Educational networking in the digital age

Costa, Cristina (2011) Educational networking in the digital age. In: Digital Education: Opportunities for Social Collaboration. Palgrave McMillan, London, pp. 81-99. ISBN 978-0-230-11158-5

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Abstract

The emergence of the Web as a dynamic, user- centered platform for interaction and congregation of social capital has been said to impact different levels in our society (Ferlander, 2003; Rheingold, 2000; Wellman, 2001). It is changing some of the fundamental aspects of how people connect, interact, share, and work (Attwell, 2007; Cross, 2007), and a new networking culture seems to be evolving as a result. Academia is not an exception in this respect. These days it is said to be imperative to foster new forms of engagement with one’s field and even beyond. For knowledge workers especially, keeping up with the continuous advancements in their subject areas is not only important, but necessary to survive in the competitive world. Engaging with the possibilities the digital age offers beyond what institutions formally provide in terms of collaboration and personal and professional development is thus more crucial than ever. Understanding the implications of one’s online presence as part of practice, learning, and life in general, is a new skill to be acquired. This chapter will focus on learning and networking online, with special emphasis on academic researchers’ professional networking activity. Hence, we will explore the obstacles, as well as the advantages and implications of adopting a Web 2.0 approach in the context of academic research and practice. In this chapter we will attempt to provide an holistic reference to what it means to be a networked researcher in light of the network society (Castells, 2000)— while approaching related themes such as networked learning, digital literacy, digital identity, as well as the opportunities and challenges the Web presents when it comes to the publication and dissemination of research activity.