Digital spaces in a networked culture?

Last week on twitter, and after a very long conversation with that Dave Cormier I posed the question “What would a learning space look like if you designed it in networked culture, where identity is more important than role?” I started thinking that the way to answer this may be by using scenario planning, designing some different scenarios and looking at what kind of spaces would work in each of the quadrants. Then on Sunday morning Doug Parkin tweeted a link to an article in the Harvard Business Review by John Boudreau.

The article looked at 5 forces for change in the workplace:

    • Social and organizational reconfiguration.
  • All-inclusive global talent market.
  • A truly connected world.
  • Exponential technology change.
  • Human-automation collaboration.

They used these forces to design 4 quadrants along two axis Technological Empowerment and Democratization of Work. The top right of the quadrants (at max tech empowerment and democratization) was referred to as Uber Empowered. I don’t fully agree with their conclusions, or indeed the 5 forces listed. But I was struck by this extract from that quadrant’s description:

“… New work and technology models include on-demand artificial intelligence, extreme personalization, and secure and accessible cloud-based work repositories. These repositories will reside outside any single employer and provide a searchable location where work and workers can be identified and matched using a common lexicon. They will contain worker capabilities and qualifications, organization work requirements, constantly updated work histories, knowledge and learning sources, and reward systems…”


I started wondering how much of this we already have for academic staff, scholars are no longer tied to desks and offices, and more and more we see ad hoc collaborations in many areas of teaching and research. Already with the use of technology, work and productivity platforms (such Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft 365 etc), social media platforms and an individual’s ability to publish instantly we have (or are at least moving toward) a networked culture. As we implement big data and analytics across the academy many academics will be able to use this to better demonstrate and quantify their work, in both teaching and research, and where appropriate public engagement. (Whether we see this as a good thing or not is another debate.)

I asked about a learning space within a networked culture, perhaps this is the wrong framing, as it centres the discussion around the student’s journey. But the reality is that we are inviting students into an existing networked culture, both in physical (the institutional estate) and virtual. We want students to adopt the attributes of scholarship. Why not consider instead of the learning space, an academic space, a space that all staff and students can use and interact, for research, for learning and for learning and professional support? Where students can see the effective use of the virtual space by established academics and model that behaviour, and where staff can interact with the ideas and perhaps new behaviours of students?

Beyond that, what if instead of basing that academic space in one institution, we based it in 10 or 100? What if the space was a community resource that wasn’t just for staff, and students during their course but was there for alumni? A space that as well as being steeped in academia, also leveraged the skills of alumni, bringing in innovation and helping to inspire students?

I don’t know what this space should look like, but with adoption of new practices, the prevalence of big data and the ability to use it in a variety of ways, we should be thinking critically about what the digital space (and how it integrates with physical) looks like.

Building Your Network: The Power of Connection

Networking is often cited as one of the most important tools for professional success. By building a strong network of connections, you can access new opportunities, gain valuable insights and advice, and build relationships that can benefit you in both your personal and professional life. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of networking and offer tips for building and maintaining a strong network of connections.

One of the key benefits of networking is access to new opportunities. When you have a diverse group of contacts, you’ll be more likely to hear about new job openings, industry events, and other opportunities that could help you advance your career. Additionally, having a strong network can also help you gain valuable insights and advice from those with more experience or expertise in your field.

Building and maintaining a strong network takes effort, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips for getting started:

Attend networking events: Look for events in your industry or area of interest and attend them regularly. These can be great opportunities to meet new people and expand your network.

Join professional organizations: There are a variety of professional organizations that cater to different industries and interests. Joining one of these organizations can help you connect with others in your field and stay up-to-date on industry news and trends.

Use social media: Social media platforms like LinkedIn can be valuable tools for networking. Connect with people in your industry, participate in groups and discussions, and share relevant content to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.

Follow up: After meeting someone new, be sure to follow up and stay in touch. Send an email or connect on social media to maintain the connection and build the relationship.

Finally, it’s important to remember that networking is a two-way street. Be sure to offer value to your connections by sharing your own expertise, offering to help when you can, and being a reliable and supportive resource. By doing so, you’ll build a strong network of connections that can benefit you for years to come.


One comment

  1. Much of this vision applies to intangibles which can be truly digitised. Laboratory sciences and facilities-heavy subjects don’t fit so easily into this model.

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