Career practitioners’ conceptions of social media and competency for social media in career services
This research examines career practitioners’ conceptions of social media and competency for social media in career services, contributing to current understanding and discussion of the use of ICT in a career services context. It is important to see this body of knowledge not only from the perspective of researcher but also as a potentially transforming approach to the work of career practitioners. New technologies and social media offer significant opportunities for career services, but they also create demand for new competency among career practitioners. The research aims (1) to investigate career practitioners’ conceptions of social media in career services; (2) to examine career practitioners’ conceptions of competency for social media in career services; and (3) to identify the critical aspects in developing social media competency within the profession. In the three empirical studies that comprise the thesis, data were gathered in two sets of focus group interviews—the first with Finnish career practitioners who had little or no experience of using social media in their professional work, and so were considered novices in the professional use of social media, and the second with Finnish and Danish career practitioners with experience of using social media in the course of their work.
The principles of phenomenographic research were applied in analysing and reporting the data. The qualitative analysis produced three outcome spaces, reflecting the qualitative variation in career practitioners’ experiences of social media, their conceptions of social media and competency for social media in career services. These outcome spaces were hierarchical in nature, as revealed by the dimensions of variation, which highlight the differences between the categories of description. The ve identified categories on conceptions of social media in career services ranged from unnecessary to indispensable. The practitioners’ experiences of social media in career services revealed four categories, ranging from social media as a means for delivering information to paradigm change and reform. Conceptions of competency for social media in career services also revealed four categories varying from an ability to use social media for delivering information to an ability to utilise it for co-careering.
The consolidation of conceptions of three sub-studies presents an empirically derived conceptual framework for understanding career practitioners’ general approaches to social media and competency for social media. Five identified general approaches encompass passive, information-centred, communication-centred, collaborative career exploration and co-careering approach. By exploring the logical relationships between qualitatively different conceptions, this research offers a holistic and an overarching view of career practitioners’ varying conceptions of social media and competency for social media. Practitioners, trainers and policy makers need to be aware of these diverse understandings within the profession in order to move towards more advanced approaches. The study addresses practical and policy implications, as well as directions for future research.
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The dissertation is published in the series Finnish Institute for Educational Research Studies 32, ISSN 2243-1381, ISBN 987-951-39-7160-1. Available on the Internet: https://ktl.jyu.fi/julkaisut/julkaisuluettelo/julkaisut/2017/T032.pdf and http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7160-1