Launching an international network for social-, healthcare and rehabilitation educators was one of the main focuses in our TerOpe -project. Professional networking is an ideal way to strengthen your professional career and share ideas and work load with your colleagues. There are already existing smaller networks for individual professions, like nurse educators’ networks or social care educators’ networks. But those lack the multi-professional cooperation, which is a demand and an aim in professional education. Hence, we wanted to create a broad community for all educators within social-, healthcare and rehabilitation.
We approached the issue very methodologically starting with literature searches on international databases and working our way through internet and social media in our search for examples and research findings. In the early phase of this part of the project, we also invited group of educators to join us in informal discussions around the topic. We wanted to start from the very root of the topic, which is: what are the needs and wants of the prospective users of the network. Our formal searches and informal discussions helped us to establish, what is required of a functional and successful network of any kind.
First, what is needed is a group of enthusiastic people who make things happen and hold the reins. These people give a lot of their time and energy for the benefit of all. If you want to make sure, your community is viable, you need to find people who are enthusiastic about the subject and willing to work for it.
However, mere enthusiasm doesn’t make the cut. What is also needed is discipline and skills. It requires certain amount of professionalism, to keep up with the plan and work through the phases of network development that aren’t necessarily always going as smoothly as well practiced dance performance. A network also requires a set of rules endorsed by the members of the community. In addition, there needs to be enough technical skills to run the network through any chosen media or environment but there also needs to be enough skills and knowledge about the content that binds the community together.
When there is enough enthusiasm and means to let that enthusiasm shine you also need a suitable environment or platform that allows the community to communicate and form the network. Without communication and collaboration, there would actually not be any network.
Last but not least, a functioning network needs a group of people, willing to work together. They need to be willing and able to pull the rope to same direction by creating content, participating discussions and sharing experiences.
Our network SHaREducation is already in Facebook. You may all join us there!
Imane Elonen BNSc, MNSc student, Research assistant, University of Turku
Iina Ryhtä BNSc, MNSc student, Research assistant, University of Turku
Leena Salminen, Professor, PhD, University of Turku