learning, technology, work

The LinkedIn Platform in higher education

This is a fascinating article on the impacted of the LinkedIn platform on universities by Janja Komljenovic. The paper:

focuses on LinkedIn to start tackling the question of the effects on higher education as a sector, its actors and the established social practices. It argues that LinkedIn moves beyond the passivity of advertising to its users towards actively structuring digital labour markets, in which it strategically includes universities and its constituents.

So LinkedIn is presented as an example of the role of a technology in shaping as well as being shaped by the social and material relations in which it is operating.

 

LinkedIn is now integrated with many aspects of supporting employability for higher education students. This includes joining LinkedIn as part of the processes of becoming a student, through including your activities and achievements as a student and then leveraging the network effects of the platform with the university in seeking employment opportunities. Data accumulated by the platform from students, universities and employers can be used for advertising and revenue purposes including matching students with milk round opportunities. In wider terms, the integration of LinkedIn with the training platform Lynda further solidifies the relations between LinkedIn with the student experience and reinforces wider socio-economic trends. In particular, the idea that the societal problems of employability and precariousness is an issue of individual skills and demonstrable competences that is resolved by the individual engaging in on-going (never-ending) skills development made visible on platforms such as LinkedIn.

As the paper goes on to conclude:

By breaking down both, the labour market needs and education qualifications; and reinforcing a focus on skills, LinkedIn is able to provide data to calculate and analyse skills that are available and that are needed in the labour market, match individuals with jobs, and detect gaps in the labour market. As LinkedIn’s data and the possibilities it offers seem to be catching the public and policy attention (World Economic Forum 2016), how LinkedIn’s algorithms operate to match individuals, skills and jobs becomes a macro and a political issue. The fact that platformization goes together with capitalisation is often criticised to reinforce existing or even introducing new social inequalities in that various opportunities are tailor made depending on the individual’s socio-economic status (Fourcade and Healy 2017) .

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