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Building networks for learning

Networks are important - © Can Stock Photo Inc. / marish

Social capital refers to those stocks of social trust, norms and networks that people can draw upon to solve common problems. But harnessing the power of these seemingly invisible networks to achieve sustainable development goals such as in public health, well being or environment is an elusive undertaking. All too often their power for supporting development is seriously underestimated. However, the downside is that misguided networking efforts can creates relational demands that sap people's time and energy. So there is good reason to study networks, and determine the best way to manage them. The articles below offer three different perspectives of networking.

Building networks

Mapping and analysing networks

Different ways of linking up

Here we distinguish between team and group approaches that come together to complete or achieve a task or goal, and those that come together because they want to to build relationships or share common work experiences. The former is characterised by many work teams, while the latter can be evidenced in communities of practice.

Team building

Communities of practice

Learning groups

Working at the boundaries

A number of approaches are being developed to institutionalise processes that support working at the boundaries, or improved dialogic processes. Boundary organisations are increasingly being suggested as an improvement in this regard. It is important to remember that working at the boundary is a process, and can be achieved through many different structures.