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:

Is it a dinosaur, or is it a… library?

OLJ Task 17: Thoughts for the Future

(NOTE: The above is a linked video version of the speech referenced below)

Write a 400 word analysis of The global transformation of libraries, LIS education, and LIS professionals by S. Hirsh (2013),  that addresses the following issues:

  1. What is the potential for the future of an organisation you are familiar with.
  2. What impact might the future have on us as information professionals.

In this speech, Professor Hirsh conveys her belief that technology has already changed the world of libraries and librarians exponentially and will continue to do so, because of the next wave of digital disruptions that we are facing (p. 2-3). Her analogy about dinosaurs dying out because they did not adapt to change, is uncomfortably applicable when we think about libraries in a changed/changing environment.


Professor Hirsh highlights the way our interaction with information has been disrupted and modified by development in digital technology. She lists examples (the Internet of Things, portable/wearable devices, virtual reality and big data) of emerging technologies and discusses their impact on the library environment (p.3). She identifies emerging trends in libraries who successfully adapt to these disruptive technologies, namely creation of collaborative learning spaces and great user experiences(p. 5).

What is the potential for the future of school libraries?

The school library clearly has potential to become a dinosaur, if it remains a place of only bookshelves and study spaces. However, if a school library is able to adapt by:

  1. creating a physical and virtual environment that fosters and encourages learning, mentoring, collaborating, creativity and knowledge creating (p. 7)
  2. facilitating and supporting the use of new technologies (p. 13)
  3. finding ways to reach out and deliver service into the community (p. 8)

THEN it has a future. It can become a hub in the school, a place where members of the community connect and have a great user experience, THEN it has potential to not only survive but thrive.


Professor Hirsh addresses the changing role of information professionals. She identifies essential skills for success in the field: interpersonal-, relationship-, leadership-, customer-, multi-tasking and problem solving- skills. They should be knowledgeable about foundational information and technology applications, as well as developments around the scholarly record and information dissemination (p. 15).

What impact might the future have on teacher librarians?

Teacher librarians have to be flexible and adaptable, as they support student learning and development in the changing information environment. As custodians, they need to create safe physical and virtual spaces with curated resources and tools that are relevant and appropriate for the students, taking into account privacy and cybersecurity (p.10-12). As counselors, they need to support development of online behaviour, social media presence and development of digital identities that show appropriate integrity, social citizenship and social responsibility (p. 10). As mentors they need to model and support knowledge creation and information use that displays integrity and honesty.

By credibly presenting relevant evidence and examples, and through logical reasoning, Professor Hirsch persuades the reader of the need for libraries to prepare for the future by adapting to change (p. 20).


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

Library 2.0. (2013, November 3). The global transformation of libraries, LIS Education, and LIS professionals [Video file]. Retrieved from

How our school library can do “social”

OLJ Task 11: Social Media Strategy

Based on your understanding of your library or information agency, and your exposure to concepts presented in the resources above, outline (in 400 words) how you could apply these ideas to develop a draft marketing strategy for your organisation.

A convincing case can be made for a school library to develop a presence on social media.image by mohamed_hassan, downloaded from pixabay Libraries are increasingly losing contact with students because they find information online and because there is a very real drop in reading for fun (“Children, Teens,” 2014). Social media may be a way to engage students, as this is the environment where students spend time (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). When developing a social media marketing strategy, the following questions and issues should be considered and answered:

Libraries can use social media to inform and promote its resources and services, and to connect with and create closer relationships with users (Peacemaker, Robinson, & Hurst, 2016, pp. 101,106).

Libraries need to promote their resources, their support of inquiry and research, the enjoyment of reading, celebrate programs and events, and create opportunities for advocacy (“Social Media”, n.d.). A clearly defined content strategy for each platform must include defining the audience, purpose, tone and define key themes and messages (Peacemaker et al., 2016, p. 106).
What are they interested in that we can use to tempt them to interact with the library online? Or how can we link our content to what they are already interested in?

The primary goal will be to reach and connect with students – existing customers and hopefully non-users.
How will we connect? Engage? Contests? Polls? It is not to follow individual students on social media. Will the library’s social media presence not end up being a way of pushing out of information?

Viable platforms should be identified according to the preference of our students. Snapchat and Instagram are reportedly most popular, but the local population should be polled (Anderson & Jiang, 2018).

A study will have to be made, but general knowledge about behaviour patterns suggests:

  • during peak commuting times
  • at night when students are typically socialising online
  • on weekends

Note that all these times are outside of the working hours of the library team.

Convince regular library users to “follow” the library online. Advertise the library’s social media presence at prominent places, include links on the website, flyers and other promotional material (Wetta, 2016).

Issues to address:

  • Social media posting will clearly be influenced by constraints on time, expertise, and human resources (Peacemaker, Robinson, & Hurst, 2016, p. 101). How will this be dealt with?
  • To measure success, and the contribution of social media presence to furthering strategic goals, regular and ongoing evaluation of governance, strategy, and content is essential (Peacemaker et al., 2016, p. 102).


Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018, May 31). Teens, social media & technology 2018.

Children, teens, and reading infographic from Common Sense Media. (2014, May 12). Retrieved May 14, 2019, from Common Sense Media website:

The Digital Shift. (2014, March 10). What’s Not to ‘Like’? Rethinking Restrictive Social Media Policies. School Library Journal. Retrieved from

King, D. L. (2015, January). Library Technology Reports: Analytics, goals, and strategy for social media. Retrieved from American Library Association website:

Magee, R., Naughton, R., O’Gan, P., Forte, A., & Agosto, D. (2012). Social media practices and support in U.S. public libraries and school library media centers. In Proceedings of the 2012 ASIST Annual Meeting (pp. 1-3). Retrieved from

Peacemaker, B., Robinson, S., & Hurst, E. J. (2016). Connecting best practices in public relations to social media strategies for academic libraries. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 23(1), 101-108.

Social media and the school library. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2019, from National Library of New Zealand website:

Wetta, M. (2016, February 3). All about Instagram. School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Digital and more

OLJ Task 6: Embracing a Library 2.0 ethos
Consider the services discussed by Laura Cole in relation to a library or information agency that you know (as an employee or user). Select four key points made by the speaker and consider how these may be applied to a library or an organisation you are familiar with to help it embrace a Library 2.0 ethos. Write 300 – 400 words.

Screen shot image on our icsz library webpageImage is a screenshot from our ICS Library homepage

In this TED Talk by Laura Cole she recounts the benefits of digital libraries. Several of the points she makes can be applied to a school library (TedX Talks, 2016).

1. The library is no longer a destination; the patron is the destination of information.

I agree with Cole, and also with David Loertscher, who said: “If we want to connect with today’s learners and teachers, we need to redesign the library from the vantage point of our users” (Compar, 2015, p. 20). Learning happens 24/7 and the library’s resources and support should be available when and where our students learn. Cole’s next point allows me to expand on this:

2. Digital changes the way the patron interfaces with the library

Our students are used to immediate access to products and services. Even a library “down the hall”, may be too far. The digital library must provide all the services and products of the physical library when and where needed. Patrons should have access to research, referencing and citation help, access to databases, and collections of ebooks and audiobooks where ever they are. The virtual and physical spaces of a school library are equally important (Sullivan, 2015, p. 28). The possibilities of a physical library should not be overlooked, Cole concedes:

3. Libraries are more than depositories, they have a social function

School libraries should be designed to provide a casual environment that stimulates inquire and learning by providing places for collaborative and shared learning, but also workspaces that can be individualised according to the learning needs of a particular student (Sullivan, 2015, pp. 28, 49).

School libraries should have an open and inviting atmosphere, be that “third space”, the neutral space where everyone is treated equally on neutral ground and people gather to discuss and interact (Brehm-Heeger, 2006, p. 27). The librarian and library staff play a big role in creating this atmosphere.

4. The librarian can play a more active role of navigator

In an age of information overload, the librarian can provide valuable assistance making available collections of curated relevant an appropriate resources, but also assist students in developing information literacy skills that will allow them to become critical users of information.


Brehm-Heeger, P. (2006, July). A tie for third place: Teens need physical spaces as well as virtual places. School Library Journal, 27.

Compar, F. (2015). Re-imagining the school library the learning commons and systemic reform. Teacher Librarian, 42(4), 20-24.

Sullivan, M. L. (2015). High impact school library spaces: Envisioning new school library concepts. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO.

TedX Talks. (2016, April 15). The reimagined library – where will it find you? [Video file]. Retrieved from