CC-BY Image – Digital Capability

In an increasingly digital world, those businesses which do not implement effective digital business strategies will quickly become “digital roadkill” (Deloitte Access Economics, The Connected Workplace, 2013).

Digitally effective businesses benefit from increased productivity and innovation through their staffs’ ability to better connect and collaborate with other workplace colleagues, as well as with their peers and experts from outside of the organisation.  This collective knowledge far outweighs the knowledge of the individual staff member.  Connected staff members are also much more satisfied with their jobs (Deloitte Access Economics, The Connected Workplace, 2013).

Workplace collaboration is made possible through:

  • open and closed social networking sites (eg LinkedIN, Google+, Facebook and Yammer)
  • collaborative tools in the Cloud (eg Google Docs/Drive, Dropbox)
  • meeting in real time via video conferencing (eg Skype, Google Hangout, webinars tools), and
  • mobile apps which allows people to connect via their smartphone.

However, connected workplaces need people with the skills and experiences to connect and work with others electronically to discover, decipher and deploy their new knowledge, and in a just in time basis.

They need people who have the netiquette skills to effectively connect and collaborate with others online.

They also need people who can share and work effectively with others beyond their own work teams, and who have the skills to ensure their gained knowledge and/or outputs are useful to their workplace, and are not just spending their time ‘surfing the net’.

Connected people need to be able to work beyond the barriers of their organisational infrastructure whilst retaining their own privacy, and that of their organisation.  They also need to be able to maintain the integrity of their organisation’s, and their own, intellectual property using the flexible digital technology, such as those mentioned above.

But where do these skills and experiences come from? Should education and training programs be better preparing people for a networked life?  And if so, what skills and experiences do educators need to create connected learning environments which will prepare people for a networked life?

Here are five ways educators can create connected learning programs which prepare people for a networked life:

  1. Have their own online personal learning network or PLN – by being a member of one or more social media site, such as LinkedIN, Google+, Facebook, Yammer and/or Twitter.  This allows them to also join ‘groups’ or ‘communities’ within these sites where they can observe and participate in pertinent professional conversations.  They can also ask questions or ‘put their ideas out there’ for input and further development.  This allows them to be a connected learner before becoming a connected facilitator.
  2. Host / participate in online meetings and planning sessions – using sites like Skype, Google Hangout, and other webinars tools.  These systems have the tools to increase productivity ie collaboratively working on a document at the same time (GoogleDocs), participating in groups brainstorms (whiteboards and text chats in webinar tools) or screen sharing (Skype).
  3. Create and/or utilise open resources – Creative Commons licensing allows people to share their knowledge and work (videos, images, audio and writing) freely without losing ownership or copyright.  Places like Wikieducator and Wikiversity are full of openly licensed resources.  This means educators have access resources which would otherwise be outside their means.  It also allows them to collaboratively create and share their own resources which others can utilise.
  4. Creating learning centred programs – you often hear that education and training programs should be more student or learner-centred.  Networked people need this to go one step further and move towards being learning centred (Brown, Chen and Gordon, 2012).  To prepare people for a networked life, they need to know how best to manage their own learning.  Learning centred programs incorporate flipped learning design and action-based learning activities which provide the structure and support mechanisms to help people learn how to learn (not just what to learn).
  5. Use multiple ways of assessing and evaluating their learners – the days of rote learning and regurgitating facts for a 3 hour brain dump using pen and paper (aka the exam) is over.  Connected workplaces are just that – connected.  Connected to the internet and the World Wide Web.  Having skills which enable a person to quickly search, filter and utilise information is a key employability skill.  Using multiple assessment or evaluation points through a portfolio (or eportfolio) approach means that learners can develop and showcase their skills, knowledge and attitudes, not only for the educator’s purpose, but for that of a potential employer, licensing/registration board or course admission centre.

What to know more about how to prepare people for a networked life?  Check-out some of these:

Haven’t done any online training before?  Consider registering for “Learn how to implement online training programs

Five ways educators can create connected learning programs

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