#N4L: Elizabeth S Says…

-part of the N4L Series; celebrating Learning at Work Week-

It’s my great pleasure to introduce Elizabeth Saunders…

About Elizabeth

I work for the newly formed UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) in the BBSRC as a Policy and Strategy Officer for Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.

Elizabeth on Twitter    |    Elizabeth on LinkedIn

What networked for learning means to me

I hadn’t heard of the term before now but “Networked for Learning” gave me a name for something I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

In science and academia, using journals and their papers has been the traditional method for sharing knowledge and research, with publishers acting as a hub for networking.

The advances of modern ages, with quick transport routes and even quicker methods of communication a lot more of our learning is also done through networking.  Whether that is face to face or over social media, bouncing ideas of each other and inviting others to collaborate has become easier than ever.  This is what I would consider “Networked for Learning”.

As scientists and citizens, we have a responsibility to make an impact and contributing to our network plays an important role here.  Quite often however, people (myself included) have been guilty of having wonderfully detailed LinkedIn profiles, or detailed lists of project shared on ResearchGate or on their blogs, without reading about what others are saying.  It takes considerable time and effort to use these platforms proactively, to find out what other people are thinking, especially if they’re outside your current network.

Our Networks for Learning consists of all of our friends and colleagues, feeling comfortable to approach them and also, being yourself, approachable.

Platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn have been valuable tools to connect with others or even the discovery of other whom we were connected to all along.  Issac Newton, clearly understood the importance of networking, though it wasn’t called that at the time.  However, I’d like to envisage Newton’s giants as connections in one vast web of relationships between people over generations.

“If I have seen further it is only by standing on ye shoulders of giants.”
Isaac Newton, 1676

My personal learning insights

I think the most important thing to remember about being “Networked for Learning” is that it has to be a two-way street. It’s “our” network not “my” or “your” network.  You have to be willing and enthusiastic to share your own knowledge and expertise to help others.  That way, you can actually see the impact that you can make with a network of friends and colleagues.

Sharing different perspectives and ideas with people from different areas and backgrounds has helped formulate innovative new solutions to problems facing society, which wouldn’t have happened without contributing to our network.

Maintaining relationships with people this way is crucial for my current role and my own aspirations for the future, so it’s worth the investment in both the short term and the long term.

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