Support your professional currency through LinkedIn

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Here Allison talks about how LinkedIn can be used to support professional currency.

The Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 (Clauses 1.13 & 1.16) are very explicit about the need for trainers and assessors to undertake professional development and have current knowledge and skills in vocational training, learning and assessment.  This knowledge and skills also needs to inform their training and assessment, including competency based training and assessment.

While the onus of these clauses tends to lay with the RTO to ensure that trainers and assessors have this currency, there is one simple way in which you can contribute to their own professional currency through being a LinkedIn member.

What makes LinkedIn so special?

LinkedIn identifies itself as the world’s largest professional network where you can connect, learn and share while powering your career.  LinkedIn is backed by Microsoft and has acquired Lynda Online Learning. This is enabling LinkedIn to position itself as one of the world’s leading providers of online professional learning through its recent launch of LinkedIn Learning.

While this fee for service professional development program offers many premium professional learning opportunities, it is still LinkedIn’s free services which offer trainers and assessors many opportunities to maintain their professional currency in vocational learning, training and assessment.

How can I use LinkedIn to support professional currency?

The first way to support your professional currency is through viewing SlideShare resources.  Slideshare is an online site where people freely share their learning content as video, presentation slides and supporting documents. With over 18 million uploads, Slideshare offers content for every major industry, including Education, and many resources on how to develop competency based training and assessment.

The next way is to connect with or follow vocational education and training experts as there are many active trainers and assessors using LinkedIn.  For example:

By connecting or following people like Gina, Michael and Sandie on LinkedIn, you are able to stay informed about what is current and best practice in vocational training, learning and assessment.

The final way is to join and participate in relevant online groups.  These online groups are the real gem of LinkedIn for supporting professional currency.  They have been started organically by LinkedIn members looking to support communities of practice and knowledge sharing, while enabling professional conversations around vocational training, learning and assessment.  For example:

What are the benefits of a LinkedIn Membership?

While you cannot solely rely on using LinkedIn for supporting your professional training and assessment currency, you can use it in the following ways as a strong basis for this currency.

Staying informed The only consistent in life seems to be change, so using LinkedIn as a one stop shop allows you to find out information and have discussions about current issues in training and assessment
Networking with others Connecting with others through LinkedIn allows you to also connect with people in your industry and stay informed in the same way which has been described above about this industry.  These connections could lead to information about jobs or grants for students.
Offering support People often use LinkedIn to ask questions or discuss issues.  This provides you with the opportunity to offer workforce development and training advice which may lead to work / training contracts.
Getting advice Information in Training Packages/Units of competency can often be ambiguous or difficult to interpret, so you can also use LinkedIn to seek advice in any area of training and assessment by drawing upon the experience of your LinkedIn connections and groups by posting a question or seeking advice.
Sharing your own expertise LinkedIn thrives through people sharing information and links, so you should do the same with information about what you are passionate about in the area of training and assessment.  This will help you to get requests from other LinkedIn members who are also interested in these areas.
Building partnerships Often tenders, training and/or workforce development opportunities come up which may be beyond your current scope of expertise or your ability to staff.  LinkedIn offers you a way of building relationships with others that when these opportunities arise, you will be able to form partnerships or collectives to work on them together.
Keeping your professional profile current Often people do not keep their resume up to date, but through active LinkedIn membership you will be ‘prompted’ to do update your LinkedIn profile.  This profile will also list your activity in LinkedIn, providing you with a record of your activity to support your currency.

How do you get started or improve your LinkedIn profile?

  1. Sign up as a member or login to LinkedIn at linkedin.com
  2. Update your profile with:
    – a professional headshot of yourself
    – information about your professional profile as a trainer / assessor eg Educational background and work experience
  3. Request to ‘connect’ to at least 50 people by finding and connecting with people you know on LinkedIn. Then view the connections of your connections and request to connect with some of them.  LinkedIn will also suggest people you should connect with through what’s on your profile and who you are already connected with in LinkedIn.
  4. Join at least 5 groups which are related to your training and assessment interest areas, as well as industry groups relevant to these areas.  In the first instance, watch and see what goes on in these groups.  Then once you know the ‘netiquette’ and you see what threads of conversations are popular, you should contribute to these discussions through responding to other people’s posts, and posting your own information and questions
  5. Follow at least 1-2 companies relevant to your interest and industry as these LinkedIn profiles also share useful information, including when jobs and tenders become available.

Like any other online space, people in LinkedIn do not want to be ‘spammed’ with useless information in their feeds or groups, nor do they want to be solicited about your services or ideas through the LinkedIn messaging service.  Behaviour in LinkedIn like you would in your staff room and at staff meetings, and act in the same professional and proactive way that you would in these locations.

Here are some more ‘do’s and dont’s when using LinkedIn.

Do you know who Andrew Douch is? Six reasons why you should

Andrew_Douch_croppedAndrew Douch is an independent education technology expert with 22 years’ classroom experience. He has won numerous awards for his work with emerging technologies in education, including the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teacher of the Year. His mantra is ‘You don’t need to be very good with technology to do very good things with technology’.

Here he offers six tools to bring excitement to the classroom, and gives us a sneak peak at his EdVET 2017 presentation.

Gone are the days when teachers needed to be tech-savvy to harness the power of technology to make learning more engaging, exciting, and participatory. Today, even non-technical teachers can do novel things at little expense, that just a few years ago were either inconceivable or costly.

At EdVET 2017 Andrew’s workshop will cover a range of emergent tools which bring excitement to the classroom, improve learning outcomes and capture the interest of students. Andrew has found that each of these tools has made a real difference in the classroom because they meet (at least most) of the following criteria.

E – Easy.  They are easy enough for non-technical teachers to use.
N – New.  They allow teachers to do something not possible without the tool.
G – Gainful. They are focused on pedagogy and improving student learning outcomes.
A – Available, They are Affordable and available, and therefore easy to adopt and share with colleagues.
G – Gives Back Time.  Once learned, they save more time than they took to learn.
E – Exciting. Students want to use them, without needing to be reminded, nagged or bribed.

EdVET 2017

At EdVET 2017 in April Andrew Douch will join a team of bright minds in online and technology-enhanced education including international speaker Trina Hoefling, a virtual management pioneer, author and co-founder of The Smart Workplace. Presentations will include:

  • Teaching tomorrow’s workforce today
  • The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners
  • Using tech to meet rapidly changing ESOL student expectations
  • Towards a Moodle quality assurance framework.

For more information and to register for this inspiring event please visit the EdVET 2017 website.

What is a ‘best fit’ working environment?

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organisations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. A keynote speaker at the inaugural EdVET 2017 in Melbourne in April, her Trina discusses how to become a SMART workplace.

“Best Fit” workplaces consider virtual and co-located work environments as viable places to get the job done. “Best Fit” workplaces find and build talented teams that align with the organization’s desired culture and goals. They’re SMART about how they design the organizational structure so that it “fits” the way work gets done and the way knowledge is stored.

SMART workplaces start by asking how ‘Best Fit’ their organisation is in 3 ways:

“Best Fit” Work Environment

Offices and team spaces should be resources, not status symbols or uninspiring mazes. Design business operations and workspaces to match what people need. Today’s workspace may call for more teaming spaces and drop-in work stations with fewer offices. This work environment needs to support teams being able to easily manage multiple relationships – customers, teammates, project groups, managers, task forces, and so on. Showing up for multiple team meetings by web conference is a significant “best fit” time-saver for busy contributors.

“Best Fit” Organizations

“Best fit” organizations may be wholly co-located, blend office workers with mobile workers, or be completely virtual. It depends on the purpose, business goals, stage of growth and focus. All these factors contribute to what organization design and structure is the “Best Fit”. The key to success is understanding that there is no one right way because “Best Fit” is different for every organization. When organizations assess how integrated operations need to be for people to easily contribute their best, they can adapt or redesign business practices for “Best Fit”.

“Best Fit” Teams

Team leaders want to hire team members who are a “Best Fit” for their group. When considering hiring new team member, consider these multiple factors:

  • Competence and expertise – This includes the obvious professional skills, but also includes less obvious virtual collaboration competence. (See TSW blog post The Power of True Collaboration.)
  • Functional representation
  • Cultural fit, and
  • Simple availability.

Cross-organizational teams require additional “fitting.” They need to share knowledge and “think” together across organizational boundaries. They need to develop communication that “fits” all the people represented. Develop communication agreements that enable appropriate information sharing and protect organizational boundaries, such as intellectual property and proprietary processes.

Disengaged virtual workers aren’t a ‘good fit’.  And it’s not their fault.

“Best Fit” organizations need team leaders who are strong in co-located and virtual work environments. I’ve facilitated heart-sinking conversations when the team member and manager realize that the feverish work completed was in the wrong direction. Communication had broken down across the miles. Individually and collectively, virtual teams produce results when they coordinate work, negotiate competing priorities, and check in with each other regularly

If virtual team members do not have a clear sense of how their work “best fits” the team’s purpose, three unfortunate outcomes usually result:

  • They disengage
  • They waste effort on work misaligned with the team’s needs
  • They miss performance goals or quality standards.

Strong team leaders work with their teams to develop communication habits and team agreements that “best fit” the needs of the work while easily bridging virtual distance.

Get rid of virtual distance among organizations, teams and employees. Facilitate connections among the network of teams and across geography and culture. Look for operational efficiency and continuous improvements while flexibly serving the customers. In other words, learn to be SMART about the way that you work.

EdVET 2017

At EdVET 2017 in April, Trina Hoefling will join a team of bright minds in online and technology-enhanced education including Andrew Douch, respected educational technology specialist and presenter on 21st Century learning. Presentations will include:

  • Teaching tomorrow’s workforce today
  • The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners
  • Using tech to meet rapidly changing ESOL student expectations
  • Towards a Moodle quality assurance framework.

For more information and to register for this inspiring event please visit the EdVET 2017 website.

Get people loving your RTO through social media

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Allison will be presenting at the upcoming EdVET 2017 conference on ‘The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners’.

Social media is fully ingrained into lots of people’s lives with some Australians spending more than half a day per week (12.5 hours) on Facebook alone. This frequency of activity presents you with lots of opportunities to get people to love your training organisation through social media. The following information shares how you can capitalise on this opportunity.

Take an outwardly and inwardly perspective

There are two ways you can be using social media to get people to love your training organisation, through an:

  • Outward facing perspective – where you create a social media profile/page as a communication tool to build your training organisation’s brand awareness to encourage potential students (and employers) to choose your training organisation
  • Inward facing perspective – where you create a social media group as a community of practice for existing and alumni students to share experiences and new opportunities with one another, ensuring people love you while they are with your training organisation, and once they have left

It’s all about helping your students succeed

Whichever approach you select, you will need to consider why potential, existing and alumni students want to engage with your training organisation through social media. This is best done by knowing how your training organisation is helping people getting their training ‘job’ done.  According to Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Professor, the job of education and training is to help people feel successful.

What feeling successful looks like for your students can vary from wanting to:

  • find a job or get a better job
  • start their own business or improve the one they have
  • get into a higher qualification
  • improve themselves out of self-interest
  • meet compliance or legislative requirements

Once you determine which of these jobs you are helping your students achieve, you can then consider how to communicate and connect with them on social media.  If your students fall into more than one of these categories, you will need to tailor different interactions in social media to meet these different needs.

What types of communication works well on social media?

An analysis of various successful training organisations’ use of social media uncovered that the following are key ways to communicate with students in social media:

Topics Activities
Student life while studying with your RTO or afterwards Share photos and video of cool stuff that students have done:

– Industry visits or work placements
– Awards won
– Stuff they have produced

Industry specific information Set up a Google Alert which notifies you by email of hard to find information on topics relevant to your area and re-share this information, such as:
– Upcoming important dates or regulatory changes
– Funding opportunities
Job, work experience or internship opportunities Subscribe to job finding websites which send you emails when jobs in your industry/location are advertised and then share this information
Course content Share your own content (or that of others) which is hard to find elsewhere – Video works best here if it is practical topic, but so do blog posts, checklists and reports etc.  Live streaming from events is also becoming very popular.
Course information Share how your upcoming training programs help potential students get their ‘job to be successful’ done
Team fun Share photos and video of what happens ‘behind the scene’ in your organisation, and at organisational events, which show the ‘human’ side of your organisation
Voting and polling Involve students in decision making from anything from helping to choose your next logo or to voting on key policies effecting students

When using students’ work or including imagery of students in posts, make sure you have them sign a media release form.  If you do not already have one of these, do a quick web search to find lots of examples on which you can base one on.

Which social media site?

Whoever said “build it and they will come” never worked online.  While Facebook is still “King of the Mountain’ with the largest number of social media users, there are a number of other places where your students could be frequenting including: Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

If you are not sure which one to start with then, generally speaking, start with Facebook as it does have the largest pool of people.  Also consider:

  • surveying your existing students to find out where they hang out online
  • checking out where people in your industry hang out online

Tweak to be unique

To ensure that your training organisation has a ‘return on investment’ in the time and money spent getting people to love your RTO through social media, ensure you set a goal of what your training organisation is trying to achieve through social media (e.g. getting more people to your website or contacting you about your courses).

Your social media goal will be used to:

  • set the call to action for your social media communications, for example, including links in your posts to landing pages on your website, as well as having your training organisation’s website link and contact details in your social media profile
  • monitor the interactions with your social media communications on a regular basis to determine how many likes, shares and comments different posts get, and then increasing those posts which get most engagement and help you achieve your social media goal

How do you grow your social media presence?

Use paid and targeted ‘boosts’ to get your posts into the steams of your ideal potential students.  With the right content in the post, this will encourage people to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your social media profile.  For example, regularly boosting your Facebook posts which have the right content for as little as $10 a day for a week or so will see a great return on investment over time.

Other ways to grow your social media followers is to encourage existing followers to share your posts through competitions to win stuff or by asking them to tag people into posts if they think the content is appealing e.g. tag a friend who should apply for this job.  Make these competitions fun and relevant to your followers, and to your social media goal.

And finally, use social media yourself to stay current about what is happening in your industry and as a form of professional development by following organisations and individuals considered ‘leaders’ in your field.  This activity will also give you ideas about what works and what doesn’t in social media.

For tips on using social media and ensuring you are meeting your ASQA requirements read this blog post.

Learn more about EdVET 2017.