Social Networking for Information Professionals: A Reflection

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I’m now half way through my studies in the Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship) course, and it’s been an interesting journey (cue bad reality tv metaphors here!) The subject that this blog post is submitted in requirements for, Social Media for Information Professionals, has been in many ways the most challenging for me. I approached the subject with what now appears to be a sense of over-confidence. I’m considered somewhat of a social media expert in my region, and have been frequently called upon to present at conferences or professional development sessions, as well as liaising with the NSWDEC on the development of departmental social media policies and plans. I’m confident in my ability to use social media in both my personal and professional life. So, to have struggled to hit the mark, I believe, given the results I received from the social media project assessment task, was particularly disappointing. I’m glad about this though. It’s given me much food for thought as I consider my role as a social media advocate, and the way in which I integrate my academic life and my professional life. This is a cogent point for consideration, given the focus of this subject on the use of social media in information services, and the potential (indeed, often the goal) of blurring the lines between work life and social life.

If I, as someone who is quite comfortable in the use of social media, and prides myself on presenting excellence in academic and professional work, can get “sucked in” by the relative familiarity of social media tools, and end up presenting an assessment task which fails to meet the required academic conventions and standards expected, what are the implications of this? Particularly for my target group of users, high school students – teens who are perhaps more fluent in many ways in social media and web2.0 than I am, but perhaps not as committed to the idea of importance of academic conventions. So, it’s given me much food for thought on how I lead the blending of social media and the necessary focus on academic writing, particularly for my senior students as they prepare for HSC and further study.

It has also led me to consider much about what I thought I knew about social media, and to realise that I’m very reliant on what I know, and am familiar with. My experiences with Second Life, for example, highlighted how quickly I retreat to what is familiar – even when I don’t find a task difficult, I don’t necessarily adopt it as part of my common practice if it isn’t in my immediate frame of reference. This prompted more reflection on the roles of social media in my library practice, and consolidated the importance of ensuring that when we decide on implementing a social media strategy for our patrons, it’s based on their needs and interests, not on what is familiar to us. Cohen’s Librarian 2.0 Manifesto was incredibly resonant for me in this regard – the notion of us as professionals being willing, and indeed embracing, the idea that we need to go to where our users are, rather than expecting them to come to us (Cohen, 2007). If the students in my school are familiar with, and active users of, Instagram, it makes sense to explore ways in which our library can connect with them, and this has been one of the key successes of my ongoing Library Warriors project, as has the establishment of a Facebook group, which I continuing to develop into a successful platform for collaboration and discussion amongst this passionate group of students. My initial thoughts about developing a Goodreads presence, however, was more about my own skills and experiences, rather than what met the needs of my school community. For me, then, one of the key takeaway messages of this subject has been the focus on what my users need and want – not just what I’m comfortable in delivering. Thankfully sometimes those two things will line up – but I’m more comfortable now with embracing the idea that I don’t have to be the expert. I can find someone who is, and learn from them, which has the dual effect of developing my own skills, and also modelling for my students the benefits of lifelong learning.

So, reflecting on my learning for this session has consolidated for me a few things. Firstly, I am evermore in love with my career of choice. The focus on lifelong learning is a core passion of mine, and the fact that I have been able to gain new insights into both my own learning processes, and draw upon this to examine the way I operate professionally, has been immensely rewarding. I have printed out Cohen’s Manifesto, and have it in sight each day at work (with some helpful suggestions added by students – “buy more chocolate!!”). I am encouraged by my failures, and have discussed them with my students as an example of what I am learning, in the hope that they will learn something from it, as I have. And I will continue to advocate social media in education, and in our libraries – and I will make sure that in the future I will give as much credence to the opinions of my school community as I do my own preferences. Isn’t it interesting when the subjects you will initially think will be the easiest to conquer, will be the ones that become the most challenging and thought-provoking?

Social Networking for Information Professionals: An Evaluation

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The future for Information Professionals is exciting. Rather than existing purely in a paper-based world, today’s library operates in an increasingly multimodal landscape, with an ever-increasing web of tools, resources and contributions at their disposal (Harvey, 2009). It is essential that a 21st century librarian is able to adapt to the changes around them, and to strive to provide the best service they can to their clients (Bonanno, 2011). Drawing on the extraordinary variety of Web2.0 tools, then, is an essential element of the librarian’s service.

Web 2.0, as discussed in Rodgers’ blogpost “Oh what a tangled web we weave – Web2.0” (2015a) provides extraordinary opportunities for libraries to leverage the quality and quantity of web resources and information to clients. Web 2.0 provides opportunities for users to engage with the wider web world – the Wikipedia definition (n.d.) of Web 2.0 as encompassing “user-generated content, usability, and interoperability” reflects key goals of the 21st library, as engaging with their users, and as such, resonates as an important reason for information professionals to include Web 2.0 tools as one of their core tools. Employing Web 2.0 tools as part of the library service supports allowing users “to contribute content in order to enhance their learning experience and provide assistance to their peers” (Cohen, 2007), and it takes advantage of the idea that Web 2.0 tools allow for the development of relationships with the sites, as they create, exchange and use information (Miller, 2005). These types of relationships are essential if we wish to ensure that our libraries continue to be meaningful today and into the future.

The notion of community is one that appears in much of the literature around the library of the present and future. Valenza (2014) discusses the value of collegial interaction, as we surround ourselves with people who “reflect and share their practice through their slide decks, videos, blogs, and tweets—all high-quality, informal learning opportunities.” The importance of community applies not just to collegial connections, but also to users and the wider social network. Exploring options that are available to develop community connections is a vital aspect of library practice, and the proliferation of virtual worlds in today’s online experiences is a fascinating opportunity to develop community connections, allowing for a sense of presence for users who may not necessarily be able to be physically present, but can still develop that sense of community connection (Hill and Meister, 2013). It is important to consider the needs and interests of the users in these seemingly endless options for online community building, however. Rodgers’ blogpost discusses the concerns of more in-depth virtual worlds for people who aren’t familiar with the platforms (2015b). As such, it’s critical to consider the potential learning curve when deciding on using a social network or site, and analyse whether the benefit for the users is worth the potential problems that may be associated with its implementation and use.

Given the proliferation of opportunities for information professionals in developing new ways to interact with, and provide services to, their users, it is inevitable then that there needs to be a reevaluation of the way in which libraries are managed. This reflects both on the types of leaders we have in our libraries, and the policies which govern the management of 21st century library services. It is vital that policies which are put in place provide flexibility for growth, and allow for future innovations. As such, they should provide guidance for actions and interactions, rather than specific instructions which relate to individual sites, as discussed in Rodgers’ blogpost “Social media: engagement with policies” (2015c). Policies which support the development of effective social media profiles will reflect the value of every person’s contributions – both those from staff members, and from students and community members. Implementing policies which support and encourage positive interactions, respond to negative comments and replies with tact and honesty, and demonstrate trust in the integrity of those participating, will help establish the integrity of the social media account (socialmedia.biz, 2015) and ensure it’s effectiveness for its users.

So, what does all that mean for the information professional of today, and days to come? It would be a mistake to assume that, because the library of the future is so dependent on the input of so many other people, the librarian is of less importance. The reality is that a library is, in many ways, driven by the personality of its leader (Donovan, 2009). If a teacher librarian in charge of the learning heart of the school models a sense of courage and innovation, students are more likely to be inspired to adopt the same practices. If TL demonstrates a willingness to learn and fail in order to achieve new outcomes, their staff are more likely to join them on the journey. An information professional, supported by effective and innovative social media policy, and willing to embrace new opportunities and experiences in developing connections, both with people and information, will have amazing impacts on the learning culture in their school. What an exciting opportunity.

References

Bonanno, K. (2011). A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. http://vimeo.com/31003940

Cohen, L (2007) A manifesto for our times. American Libraries Vol. 38, No. 7 (Aug., 2007), pp. 47-49

Donovan, C. (2009) Sense of self: embracing your teacher identity. In the library with the lead-pipe. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2009/sense-of-self-embracing-your-teacher-identity/

Harvey, M. (2009) What does it mean to be a Science Librarian 2.0? http://www.istl.org/09-summer/article2.html

Hill, V., & Meister, M. (2013). Virtual worlds and libraries Gridhopping to new worlds. College & Research Libraries News, 74(1), 43-47. http://crln.acrl.org/content/74/1/43.full

Miller, P. (2005) Web 2.0: Building the new library. Ariadne.  www.ariadne.ac.uk/print/issue45/miller

Rodgers, T (2015a) Oh what a tangled web we weave … Web 2.0. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/biggerontheinside/2015/05/01/web2/

Rodgers, T (2015b) Second Life Adventures. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/biggerontheinside/2015/05/17/second-life-adventures/

Rodgers, T (2015c) Social Media: engagement with policies. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/biggerontheinside/2015/05/16/social-media-engagement-with-policies/

Socialmedia.biz,. (2015). Best practices for developing a social media policy. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from http://socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/

Valenza, J. (2014, December 18). School Library Journal.

http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2014/12/18/my-top-10-tech-trends-expanded-with-infographic/

Wikipedia (n.d). Web 2.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

Second Life Adventures

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Over the past few years, I’ve had a number of opportunities to play around in Second Life. My first experience was as a Highly Accomplished ICT Educator with the now defunct PLANE project. I joined PLANE at the very beginning of its flight, in 2012. PLANE, which stood for Professional Learning Anywhere: A Network for Educators, strived to develop a game- based professional learning platform for educators, providing them with opportunities to build networks that were not reliant on their geographic location, and to allow them to collaborate with colleagues, and take part in asynchronous professional learning which supported their professional development.
After completing a few boot camps, I picked up SL fairly quickly – possibly due to my previous experience in gaming, the platform was fairly natural to me, and once I got my head around the controls it was a fairly easy learning curve. In my role as HAICTE, I assisted the SL experts in running a few boot camps for PLANE participants, acting as a flight attendant of sorts in the PLANE metaphor. We had a few team meetings in SL, and ran a couple of teach meets in-world,  and I was confident and comfortable in the use of the platform as a communication and collaboration zone.
Then, PLANE derailed. Funding was cut, and after a while support for the PD sessions provided on the site was no longer available. From this time until the beginning of 2015, my SL avatar sat neglected in cyberspace, waiting for me to return and give her a wardrobe update and take her flying. When I joined the executive of SLANSW at the end of last year, some planning about future and events was discussed, and it was suggested by our president that we run some PD sessions in Second Life, to allow geographically isolated teacher librarians to be able to access the professional learning without the need to travel. PD in your PJ’s has always appealed to me as a concept, given that our profession is becoming more and more time poor, and there are increasing pressures for educators to complete mandated professional learning in their own time. I also believe that it’s a valuable opportunity for educators to ensure that they are taking responsibility for their own professional learning, and thus experiencing professional development which targets their individual needs and interests, rather than the “one size fits all” PD which is often provided at a school level.
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(Image: SLANSW Second Life Bootcamp featuring Jokay and Stanley Yip, in the leadup to a SLANSW PD Event run in-world)
Again, SL was a quick pick-up for me. A couple of Second Life sessions with speakers including Dan Haessler and Hamish Curry provided participants the opportunity to develop our in-world skills whilst engaging in some meaningful conversations with other educators about our own often very diverse circumstances. This led to some wonderful sharing of ideas for potential solutions to problems around topics such as well-being and design thinking. Great stuff.
Cue INF506, and another opportunity to play in-world, and explore the opportunities for virtual reality experiences like Second Life for developing connections. The distance education experience is a perfect opportunity to explore non-traditional communication and collaboration options. I was unable to join my fellow students in-world during our scheduled bootcamps due to timing, however did meet a few people in Second Life for some small group catch-ups, which we honed our skills. It was an engaging way to develop our expertise in a largely unfamiliar setting for many of us, and allowed for some valuable conversation about our study experiences. What I have found, though, is that whilst my experiences in-world have been largely positive, they haven’t led to any strong desire on my part to include it as an ongoing part of my life, either professionally or personally. I can play around with it when needed, but it hasn’t become an embedded part of my professional practice or my online life.
So, how does a virtual world like Second Life lend itself to supporting information services? That’s a great question. And, I suspect, the answer will vary depending on the interests and experiences of the individuals and the information services in question. One of the key benefits of a virtual world is the sense of connection that it can provide. Rather than just “dialling in” to a webinar, or participating in an online meeting through any of the multitude of online platforms available, a virtual world creates a sense of presence (Hill and Meister, 2013). You are really there with your fellow participants, in the form of your avatar. You interact with the same environment as them, sit on the lounge beside the avatar of a colleague from miles away, and share in conversations and connections with people in a far more engaging way that you would in a slightly more clinical chat box of an Adobe Connect room, for example.
One of the downsides, however, is the often overwhelming technical skill required for such a connection. During my frequent  experiences with SL bootcamps, I have discovered many people who find the whole environment too much to cope with. Concentrating on the conversations, figuring out how to move to new locations, and the skills needed to troubleshoot any technical issues has the potential to create a barrier for people who may already feel geographically isolated – they then become more isolated by their perceived lack of skill in a virtual world too. Helmer and Learning Light reference the key strengths and weaknesses of Second Life as a learning environment, and the steep learning curve for most participants, as well as the significant time required to develop mastery of the virtual world, as high on the list of problems (2007).
The potential for virtual worlds in information services are limited only by the imaginations of the librarians and educators who are continuing to explore new ways to provide opportunities for connection with their clients. Virtual libraries, hang outs, in-world author talks and workshop experiences, and any number of other services that might meet the needs of clients are possible. It’s essential, though, that the needs of the clients are placed at the centre of any decision to embark on a virtual world project – otherwise, these adventures will go the way of my initial Second Life explorations, and become an infrequent adventure rather than a regular part of an individual’s interaction with the information service.
References:
Helmer, J., & Learning Light (2007). Second Life and virtual worlds. Retrieved from http://www.norfolkelearningforum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/virtual-worlds_ll_oct_2007.pdf
Hill, V., & Meister, M. (2013). Virtual worlds and libraries Gridhopping to new worlds. College & Research Libraries News, 74(1), 43-47. Retrieved from http://crln.acrl.org/content/74/1/43.full

Social Media – Engagement with Policies

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There’s no escaping the fact that social media is a part of our connected world. Initially, social media was purely for social interactions, as distinct from professional. Those lines are now blurred, with an abundance of professional, government and educational organisations establishing strong social media presences across a number of platforms.

It is of critical importance that any social media or social networking account established for an organisation takes into account the protocols around engagement. Who is expected to interact with the social media presence? What are the rules of engagement going to be? And most importantly, how can you ensure that users are aware of these guidelines when engaging with your networks?

When establishing a social media presence for community engagement, it is important to consider the following five points:

1. What is the objective of the social media account?

Social media is supposed to be exactly that – SOCIAL. If your purpose is to create a space where people can find out dates of events, and receive updates about what is happening in your organisation, but don’t want them to provide feedback, or don’t want to allow comments or contributions from the community, then perhaps a billboard or a static website might be more suitable than a facebook page. If you want to create a space for sharing of ideas and discussions, then perhaps a wiki would be useful. If your objective is to curate a wide range of links and resources, then a site like diigo or pinterest might be the best place to start. Organisations need to ensure that their accounts and sites meet their needs, and provide appropriate opportunities for engagement.

2. How will the account be administered?

There are some serious admin considerations that need to be taken into account when setting up social media accounts on behalf of an organisation. Protocols for responding to complaints or suggestions, appropriate timing of posts, and the development of a style of posting/ sharing which reflects the organisation are all elements which need to be taken into consideration. Who will be responsible for creating and sharing content? What will happen it there is a controversial issue? How will the account passwords, privacy details, etc, be managed, in order to ensure that the account is sustainable, and not just reliant on the efforts of one enthusiastic person?

3. What regulations need to be abided by?

There are legal and ethical considerations when setting up a social media account. If your target audience is primary school aged children, then a site which requires members to be 13+ to create an account is not going to be suitable. Sites which don’t allow you a level of control over privacy and sharing of personal information could be a serious concern when children are anticipated users. Any site that is being considered for use should be closely examined to ensure that it fits with the guidelines for appropriate communications, as required by the organisation in question.

4. What are the “rules of engagement” for the account?

It is important that all users are aware of what the guidelines are for social media interactions. All social media accounts should provide some information about what is appropriate in terms of communication, response times, etc. For example, the Evans High School facebook page provides an outline of the types of behaviours that are expected from the school community when interacting with the page. This highlights the importance of contributions by all community members, the desire for the page to reflect the school’s PBL focus of “cooperative, polite and responsible” behaviours, and the expected time frame for any responses to requests posted on the page. (Evans HS, n.d.). This allows for positive management of the page, and ensures that users know what is expected when interacting. It is important that these rules of engagement are consistent across all social media accounts, and reflect the image and message of the organisation.

5. What policies and procedures are required to govern the social media accounts?

Establishing policies and procedures for social media will vary depending on the context of the organisation, and the framework within which it operates. Government organisations have specific requirements about representation and participation which may not apply to all organisations, for example. As a teacher librarian in a NSW public school, the key documents that I must refer to are the NSWDEC policies and procedures relating to Online Communications Services – specifically, the Social Media Policy and Guidelines for staff, and the Online Communication Services: Acceptable Usage for Students policy.

References:

DETNSW. (2015). Social Media Policy. Retrieved 12 May 2015, from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/technology/communication/PD20110418.shtml

Evans High School (n.d.) https://www.facebook.com/EvansHighSchool/info?tab=page_info

Socialmedia.biz,. (2015). Best practices for developing a social media policy. Retrieved 15 May 2015, from http://socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/

 

Continuing the 2.0 theme – the Librarian 2.0!

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Essential skills of the information professional in a web2.0 world. What are they? I believe, fundamentally, that they are the same skills that are required by any effective educator: the ability to foster connection, collaboration, and community.

CONNECTION – it’s about more than just being able to chat to people. It’s about linking the people we work with to the information they are looking for (Mackenzie, 2007, p120). Simple as that? Well, yes and no. Because firstly, you need to make sure you are aware of what it is the people around you need! What are the teachers looking for to support their teaching and learning? What do the students require to help them reach their school learning goals, and also to support their development as lifelong learners? What does the school executive, and the wider school community, want and need from their school library? Once you know all these things, you can be the information specialist who is armed with the roadmap needed to establish these connections. Sometimes this will require ICT tools. Sometimes it will need a creative application of a traditional tool (Harvey, 2009). Sometimes it will require the willingness to concede that you have absolutely no idea what it requires, and do some research of your own.

And that’s where COLLABORATION comes in. No longer is the librarian the one who holds the keys to all knowledge. The 21st century information specialist knows how to find out what they need to know, and they know how to direct others in their question for information.  They collaborate with colleagues. They draw on the strengths of those who have gone before them – someone has curated an excellent diigo which relates to an area of study that a senior History class is researching? They create links between the class and the curator. A university on the other side of the globe is doing wonderful things with Instagram? They collaborate with the account admins, and regram content, giving credit to the original Instagram account. A student comes up with a great idea for a virtual world project which could benefit the school community? They liaise with the relevant stakeholders to create a working party to ensure that the idea doesn’t just languish in the corner, but is given the resources and expertise required to make it a success – and, most importantly, they recognize that this expertise may (and probably WILL) come from someone other than them.

It’s really an extension of the connection idea, I guess. Collaboration is a key indicator of the shift in perception of the information professional. Partridge, Lee and Munro refer  to research which reflects this notion that librarians “can’t do everything”, and need to work closely with IT professionals and multidisciplinary teams in order to meet the needs of their clients (2010). No longer are we the gurus, but the guides. We certainly ARE experts, but our expertise is often in the area of finding out who may have the answers and ideas needed, rather than being the storehouse for these ourselves.

Cohen’s Manifesto Statement that as a Librarian 2.0 “”I will be willing to go where users are” really encompasses the idea of COMMUNITY for me. It’s about a recognition that we need to be willing to embrace the spaces, connections and interests of our wider community. If our users are active on social networks, then we need to consider whether engaging with them on those platforms might be something that would be of benefit. We need to be willing, and indeed enthusiastic, about the interactions amongst our community, and what they can contribute to our library service. Social tagging is just one example of ways that our community engagement can enrich our library experience.

So I guess for me, the fundamental defining characteristic of Librarian 2.0 is the willingness to dive into the 21st century information landscape, with all the resources that provides, and to strive to create the absolute best library (Stephens, 2006, p8) they can for, and with, their patrons. We are no longer behind a desk, we are part of a community. And that’s my favourite thing of all about being this new breed of librarian!

References:

Cohen, L (2007) A manifesto for our times. American Libraries Vol. 38, No. 7 (Aug., 2007), pp. 47-49

Harvey, M. (2009)  What does it mean to be a Science Librarian 2.0? http://www.istl.org/09-summer/article2.html

Mackenzie, C. (2007). Creating our future: Workforce planning for Library 2.0 and beyond. APLIS, 20(3), 118-124.

Partridge, H., Lee, J., and Munro, C. (2010). Becoming “Librarian 2.0”: The Skills, Knowledge, and Attributes Required by Library and Information Science Professionals in a Web 2.0 World (and Beyond) Library Trends Volume 59 (1-2)  http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/journals/library_trends/v059/59.1-2.partridge.html

Stephens, M. (2006). Into a new world of librarianship. Next Space, The OCLC Newsletter. http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/publications/newsletters/nextspace/nextspace_002.pdf

 

 

Building academic library 2.0: Advice for Evans

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The “Building Academic Library 2.0” video, part of a symposium sponsored by Librarians Association of the University of California, Berkeley Division in 2007, provides some interesting ideas for where we can go, as we shift our libraries from the static, traditional, quiet buildings that proliferate the stereotypes, to the dynamic participatory centres of learning that we owe our users.

Make some plans! Wagner, Associate Vice Chancellor at UC Berkeley’s opening remarks about the need for “Planning, partnership and privacy” rang true for me in the directions that the Library@Evans needs to take as we move towards a more participative Library 2.o. Wagner highlights the fact that it’s difficult to make plans when you don’t know what people want, so it’s vital to consult with your users. What do our students want and need? What do teachers want and need?

This leads to my second key takeaway message – technology isn’t about what you buy, but about what our clients can do with what we buy. Our laptop and iPads are fantastic additions to our technology offerings in the library, and supplement the existing computer labs, but they are just tools which can be used in a strategic plan to support teaching and learning. They aren’t solutions. They don’t enhance a student’s ability to embrace and develop their own lifelong learning love. They don’t facilitate engagement with critical literacies. They can be used as part of a proactive plan, rather than a reactionary approach to teaching which sees us responding to issues, rather than leading the conversation.

We need to question everything. I’ve discovered, since taking over the library at the beginning of last year, that so much of what happens in the library is a result of tradition. About 9 months into the year, we discovered that we were able to scan the ISBN of books directly into SCIS when doing a catalogue entry for new items. It makes perfect sense, right? We scan barcodes when we are doing circulation tasks. But, in the library manual, written 10+ years ago by a librarian long gone, it instructs us to type in the ISBN. The library assistant has been so used to keying the numbers in that she never even thought about scanning them. This is a minor example, but really illustrates the habits that we fall into in our profession. And, it’s something that we need to consider as we move towards being the kind of library we want to be. We encourage our students to

Another direction that we can consider is the benefits of marketing. Our social media accounts, particularly our Instagram account, are our first step in highlighting and marketing our collections to our key audiences. Using flickr and RSS feeds are some interesting suggestions from Farkas to consider as we shift our focus away from just the “new books” stand traditionally located in the high school library.

The final point that I took away from this video is the one that will perhaps be most challenging for many librarians and educators. It’s about embracing the idea that we don’t have to be the experts. Users have expertise that can and should be used more effectively in our libraries. How can we use that in our high school libraries? Social bookmarking, something that I’ve only really gotten into through my own post-grad study, is an interesting approach which can be employed to draw on the collective intelligence of our users.

 

 

User reviews – Whose opinion matters?

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I often wonder how I used to make a life decision before google. Before I could look up a review of a movie I want to see, or search for some opinions on the new Thai restaurant in my neighbourhood before deciding where to eat. I will peruse book blogs and GoodReads to help me select a book from my TBR pile, and if I can’t find useful reviews to help me decide, I’ll crowdsource opinions on twitter or Facebook.

User reviews are a valuable source of information about goods and services, and online review platforms have the potential to provide organisations and individuals with an enormous range of information at their fingertips. But, like any information, it must be read critically. One of the things we strive to teach our students is the importance of critical information literacy – that we should not just accept any information on face value, but should analyse it. We apply the CRAP test at my school – Currency, Reliability, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. This same kind of critical analysis should be applied to reviews on Tripadvisor, as well as the ubiquitous wikipedia article that teachers are so fond of warning students off.

review-stars1

There is a potential downside to user reviews though. There is unfortunately the risk that some users may decide to wield the power of their negative review, and seek to actively destroy the reputation of a business or organisation. There have been increasing numbers of claims of such behaviour in recent years, including the cafe which was the result of an unrenewed lease, with frequent negative reviews given as one of the main reasons for this (Thomson, 2014). The phrase “Social Media Blackmail” has been coined to refer to the process of using social media reviews as currency, often to the detriment of the organisation being reviewed (Neidlinger, 2013), and it is a serious issue of concern.

Despite the potential problems, I believe that user reviews are a valuable resource. Beyond that, though, they are a reflection of the kind of information landscape I am proud to inhabit. A world in which opinions and ideas matter, and people are able to express them freely, without fear of repercussions. It is for this reason I will continue to gather the opinions of others when I’m hunting for somewhere to stay on my next trip somewhere unfamiliar. But I’ll also take the negative review with as much a grain of salt as the glowing one – because ultimately, my decisions are my responsibility, and my opinion matters too!

 

References:

Neidlinger, J. (2013). This Is What Social Media Blackmail Looks Like. Todaymade Blog. Retrieved from https://todaymade.com/blog/social-media-blackmail/

Thomson, P. (2014). Stromlo cafe owner lashes out at bad comments on Trip Advisor. Retrieved from http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/stromlo-cafe-owner-lashes-out-at-bad-comments-on-trip-advisor-20140801-zyyum.html

Oh what a tangled Web we weave … Web2.0

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Web2.0. It’s like web version 1, but with a better camera, and more apps. Oh wait, that’s the iPhone.

Take 2. Web 2.0. What is it? I LOVE the jargon of the wiki definition, which describes Web 2.0 as “World Wide Web sites that emphasize user-generated content, usability, and interoperability” (wikipedia, n.d.) What does that mean? Basically, it represents the shift from the internet as a place where people go to find information, to a place where users create information, share ideas, and are involved in the production of media. The focus is on creation rather than consumption. Wikipedia itself represents a perfect example of a Web 2.0 site, as users are able to edit, create, and contribute to the body of knowledge.

Web 2.0 sites play a vital role in the way that people engage on the internet, on multiple levels. Socially, people create connections on sites like facebook, youtube and instagram, sharing their pictures, events, and ideas with an ever-expanding community. Academically, wikis allow spaces for connection, interaction and sharing of teaching and learning. Professionally, colleagues interact on sites such as twitter and google hangouts, allowing for a deepening collaborative connections. Web 2.0 platforms like tumblr, pinterest, and the numerous other blogging and curations sites in existance cross the boundaries of use, allowing people to collaborate and connect in many areas of their lives.

Web 2.0 is so much a part of our internet experience that it’s second nature to contribute to sites. As our ability to contribute to the collective body of knowledge that the internet represents increases, so does our need to throughtfully and critically analyse the media we consume. Active participation in the creation of media needs to be met with active engagement with the media we interact with. Web 2.0, then, is really a reflection of the relationships that users form with the sites – creating, exchanging and using information around a point of need (Miller, 2005).

Web 2.0 is an enormous part of my online life. Whether is facebook groups to communicate with colleagues or fellow students, instagram to share my day and my work, or one of the myriad of other sites I use in my teaching and learning, I’m constantly contributing to the ever-increasing world of Web 2.0. What will be next, I wonder?

 

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0. Accessed May 1 2015.

Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library, Ariadne, 45, 30 October. Retrieved from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue45/miller

Social networking – what is it anyway?

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social-networks

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/10-surprising-social-medi_b_4325088.html

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 (http://www.facebook.com/EvansHighSchool), and have as of yesterday started in an admin role on the SLANSW facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/School-Library-Association-of-New-South-Wales/791343294233335).

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 (http://www.pinterest.com/princesstamara/) and a school one (http://www.pinterest.com/evanshighschool/) 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! 🙂

 

References:

Cooper, B (2013) Ten social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/10-surprising-social-medi_b_4325088.html Accessed March 14 2015.

Duggan, M, Ellison, N, Lampe, C, Lenhart, A, and Madden, M. (2015) Social Media Update 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/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 Worldhttp://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/reports/pdfs/sharing.pdf. Accessed March 14 2015.