Using Public Spaces for Learning & Networking
(This article was originally printed in the Hospitality and Tourism newsletter and written by Ian McVitty, Professor at Algonquin College. Ian is presently taking his Masters of Arts in Learning & Technology at Royal Roads.)
For over five years, students in Hospitality Marketing have been creating a WordPress portfolio to demonstrate learning as part of their course assessment. A portfolio is a collection of stories, images, video and thoughts based on understanding of material covered in class.
From a student point of view they enjoy setting up their portfolio in WordPress because they have control over how it looks, the themes, colours and layout. They create their own free domain in WordPress and can use it on their resumes as examples of skills and achievements. They create their own personal learning environment.
Last year, we went beyond a personal space and made all portfolios public. Instead of just the student and teacher reading the work, they are now open to the world. In addition, students comment on each others work as part of the assessment. The benefits of sharing their work can be seen immeditely as they take an interest and learn from each other. Their personal learning environment suddenly became a network.
This year in Marketing ll, students are also learning to create personal learning networks in LinkedIn. Each student has created a professional profile and will start connecting with each other. In addition, I have invited graduates of the program , who are on LinkedIn to introduce themselves and join a class discussion. Students answer course-related questions in discussion forums and the graduates will be able to comment as well. Students can connect with graduates as they begin to collect industry contacts. We will also use LinkedIn to show how sales professionals prospect for customers and maintain guest relationships.
So far, it looks like it’s working quite well with around 20 graduates joining the LinkedIn group, in positions ranging from front of the house, sales, human resource to management, and this is just the beginning.