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Activating your network

Discover the ways to make best use of your learning network to complete a task.
Person with arms raised in celebration connected to a network of speech bubbles, devices and information.
© University of Southampton

Now that you have spent time growing and contributing to your learning network, it is ready for action.

We all have our preferred ways of activating our learning network, so there is no ‘right’ way to do so effectively. Each of us will make choices based on our learning networks and the actions we want to take.

For example, we might prefer to post a tweet or forum question asking, “Does anyone know a good source on…(X)…?”, or we might prefer to ask a classmate or tutor the same thing, or do both.

This video by education technologist Wendy Drexler provides a good example of a learning network in use.

Communicating

Covid-19 has impacted the way we communicate with each other, and social distancing rules might embed those changes long-term. As a result, we have all become used to the many different online meeting and webinar services available (such as Zoom; MS Teams; Skype; GoToWebinar; Uber Conference…etc).

But online meetings carry their own complexities (not just technical). For example, some people feel more self-conscious knowing they are on a screen, while others find themselves able to talk more freely by not being in the same room as colleagues.

It is worth keeping in mind these differences and communicating in the most suitable way, using the most suitable services.

Using the appropriate tone and language when communicating with your network is important, as is making communications:

  • clear

  • concise

  • and considered.

In particular, tone is very hard to communicate in written interactions (e.g. emails, text messages, WhatsApp, blog posts, tweets…etc) – this is why we have emojis afterall! – and it is easy to take a different understanding from the text than the author intended.

Collaborating

If you begin to work together on a task, you may also want to think about the best ways to collaborate.

Is a Facebook group, a WhatsApp group, regular Skype calls, a shared Google Drive folder, a shared GitHub space, a forum thread, face-to-face meetings, or a mixture of these and many other routes, going to suit all the collaborators best?

What collaboration tools do you have experience of using and what is good or bad about them?
What hints & tips would you recommend for effective communication and collaboration generally?
© University of Southampton
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Learning in the Network Age

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