Anders, A. D. (2018). Networked learning with professionals boosts students’ self-efficacy for social networking and professional development. Computers & Education, 127(December), 13–29. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.08.009
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Abstract: Previous research has recognized that networked learning—including the use of social media, blogs, and learning communities—offers unique affordances for supporting the development of self-efficacy. However, additional research is needed to examine applications of networked learning that integrate professional contexts into academic learning experiences. The present study reports on an intervention in which networked learning was used to promote student self-efficacy for social networking and professional development. The learning design integrates three techniques: a focus on developing personal learning networks, a blog-based learning community, and mastery experiences for networking with professionals. The hypothesis was that networked learning among peers in the learning community would help support the gradual development of skills and confidence for social networking, while networking to learn with professionals would amplify the impact of mastery experiences on student self-efficacy. A study of 72 undergraduate business students found that the intervention led to significant gains in self-efficacy for social networking and professional development activities. Students also reported a greater likelihood of engaging in these activities in the following year. Finally, students perceived the learning experience as relevant for their lifelong learning and professional success.
My faculty fellowship project focused on a course redesign for FMIS 3141: Business Communications. Business Communications is a required course for all majors in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). My goal is to rigorously teach specific skills and relevant domain knowledge while also situating these learning experiences in the context of building technological and social networks that will support life-long learning and professional development.
My course design facilitates a community supported and student-directed approach to developing personal learning networks (PLNs). Student progress is supported through a custom-designed course site and community blog: BCOM Commons. It is supplemented with a range of virtual collaboration and social media tools including the UMN Google Apps. Through participatory learning activities, students share resources, publish portfolios of communications work, and develop a foundational online presence. More significantly, these online activities are designed to facilitate networking experiences and interactions with real-world professionals, LSBE alumni, and potential employers.
The digital story that documents this fellowship project focuses on student outcomes and student voices. These students describe themselves as being excited and motivated by learning experiences that connect them with professional contexts and contacts. They express appreciation for support in engaging with multimedia, social media, and virtual collaboration tools. They admit to being a little nervous to present themselves publicly online and to engage established professionals in networking assignments, but they say they are glad to have help and support as they approach these new and exciting challenges.
They say they have learned much and that they will continue to work on their professional development and grow their professional networks. These are students I believe will adapt and succeed in the face of whatever challenges and opportunities the future holds for them.
You can learn more about my course redesign project from this presentation video and you can find out more about my recent pedagogical research and work with technology-enhanced education on my research blog: abramanders.com.