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Unlocking the potential of social networks
for professional development
October 17th, 2013
Dep. of Education and Psychology,
University of Florence
What does ‘networked’ mean in the context
of professional development?
Teachers and professional development:
what needs, what types of knowledge?
Teachers and social networks: what is the
Some examples from the field
The Networked Teachers: where are we
now, where do we want to be?
What does ‘networked’ mean in
relation to professional
CoPs vs NoPs
(Lave & Wenger, 1991)
(Brown e Duguid, 2000)
Crowds vs Community
towards the project
Community vs Collective
high entry costs
low entry costs
(Thomas & Brown, 2011)
Network, crowd, collective as new emerging
informal learning environment through the
online social networks
Characterised by weak ties and bridging
Prompting latent ties, that are “technically
possible but not yet activated socially”
(Haythornthwaite 2005: 137)
Teachers and professional
development: what needs,
what types of knowledge?
• Integrating within the campus culture and the
new professional context
• Learning to teach considering the needs of
their students and the requirements of the
• Developing their own professional identity
Teachers and professional knowledge
Knowledge of learners
Knowledge of educational values
Teachers and social networks:
what is the added value?
Building and negotiating professional identity
Sharing of educational practices and experiences,
methodological exchange and discussion about
Mentoring novice teachers and peer tutoring
Emotional and social support regarding professional
Hybridization between real and virtual life as
triggering factor for new initiatives
Erosion of boundaries between personal and
professional identities, with critical consequences
for identity management
Risk to be controlled by superiors with
unpredictable consequences on an administrative
Digital divide and incomplete adoption rate
Lack (or low level) of social networking skills
Groups of teachers in Facebook
Study 1 aimed at investigating the sociodemographic data of the founders/administrators,
the characteristics of groups and behaviours related
to group management September–October 2011
Study 2 intended to detect socio-demographic data,
use of and habits related to digital technologies, and
participation in Facebook groups December
Ranieri M., Manca S. e Fini A. (2012), Why (and how) do teachers engage in social
networks? An exploratory study of professional use of Facebook and its Implications
for lifelong learning, «British Journal of Educational Technology», Vol. 43, n. 5, pp.
Groups of teachers in Facebook
• Generic groups seem to be mainly characterized by bridging
social capital, whereas thematic groups by bonding social capital
• In generic groups SNS seems to play the role of an infrastructure
enabling the activation of ‘latent ties’. In thematic groups SNS
plays the role of supporting the maintenance of social capital and
of existing ties
• In thematic groups the direction of the movement between
online/offline activities would be from offline to online, whereas
in generic groups the direction is reversed, from online to offline
The Networked Teachers:
where are we now,
where do we want to be?
Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The Social Life of Information.
Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Haythornthwaite C. (2011), Learning networks, crowds and
communities. In Proceedings of the Learning Analytics and
Knowledge Conference, Alberta, Canada, February 28 - March
1, 2011, pp. 18-22.
Himanen P. (2001), The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the
Information Age, Random House Inc. New York, NY, USA.
Manca S. e Ranieri M. (2013a), Is it a tool suitable for learning? A
critical review of the literature on Facebook as a technologyenhanced learning environment, «Journal of Computer
Assisted Learning», Vol. 29, n. 5.
Manca S. e Ranieri M. (2013a), I Social Network nello sviluppo
professionale, «Form@Re - Open Journal Per La Formazione In
Rete», Vol. 13, n. 1, pp. 1-9.
Manca S. & Ranieri M. (in press), Does Facebook provide educational
value? An overview of theoretical and empirical advancements of
affordances and critical issues. In G. Mallia (Ed.), The Social
Classroom: Integrating Social Network Use in Education, Hershey,
PA, IGI Global.
Ranieri M., Manca S. & Fini A. (2012), Why (and how) do teachers
engage in social networks? An exploratory study of professional use
of Facebook and its implications for lifelong learning, «British
Journal of Educational Technology», Vol. 43, n. 5, pp. 754-769.
Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning:
Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.