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Cultivating a global professional learning network through a blended-learning program – Levers and barriers to success

Pierre Tulowitzki (School of Education, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Brugg-Windisch, Switzerland)

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Article publication date: 24 December 2020

Issue publication date: 16 March 2021




This article reports on a study around a further education, blended-learning program aiming to establish globally active professional learning networks (PLNs). The questions guiding the research were: (1) What levers and barriers to establishing viable networks are identified by its members? (2) What – if any – indications of knowledge transfer within the networks can be identified?


The networking aspect of the study program was analyzed using semi-structured interviews with its recent participants and graduates (n = 22), with the objective of gaining insights into elements that supported the creation and maintenance of a global, student-centered network and community in the program. Additionally, a document analysis of the master theses of all participants since the start of the program (n = 96) was undertaken to look for indications of knowledge transfers from one cultural and/or geographical setting to another.


Blending online exchanges with face-to-face exchanges was seen as helpful in establishing a sustainable network. Additionally, having a low-barrier communication platform where it was socially acceptable to not only communicate about professional but also informal matters was described by virtually all participants as a promoting exchange and cohesion. Furthermore, about a fifth of all analyzed master theses contained indications of knowledge transfer, with instances of incorporating models or concepts from other contexts being the most prominent occurrence.


The findings offer insights into establishing sustainable blended-learning networks. They elaborate on key elements that supported and hindered the creation and viability of such networks. Furthermore, they highlight the importance of formal but also informal spaces for exchange.



The author wishes to thank the INEMA students and alumni who volunteered to participate in the study. Additionally, the author wishes to thank Ella Grigoleit for her support in conducting the interviews. Finally, the author wishes to thank Michael Krüger for his tremendous work in the INEMA program as well as support to this study and the Ludwigsburg University of Education for supporting the INEMA program and corresponding research.


Tulowitzki, P. (2021), "Cultivating a global professional learning network through a blended-learning program – Levers and barriers to success", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 164-178.



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