Task 3d: Critical Questions and Issues That Emerge
Do some very specific ideas emerge about your networking and sources? Does your engagement to date seem appropriate? Limited? Focused? Planned? Unplanned?
Thinking about networking has been interesting as it appears it is something we all do without realising it, similar to the realisation I had regarding Reflection during the previous Task.
My current network is comprised of a group of colleagues who have become friends as well. I believe my engagement with this personal network to date has been appropriate and focussed as we all have similar goals that we are working towards individually that we can support each other with as a group. This network has grown organically: from working individually as freelancers and 'running into each other' at various events and venues we became friends, and through mutual interests and goals developed a professional relationship to our mutual benefits.
However, I am in the process of changing my career focus and do not have a professional network in the area I am hoping to move into. I don't even have a link into that arena! However I am currently working on finding sources in the industry and expanding my professional network into this area. I am such an early stage of engaging this network that I wouldn't even consider my engagement 'limited'!
I have made steps by researching practitioners who may have profiles on LinkedIn or Twitter and I have found a group on Facebook that I have joined, however the engagement on that group is quite poor (the last post was from July!) so I am not yet sure how successful these methods will prove to be!
Developing knowledge on my (hopefully) future professional practice!
Are your ideas, position or concerns shared by others within and/or beyond your professional area of work?
This is interesting as I engage my professional network on a personal level as well. We discuss many issues, both personal and professional and we tend to share the same viewpoints on most topics. When we do have differing opinions, the fact that we are friends as well as colleagues means we feel comfortable expressing our differences and we are able to either reach a conclusion or simply 'agree to disagree' !
Despite maybe not openly acknowledging our ethical considerations, we do not share these ideas or positions on social media: we are all aware that our personal opinions may not be shared by those in the wider community.
I have used blogs for several years as part of my portfolio of performer presentation and I occasionally used to post blogs reflecting on aspects of my professional experience. When sharing these blogs on Facebook or Twitter it was always interesting to me to see how many people on the social networks agreed with me through private message, yet did not show their support on the public areas of the site. I wonder whether this is because people fear that supporting something that seems to be against the general consensus will affect them negatively and prefer to agree with the masses rather than put forward a conflicting opinion?
I am considering replicating some of these blog posts on this blog as well, as I feel they may be appropriate regarding some of the critical questions I am considering so far, and may reflect my ongoing consideration of different elements of my professional practice - what do you think?
I'm not sure where my network would be without Facebook Chat! We have several message threads, relating to different areas of our professional practice, including one simply for gossip! Ethical practice has definitely been preserved thanks to this application!
Does sharing ideas and communicating with others shift your thinking, planning or practice?
Absolutely! In a previous blog I mentioned how discussions with my network led to the development of questions that I may use later on in the course.
On a professional level, we plan shows, productions and courses of action through discussion; compromising and developing ideas for the best outcome. My practice (i.e. several acts) has been developed through this method of discussion and sharing ideas and I feel that the support offered by having such a close knit community of practice is an invaluable resource for me and my professional development.
Does critical reflection help you decide what really matters and the actions to take?
Having completed the module on Reflection I have become quite good at keeping a diary. I sometimes miss a day or two, but whenever I have something important to record or consider I write in my journal. I have noticed that reflection on action is becoming an important tool for me as I consider my change of career focus and is helping me to develop a course of thinking and action.
My diary has become a constant companion: I do not use it as a notebook but have it on me at all times to jot down thoughts, feelings or plans as I go along.
To what extent do concepts and theories assist you in thinking about your professional networking in different ways? And do these different ways of thinking have some purpose for you?
Crisp and Turner's theory of Affiliation was useful to me in realising why we form bonds: 'a network of support that will help us when we are in need' (Crisp and Turner 2007, p. 266), which links into Lave and Wenger's theory of Communities of Practice. Personally I found these two theories the most useful when considering my personal professional networks and the ways in which I engage with them.
As previously mentioned, my personal professional network is also comprised of my close friends, which is why I associate with these two theories closely and I found that they helped to explain my level of engagement with my current personal network.
However as I move forward in my career and professional practice, I feel that the theory of Communities of Practice will become more important as I will look at ways to affiliate with a new community.
Are you left thinking differently prior to this part of the module? And if so, how?
I don't necessarily believe I have been left thinking 'differently' as such, but I have been thinking more intensely about my engagement and development of both my professional network and my professional practice.
The theories put forward in the Reader and additional materials I found extremely interesting; especially Axelrod's Game Theory, which led to several discussions amongst my network regarding different theories of mutual cooperation.
At the beginning of this Task I was unsure whether I would gain much benefit from the theories (to be honest I didn't actually even understand them when I first read them!) However as I worked through the tasks and re-read the course materials in context, this, combined with puzzling things through in my journal, helped me to make a lot more sense of, and look more critically at the ways both myself and others utilize their professional networks.
I have found that I am looking critically at more areas of both my professional and personal practice. I have been reading more, and more deeply into areas of professional practice that I previously overlooked, such as blogs, newspaper articles and books. I am hoping to be able to expand my practice to include more areas that I hope will assist me as I work towards a career transition and have made steps towards this by expanding the focus of this blog from a dedicated course blog to include areas of interest to myself that will hopefully also be of use to others!