This description is taken from the Introduction of the resource: "There is hardly any field of educational action where the notion of network(ing) has not been postulated as a guiding principle and a key competence of practitioners at all levels of the hierarchy, the authors wrote as an opening statement to The Art of Networking. It is this new key competence to act in inter-personal and inter-organisational networks that the Resource Pack for Networkers aims to enhance, with a range of practical learning materials in addition to the more descriptive text of The Art of Networking.
Resource Pack for Networkers is meant to be used in combination with the publication The Art of Networking. European Networks in Education (ISBN 978-3-9502335-0-6), to which it often refers. Both publications address professionals in education - teachers, trainers, programme developers, managers, researchers and evaluators - who are already involved in professional networks or may wish to be so in the future.
While most of these materials are meant to be used in a training context, as a whole they are, however, not designed as a complete seminar or course on networking, but rather as a collection of stimuli for four different purposes:
Stimulus for individual reflection and learning
Materials for seminar or courses
Resource for strategic or planning meetings
Activity for networking events
The Resource Pack consists of two parts: the description of the modules and their learning activities, and an attached CD with the actual learning resources. The CD is trilingual: English, German and French. The Resource Pack itself is the result of a networking activity of nine educationalists from six countries. The “authoring network” has acquired experience with networks from different angles: as a transnational network and project promoters, programme managers, evaluators and researchers. Two EU funded projects on networks in education have been successfully implemented together, a field survey among network actors has been carried out, and in addition to the two publications, a policy paper with recommendations to the European Commission on network funding in the Lifelong Learning Programme has been produced, and a European training course has been developed and organised. More information on these activities can be found on the website http://www.networks-in-education.eu/index.php?id=5 But in spite of this intensive occupation with networks, the authors did not find it easy to clearly define competence with regard to acting, in and managing professional networks.
The main challenge, which is also reflected in this publication, is that “network” is something the Linguist Uwe Pörksen would call a “plastic word”. Plastic words are terms with a vague meaning, which are used rather arbitrarily for quite diverse things, often instead of describing complex structures in a proper and more thorough way. And indeed “network” is used for many different things, in a metaphorical way. This is still the case if the term is narrowed down to “social network”, as opposed to technical networks (e.g. transport, TV or indeed the Internet) and to the field of education: Networks are structures for cooperation between individuals or institutions over a longer period of time in order to attain joint objectives and to generate added value for its members. Even in this limited working definition a network in education may be, for instance, an informal, internet-based community of practice, a local cooperation structure between institutions, or a Europan teachers association. Clearly, these examples of education networks vary immensely with regard to their mission, degree of formality and organisational stability. People involved in any of these different network forms will be likely to understand any learning materials on networking in their specific context. To make it even more confusing, the authors of the Resource Pack started their work with a very particular type of network in mind: networks in the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme, i.e. temporary project partnerships funded on the basis of a work programme with the ultimate aim of becoming a sustainable key player in a thematic field of education in Europe.
In this publication, these European networks are dealt with in detail in one separate module, Networks in the Lifelong Learning Programme, and taken as examples in others, in particular in Network Management and Making the Network Sustainable. But most of the materials are considered to be relevant in diverse networking contexts. No matter what kind of network structure, acting in and managing a network requires competences of the following categories:
Knowledge and awareness about concepts, planning, organisation, and evaluation techniques, communication technologies etc., as well as inter-personal competences for initiating and developing relationships or promoting the network issues, and, equally important, affective competence, i.e. values and attitudes which make it possible to develop an environment of trust and mutual appreciation without which no social network can prosper.
The authors hope that both network members and managers of networks, together addressed as “networkers”, will find in the Resource Pack for Networkers useful materials for reflecting and further developing their competence for networking and network management."