Title: Learning in social networks and Web 2.0 in SMEs' continuing vocational education

Authors: Ileana Hamburg, Timothy Hall

Addresses: Institute for Work and Technology, FH Gelsenkirchen, Munscheidstr. 14, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. ' Educational Media Research Centre (EMRC), University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Abstract: The training strategy of many companies, particularly of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), fails to support lifelong learners, nor are they supported by education systems, particularly vocational ones. E-learning 2.0, utilising Web 2.0 applications and techniques, which is proving more and more useful in many academic contexts, could also enhance knowledge sharing, cultural interchange and networking in SMEs. However, there is little evidence of continuous learning, of the application of (formal) e-learning, or of the use of computers by individuals in (informal) learning in most SMEs. Learning and work activities are separate. In this paper we first summarise the current vocational training scene in SMEs, then outline the features of Web 2.0 that could improve this situation. Thirdly, we show the advantages of the development of Communities of Practice (CoPs) as social networks and, finally, offer an example of a project where SMEs could learn from academics how to use Web 2.0.

Keywords: small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; electronic learning; e-learning; Web 2.0; vocational training; community of practice; CoP; social networking; online learning; continuing education; vocational education; web based communities; online communities; virtual communities.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2009.028092

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2009 Vol.5 No.4, pp.593 - 607

Published online: 04 Sep 2009 *

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