Social and mobile technologies offer users unprecedented opportunities for communicating, interacting, sharing, meaning-making, content and context generation. And, these affordances are in constant flux driven by a powerful interplay between technological innovation and emerging cultural practices.
Significantly, also, they are starting to transcend the everyday lifeworlds of users and permeate the workplace and its practices. However, given the emergent nature of this area, the literature on the use of social and mobile technologies in workplace practices is still small.
Indeed, social media are increasingly being accessed via mobile devices.
Our main focus, therefore, here is on the question of what, if any, potential there is for the use of social media in informal, professional, work-based learning.
The paper provides a critical overview of key issues from the literature on work-based learning, face-to-face and technology-supported, as well as social (mobile) networking services, with particular attention being paid to people tagging.
It then introduces an initial typology of informal workplace learning in order to provide a frame for understanding social (mobile) network(ing) services in work-based learning.
Finally, a case study (taken from the literature) of People Tagging tool use in digital social networks in the European Commission-funded MATURE project is used to illustrate aspects of our typology.
- The importance of social networks and associated technologies in everyday life and commerce.
- Some conceptualisations of learning through and at work exist, but they tend to be based on the empirical study of professionals and graduate employees.
- The concept of tagging in relation to digital resources is well established.
- A consideration of the use of social networks in learning in informal and work-based context.
- An exploration of some of the affordances of social media for work-located learning.
- A widening of the concept of tagging to the classification of knowledge embodied in users and their social networks.
- A typology of factors in social network(ing) services and work-based learning.
- An analysis of a case study of people tagging in relation to the typology of factors.
- A conceptualisation of aspects of technology-enhanced and enabled learning through and at work.
- An understanding of the potential of social media for work-located learning.
- A realisation of some of the potential of the use of social media in informal, professional work-based learning.