Part a) – Evaluative Statement
The OLJ posts I will discuss in this evaluative statement are:
- Arizona State University’s use of web 2.0 tools to achieve the 4Cs (OLJ7)
- My Personal Learning Network (OLJ9)
- What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine (OLJ11)
Through my study of INF506 I have developed a good understanding of a variety of social networking (SN) technologies and the features and functionality of various SN tools, and particularly of how these tools can meet user’s information needs. As I have described in My Personal Learning Network post, I was already using some SN tools to meet my own learning needs prior to my study for INF506, however I was not really utilising their full social networking (SN) capacity so as to enable me to collaborate with other users. Instead, my use of RSS feeds, blogs and Delicious was mostly as a Spectator or a Collector, to use the ‘social technographic’ terms, and my use of Facebook was purely for social contact and was the only area in which I was behaving as a Conversationalist (Bernoff, 2010).
Completing the readings and activities in the modules for INF506, in addition to my own research, spurred on by my rapidly developing PLN, has led me to a much deeper understanding of the features and functions of these tools as well as of Twitter, Yammer, and Second Life and to an appreciation for them as professional tools which can allow my active participation in the 4Cs of web 2.0. My personal experience of the collaborative value of these SN technologies and tools has in turn developed my understanding of how they might be used, in conjunction with traditional library services, to support the informational and collaborative needs of groups, communities and organisations. I have particularly developed and understanding of how these tools could allow me to effectively serve the target audience of the communities I know best; namely the students, teachers, administrators and parents whose social, cultural, learning and information needs are served by school libraries.
Before beginning INF506, I had never even heard the term Library 2.0 and had no understanding of what it referred to. Although it is clear from my reading in this topic that many experienced librarians still struggle with the concept of Library 2.0 (Farkas, 2008), I have begun developing an understanding of what it means for me. In my post about Arizona State University’s use of web 2.0 tools to achieve the 4Cs, I noted repeated use of the 4Cs of collaboration, conversation, community and content creation. I believe ASU’s use of videos, live chat, user-centred content creation such as personalised playlists and research citation lists, as well as their use of SN tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo all contribute to their practice of Library 2.0. Examining ASU’s practice has further developed my understanding of how these tools might be used in a primary school library setting. I was also particularly impressed with Scotch College school library’s use of SN tools such as their blog “The Portal” to meet the learning of its students and to take advantage of the students’ interest in technology to engage them with books (School Library Association of Victoria, 2009).
I believe that I demonstrated through my post What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine, my understanding of some of the social, cultural educational, ethical, and technical management issues inherent in a socially networked society and how information policy can be developed and implemented to support these issues. Issues such as copyright, intellectual property and the growing Creative Commons movement are particularly important in a socially networked world where collaboration and content creation are highly valued SN skills. Although I didn’t have the space to elaborate on issues of privacy, security and other aspects of digital citizenship, these understandings are also implicit in my blog post. These technical and cultural management issues form a part of the challenge of teaching children in a large public education system – a system that currently blocks access to websites that could assist to meet it’s communities informational and learning needs if it’s internet access policies were more flexible. These are also fundamental library issues and educating students to be responsible digital citizens is an important part of a teacher librarian’s mission. As Marcinek says “The fact that some schools simply block these [social networking] tools and never teach responsible use is like placing locks on a fence surrounding a pool but neglecting to teach kids how to swim” (Marcinek, 2010).
Part b) – Reflective Statement of my Development as a Social Networker and an Information Professional
In reflecting on my development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506, I reread my original definition of social networking.
It reads “Social networking = a linking of like-minded people through the use of interactive technologies that allow members to respond to others in their ‘social network’.”
I would now add ‘social and/or professional network’ to that definition.
I believe that my most important development as a social networker over the past couple of months of this subject has been in my development of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) of educators.
The greatest contribution to my PLN has come in the form of my introduction to and adoption of Twitter as an integral part of my PLN . Previously I had avoided Twitter, believing it was a waste of time and only for those people who wanted to know every detail of the lives of celebrities like Brittany Spears and Lady Gaga. I had not thought of Twitter (or Facebook for that matter) as capable of providing me with a professional network that I could tap into at any time, day or night. How that perception has changed! I now follow 88 people (mainly educators), have 41 followers of my own (again, mainly educators) and have sent 231 tweets (mainly retweets of education related tweets). The value of Twitter to me as a social networker and as a developing information professional is not in the number of tweets or followers I have, but in the links I now have to educators around the world who are interested in the same topics as I am and who regularly post information that is extremely useful for me in furthering my understanding both of web 2.0 in education and of the work of information professionals working in schools.
Through my Twitter ‘follows’ I attended my first live, international online webinar “Creating a Community of Technology Learners in your school or district”, through which I met a Saudi Arabian educator running a distance education school that almost exclusively uses Second Life with it’s secondary students. This is turn opened my mind to the possibilities of using Second Life or other virtual environments for teaching. So when I came across Bathurst TAFE using Second Life to teach virtual tourism (Kay, 2010) while exploring Second Life, I was very excited. Although my main teaching experience is in primary schools, for the past 3 terms I’ve been teaching at TAFE and struggling to find ways to help my mostly at-risk students become reengaged with learning. Following on from these discoveries, I’ve discussed these exciting possibilities with my supervisor at TAFE and we have begun investigating using some form of virtual environment with our students. I have now been asked to teach a new Year 10 equivalent elective in digital and online communication this semester with these at-risk students and plan to use some of the tools and understandings I have learned in INF506 when teaching this subject. Although I cannot use Second Life because the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) block it, I have been investigating using Quest Atlantis for this purpose. Again, my PLN has been of assistance here. Knowing that I couldn’t use Second Life through NSWDET and having seen a group on the DET’s Yammer network discussing Quest Atlantis, I asked the group if it would be suitable for my students. The quick and positive response of the Yammer group has only reinforced the value of this PLN for me in further developing my education and information professional skills and understandings.
My studies in INF506 have pointed out to me several areas that I need to work on to develop further as an information professional. I have never been employed as a teacher librarian, although that is my ultimate goal, and I realise that when I find such a position I will be on a steep learning curve. However, I am now convinced that my PLN will be adaptable and responsive enough to help me significantly along that journey. In addition, my readings in Library 2.0 and the development of library social media policy have highlighted my paucity of knowledge in these areas. My use of Delicious and Diigo and tentative explorations of folksonomies have shown me that my cataloguing skills also need a great deal of work. I generally lack practical experience in working as an information professional, so I am particularly looking forward to developing some library skills through my professional experience subject, which I have yet to complete.
I cannot yet add much value to some of the conversations that take place in the school library online world of my PLN, but I can certainly learn from those conversations and collaboration with my colleagues. In the meantime, I believe I can bring great enthusiasm and a much greater understanding of the value of social networking tools and technologies to my current work as a casual teacher in TAFE and my conversations and collaboration with my colleagues.
Bernoff, J. (2010, 31 January 2011). Social Technographics: Conversationalist get onto the ladder. http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2010/01/conversationalists-get-onto-the-ladder.html.
Farkas, M. (2008, 29 January 2011). The essence of Library 2.0? http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/.
Kay, J. (2010, 26 January 2011). Virtual Tourism @ jokaydiaGRID! http://jokaydia.com/2010/12/08/virtual-tourism/.
Marcinek, A. (2010, 26 January 2011). A Web 2.0 Class: Students Learn 21st Century Skills, Collaboration , and Digital Citizenship. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/web-20-21st-century-skills-collaboration-digital-citizenship.
School Library Association of Victoria. (2009, 29 January 2011). The Portal – Blogging at Scotch College Library. http://slav.global2.vic.edu.au/2009/03/23/the-portal-blogging-at-scotch-college-library/.