One skill that teachers can learn from their students is the art of networking in the 21st century. Since the creation of social media, you can send a Tweet to anyone and anywhere. No matter the person’s title or professional position, you can have access to their resources and them to yours. This sharing of information seems to have led to a dissemination of what may have once been known as the organisational hierarchy.
The structure of information sharing is changing significantly within organisations both in the public and private sector. Some of our students, also known as generation Y or the millennial babies, have learned the freedom to reach out and network beyond their organisational familiarity. Moreover, networking is a great way to collaborate, learn and mentor with others. In the past, this would have never been possible. Today our environment no longer enables the acquisition of knowledge.
“It is important to engage with all levels of the organization,” said John Howitt, Superintendent of education and information technology with the Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Canada. “There is a significant change in the structure of information. The chain of command and information sharing is flattening to a linear model as opposed to a traditional model.”
This form of networking can be coined as LINEAR. In other words, there is a network however no real hierarchy is observed in that network and people of all backgrounds are sharing their knowledge amongst each other. Students can Instagram their teacher, who can send a Tweet to a parent, who can email the senior leadership – and the web grows from there. No one has asked to contact. They just can. Social media brings the freedom to do so. The usual rules of protocol are not observed.
Generation Y has been setting a precedence as a generation that wants to network linearly as collaborators of a community that transfer knowledge from one to another. The idea that they need permission to contact a superior before contacting another and another… is quickly becoming obsolete, because they can reach out to anyone through social media. Therefore, why bother asking! It can be said that Generation Y were raised with the notion that they have access to everyone, from teachers after school hours, to celebrities, to the CEO of companies.
“In a traditional model of networking you would go through your immediate supervisor to obtain information,” said Howitt. “However, we are seeing many examples of skipping those traditional steps in the chain of command and creating a linear network of information sharing.”
In their article, Contradictory or compatible? Reconsidering the “trade-off” between brokerage and closure on knowledge sharing (bit.ly/uked14oct04), Bill Mc Evily and Ray Reagans, both professors of Management, write that knowledge sharing is a fundamental source of competitive advantage. They continue to explain that social networks are thought to play an important role in knowledge sharing, but are presumed to create a trade-off, such that a network can be optimised to promote either knowledge seeking or a knowledge transfer.
Generation Y is setting a precedence that could change the way we reach out to superiors in a position of power and the transfer of knowledge that a person – whether student, employee or superior bring to any organisation.
Perhaps society at large will become aware that they no longer need to reach through multiple layers to attain information – they can go directly to the source. These new circumstances may forever alter the way future generations view hierarchy and how they acquire information – taking control of the way they communicate, their success, and knowledge acquisition. Simply networking linearly – sans protocol. There was a time when all of these advantages did not exist. Now students can teach something to the teacher.
Click here to continue reading the remainder of this article freely in the October 2014 edition of UKEdMagazine
Natasha E. Feghali @NEFeghali is an artistic French/English Second Language Specialist teacher, DELF/DALF formatrice and AIM educator in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Feghali has been teaching for 7 years at the primary and junior level. Feghali has been creating alternative ways of learning a second language by the use of art, culture and more. She is also an award winning free-lance journalist for the last 12 years with experience in arts, lifestyle and fashion journalism and most recently educational pedagogy.