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Publication - Professor Justin Dillon

    Visualising social network structures in the training of professional learning communities in informal and formal educators

    Citation

    Egg, J, Kapelari, S & Dillon, J, 2017, ‘Visualising social network structures in the training of professional learning communities in informal and formal educators’. in: Patricia Patrick (eds) Preparing Informal Science Educators: Perspectives from Science Communication and Education. Springer, pp. 269-289

    Abstract

    Providing high quality learning experiences outside the classroom requires professional educators and educational programme designers to continuously improve their knowledge, skills and attitudes toward teaching and learning. This chapter describes long-term professional development courses designed and implemented by botanic gardens across Europe. The programmes were established as part of a European Union funded project (INQUIRE). They were designed to encourage school teachers and botanic garden educators to establish interdisciplinary learning communities. The participants in the course were asked to make their tacit knowledge more explicit, share it and adopt positive attitudes towards theory-based instruction as well as use reflective practice as tools for improving their educational programmes. Learning in a collaborative network is a special mode of knowledge production which values knowledge that is embedded in social structures within and between individuals. To gain more insight into these structures and eventually use this knowledge to scaffold the social process most effectively, Social Network Analysis was used. This approach enables the course instructor to identify particular individuals in the group who are recognised as ‘hubs’ and ‘authorities’ by others and therefore impact the whole community. The process of making social interactions visible may help to improve professional development offers in the future.

    Full details in the University publications repository