PROFESSIONAL SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR EDUCATION - A LOOK AT NETWORKING GROUPS
1 The Mofet Institute, Levinsky College of Education (ISRAEL)
2 The Mofet Institute, Kibbutzim College of Education (ISRAEL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The MOFET Institute was established in 1983 by the Department of Teacher Education in the Ministry of Education, with the aim of setting up an institute whose main pursuits would be research, writing and professional development in teacher education. Various channels were created, and cooperation and partnerships were formed with other institutions in Israel and abroad.
Three years ago, the Institute initiated the establishment of a professional social network, known as “Shluvim”. The network, a unique enterprise in Israel, and possibly the world, has a pedagogic manager and a technical support person.
The Horizon 2014 Report (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freeman, 2014) indicates the change that will occur over the coming years in communications between people. The report comments on understanding the manner in which the network can be integrated into social learning processes— training programs need to include proficiency in the utilization of the social network for teaching purposes (Wilson, Bow, Sala, Puttaswamy & Zhao, 2009).
The study was carried out with the integration of the qualitative research paradigm of case study (Yin, 2008) and quantitative analysis. The data was collected by means of open in-depth and partially structured interviews, in focus groups, content analysis, notifications and messages. The purpose of the combination is to strengthen the internal and external validity, as well as the reliability of the study.
The research questions are:
1. What are the characteristics of the “successful” groups on the “Shluvim” network?
2. What are the procedures of the managers of the groups on the “Shluvim” network?
3. What recommendations can be proposed to educators when they open a group on the “Shluvim” network?
An interesting profile emerges of a relationship between closed and open groups, the role of managers of the groups as promoters or inhibitors of the development of the group, the purposes of opening the group, types of content raised in them, and the contribution of participation in the groups to the professional development of the teachers. Groups were set up for advanced training in a limited time context and groups united around an urgent concept or issue in the field of education. Varying patterns of behavior of group leaders were created. The degree of connection between members of the group was examined as well as the significance of the choice of name and logo of each group. In the analysis various behavioral patterns stood out, as did the varying ways of organizing and managing information, however, the technological difficulties hindering the activities of the group also became apparent. The source of these difficulties was in the difficulties deriving from the profile of the members and technological hardships deriving from the technological environment of the "Shluvim" network. Additional findings of the study relating to the activities of 2,200 members in 152 groups, both closed and open, will be presented in the lecture.
The question hovered in the air, the entire time, concerning the added value in establishing a unique professional network, as opposed to Facebook with its millions of members, throughout the world, who are active on it all the time.
The contribution of the study leads to understanding the place, activities and role of the “Shluvim” network as a supportive and accompanying environment in the Israeli Education System in general and in the teacher training system in particular.
Keywords: Social network, groups, teacher training, professional development.