A Learning Community
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The Networking Approach

The networking approach is perhaps the most typical: more or less spontaneous networks emerge from different “occasions”, such a project, a European collaboration or a local initiative.

Networking is a strong and necessary driver and engine in many learning community initiatives.
This networking can be named primary networking. However, at certain points the learning community initiative needs new energy, new partnerships and new perspectives – in short: need to be taken to a higher level.
If the learning community partnership is relatively weak it might not be able to form new partnerships, for example with the private sector, or it might not be able to establish such partnerships that would lead to a significant strengthening of the learning community initiative.

In such cases, the community partnership is likely to continue the primary networking at the same level, and this is what we call secondary networking.
Networking is mostly useful to learning communities, but in this case it represents a lack of opportunities to create what is really needed: qualitatively different partnerships.
The secondary networking simply attracts more organisations at the same level, which often lead to further frustration.

When such accompanying measures are applied, it is time for the initiative to reflect on its situation and to review its work methods.

What are the opportunities, challenges and obstacles in the Networking approach?

  • Secondary networking might simply attract the same type of organisations, thus multiplying the lack of opportunities
  • Secondary networking might be an alibi for and cover up the lack of real partnership  opportunities
  • Secondary networking – and networking in general – is not partnership creation
  • Ongoing networking at the same level can be suicidal and lead to giving up the missions
  • Ongoing networking at the same level can degenerate to poor justifications of the involved organisations



  • Secondary networking might bring new partners and new opportunities, even if at the same level
  • Secondary networking might represent more resources
  • Secondary networking might offer new and fresh eyes on the learning community initiative, sometimes resulting in useful evaluations and critical debates
  • Secondary networking might, in a few cases, result in involving so many new organisations that the  initiative’s action radius is considerable increased.
  Supporting materials
  HUME - Learning together
  Learning Cities for Migrant Inclusion
  Swansea Community Strategy
  The City is a Learning Organisation
  The Hume Learning Community
  Xploit - Study Visit Catania
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