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Guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Maarten de Laat

Towards informal-formal professional development networks


Prof. Dr. Maarten de Laat, Open University of the Netherlands gave a talk on “Towards informal-formal professional development networks” on February 18, 2013.


In this presentation he focused on the fact that professional development is an integral part of daily work and focuses on learning rather than on education. In order to gain recognition for this everyday learning, it is important to raise its visibility and develop connections with how professional development is formally acknowledged and valued within organizations. It is necessary to have an approach that not only focuses on the formal aspects of an organization, but is in touch with the learning that happens informally in social networks. This means that professional development policy and culture need to be augmented with an additional set of learning metaphors and need to embrace an approach that is termed informal-formal learning. Prof. de Laat discussed what this means for developing ‘professional space’ within an organization, the impact on raising awareness about informal learning, visualizing the networks of practice in which this takes place and finally recognizing the value these networks produce.

Prof. Dr. Maarten de Laat is full Professor at LOOK, a research center on teacher professional development, at the Open University of the Netherlands. He is director of the Social and Networked Learning research program, which concentrates on exploring social learning strategies and networked learning relationships that facilitate professional development in the workplace. His research is focused on informal learning in the workplace, lifelong learning, professional development and knowledge creation through (online) social networks and communities and the impact of technology, learning analytics and social design on the way these networks and communities work, learn and create value. He has published and presented his work extensively in research journals, books and conferences. He is co-chair of the International Networked Learning Conferences and a member of the steering committee of SoLAR (Society for Learning Analytics Research).