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
  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.

Facebook groups: A great way to build language and literacy

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. Today Allison teaches us how you can use Facebook to build student language and literacy skills.

A Facebook group provides a great place to build students’ language and literacy through a blended methodology. This is done by posting information / images / videos and getting students into the Facebook Group where they can interact with it. This model involves class discussions about the topic, which helps students build their understanding, and then having students write replies to posts which allows them to build their language and literacy.

Here are the steps on how to do this.

Getting started

  1. Set up the Facebook group

Set up the Facebook group as an ‘Open Group’ and invite students to be members.  Once all students have joined the group, change the group settings to make it a ‘secret’ group. This way any interactions the student have in the group will not show up on their Facebook timeline or be found by anyone outside of the group.

  1. Lay down the guidelines

Students use Facebook a lot, but that doesn’t mean that they have very good online etiquette (or netiquette). So ensure you have a discussion with your students about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t when using the Facebook group. Summarise these and put them in the ‘Description’ of the Facebook group as a reminder to everyone.

  1. Make your first post

Now make your first post which introduces you to the group and ask your students to do the same eg Hi – I’m Allison – the Facilitator for the “Deliver a service to customers” training program. I live in Adelaide. Please introduce yourself.

  1. Start the training

Make the next post about training such as finding a video online about your topic. Then add the link to the video and write something appropriate to generate an in class discussion, eg What is customer service? View this video and think about what customer service is.

The students then watch the video individually.  This allows students to replay the video if they need more time to understand the content. Students are encouraged to write their own notes.

Then as a group, discuss the video and the question. Throughout this discussion, write the students’ responses on the whiteboard and have the students type the group’s work as their reply to this post. For those students who are a little more confident with their writing, encourage them to type the summary of responses in their own words.

  1. Rinse and repeat

Now put up the next post while the students are writing their replies to the above post.

As Facebook is quite visual, consider things like:

  • Saving each of your PowerPoint slides as a ‘JPG’ format and uploading each one as an image as individual posts. This way the students will have ongoing access to the course content from their Facebook account
  • Getting the students to find relevant online images and video, then getting them to post these as a reply with an explanation of why they chose the image/video and how it relates to the topic
  • Getting the students to work in groups to brainstorm their ideas/responses on butchers paper and then getting them to take a photo and uploading the photo to the group

You can even upload workbooks or PDF files which students can download.

Consider all of the facts

While Facebook group offers many great features to build students’ language and literacy skills, there are some things you need to consider all of the facts:

Pros Cons
A lot of students are already a Facebook user

Evidence of student learning is in one place

Students can easily edit their posts

Students can access the information as long as they’re a member of the group

The approach allows you to ‘chunk’ up the training

Those students who finish their post quickly can ‘surf’ the net

You cannot make students join Facebook due to privacy reasons

You will need a classroom with internet connected computers and headsets

Students need to remember their Facebook login and password

Students may not feel comfortable about having their work seen by everyone

There are alternatives

If you cannot access Facebook at your organisation or you prefer not to use it, consider Yammer or Edmodo, which are very similar to Facebook, but without the ads, and with more control of content and privacy.

How to avoid social media faux pas at work

Jo manages a range of e-learning content services including Flexible Learning Toolboxes and the VET Commons online community. Today Jo announces the launch of an exciting new Moodle course to get everyone at your organisation on the same page with regard to social media.

The biggest social media faux pas to date?

It’s a tough call really. Celebrity ridiculousnesses aside, the prize probably has to go to the top Twitter executive who tweeted sensitive information to 9,000 followers instead of sending it as a direct message to a colleague. Oops. Many other boo boos I can’t even write about because they’re a bit…um…naughty – but I’ve had fun doing the research.

My worst?

Tweeting about my mother’s elaborately planned surprise 70th when she had secretly joined Twitter under an alias and started following me! I guess that’s fairly tame in the grand scheme of things, when you think that politicians and PR executives have been sacked as a result of their social media activity. My point? Social media is fabulous, but it has serious risks and consequences.

Joking aside…

It’s more important than ever to make sure that your staff are on the same page when it comes to social media. That is online services and tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest; used for publishing, sharing and discussing information. This is especially important if your organisation is being represented by multiple staff members. Of course it’s also important to make sure that the ‘page’ has no profanity, messages that contradict your company’s values and policy, or glaring errors.

That’s where social media policies come into play

Social media policies are developed to inform staff about the use of social media so they feel empowered to participate, while being mindful of their responsibilities and obligations with regard to representation of their organisation. If you don’t have a social media policy now is the time to get one. Why? Because they help your staff to understand:

  • what is confidential and therefore should not be shared via social media
  • what is appropriate and inappropriate for sharing via social media
  • the consequences of inappropriate social media activity
  • how to represent the culture and brand of your organisation.

I could go on, but if you still don’t believe that your company needs a social media policy, and training so that your staff understand it, try plugging ‘social media faux pas’ or similar into a search engine. (I should probably add a profanity warning here).

Avoiding social media faux pas

The Social Media at Work Moodle Course provides users with an understanding of their organisation’s social media policy, and how to apply it to both their professional and personal lives. Learners will be provided with this understanding of their organisation’s policy through:

  • guidelines and considerations with respect to the use of social media
  • examples of security and privacy breaches
  • supporting documents and videos
  • a forum, survey, assignment and quiz.

The course contains several resources and activities to be completed by the user in order to receive the certificate of completion.

Preview the course

If you think this course might help your staff and organisation but you need to convince others up the management chain, let the course sell itself with this free preview. Or to download the course, together with a range of other digital learning resources, check out VET Commons.