tackling day-to day operational issues. I’m not sure that they would find the time (their own time as these sites are blocked at work) to use social networking sites for this; nor would they be appropriate as much is confidential. However, I think there is a need to provide a suitable vehicle for reflection in CPD once the NVQs etc are completed. Again, I think one must be careful on what is used; a closed forum/e-portfolio/blog is different to a public one that has privacy settings. There are already processes in place for continuing observation and reflection in practice, so a reflective space needs to add value for the practitioner somehow. Bearing in mind that they are hard-pressed with case-loads and NEET targets, the average practitioner will need a lot of convincing, coaching and support to use these sites. Any resource will have to be sanctioned by senior management as an accepted part of their CPD. we are definitely not there yet with that! If you want to embed the use of e-porfolios/blogs in CEIAG practice, then I would argue that it needs to start early (in school) continue through FE/HE/into the CEG postgrad qulaification and then into operational CPD. It’s about fostering a culture of life-long learning and self-development… why do we do it so badly in the UK?

  5. My ideal situation would be that all of the reflective work that people are doing was made more public so that other people in the profession could learn from it and it could provide a vehicle for the profession to talk to itself and share practice. Reflecting into folders is fine, but it is better if we can socialise this reflection and use it to grow not just the individual but the profession as a whole.I’m not saying that nothing should be private – but I do think that on the whole much less should be than is currently.

  6. I agree with you. Bit I do think the CEIAG ‘profession’ is too fragmented for a single vehicle, which comes back to question of how all these ‘spaces’ are brought together and disseminated. It would be great to have something like TES Connect ( http://www.tes.co.uk/ ) for CEIAG practitioners.. (CEGNET misses a trick there)There is an active community and a place to share resources. However, I’m not sure if it’s only the few who reguluarly post/share.

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