OLJ / Evaluative Report – INF506 – Social Networking for Information Professionals

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Part 1 – OLJ Summary

Throughout this session of learning, there have been many opportunities to reflect and expand my understanding and knowledge of social networking and how that can occur using Web 2.0 technologies.  These experiences and reflections have been demonstrated through the use of this OLJ – Ah-ha! Clarity! Social media assists workflow!Web 2.0; ASU’s Library website; Social Networking and the Primary School Library; Competencies of Teacher Librarian 2.0;  Reasons Why School Libraries Should Be On Social Media (or at least Social Networking Online; Marketing the School LibraryTwitter – an Educator’s Playground.   The implementation of a practical project in our school library was also a major immersion experience and undertaking transforming our library website from Web 1.0 – users as information consumers to Web 2.0 – users are able to participate and contribute (www.gsfmtools4learning.weebly.com).

Part 2 – Evaluative Report

Part A – Evaluation of the learning process

Libraries have traditionally been the spaces where individuals can connect to the information they need to be informed in their communications. Librarians and teacher librarians have been the professionals that specialise in assisting individuals to connect.  With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, or the read-write web, individuals were able to begin to not only connect and consume information but create, curate, collaborate and communicate the information they discovered.  Social networking, whilst a concept that has existed since human interaction has expanded its definition beyond an immediate, face to face, local community of citizens to a global, online community of citizens.  Individuals are in essence only limited by their own abilities and skills as to how far they can reach other individuals.  They are called to participate and engage in a community where they may not know every person through a face to face connection but an online connection (Monfared, Ajabi-Naeini & Parker, 2013).  Social networking is making the connections and this can include a plethora of platforms such as blogs, wikis and forums to those that are defined as social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In.

While I considered myself to be using these platforms, I found that during this session I was able to push myself even further to improve not only my experience of these platforms personally but also as an information professional.  These experiences are highlighted in the previous posts, Ah-ha! Clarity! Social media assists workflow! and Twitter – an Educator’s Playground.

The use of social networking and social media by librarians and teacher librarians is no longer one of should we? Some would say it is one of we must! The reasons for this belief is, firstly, libraries need to embed social media so that they can establish that they are still relevant in a global society where information can be retrieved at the tap of the screen or a click of the mouse.  A library’s purpose is still in their responsibility to their users in assisting with information flow and providing relevance as a space to connect for informational needs.  Librarians as information professionals therefore need to be abreast of the latest trends, apps and how to connect users to information quickly and effectively but also to advocate their library as a space that can best serve their information needs using a multitude of formats (Vanwynsberghe, Vanderlinde, Georges & Verdegem, 2015).

In analysing ASU’s Library website it was interesting to see the different platforms that were being used to connect and communicate with their users.  They were modelling how various tools such as You Tube can be used to create and communicate information.  They were reaching out to connect not only themselves but also to show the library space as a space that connect the users to each other.  This also started to highlight and clarify my own learning in that I had another moment of clarity in the advantages of creating my own images and the need to use Creative Commons friendly images if I was to be effective in modelling participation, creation and contribution on the web.  I was able to remix and repurpose Creative Commons images through the use of creation tools such as Thinglink and Canva (click links to see evidence of use).  Although it took time to work out how to use these creation tools it has meant for a much more interactive, anywhere, anytime presence for our school library.

As a K-6 teacher librarian, I thought I had created enough of a presence by creating a website with information and links and it was when I read Frederick’s article (2014), ‘ The Inside Out Librarian: Being A Virtual Librarian’ that I realised presence does not equal connection. The words that stood out to me in this article were, ‘take stock of the library site as it exists now.  If it is static, look for ways to pump up the action’ (Fredrick, 2014, p.22).  This became the turning point in my learning for this session and I then proceeded to implement my project by simply adding a blog to the library website and by no means was it as simple as simply. The adding of a blog (www.gsfmtools4learning.weebly.com) became my total immersion experience.  It became apparent to me that not only was the library space undergoing a transformation by undertaking this project but so was I and so was the whole learning community.  I had assumed there were skills our students possessed because the assumption was that students would have been taught how to connect and participate using Web 2.0 technologies.  The whole ‘digital native’ (Prensky, 2001) scenario had shown itself to be present despite me trying to pass myself as an educator who wanted nothing to do with the interpretation of this argument that students just knew.  The implementation of this project then became a redesign of the learning that I had planned through our lessons to be one of explicit teaching of how to respond and interact with other people when online ( http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/anotherbyteofknowledge/2016/04/21/social-networking-and-the-primary-school-library/).  It also became evident that by producing this blog, I needed to check my own digital citizenship skills and competencies and be seen as a role model for participation.  I needed to transform and evolve myself to Teacher Librarian 2.0.

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Image created using http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero

 The one challenge that I kept coming across was trying to find research regarding the use of social networking and social media in primary school (K-6) libraries.  This was documented in my previous post, Reasons Why School Libraries Should Be On Social Media (or at least Social Networking Online. There was very little to draw from in academic research (Grimes & Fields, 2012) and so there needed to be some exploration of experiences and advice online.  If anything, the experience of searching online for K-6 libraries that had a social networking presence was a challenge to say the least.  It made me ask the question, what is the point of having technology in schools if we aren’t using it to create and connect?  How have things changed with Web 2.0 for primary schools if they’re not sharing the work their students do?  What is the difference then to creating with pen and paper and creating with Web 2.0 technologies?  It should be audience but in the big scheme of the worldwide web, evidence was hard to come by.  It was refreshing to connect to information presented by Kristen Wideen and Mrs Yollis’ Class Blog as they provided me with the information and evidence I needed to keep persisting and committing to the task of establishing social networking within our library.

Another article which I found very useful throughout this session was a white paper by Grimes and Fields (2012), entitled, ‘Kids online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums.’  It helped me understand why K-6 schools may find it difficult to offer opportunities for their students to participate and engage with an audience outside their immediate school community.  The point was made that ‘digital divide’ may now need to not be defined in terms of access to digital devices but rather we now speak of a ‘participation divide’ (Grimes & Fields, 2012, p. 15).  This strengthened my resolve that whilst we do need to be certain to protect and keep our children safe online, we also need to offer them the education that prepares them for their future.  Students do not learn to read by not opening a book, they do not learn to cross the road by not being guided through the process, therefore, I can see that indeed the teaching of social networking processes in context and with authenticity in mind, K-6 schools can guide students to the appropriate expectations and etiquette when participating and engaging with Web 2.0 technologies.  They also need to be armed with the strategies of what to do if they experience any discomfort or inappropriate content through their participation.  Digital citizenship (or just plain citizenship) then, is vital when connecting and accessing the web at any time.  It is also an area that needs to be constantly reinforced before, during and after the experience of connecting.  It will be necessary for me to survey our learning community in the near future for example to listen to their experience of using and contributing to our library blog and to listen to what else they need.

Part B – How have I grown as a social networker?

Vanwynsberghe et al. (2015) identifies 4 different social media literacy profiles -“social media workers, social media laggards, social media literates and social media spare-time users” (p. 289).  After reading this article, I feel that I have grown in my confidence and application of social networking and media within my pedagogy and practice as a teacher librarian.  Part of this is because while I have immersed myself in many learning experiences, one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to be literate is to be able to filter when, where and how I participate and engage with social networking.  While I use social networking consistently at home and in work, I can filter my networking according to my audience but I can also switch off.

I am becoming more strategic in what I integrate into the library space and how I introduce it to the students.  It is not an extra thing to do it is a way of improving workflow when used effectively.  I am working towards growing a team of contributors as the vision for our school library social networking needs to be sustainable, relevant and flexible (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2012). Social networking and the use of social media builds community in schools and as the school library is often seen as ‘the heart of learning’ it has been necessary for me to lead from the middle by reaching out not just to students but to the whole learning community. Part of the strategy not yet implemented is to set up a library Twitter account so that options are available as to how parents and wider community can connect not only with what is happening in the library space but also with their children and even each other.

Another aspect I have become more confident in is recognizing the need to continue to develop knowledge about digital citizenship and the ‘new literacies’ not just with students but with parents too. Discussions have already begun with the leadership team about the possibility of running parent workshops about these areas so that we build rather than divide and parents can be supported knowing that we are working with them to prepare their children for their future.

While I feel quite empowered with the learning that I have made during this session of study, I also realise that as a learning community it takes time and commitment for the implementation of social networking in a school community.  At the heart of it, it is about developing relationships that promote learning in an online environment where fear of what we don’t know can challenge us.  We need to listen, make connections, encourage feedback, take advantage of anytime, anywhere learning and extend our reach so we can all our learning community to recognise themselves as part of a global village.

References:

Fredrick, K.  (2014). The inside-out library: Being a virtual librarian. School Library Monthly, 30(6), 22-23.

Grimes, S. & Fields, D. (2012). Kids online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums. New York. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Retrieved from: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jgcc_kidsonline.pdf

Huvila, I., Homberg, K., Kronqvist-Berg, M., Nivakoski, O., & Widén, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0 – New competencies or interactive relations? a library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librariansip and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205. doi: 10.1177/0961000613477122

King, D. L. (2015). Why Use Social Media?. Library Technology Reports51(1), 6-9

Monfared, S. S., Ajabi-Naeini, P., & Parker, D. (2013). Bringing Web 2.0 into the Learning Environment. In E. McKay (Ed.), ePedagogy in Online Learning: New Developments in Web Mediated Human Computer Interaction (pp. 109-118). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-3649-1.ch007

Ramsey, E., & Vecchione, A. (2014). Channeling Passions: Developing a Successful Social Media Strategy. Journal of Library Innovation, 5(2), 71-82. Retrieved from http://www.libraryinnovation.org/article/view/359/594

Vanwynsberghe, H., Vanderlinde, R., Georges, A. & Verdegem, P. (2015). The librarian 2.0: identifying a typology of librarian’s social media literacy. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 47(4), 283-293