Digital learning opens up an exciting and engaging world of possibilities for teaching and learning. Its impact in schools is reflected in changes in how learning spaces are designed and the introduction of new learning models for teachers and students. Innovative technologies have the potential to create transformative learning environments (Freeman, Adams, Cummins, Davis & Giesinger, 2017, p. 3). While there are myriad factors which impact on the relative success of digital learning environments (DLEs) in schools, I have learnt that the key is to embrace change and take an active role in its implementation.
Something that resonated with me was the importance of a unified voice and co-ordinated approach to digital citizenship in schools. In my first ETL523 forum posting I stated that educational change needed to be ‘led from the top and communicated clearly to teachers, parents and students’ (Riddle, 2018) but what I had not considered, were the practicalities of making that happen, or the role I could play in its implementation. Barry (2018, para. 6) notes that individuals can create change in their own classroom and in doing so can inspire others to create change. Indeed, as a teacher librarian, I work with all teachers and students throughout the school, so am in a pivotal position to lead elements of technological change. I started considering how I could take a more active role by working more collaboratively with teachers. I thought a starting point could be sharing technologies that I introduce in the library with teachers. This could be accomplished through team teaching, leading Professional Development (PD) sessions or facilitating opportunities for students to show their teachers what they have learnt. I also considered communicating in new ways to make the experience more immersive in the same way that throughout this module we have been invited to share opinions and ideas using a range of new digital tools.
My ideas about digital citizenship had initially been quite narrow in focus regarding cyber bullying, safety, copyright laws and privacy online. Making students aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities is crucial and I certainly learnt more about ways this could be embedded into the curriculum and the importance of implementing policies and student-friendly code of conducts (Forde & Stockley, 2009, p. 49 ).
However, my thinking broadened regarding the exciting possibilities of digital learning. A quote that resonated the most with me was ‘Students should do more than just survive in this digital society. They should create, innovate and thrive’ (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011 p. 41). I believe a barrier to realising this vision exists in some educational settings when access to digital learning is viewed as a privilege and not a right. This mind-set is often accompanied by threats of confiscating tools or blocking access if certain rules are broken. I believe that this approach, often punitive in nature, can come from fear because of a limited understanding of the digital world. As a result the focus is on safeguarding without looking at the potentials of digital learning. This issue of confiscation came up during a webinar in ETL523 and the ethical point was raised ‘would you take away a child’s ability to write if they had written something inappropriate?’. Personally, I feel the answer is clearly is ‘no!’ It is about learning how to work online in skillful, confident and appropriate ways (Lindsay, 2018) so that students can leverage the full potential of DLEs.
It helps perhaps to view digital learning as another literacy in which we want our students to be fluent (Spencer, 2018, para. 2). The skills of using and applying technologies is critical for preparing students for their future in a connected 21st century world. This need should therefore be reflected in curriculum design and delivery and supported by the appropriate infrastructure and teacher support to make it happen. As individuals, we also have a responsibility to take an active and proactive approach in our own learning, utilizing the opportunities of cultivating our own Professional Learning Network (PLN) so we can be models of digital citizenship for our students and continue to be lifelong learners.
My first assignment for Digital Citizenship in Schools (ETL523) involved working on an online collaborative authoring task creating a Wiki module. This was the first time during my studies of MA Education that I’ve been asked to work collaboratively with others to produce content that would be assessed.
Initially I felt anxious. My mind flew back to my experience during a teachers’ ‘team building’ treasure hunt exercise in the desert a few years ago. When all the teams returned at the end of the day, one group were not talking to each other! I remember glancing over to a sunburnt teacher on the edge of tears… it was a disaster! They had become enemies! Pondering this, suddenly my concerns centred on all the problems I might be likely face. My initial thought was that of impending doom.
However, my experience from the very beginning was extremely positive. I was lucky that I had amazing colleagues to work with – Gillian and Amy. In our first online meeting with our lecturer we used the opportunity to organise our group immediately. A few days later we had our first online meeting. We then continued to communicate via a variety of online collaborative learning tools including Google docs, Padlets and Diigo. These helped us formulate ideas and share theory relevant to our proposal and to come to a consensus on our module structure, presentation and layout.
Throughout the process we also used email, WhatsApp, the Wiki itself and had regular chats in the Adobe Connect chat room. Each chat was minuted and followed up with action points. One member took on the role of leader which helped us all work effectively together and ensured everyone was clear on their roles and responsibilities.
Most importantly there was a sense of mutual respect for an individual’s input. This created a positive learning environment. It also meant that people were receptive to feedback. Creating and producing work alone means you are largely restricted to your own thoughts and sometimes only receive feedback once an assignment is completed for example. In contrast, a significant advantage to collaborative learning is that it’s a far more dynamic and reflective experience. Other peoples’ thoughts, feedback, knowledge and expertise has the potential to be transformative – to change your own formulations and reimagine initial concepts. I began to see the efficacy of online collaborative learning for students because I was experiencing it myself.
I reflected on how lucky I was to have been in such a great team. We didn’t need to set ground rules at the beginning. I didn’t think it was needed. We’re all adults aren’t we? but then I thought back to the team building activity in the desert and the miserable group of teachers at the end of the day! Yes our team was lucky, it was a fluid and positive experience. However, it could easily have not been the case.
With this in mind, in order to leverage the full potential of online collaborative learning tasks, I will ensure I set aside time in discussing with students, the attitudes, dispositions and behaviours of online collaborative learning which are conducive to being successful digital citizens. In the same way we teach behaviour management in the classroom, digital citizenship behaviours should be introduced and regularly revisited according to the varying contexts in which students are faced. This can help students to feel empowered when they think, collaborate, learn, communicate and share.
Below is a link to the digital artefact that I created for this module. I created the video using ‘VideoScribe’, uploaded it to Youtube and embedded it on Linoit.
Kate Riddle, Student ID 11535444, Digital artefact “The Digital Divide’ VideoScribe.
Part A: Statement of personal philosophy: what do you think makes an effective teacher librarian?
It is my belief that the library is the heart of the school and the work of the teacher librarian can make a significant difference to student achievement. My aim is to encourage students to become enthusiastic readers, critical thinkers and skillful researchers. I am committed to making sure that children have a positive learning experience. I see my role as that of a guide, facilitating independent learning and helping students reach their full potential.
An effective teacher librarian has to meet the changing needs of the library’s users and take into account the ever changing pedagogical and technological landscape therefore I feel among the vital dispositions, skills and attitudes for a teacher librarian is to be reactive, innovative and reflective.
Part B: Critically evaluate your learning during the teacher librarianship course, focusing on three themes.
Theme 1: ICT use in the library
As the information landscape continues to evolve, so does my own learning and development. Interestingly, in my first blog post on this course, where I discussed the role of the teacher librarian, I did not mention Information Communication Technology (ICT) at all (Riddle, 2014a). I now however understand that its use and integration can be of pivotal importance for a teacher librarian’s practice and as a corollary, children’s learning.
Two readings in my first subject ETL401 particular stressed the importance of being a reflective practitioner who considers the current and future impact of technology and adapting to the changing learning environment (November, 2007, p. 44; O’Connell, 2012, p. 6). This was a significant learning moment as ICT use in the library till this point, was largely limited to using the library catalogue. As I progressed in this subject I developed a particular interest in ICT and in ETL503 (Resourcing the Curriculum), I started to consider the increasing expectations for children to present, assess and share their work in a variety of multimedia formats (Riddle, 2015). In a blog post, I stated that it was vital that teachers and students are provided with the resources to meet these needs (Riddle, 2015). However, at this point, though I agreed with the theory, it was not something that I was doing in practice.
One way I achieved this was creating a Library YouTube channel in an after-school book club.
Landing page for YouTube channel
The idea for this connected my initial readings in this subject, developing understanding, and a statement from a teacher who told me that when discussing with children what they wanted to be when they grew up, one of them said “A YouTuber”. This was the first time she had heard this sort of response. Creating content on YouTube is now a viable career option (Johnson, 2017, p. 61) and I felt there was a need to support the skills associated with creating and uploading content in this way.
Below is the children’s first video
In YouTube Book Club, children became ‘content creators’ by planning, scripting, filming, editing and uploading book related content. I shared this with the school Principal and I then asked him to share it the rest of the school. This practice of sharing is supported by ASLA (Australian School Library Association) standard 2.6 which states that highly accomplished teacher librarians “model the use of ICT to their colleagues” and “work collaboratively with colleagues to improve student learning and engagement” (Australian School Library Association, 2004, p. 9).
Copy of e mail sent to the primary school by the Primary School Principal
The club was a success and the children uploaded five videos. However, the next step would be to ensure regular uploads. When critiquing Arizona State University Youtube page in a blog post, I commented on their lack of recent videos (Riddle, 2016) which can have adverse effects on engagement as people are more likely to unsubscribe to an inactive channel. The same would be true for the library channel. A future project that would be a logical next step would be to create a channel that could incorporate regular videos from the library with information sharing, guides and content created by the children.
A distinguishing feature of Web 2.0 are the principles of active users, interactivity, and user generated content (Schwerdtfeger, 2013, March 17). My Youtube channel is a good example of a platform that embraces these principles (Riddle, 2017). My interest in technology for library instruction led to me to attend a course recently on this very topic and to choose the elective subject INF 506 (Social networking for Information Professionals). The subject content in this elective as well as my experience during my Study Placement, developed my understanding of Web 2.0 tools as not just a teaching tool but as an important method of communication.
Two platforms which I developed as a result of my studies at Charles Sturt University was a library Twitter page and a Pinterest page.
Of particular inspiration to me during the Study Placement was the Marketing and Communications Team at the State Library of Victoria. Their presentation impacted on how I used Twitter in particular. The team used strategic marketing initiatives to celebrate and share what they were doing as well as attracting new visitors. I started having a more formalised structure to my postings and thought more deeply about what and how I would share. The marketing team stressed the importance of sharing across teams in the same institute. The literature highlights the benefits of this collaborative approach, which as discussed in my blog post, (Riddle, 2017) includes the opportunity to extend the reach of content (LePage, 2014) and to contribute towards a sense of community (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.77). Some examples of this ‘cross-pollination’ can be seen below on my Twitter page. In one example I have written a Tweet @ a member of the Senior Leadership Team, in another retweeted the Secondary School Library tweet and in another included the school’s main Twitter page.
Theme 2: The role of the teacher librarian : Literacy
My first subject on this course ETL401 focused on the many overlapping and interconnected roles of the teacher librarian. I learnt that while the definition of this role can vary, professional standards and policies help to define and set high standards for the position. During some independent reading and research for the assignment, I was particularly interested in a UK government educational strategy document titled “Building an Outstanding Reading School” which connected to my readings on the instructional role of the teacher librarian. The article discussed the importance of celebrating and promoting a culture of reading. This was backed by research which highlighted the significant impact this could have on children’s achievement and development (Clements, 201, p. 3).
This reading in particular coincided with my annual professional development targets and I started thinking in more practical terms about how I could promote reading throughout the school. Our Professional Growth Targets had to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) and this helps to measure the impact of changes implemented and gives a specific time frame and sense of accountability. One of my targets was to develop the school’s first ever Book Week. This was done in collaboration with the teachers, SLT (School Leadership Team) and Literacy Coordinator. Activities included a Book Fair, DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) session and a decorate your class door as your favourite book character competition. In this competition all classes decorated their doors as the front cover of a book and the whole school got involved including the school Principal and administration! By the end of the week the whole school looked like a library!
While Book Week was a success I felt I wanted to increase links with the curriculum and to increase academic rigour connected to literacy. The following year, I expanded the activities to include a story writing competition using the platform storybird.com. Children in Years 4 and 5 were given their own accounts. The platform allowed them to write their own stories using images to inspire writing. They could also collaborate with classmates if they wished. Children went through the process of writing and editing to produce their own books.
During lessons, we connect to authors in real time by sending them tweets when we are reading their books. Children also take part in ‘author studies’ where we focus on one author for a period of time. Social media is used to promote the library and its activities and to engage with our students. One fun activity we did, was take part in the #extremereading challenge when children tweeted pictures of themselves reading in weird and wonderful places!
The article “Building an Outstanding Reading School” particularly focused on the importance of reading frequently and for pleasure. During my time in the school we introduced after-school parent borrowing to encourage parents to come and borrow a book to read with their child.
It was also a great opportunity to promote the concept of following the child’s interest when it comes to making choices. I feel strongly that children need to find their way to get ‘hooked’ into reading and that while we have a responsibility to expose them to a variety of genres we should never force our choices onto them. Another way I tried to facilitate this was through regular exposure to a variety of texts during read-aloud sessions and to making sure there was sufficient time in the library lesson for not just browsing but also reading. Children today in many schools have such a busy schedule that it could be easy for a book to be checked out and remain in their bags. Having time to read a few pages in a relaxing environment I found was a catalyst for some reluctant readers to be reeled in.
Research has demonstrated the significant influence teacher librarians can have on students’ learning (Bush & Jones, 2013, p. 4) but we need to also be aware that it is difficult to conclusively measure this impact and therefore be cautious in interpreting results which may for example reflect correlation and not causation. Other studies have focused on positive outcomes when the teacher librarian works with staff (Morris, 2007, p. 24; Haycock, 2007, p. 25) and I believe it is perhaps best to see the teacher librarian working at the centre of the school in collaboration with staff and parents to improve student achievement.
My desire to create lifelong readers was put into practice by understanding how students learn. This knowledge is on-going and as a result of my own research and workplace knowledge. These two strands are noted in ASLA Standard 2.1 ‘Understand how students learn’ (p.3). Practical application and reflection is vital in order to grow as a teacher librarian. This involves considering what works and adapting according to technological and pedagogical change and over time differences in how children learn best.
Theme 3: Leadership and management
When I started this course I felt I had a clear idea about the management expectations for a teacher librarian. In a blog post I stated that these centred on managing a budget, sourcing and ordering appropriate materials, timetabling, running inventories, cataloguing, processing and analysing data as well as managing staff and volunteers (Riddle, 2014b). However, the concept of leadership was less tangible to me and was not something I had felt was particularly significant to the role. Indeed, until this point I had not really considered my own leadership capacities in my role as teacher librarian. I think the reason for this, is that the position is not always a formal leadership role within a school hierarchy. Though this can vary globally and from institution to institution, this lack of consensus perhaps impacted on how I initially perceived the role.
In a blog post I stated that through my studies “I gained a greater depth of understanding of the scope of leadership possibilities and was able to reflect on areas where I needed to develop” (Riddle, 2014b). The concept of instructional leadership (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p. 18) was of particular interest to me and I felt I could see quite clearly where I could play a more pivotal role in leading elements of teaching and learning across the school. In a blog post I reflected that this could be best achieved by “working in collaboration with a hierarchy of personnel throughout the school” (Riddle, 2014b).
This developed in practical terms when I took over responsibility for coaching children for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Readers’ Cup competition.
The role involved working initially with over 200 children. In order to get as many children as possible involved I invited the whole of Year 5 and 6 to take part in an internal heat prior to selecting the children who would compete. This made the process fair, open to everyone and most importantly got more children enthusiastic and excited about reading and the festival. There were then weekly meetings with the two selected teams over a five month period.
The role meant I was collaborating with the children, their parents, the class teachers, SLT and the four other staff members who would be acting as mentors to the children. On a practical level, this meant being highly organised and utilising management skills. On a cognitive level it meant being strategic, planning and prioritising. Most important though was utilising social and emotional leadership qualities. Kotter (2013) stated that efficient leaders need to have a clear vision (para. 8.) so that others are motivated and inspired towards a common goal and shared vision of success. This is also known as transformational leadership (Browning, 2013, p. 14) which focuses on the intrinsic human motivation to succeed (Tedx Talks, 2009, July). Something that indicated to me that the children were intrinsically motivated was that they never once asked me what the prize was until the day of the competition! Similarly, the staff I worked with, and the mentors in particular remained on board throughout the whole process. Their support and shared enthusiasm played a key role in the teams’ success.
The children were competing against over 300 other teams, reached the Finals and were then placed 1st and 2nd. It was a wonderful achievement for the children, school and for me professionally, it was one of my highlights during my time in the school.
I felt this was enabled by the school culture of collaboration and the fact that I had already been in the school for a number of years meant that I had the trust of the children and my colleagues. Most importantly, I strived to create a learning environment where the children felt appreciated and inspired
Me with the Readers’ Cup Teams for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Another example of me taking on an instructional leadership style role, leading elements of teaching and learning across the school was when I worked in collaboration with the art teacher to run a Creativity Workshop for teachers. We ran the session four times to cater to all staff. I disseminated information I had learnt from a workshop on creative writing, storytelling and visualization and adapted it to the context of classroom and specialist teachers.
One of my Professional Growth targets was connected to building the capacity within my team. This follows a distributed leadership model which focuses on teams rather than individuals (Harris, 2004 as cited in Harris and Spillane, 2008, p.31). In a blog post, I reflected that this leadership style was present in my school and stated as such, I see myself as part of a “dynamic organization with many moving parts” (Ailshie, 2013, para. 4 as cited in Riddle, 2014b). A major advantage of this structure is that it utilises the expertise present in a team (Ailshie, 2013, para. 9). I was very lucky to work with two talented and hardworking librarian assistants. During the academic year I kept a focus on building on their skills through providing opportunities for team teaching, shared lesson planning, feedback, professional dialogue and external Professional Development opportunities which we attended as a team or they attended solo and took responsibility for disseminating the learning. In my Appraisee Review the comment was made “Kate has a flair for coaching and the development and growth of her team is evident” (Evidenced In Professional Growth review image under Theme 2).
Part C: An evaluation as to the extent to which what you have learned during this course will assist in developing your skills and attitudes as a professional teacher librarian.
From my experience, there is a great deal of variance on how the role of the teacher librarian is perceived and carried out. The ASLA/ALIA teacher librarian professional standards help to set benchmarks and expectations for the role.
The first standard refers to ‘Professional Knowledge’. While I am already a fully qualified teacher and had a solid background in teaching and learning, this course developed my specialist knowledge of information literacy, resources and ICT in particular. Standard 1.1 states that excellent teacher librarians “understand the principles of lifelong learning” (Australian Library Association, 2004, p. 2). Although I previously knew what this concept meant, I feel I now have the skills to enable this to happen. Resourcing the curriculum appropriately, following children’s interests and promoting a culture of reading throughout the school were all ways I attempted to achieve this. Professional knowledge from the course is key to enabling change because theory and research can validate certain decisions rather than relying on a ‘hunch’ that you are making the right judgement. Speaking from a viewpoint that is based on professional understanding and experience is also important in terms of gaining the trust of your colleagues and school community.
ASLA/ALIA Standard 2 is concerned with ‘Professional Practice’ covering the areas of learning environment, learning and teaching, library and information services management and evaluation. New ideas and concepts gained from observation and exposure to theory means I am continually changing and adapting the environment to best meet the children’s needs. This was particularly relevant to my context of working in a very small space which presented certain challenges. My studies and experience at a study visit to Methodist Ladies College Library (MLC) in Melbourne made me think more about having adaptive and flexible spaces. This has impacted, for example, on how I select furniture. I now prioritise furniture that is moveable and can be configured in different arrangements. I think of the potential of a space to enable exploration, collaboration and discovery. The MLC school Principal described the library as an ‘inquiry lab’. This concept has been supported by discussions into maker spacers in school libraries throughout my course. This in turn has enabled me to think more broadly when conceptualizing how best a space can be utilised.
The third ASLA/ALIA Standard concerns ‘Professional Commitment’. I feel this is crucial to being a successful teacher librarian. In particular the desire to want to continue learning by active participation in “education and library professional networks” (3.4). Learning from observation and dialogue with other information professionals has been some of the best professional development I have experienced and something which I would like to continue by creating more opportunities to visit other school libraries. Professional commitment to me also means working in a cycle of reflection and change, remaining open-minded to new ideas and practices. Sometimes this involves taking risks and making mistakes but it is part of the cycle of evolving as a teacher librarian and not remaining static.
Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Evidence guide for teacher librarians in the highly accomplished career stage. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.
Browning, P. (2013). Creating the conditions for transformational change. Australian Education Leader 35(3), 14-17.
Bush, G. & L. J., Jones (2013). Professional dispositions of school librarian. In Dow, M., School libraries matter: views from the research (pp. 1-17). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. In School leadership that works: From research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Morris, B.J. (2007). Principal support for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 23-24.
November, A. (2007). Space: the final frontier: a leading tech advocate imagines a media center fit for 21st century learning. School Library Journal, 53(5), 44.
Riddle, K. (2015, April 7). Annotated resource list for curriculum topic – Ancient Egypt. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/2015/04/07/annotated-resource-list-for-curriculum-topic-ancient-egypt/
Riddle, K. (2016, December 16). Arizona State University Youtube and Web 2.0 tools. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/2016/12/16/arizona-state-university-web-2-0-tool/
Riddle, K. (2017, January 22). Evaluative report – Part A. In Kate loves books. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kate/2017/01/22/evaluative-report-part-a/
An evaluative statement based on three experiences documented in your OLJ as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of the subject.
The first blog post in this subject began by examining Web 2.0 and the emergence of social networking technologies which have helped define a new era of user interaction and engagement on the web (Riddle, 2016a). Cavazza (2016) describes these existing and emerging platforms as an ecosystem comprising of six predominate uses including publishing, sharing, messaging, discussing, collaborating and networking.
Social networking tools are continually evolving and adapting with the emergence of new technologies but can be characterised as dynamic and interactive (Riddle, 2016a) platforms that place the user at the centre and are a distinguishing feature of Web 2.0. A major shift in emphasis in Web 2.0 is the role of the user from passive to active, as reflected in opportunities for interactivity and user-generated content (Schwerdtfeger, 2013, March 17).
The second blog post ‘What is Web 2.0’ reflected on the global rise of MED’s (mobile electronic devices) and access to the internet which has helped facilitate the adoption and growth of social networking (Riddle, 2016a). The global proliferation of social networking technologies and their adoption has had a profound affect on society in terms of how we socialise, search for information, and organise ourselves. This is evident when we look closely at how various organisations now function.
Library 2.0 represents how libraries and information agencies adopt Web 2.0 technologies and guiding principles. Casey & Savastinuk (2006) state that the heart of this movement is the user-centre concept that defines Web 2.0. O’Connell (2008) expounds this idea in reference to the opportunities Library 2.O offers for flexibility and personalization within information literacy instruction (p. 53).
Frank & Quan (2014) researched how Web 2.0 principles were adopted in the top 100 academic university libraries in the US (p.120). They concluded that they were increasingly utilising social networking tools and Web 2.0 technology and principles for their marketing, services and interactions with patrons (Frank & Quan, 2014, p.131). While these findings are based on a relatively small scale study of libraries and limited to an academic setting, the information is useful in highlighting the dominant trends and application of Web 2.0 (Frank & Quan, 2014, p.131).
Many of Frank & Quan’s (2014, p. 131) findings correlate with the development of Arizona State University’s library 2.0 environment. The library’s integration of Web 2.0 tools are discussed in third web post ‘Arizona State University (ASU) Youtube and Web 2.0 tools’ (Riddle, 2016b) and include Youtube videos, a blog, Twitter and Facebook. The interactivity with a variety of platforms appealing to different users, embraces the principles of Web 2.0. These principles include the ethos of collaboration, conversation, community, and content creation (CSU, 2016).
ASU Library is a good example of how information professionals use social networking tools to meet the information needs of users. The Youtube videos are short and informative. The content markets the libraries’ facilities, events, resources and provides guides and tutorials (Riddle, 2016b). ASU Library use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for social and educational engagement. One major benefit of these tools is that they provide libraries with an opportunity to respond quickly to users (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.72) as well as facilitating discussions, sharing ideas and creating a sense of community.
ASU Library’s social accounts are also connected to the wider university and other departments. This collaboration is good practice because it enables ‘cross-pollination’ to happen. When ‘retweets’ , reposts, ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’ occur across different departments on the same campus, it is possible to extend the reach of content (LePage, 2014) and furthermore, can add a sense of community (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.77).
‘Cross-pollination’ can be successful when an organization collaborate to create a unified voice (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.71), but policies need to be in place to enable this to happen efficaciously. In the third blog post, the importance of developing a strategy was discussed in relation to being successful on social media platforms (Riddle, 2017). For information professionals working as part of a wider organization, these policies might not currently exist. The faculty at Albertson library were in this position but developed policies based on best practice. They then collaborated with their centralised marketing and communication team so that information was cascaded and shared between departments (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.73). What the faculty recognised was the need for the educational and technical management of their platforms (Riddle, 2017). This was achieved in part by using Google Drive shared calendar to coordinate contributors, and having regular meetings and discussions. Social media analytics were also used as a way to measure the impact and success of their activity towards their social media goals (Riddle, 2017). Albertson library provided the contributors for their social networks with guidelines and vetted student contributors. This is a valid concern in our increasingly networked world where one tweet can be negatively received because of real or perceived ethical concerns.
A reflective statement on your development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506, and the implications for your development as an information professional.
As I began this subject, I stated In my first online Journal (OLJ) entry that I was particularly interested in the transformative nature of social media; how information and ideas can develop when they are shared, discussed and interpreted (Riddle, 2016). However, as I progressed through the module, I also began to think more deeply about the process, the content and the impact of what we share. This was directly connected to my role as an information professional.
As a primary school librarian, I run the library’s Twitter page. The literature discussing Web 2.0 emphasizes inclusion and participation as key drivers for Library 2.0 (UC Berkeley Events, 2007, November 19) but by contrast, I am the sole contributor to the library Twitter page. I started considering how students and library staff could become contributors. The final module in this subject was very important in developing this idea in practical terms and how I could coordinate this in the future. I started to understand the importance of policies and guidelines to support a social networking strategy. I decided that for the next academic school year, I would include social media and networking in my yearly strategic plan; that I would set goals, and develop guidelines and policies so that they could be properly implemented with consistency across the platforms. Regarding my Twitter account for example, the guidelines could specify the contributors, the frequency of posts and the core messages that will be delivered.
Throughout the modules, I started thinking about social media in a wider sense – organizationally rather than just focusing on the library. Indeed, there is no coordinated whole-school social networking policy in my school. One issue which arises from this is that there is no consistency regarding social media presence. This means if someone leaves the school, there is no continuity of service to the platform. This could be quite negative for student engagement and from a school marketing perspective. The advantage of a coordinated approach however is evident in the literature which stresses the benefits of cross-promoting of social media accounts to increase the reach of the audience as well as presenting a synergetic school (LePage, 2014, Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p. 72).
In my first OLJ entry I stated ‘I think it is vital to think logically and rationally about the purpose and intended outcomes for using a particular social networking site’ (Riddle, 2016). My understanding of analytics made me start considering the value of assessing particular platforms after they have been adopted. As librarian, I use Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest accounts to share, communicate, collaborate and promote the library. Looking at the analytics was fascinating. While I previously understood the basics of analytics, in this subject, I was introduced to comparative tools to compare accounts which is something I would definitely adopt in the future. I also started looking at analytics in terms of informing future decisions and next steps regarding my social networking usage. For example, studying my Youtube account analytics, I realised that our views were concentrated around the upload date only. As our Youtube club is only in Term 3, it made me think about how we could begin regular uploads in order to gain more views, increase subscribers and most importantly, to keep the channel relevant.
Mapping out my Personal Learning Network (PLN) in module 4, I started reflecting on the multiple tools and networks I am part of personally and professionally, the interconnections, and the growing need to evaluate the tools I am using. I feel it is important to prioritise, as there are an increasing number of platforms continually emerging. Indeed, I reflected in my OLJ that I was trying to achieve Utrecht’s 5th stage of ‘balance’ in his model of PLN adoption (Riddle, 2016). This involves keeping an open mind and trying out new social networks but also critically assessing what works, and making decisions about the value of engagement that is experienced. Library users and followers of my social networking accounts are likely to experience similar feelings. I love the quote “Passion is what drives us to connect” (Ishizuka, 2010, p.32). I believe this is true and that we need to always keep in mind how to keep people connected. On a professional level, it is critical to have clear social networking goals, supported within a framework of policies, strategies and evaluation to keep people engaged.
Ishizuka, K. (2010). People Who Need People. School Library Journal, 56(2), 32.
Developing a strategy is an essential process to being successful on social media platforms (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p. 72). As a first step towards developing a strategy, I would begin by thinking deeply about my organisation and what goals and targets we are trying to achieve.
Indeed, LePage (2014) believes that every interaction on social media should take place within the context of a larger social media strategy which in turn is working towards a common organisational goal. Bradley (2015, January 13) emphasises the important initial first step of goal setting because it helps to focus on the activities and as a corollary, the social media tools which can best support these aims.
Next I would conduct a social media audit (LePage, 2014) in order to have an overview on what we are currently doing, who is assigned to the various responsibilities and to assess how successfully we are in comparison to similar organisations.
Part of my strategy would involve continual monitoring and evaluation of the social media platforms. Analytics was one of the rapidest emerging technology trends in 2014 (Olavsrud, 2015) and is one way to measure the impact and success of a libraries social media activity towards set goals (King, 2015, p.26). Analytics provided on social media vary according to the platform but frequently include data on engagement, reach and comparison of data against similar users (King, 2015, p. 26).
The faculty at Albertson library studied the analytics of individual platforms in order to adapt their message according to their particular audience. (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p.73). Indeed, It is important to be aware that different platforms attract and reach different audiences and that content should be tailored with this in mind (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p. 72). Creating a mission statement, specific to each network is one to help focus on specific goals suited to that network.
Organisationally I would plan ahead with my team, coordinating contributors through regular meetings and discussions (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014, p. 74). However, while is important that a structure is in place there should also be the flexibility to change this in response events, activities or developments.
Going through the process of creating a mind map for my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) I became acutely aware that my networks were predominately online and it was not until I mapped out my PLN with people, organisations and social networking sites that I also saw how interconnected my network was. When creating the mind map I was originally going to link the different networks using arrows to highlight the links but this would have made it difficult to read because of the multiple connections and interconnectedness of my PLN. To give an example, I use Twitter personally and professionally across organisations. I have my own library Twitter page which I use to network with my school and share the tweets across platforms (such as Facebook and Youtube) as well connecting with the wider profession, organisations and to widen my knowledge and understanding on a wide number of topics, with a focus on literacy and learning.
Utecht (2008) discusses the stages of progression he went through and a possible model for others to consider when reflecting on their PLN. The first stage ‘Immersion’ refers to when collaborations and connections begin. When I started my work as a Teacher Librarian (TL) six years ago I was at this stage. I was often quite undiscerning about what tools I adopted and connections I made as I was exploring the benefits of a range of networks. I then went to the second stage’ ‘evaluation’ , when I started being more selective about how I would connect online. I’ve certainly been through the third stage ‘know it all’ when the I’ve been trying to keep up with all my connections (and failed) and then fairly quickly to the fourth stage ‘perspective’ . This happened for me when I left my Library Twitter for 6 weeks while on summer holiday and found that nobody had noticed I had gone and that it really had little impact on my life overall and I was able to pick it up again but at a slower and less intrusive pace.
It is now that I am trying to reach the fifth stage of ‘balance’. It is very hard to reach this stage at present especially with the nature of my current MA and profession where inertia is not an option!
“The Library Minute” is a playlist from the Arizona State University (ASU) YouTube channel. This playlist includes 20 one minute videos covering topics such as services offered (ASU Libraries, 2009, June, 25), guides and tutorials (Arizona State University, Tempe Campus, 2011, January, 28), events (Arizona State University, Tempe Campus, 2011, August, 16), physical layout and space (Arizona State University, Tempe Campus, 2011, November, 30), and resources available (ASU Libraries, 2009, July, 7). A wide range of information is covered and the videos are well edited and presented. The short time frame provides a succinct overview of what the library has to offer so that, in addition to be a great source of information, the videos can also be seen as a great promotional tool for the library. However, this particular playlist does not create regular uploads and the videos are dated from 2009-2013 so there have been no videos made in the last three years. I think for the channel to reach a greater number of students and to remain relevant to the community it would benefit from more up-to-date and regular content being uploaded.
ASU have other services available through their wordpress blog. The site is user-friendly, engaging, easy to navigate and informative but the emphasis is not on user-generated content but rather the sharing of information. However, the site is interconnected to all of their social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook which offers users multiple ways to interact.
The videos in particular represent the underlying principles of Web 20 including ‘content creation’ which refers to the creative and technical process of making and uploading a video. The interactive nature of Youtube encourages viewers to interact and leave their comments which enables ‘conversation’ and the creation of a ‘community’ within the video medium as well as physical library. This sense of community building and conversing represents the ethos of Web 2.0 and what can be described as “an attitude, not a technology” (Miller, 2005, para. 3 ).
Shel Waggener, formerly of UC Berkeley talks in the opening remarks about the importance of ‘Planning, partnership and privacy” (UC Berkeley Events, 2007) and that understanding people’s needs are key to achieving this. We have ICT support in our library but I agree with the speaker, that a structure is needed to make the planning successful. This could be implemented by creating a strategic plan and implementing it in partnership with the ICT (Information, communication, Technology) team and other groups in the school. These groups should be consistently represented with a focus on how they are using the technology and the services they provide in order to plan for future developments and delivery.
Shel Waggener also talks about looking at computers as learning spaces (UC Berkeley Events, 2007). Indeed, the proliferation of Ipads, mobile devices etc. could potentially indicate that fixed computer stations are not a necessity in a library. However, it depends on how the space is utilized. In our library we try to use MED’s (mobile electronic devices) to complement learning rather than to replace existing structures. In this way. I feel it is possible to observe users’ behavior and patterns in order to anticipate future needs as well as consider virtual learning spaces.
Meredith Farkas, the keynote speaker has an interest in the innovative use of technology and states “We are all participants in the development of the web” (UC Berkeley Events, 2007). Inclusion and participation is a key driver for library 2.0. She stresses the importance of meeting changing users’ needs and revaluating services. This involves trusting users as partners in developing the culture of libraries. Keeping up-to-date with new technologies and opportunities is also vital. In my role, I try to see how new technologies can be used to support the curriculum. In order for this to work, I think the clear purpose and objective needs to be considered so that the technology used is effective and align with learning outcomes. Last year we started using the website ‘Storybird.com’. This site can be accessed on MED’s and desktop computers. Students were able to create their own stories and meet Information Literacy and English curriculum objectives. The technology was also user-friendly and enabled the books to be easily shared with parents and the internet. Students could comment on other users’ work and receive feedback on their own. An example of one of the stories can be viewed on the link below. The interconnectivity of the site allowed me to directly link the site to our library Twitter account. This user ability and interconnections are also serious considerations when selecting and using new technologies.
Tripadvisor is often the first place I search as a cross-referencing tool when I am booking a place to stay and indeed, online reviews are increasingly used by potential customers to make decisions on their consumer choices (Filieri, 2014, pra 1). While I understand there could be the issue of biased reviews and disgruntled customers leaving unfair feedback, I think they offer a representative and accurate reflection on the overall quality of service you are likely to receive. I think one of the reasons for this is that people tend to read a number of comments and not only one. Furthermore, the star rating gives a mean average and arguably fair result that can reset the balance if unfair reviews are written.
Caution needs to be exercised when there are only a small number of reviews for example for a business that has just been established. Indeed, research by Jeon & Rieh (2014, p. 663) into “Yahoo answers”, another crowdsourcing social tool, found that people found it hard to judge the credibility of answers and comments because of a lack of quality control over the responses and information about the author/trustworthiness of the source.
It is important to consider the issue of purposeful sabotage and the implications for new hotels/tourist services who do not have many reviews and could be potentially damaged by just a small number of negative comments and ratings. This is a real and serious issue faced by some businesses.
For me, Tripadvisor totally changed the way I looked for accommodation though readers need to interpret the reviews critically and take into account reviews from other sites such as Booking.com to come to a fair assessment. However, many users would not do this and may result in some businesses unfairly losing business.