From education to employment

Power up your teaching practice with online community support

Al Kingsley

Al Kingsley explores the value of the education community and how it can be a valuable support network for educators, alongside the additional benefits of wellbeing, inclusivity and peer-led CPD.

Have you ever felt alone in your role? Sometimes, it can feel as if we are battling the challenges of our jobs by ourselves, yet in reality, people across the country are experiencing the same thing.

As educators, we are sometimes too busy to remember about or be involved in the online education community; it can seem like a whole lot of extra work. And for some people, preconceived ideas or a few of the people they have seen there may be a turn-off. But the reality is that joining in can be incredibly rewarding on multiple fronts.

Educators understand each other. They get it. They identify with the pressures and joys of the job and share their passion for their practice. Colleagues from across the globe can come together online to exchange ideas and support each other; it’s the perfect example of spontaneous teamwork.

5 benefits of belonging

Being part of a movement is incredibly empowering on all levels. So, if you’ve ever hesitated to get involved in the HE community online, here are some of the benefits you could be missing out on.

1. Support. Ask a question online and educators soon jump in to answer, sharing their experiences and providing food for thought. Connecting with other like-minded professionals can show you the way out of a creative desert, spark the perfect idea to connect with the students you’ve been concerned about, and so much more. In turn, you’ll see plenty of opportunities to reciprocate and share advice and initiatives that have worked for you. 

2. Wellbeing, connection and belonging. In a sector that is often fraught with difficulties, we can all gain strength from feeling part of a broader group with a meaningful shared experience. Communities are good for us. There is strength in numbers and, as I know from my own personal learning network, a robust community offers great opportunities to work together, learn from each other and share our resources. 

3. Inclusivity. Inclusivity is a major benefit of coming together online. With a few clicks, you can join conversations on social media with educators from across the globe and contribute in a way that would never be possible without it. In a digital community, geography is not a barrier to belonging, and the melting pot of approaches can be helpful to inform your practice.

4. Sharing. Of course, everyone likes to share their successes. But, being educators, we know that so much valuable learning comes from failing. So, in our time-pressured roles, let’s share those constructive failures as well and save our colleagues precious time by preventing them from making the same mistakes as we did.

5. Relationships. Your personal learning network (PLN) is your own carefully curated group of go-to people whose insights you always read or with whom you have connected online and can talk directly. It’s your safety net, your support and your inspiration. I have found having such a group incredibly useful over the years and have struck up so many friendships and alliances in the education and EdTech spaces this way. For me, many of these connections have resulted in live meetups at in-person events and exhibitions – and invaluable partnerships have developed from there.

A collective voice

“The roots of education … are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” This Aristotle quotation applies perfectly to our online HE community. Essentially, if we’re in a spot, whether with our role, workload, students or any other issue, the people in our network can be central to helping us get out of it stronger, more motivated or more empowered.

So, if you have ever hesitated about getting involved online, consider this your call to action. If you go in with an open mind and a generous spirit, there is much for you to gain.

By Al Kingsley, CEO of NetSupport

FE News on the go

Welcome to FE News on the Go, the podcast that delivers exclusive articles from the world of further education straight to your ears.

We are experimenting with Artificial Intelligence to make our exclusive articles even more accessible while also automating the process for our team of project managers.

In each episode, our thought leaders and sector influencers will delve into the most pressing issues facing the FE.

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