Saturday, 26 April 2008

Using web 2.0 in careers work

For some years now people have spoken of Web 2.0 referring to the newly emerging collaborative internet. Today web users don't just read static content pages created by expert authors. Instead web users can create their own content using blogs, wikis, video sharing, photo sharing and so on. The word sharing is key here because as users create content, they are also sharing it with their peers, and building in feedback loops, so others can comment on what they see, and make new links to more material elsewhere on the web.

I think there is potential for us to adopt more collaborative technology in our careers work. Our clients are already using the web to support their careers research, and preparation for employment and even seeking careers advice online through social networking sites like myspace, and facebook, and through other sites like yahoo answers. I like to use the term Careers Work 2.0 to describe client and professional use of collaborative web tools to seek careers information advice and guidance.

Some might worry about this activity, suggesting that young people will be getting bad advice from each other, or making decisions without the proper information. Some might also suggest that bias and discrimination could creep into the picture. However my personal belief is that people have always talked to their friends and obtained opinions about career and education decision making, and that the internet simply makes it easier and more effective. The instantaneous nature of the web means that someone can get answers and opinions on their career questions 24 hours a day. They can get insight and input from people all over the world, and from people who actually do a particular job, or have relatives or friends who do that job.

The information and advice that is generated by professional career counsellors/ guidance workers is often of a very different nature - more factual, and more structured. But I would argue that both sources are useful, and indeed complement each other.

Career counselling professionals clearly need to be aware of this type of activity, and perhaps discuss the topic in school with students, exploring issues such as reliability of information, and further sources of advice and guidance that can be used - such as careers library resources, professional online careers tools and sites, and the real life professional advisers or counsellors they can call upon.