Reflecting on INF506


image by geralt, downloaded from pixabay

image by geralt, downloaded from pixabay

Let me start this reflection with a very honest disclosure: I chose INF506 as the 6th module in my MEd studies because I was looking for a potentially “easy” module at an extremely busy time, both personally and professionally. After all, I have had an (evolving) presence on Facebook for the last 12 years, have been tweeting (sparsely) since 2012, have been blogging (first reluctantly and now enthusiastically) since the start of my studies in 2017, am presenting myself (admittedly half-heartedly) on LinkedIn, had my (dormant) Instagram account hacked, etc. etc. “I know about social media, I thought. To be fair to myself, I at least I had a specific goal, as I wrote in my first blogpost, namely to explore development of a social media presence for our school library (Wocke, 2019c). What I did NOT anticipate, however, was for this subject to fundamentally and conceptually bring together so much of what I have already learnt during the past two years. It is as if the penny finally dropped, let me explain…


I used to see social networking as the use of Internet-based social media platforms to connect with people with whom I have something in common (Nations, 2019a). On these platforms I not only connect, but create and publish digital content, share and disseminate information and collaborate in groups. This was my understanding before INF506, as I used Facebook to connect with other teacher librarians through Facebook groups. During research for the charity project, however, I learnt that social network theory emphasises the fact that the links (ties) between members of social networks are of greater importance than the attributes of the members (nodes) of the network. This social capital is the integral value derived from the relationships among members of a social network and is gained through the strong ties AND the weak ties in the network (Wade, 2014; Utz & Muscanell, 2015, p. 421). This concept was clearly illustrated to me through the INF506 201930 Facebook group: In a comment to my post, a member of our cohort – not known to me and therefor a weak tie – introduced me to, a grassroots leadership network of international school teacher librarians, which has now become an important part of my personal learning network – therefor a strong tie. This insight has positively changed my view of an extended presence on a platform such as LinkedIn, of the importance of forming and utilising weak ties AND of being a weak tie in someone else’s network. It is vital for individuals and organisations to cultivate and maintain accurate online identities and networks to be successful participants in the connected Information Society. Similarly, my perception of “knowledge creation and “learning” in the Digital Era has also undergone significant conceptual changes during my INF506 studies.


Brown (2000) predicted the development of a social, online learning ecology comprising of a vast number of authors, virtual communities of interest groups, that can develop into a “powerful fabric for learning” (p. 19). He further described learning in situ, or situated learning, where learning happens socially, through participation and collective knowledge creation and the WWW becomes “not only an informational and social source but a learning medium” (p. 14). This incredibly powerful insight from 2000 already, is illustrated in Siemens’s anecdote (see below), where he explains that through his early attempts at blogging that he first realised that learning is a network forming process; that the social systems and technology systems that are part of human knowledge have become part of our capacity to know (USC: Learning and Teaching, 2014). His partner in formulating Connectivism as learning theory, Downes, states that knowledge consists of the network of connections formed from experience and interactions with a knowing community (Downes, 2010). Wow. It is during my INF506 studies that all these theories started to make sense. We ALL learn in the social networked environment. Learning – as an action – is changing, becoming increasingly less isolated and more social as a result of our participation in social networks. This is incredibly important for us as educators to keep in mind. The distinction between formal and informal learning is disappearing in this connected environment and MOOCs provide affordable and flexible ways to learn collaboratively in a social networking environment (MOOC, n.d.). Our students learn as much from watching YouTube videos as they do from being in our classes. Learning can increasingly happen on-demand and is more self-directed, because of the ubiquitous nature of information technology. Ohler (2010), explains that this ubiquity has changed our relationship with time and space and created an infrastructure that surrounds us in a continuous, “familiar stream of experience” (p. 78), that we find difficult to unplug from (p. 85). This technology is now so embedded in our environment that it is becoming invisible to us (p. 91).

Social networking is not a passing fad of personal egocentric feeds on Facebook and Instagram, it is a very fundamental part of how we now find information and learn. Conole (2011) argues that to make effective use of the affordances of open, social and participatory media and the networked information environment of the WWW, learners and teachers need the necessary digital skills, guidance and support (p. 305). As teacher librarian in the library of a secondary school, I see this support, as well as leadership in terms of information seeking and knowledge creation, as part of my responsibility and mission. We have easy and free access to Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs and wikis, but because of issues surrounding data and identity security and safety we need to create and choose safe environments for our students in which to develop the necessary digital skills needed to harness the stream of new technologies that keep appearing and create their digital identities (pp. 306-307).  Teacher librarians need to take a leading role in educating students and teachers about intellectual property, academic honesty, copyright and creative commons licenses, as teacher librarians we also need to ensure that our school libraries, its resources and services facilitate collaborative and creative learning. Hirsch’s (2013) advice (which I have blogged about here): to create physical and virtual environments that foster and encourage learning, mentoring, collaborating, creativity and knowledge creating (p. 7); that facilitate and support the use of new technologies (p. 13); that seek ways to reach out and deliver service into the community (p. 8), will support learning in the connected environment.

The changes in academic discourse is the last fundamental insight that I would like to reflect on, because it is important for me as a student, social networker and information professional, but also for our teachers, as life-long learners, and our students who are preparing for further academic study. The new open, social and participatory media clearly have potential to radically transform teaching and learning, where “open” refers to the practice of sharing content as a default (Conole, 2011, p. 205). Social networking facilitates many ways to connect, communicate, collaborate and learn with and from an “open” network of peers, teachers, mentors and resources. Digital scholarship is emerging as an increasingly important way for academics to disseminate their teaching, learning and research (p. 307).  The social networking environment enables this to happen in an “open” way. As librarians we need to advocate for and educate about the virtues and vices of important initiatives such as the Open Access Movement and Open Educational Resources (Eisen, 2105; Beall, 2015; “Open Access,” n.d.; “Open Educational,” n.d.).

Having listed my main conceptual and theoretical insights from this module does not really leave me room to reflect on practical learning. My personal practice with and evaluation of social media tools did not change much during these months. I did, however, learn a lot about how incredibly well charities use social media. I also learnt how important it is to choose social media platforms well, according to your audience and purpose, and to tailor content for the particular market and audience. I came across enterprise social networks for the first time and do NOT understand why we as a school “make do” with a one-way communication such as email, when Yammer & company is around.

I thought that through INF506 I would learn how to create an Instagram account for our school library. This sadly did not happen, in part due to the cancellation of the social media project, in part because my creation of a social media strategy for our school library did not entirely convince me of its purpose that (Wocke, 2019c). My gain as a social networker and information professional, in terms of a much stronger conceptual understanding of the information dissemination, knowledge creation and of learning in our social networking world makes up for this in spades.


Beall, J. (2015, May/June). What the Open-Access Movement doesn’t want you to know. Academe. Retrieved from

Brookes, M. (2016, August 15). Connectivism – A learning theory for the digital age [Video file]. Retrieved from

Brown, J. S. (2000). Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20.

Conole, G. (2011). Designing for learning in an open world. New York: Springer.

Downes, S. (2010). Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge. In H. H. Yang & S. C.-Y. Yuen (Eds.), Collective intelligence and e-learning 2.0: Implications of web-based communities and networking.

Eisen, M. (n.d.). Emerging Visions for Access in the Twenty-first Century Library: Vol. 119. The Open Access Movement in scholarly communication. Retrieved from Council on Library and Information Resources website:

Hirsh, S. (2013, October). The global transformation of libraries, LIS education, and LIS professionals. Paper presented at Library 2.013 Worldwide Virtual Conference, San Jose, CA, USA. Retrieved from

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(3), 1-13. Retrieved from

MOOC. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2019, from

Nations, D. (2019, May 23). What is social networking? Retrieved May 31, 2019, from

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

Open access movement. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2019, from Science Direct website:

Open educational resources. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2019, from UNESCO website:

USC: Learning and Teaching. (2014, January 21). Overview of connectivism – Dr George Siemens [Video file]. Retrieved from

Utz, S., & Muscanell, N. (2015). Social media and social capital: Introduction to the special issue. Societies, (5), 420-424.

Wade, M. (2014, December 4). Social network theory. Retrieved May 31, 2019, from Theories Used in IS Research Wiki website:

Wocke, G. (2019a, May 14). How our school library can do social [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2019b, May 16). Is it a dinosaur, or is it a … library? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2019c, February 27). Learning about social media [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Creating my PLE for ETL523

I am having a meta-learning moment here at the beginning of ETL523, as I notice how I am preparing for my next formal learning experience…

I find myself consciously creating my Personal Learning Environment, or as Morrison calls it a “self-directed learning space”, as I:

  • Adjust my daily ISTE feed
  • Search twitter’s #tags to see where digital citizenship fits in (#digcit, #DigCitPLN, #digitalcitizenship, #DigitalWellbeing, #onlinesafgety, #digitaletiquette, #digitalfootprint, …)
  • Adjust tweetdeck
  • Add #digcit gurus & fanatics to those I follow on twitter (@DrKMattson)
  • Join a facebook group
  • Join the recommended Diigo group and brows resources
  • Add to feedly (Steve Wheeler, Lee Watanabe-Crockett & Andrew Churches, …)
  • Reaching out to my PLN, I sift through the contacts of past lecturers and fellow-students to see who they know and follow.

It is clear to me that somewhere in the past year, since I started my Med (KN & DI) studies, I have become a believer in the connectivist concept that knowledge resides in the network, or  that in the connected world we develop knowledge through a series of connections, as I have done as I spent time and energy developing connections with people, groups and organisations with common passions and interests.

  • I order a few books: Wheeler, Watanabe-Crockett & Churches, Greenhow, James, Mattson
  • I pull out a couple of old books: Mike Ribble, Jason Ohler

I create a new category in my Thinkspace blog with anticipation, because during the last module of study I learnt from Sylvia Tolisano that “Blogging is not an activity but a process” and Harold Jarche  challenges me as he finds blogging his “strongest form of learning”.

I consider and investigate new digital tools: Google keep and Tiki Toki timeline visualisation (and disregard both almost immediately). I lament the demise of Horizon Report and Wikispaces and wonder with @JulieLindsay about the cost of using “free tools”…

I reflect on how much further I start the journey this semester on the “Seven Degrees of Connectedness” (Lucier & Tolisano). Not only a lurker any longer I am keen to stretch myself and collaborate. I am ready to actively manage my learning environment, to learn, to connect, to share and to contribute to the creation of knowledge.

ETL523: Ready or not, here I come!


Learning – knowing where

My understanding of knowledge is being stretched and remixed some more as I read George Siemens’s “Knowing Knowledge”. I blogged about how knowledge is contextual and is held together by a network of connections here. I then went on to blog (here) about know-whatknow-whyknow-how and know-who. It seems that I missed out on one important form of knowing: know-where (or is it nowhere? ). Siemens sees it like this:

Here is what I understood from his descriptions of knowledge and learning:

Learning is more than knowledge acquisition (p. 25). It is the process of creating networks (p. 29): External networks where we connect and form information and knowledge sources and internal networks where decision-making (about what to learn and to know) and pattern recognition and connection making occurs. It is adding new nodes, adjusting the importance of the existing connections. “The connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing” (p. 30).

So, learning relates to knowing-where (p.32).

Knowing where (which nodes: expert, library, internet site, etc.) to go to find the knowledge. Because knowledge exists in networks. “The learner aggregates relevant nodes… and relies on each individual node to provide needed knowledge.”

Knowledge and learning are processes that execute an intricate dance that occurs in networks:

“To learn is to come to know. To know is to have learned.”



Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Retrieved from

USB Blended Learning. (2014, January 24). Overview of connectivism – Dr. George Siemens [Video      file]. Retrieved from

Knowledge changed, so must I

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

Albert Einstein (attributed)


My understanding of knowledge is being severely challenged and hopefully adjusted…

When I started school (half a century ago!), students were perceived to be “learning” if the class was quiet – everyone sat at their own desks, with textbook and notebook, while the teacher imparted his wisdom to the group or individual students, walking up and down between neatly arranged rows of desks. Knowledge came from teachers and books…

Now it seems that Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) have understood all along that knowledge has little worth in isolation, by itself. They reason that activity and situations are integral to cognition and learning. Learning that is embedded in activity and that makes deliberate use of social and physical contexts facilitate understanding and cognition (p. 32).

Fenwick and Edwards (2010) argue that knowing is “situated, embodied and distributed” (p. 24). Knowing cannot be separated from doing, is actively bound to social, cultural and physical contexts, is specific to a particular situation, has a tangible visible form, is not isolated, but distributed –  shared, spread over an area!

I now understand that an object of knowledge “is held together by a network of connections that must be continually performed to make knowledge visible and alive” (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p. 24). I think this is what Siemens (2006) calls “connective knowledge” (p. 3). Siemens actually makes me feel better about my misconceptions, he says knowledge has changed – from categorisation and hierarchies, to networks and ecologies. He reasons that our educational spaces and structures need to change accordingly (p. v).

How do we do this? How do I do this in our middle school library?

Siemens suggests we do this in the structures we create to hold our knowledge, the spaces where we dialogue about and enact our knowledge, and the tools we use to disseminate this knowledge (p. 4). There is so much more to learn, but on this Monday morning I will go forth and facilitate knowledge creation and dissemination in a structure (our library with its resources), and space (physical and virtually available) with appropriate tools available, where students can have dialogue, create and share knowledge.




Albert Einstein Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2017, from Web site:

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational researcher18(1), 32-42.

Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. Routledge.

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Lulu. com.





The Need for Network Literacy

Being connected through networks has always been fundamental to the survival and development of humankind: social networks, learning networks, professional networks, trade networks, and communication networks, being some examples. Also, transmission of knowledge and innovation have always been dependent on networks. The knowledge and skills, or literacy, to operate within, and to use these networks, have been crucial to successful participation in society.

Through digital and communication technology we now have the vast network of computers, that we call the internet, which enables us to create and link knowledge artefacts, and to store and distribute vast amounts of information in digital format – instantaneously. Living successfully in the information era will once again, increasingly, depend on being able to proficiently use digital networks.

McClure (1994) defined network literacy in terms of the ability to identify, access, and use electronic information from the network, emphasizing essential knowledge and skills. He argued network literacy central to being personally and professionally productive and effective (p. 115).

Rheingold agreed with McClure on the importance of network literacy, identifying “network awareness” as one of the five literacies needed in the 21st century. He argued that a basic understanding of networks is vital in our connected world, because the structure and dynamics of networks influences political freedom, economic wealth creation, and participation in the creation of culture (Rheingold, 2010, pp.14-16). “The technical networks amplify and extend the fundamental human capability of forming social networks” (Rheingold, 2010).

Pegrum argued that personal, social and professional networks are all linked together technologically by the internet. To maintain balance between personal identity and social connections, and the civic engagement (locally, nationally and globally) through digital networks, require literacy and skills that cannot just be assumed, but must be acquired. We must teach about and through networks (Pegrum, 2010, pp. 349-350).

Siemens constructed a new learning theory for the networked age, called connectivism. He explained that “the amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network is the epitome of collectivism.” Learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity; and teaching, in this networked world, means “guiding, directing, and curating the quality of networks learners are forming” (Siemens & Tittenberger 2009, p. 13).

Pegrum saw personal learning networks (PLNs), trusted networks of peers and experts, tools and technologies, resources and materials, as mirrors of networked knowledge and facilitators of networked learning. Network literacy could be enhanced by early exposure to and regular maintenance of PLNs.

Being connected through networks has always been fundamental to the survival and development of humankind. The knowledge and skills, or literacy, to operate within, and to use these networks, have been crucial to successful participation in society. This is as true of the networks of the information age, as it has been of any networked environment.



McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.

Pegrum, M. (2010). I link, therefore I am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4).

Rheingold, H. (n.d.). Network literacy: Mini-course. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literacies. EDUCAUSE Review, 45(5), 14-16.

Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

Siemens, G., & Tittenberger, P. (2009). Handbook of emerging technologies for learning.
Retrieved from