Learning never stops: Harnessing the power of network connectivity in education

Round-the-clock internet activity has revolutionised the way students and teachers approach learning. Caroline Donnelly find out more...

"It means we don't necessarily have to train teachers up here in the west and send them out to disadvantaged countries, which is a very expensive way of doing things," Malbon says. 

"We can use technology, in the case of Skype and School in the Cloud, to bring teachers and mediators into areas where children are gathered and have educational experiences where they are working with someone on Skype and using the internet to discover the answers to things for themselves."

Educating the enterprise

It's not just schools and universities who can benefit from the collaborative learning opportunities provided through internet connectivity. The business community can too, through the use of enterprise social networks.

These internal social networks have become increasingly popular in recent years and provide companies with a Facebook-like resource where employees can share status updates about the projects they're working on or pose questions to co-workers in other parts of the business about best practice.

The educational potential of enterprise social networks is vast, according to Mike Gotta, research vice president of IT market watcher Gartner. 

"The social networking aspects of these systems enable people to build a broader collection of professional and personal support connections across the organisation, so of which may evolve into mentoring or advisory relationships where additional learning can occur," Gotta explains.

For example, healthcare professionals can uses these networks to share diagnostic and treatment techniques to drive up the quality of care the community as a whole provides. In other cases, companies sometimes invite back retirees or former employees to join the networks so they can pass on insights gleaned from their years of working there.  

"All of these examples create a network learning experience that is more conversational and collaborative than a typical classroom-based learning model," Gotta adds.

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