Social networking – what is it anyway?




Social networking. Social media. What are they? I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes to put into words a concept that is so inherently a part of your life, so I will admit to struggling to find the right words to adequately explain what social networking is to me! So, here goes. I believe that social networking is an inherent part of the way that people interact today – it certainly is for me, and research shows that I’m not the only one! Recent statistics show that 71% of US adults use facebook, and the amount of internet users who use multiple social media platforms rose from 42% in 2013 to 52% in 2014 (Duggan et al, 2015) Using social media tools such as facebook, twitter, google plus, and whatever else comes along in the months and years ahead, social networking is about connecting, communicating, and collaborating. Rather than being a solitary activity, involving just yourself and your computer, social networking creates enormously powerful opportunities to interact with people who share similar ideas, interests and involvements, and allows you to contribute and collaborate to projects and conversations that would not normally be possible. It is, at its heart, about connections – as Grossman says, when discussing my Time Person of the Year award, “it is a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.” (2006)

I use social networking a lot. And, according to Huffpost, I’m not alone – in 2013, social networking overtook porn as the number one activity on the web. Bizarre I know – as is the statistic that the fastest growing demographic on twitter is the 55-64 age bracket. (Cooper, 2013) It’s strange what you can find out when you google “social media” huh?

Anyway, in all seriousness, my social networking is both personal and professional, and there are often tenuous barriers between these two aspects of my social media life. I use facebook on a daily basis, and I manage a couple of groups – one for fellow CSU students as a place to connect and commiserate as we study for our Masters, and one for my Library Warriors (students who have volunteered to be a part of our library team!) I also act as a second staff member on a number of our school facebook groups which have been set up by teachers to support a number of senior classes at our school. I also manage our school facebook page (, and have as of yesterday started in an admin role on the SLANSW facebook page (

I also use twitter (@tamararodgers74): I initially had a separate personal account, and kept this one for purely professional interactions, however this is my primary twitter account now. I also manage our school’s twitter account (@evanshigh), although this mostly involves a direct feed from our facebook page. Instagram is my guilty pleasure, with my personal stream being joined by one for our school (@evanshigh) and one for our library (@evanslibrary), and pinterest takes up far more of my life at 12am than is possibly healthy – with a personal page ( and a school one ( which is a new addition to our social media profile, and a work in progress. I use goodreads as a way of tracking my reading and book collections, and have recently started stalking people on there … ahem, I mean, connecting with other users to discuss books and authors. I have dabbled in using sites like diigo and google plus, but they haven’t featured heavily in my regular social media profile, and I’ve used google docs, Second Life, edmodo and moodle as collaborative tools in a variety of professional contexts with a similar level of expertise (ie I’m still wearing floaties in most of these!)

Personally, social networking allows me to keep in contact with what’s going on in the equally busy lives of my family and friends. Professionally, it allows me to collaborate with colleagues, share ideas and resources, crowd source solutions to problems, and, possibly most importantly for me, communicate the powerful and important contributions that my school community is making to the lives of our students. As a result of my ongoing work with our school social media profile, I have contributed a “Social Media Tips” page which is used by NSWDEC Corporate Communications to provide guidance to schools who are looking at setting up their own social media presences. I will also be collaborating with the Communications and Engagement Team as they work on formulating the social media strategy for the Department, with a focus on consolidating and growing online community engagement based on best practice, which apparently Evans demonstrates! (That was a seriously cool email to receive, fyi … It’s nice to know that our hard work has been recognised!)

What am I hoping to get out of this subject? To be honest, I’ve already got some of it … significant modelling of best practice in how to use social media as an instructional tool. I’m loving the facebook page as a connection and discussion point. I’m highly excited by assignment one, and can’t wait to put into practice some of what I’ve been thinking about with regards to our use of facebook, goodreads and pinterest as collaborative elements in our library communications. I’m hoping for some more grounding in ways to use other social networks as curation tools, as my expertise in these is really limited to pinterest, and I’d like to have some more tools in my arsenal.

And, after reading all that, I’ve realised why I don’t spend much time sleeping – I’m online too much! 🙂



Cooper, B (2013) Ten social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy. Accessed March 14 2015.

Duggan, M, Ellison, N, Lampe, C, Lenhart, A, and Madden, M. (2015) Social Media Update 2014. Accessed March 14 2015.

Grossman, L (2006) Time’s Person of the Year: You. Time, Dec. 13, 2006. Cited in Sharing, Privacy and Trust in our Networked World Accessed March 14 2015.


Literature and History – a love story


I love literature. I love stories, and am endlessly enthralled with the multiplicity of ways those stories can communicate, and can connect people, places and ideas. I also love history, and one of the reasons I have always enjoyed teaching it is the ability to connect ideas about our history with individual’s experiences. So, what has been most interesting to me through this subject is how eye-opening the idea of using literature in non-traditional subject areas has been! When I think about it now, it makes perfect sense, but as a HSIE teacher previously, I had never even contemplated using fiction to support my teaching.

For me, completing ETL402 – Literature Across the Curriculum, as part of my study towards the M.Ed Teacher Librarianship, has broadened my ideas about the role of fiction in my work as a TL. In my capacity as a TL in a public high school in Western Sydney, I’m passionate about expanding our collection of quality fiction, and ensuring that we provide a comprehensive range of texts which support and extend the literary needs of our diverse student body. I have, however, considered this as somewhat separate to my role of supporting teaching and learning within the school. I must admit to only really considering literature as a resource for the English faculty, and steered directly to non-fiction when thinking about ways that I could provide support for other faculty areas – my beloved history included! In discussions last year with our Society and Culture class about their PIPs, not once did Simon and the Homosapien Agenda pop into my head when directing the student whose research was looking at the barriers gay students face in coming out to their peers.

So, what does this mean for my professional practice then? I’m now more actively engaged in exploring a wider range of texts and strategies to support learning, no matter what the subject area. We are implementing a tagging system in our catalogue to highlight fiction texts that are suitable for a variety of subjects, and in my regular faculty liaison meetings, I will now be promoting fiction options to support their subjects. Science and Maths don’t just live in the non-fiction section! The possibilities for integrating literature in science, and encouraging teachers to consider creative options to achieve their outcomes, are exciting. I found Pennington’s (2010) discussion on using science fiction in the Science classroom particularly interesting, and was surprised at my own surprise at the thought of using creative writing as a learning strategy in a Science lesson!

Apart from these revelations for me about the role of fiction in subjects other than English though, this subject has helped consolidate for me the importance of what we do in the library. We have unrivalled opportunities to impact student learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Providing literature which encompasses and represents the diversity of human experience is a huge responsibility, and the impact of this for our students in extraordinary. Students who see their own experiences reflected on the shelves gain a stronger sense of the value of their own stories (Hinton, 2007). Conversely, students who see other people’s lives and experiences in the pages of a novel or picture book develop a stronger world view, and develop a sense of empathy and acceptance for the differences around them (Smolen, 2010). Providing a multiplicity of experiences in a wide range of children’s literature has significant benefits for students (Bothelo 2009), and I’m excited about the possibilities of expanding the impact of our burgeoning literature collection – reading for pleasure is wonderful, and one of my core goals in the library, so being able to read for pleasure to support teaching and learning? Win win!!


Bothelo, K, and Rudman, M. (2009) Critical multicultural analysis of children’s literature. Taylor and Francis.

Hinton, K, and Dickinson, G (2007) Integrating Multicultural Literature in Libraries and Classrooms in Secondary Schools. ABC-CLIO

Pennington, L (2010). Intergalactic Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Our place in the universe. New Horizons, Spring 2010. Accessed from

Smolen, L, and Oswald, R (2010) Multicultural Literature and Response: Affirming Diverse Voices. ABC-CLIO