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:

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

Lessons from the project that did not happen

Following our first INF506 online meeting I came up with what I thought would be an easy social networking project:

At school we have a monthly-meeting book club, the members of which are all staff or faculty members (current and past) of our school. The club is informally led by one of the school librarians. Communication between members happen by email. Newly motivated by the workings of the INF506 Facebook group I wanted to explore the possibility of moving the book club’s communication and interactions from the email format to a closed Facebook group.

Initial investigations seemed positive. I found Facebook profiles for 49 of the 52 members of the email mailing list on the first try. With the agreement of the librarian organiser of the group, I sent out an email message to inquire about the interest in moving the communication to Facebook. I explained my proposal, listed some pros and cons and waited only seconds before the first positive response came…

The NO said: No, I do not want this.

The YES, BUTs should really count as NOs. Both respondents indicated that they will go along with a Facebook group, but…

… I really try to stay away from Facebook as it “sucks me in”.

… I really try to keep work and private lives apart and book club is school-related and Facebook is private.

The YESs were just that: YES!

I was surprised by the large number on NO RESPONSEs, since almost all of these have Facebook accounts. I have to reason that these are

mostly “WHATEVERs” and probably some that did want to seem negative by saying NO.

On reflection, here is what I learnt:

  • Email is a ubiquitous part of our school community, there is no way you can NOT open your email account multiple times a day. You do not have to go look for the messages, they find you. Even taking into account the huge rise in social media communication, email is still our most used format for digital communication channel – best for transactional information, broadcast communications an passive notification according to Becker (2016), Kallas (2018) and Canhoto (2017) provides similar arguments.
  • Because of Facebook’s ranking, it decides for you which posts you will see first, and the book club messages may go unnoticed. Finding these messages will need active and timely participation, and you may still miss the message if you do not scroll down far enough or if you get distracted along the way.
  • People choose which platforms serve which purposes intentionally, for example to keep different parts of their lives separate.
  • Don’t fix something that is not broken.

With all this in mind, I do not think that the closed Facebook group is in fact the best solution for the book club,
which does not even have a problem…


Becker, M. (2016, June 27). Facebook vs. email: Why email reigns supreme (and always will). Retrieved March 15, 2019, from The Business Journals website:

Canhoto, A. (2017, July 20). Mailing list vs Facebook group crib sheet [Blog post]. Retrieved from Ana Canhoto website:

Kallas, P. (2018, July 14). 11 Reasons Why Your Email List Beats Social Media. Retrieved March 15, 2019, from Dreamgrow website:

Representativeness of social media platforms in GB


OLJ Task 1: American Behavioural Scientist – article analysis

Read one of the articles in this special issue and provide your thoughts and analysis of your chosen article.

Blank, G., & Lutz, C. (2017). Representativeness of Social Media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 741-756.

With this article Blank and Lutz add to the statistical evidence that describe the social characteristics of notable social media platforms. They analyse demographical user characteristics (such as age, gender, income, education and life circumstances), as well as antecedent factors (such as self-efficacy, skills, privacy concerns, and mobile or non-mobile devices), of six popular social media platforms among their users in Great Britain.

The research focused on two specific questions:

  • What are the user characteristics?
  • Which potential biases can arise for platform-specific social media research from these user characteristics (Blank & Lutz, 2017, p. 743)?

image by mohamed_hassan, downloaded from pixabay

The authors conclude that the factors influencing each of the platforms differ and that no single social media platform is representative of the general population (p. 742). Of the 12 predictors used, age seem to be the strongest and most significant (p. 744). They report that their data show social media users are younger and better educated, with higher income than the average Brit (p. 747). While “younger users are more likely to use participatory media” (p. 745). Gender, socioeconomic status and life circumstances play smaller roles in the adoption of social media platforms, while device (mobile vs. non-mobile) seem to affect which platforms users adopt.

I wonder why the authors do not inform us of how they decided on the six specific social media platforms to investigate? Similar recent studies by Pew (users in the US) and Hootsuite/We Are Social (users world-wide) confirm the top popularity of Facebook (“Social Media,” 2018; Kemp, 2018, p.59). These studies also include Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Google+ is mentioned by neither and its user numbers were deemed so insignificant by Google that it recently closed the platform (Schwarz, 2018). Globally significant social media platforms, such as Whatsapp (50% of UK social media users claim use) and Snapchat (25% of UK social media users claim use) are strangely absent (Kemp, 2018, p.140).

Through research following the reading of this article I have learnt to take careful note of the social media usage “numbers” so widely reported on. I agree with Pearce (2015) that “Counting social media site users is popular yet fraught with challenges (p.1).

On a practical level, I have learnt from this article to take careful note of the age groups to which I direct a social media campaign. What works for parents (probably Facebook) may not work for students (rather Instagram or Snapchat). Teachers may respond well to Twitter, but before making decisions my specific audience must be polled to determine preference.

A bonus from the article is the depth of the bibliography, which will provide interesting reading as I become immersed in INF506.


Blank, G., & Lutz, C. (2017). Representativeness of Social Media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 741-756.

Chaffey, D. (2018, March 28). Global social media research summary 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Smart Insights website:

Digital in 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Hootsuite website: file:///Users/grethawocke/Downloads/Digital-in-2018-001-Global-Overview-Report-v1.02-L%20(1).pdf

Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., & Duggan, M. (2016, November 11). Social media use in 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website:

Kemp, S. (2018, January). Digital in 2018. Retrieved from We Are Social/Hootsuite website:

Pearce, K. E. (2013). Counting to nowhere: Social media adoption and use as an opportunity for public scholarship and engagement. Social Media + Society, 1(1), 1-3.

Rainie, L. (2018, March 27). Americans’ complicated feelings about social media in an era of privacy concerns. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website:

Schwarz, B. (2018, October 8). Google to close Google+ after 7 years: A look back at the impact it once had on Google search. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Search Engine Land website:

Sehl, K. (2018, April 25). 100+ Social media demographics that matter to marketers. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Hootsuite website:

Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2018, March 1). Social media use in 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website:

Social media analytics: A cheat sheet of everything you can measure. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Spredfast website:

Social media use fact sheet. (2018, February 5). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website:

The 2018 social audience guide. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Spredfast website:

Learning about Social Networking

image by geralt, downloaded from pixabay

Assessment item 1: OLJ creation and first entryDefine social networking in your own words

a.) Define Social Networking in your own words:

Social networking is the use of online platforms to connect and communicate with other users with a common interest.

b.) List what social networking technologies and sites you already use:

Social networking and social media form an important part of how I stay informed and grow as a school librarian. My use of Facebook has moved from purely personal use, to primarily conversations with groups of school librarians and international educators. These conversations are enriching, inspiring and where I go if I need input and advice.  Twitter is an easy way to learn from and interact with the “great” educators of our day! Facebook and Twitter are the social networks where I interact with my Personal Learning Network.

I use Pinterest to keep inspired and engaged in personal interests and hobbies. WhatsApp is my preferred tool to keep in contact with family and friends, near and far. Goodreads provides me with a diverse community of readers to support my personal and professional reading as well as that of our school library. I plan to explore Instagram during this module.

I was a very reluctant blogger, forced to start blogging for my studies, but my CSU ThinkSpace blog, Gretha Reflecting, has been one of the most valuable learning experiences this far in my Masters’ studies. It is also the only social networking interaction that requires me to produce and contribute to social media and not only to consume.

c.) Describe what you expect to learn from INF506:

The connected world of the Internet has enabled me to connect and network with others and to access almost any information anywhere, it has changed when, where and how I learn. I believe in connected learning and in the role libraries can play to facilitate authentic, student-centred learning experiences and self-directed learning. Social networking is a crucial component needed to make this happen. I hope that this module will provide me with the knowledge and opportunities to develop the skills needed to develop this aspect of our library’s services.


About Connected Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Connected Learning Alliance website:

About Goodreads. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Goodreads website:

Gil, P. (2018, February 5). What is Twitter and how does it work? Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Lifewire website:

Moreau, E. (2018, September 5). What is Instagram, anyway? Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Lifewire website:

Moreau, E. (2018, September 10). What is Pinterest? Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Lifewire website:

Morris, K. (2013, January 5). 10 reasons every educator should start blogging. Retrieved November 3, 2018, from The Edublogger website:

Rouse, M. (2013, June). WhatsApp. Retrieved November 3, 2018, from SearchMobileComputing website:

Social networking. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2018, from TechTerms website:

What is a personal learning network? (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Teachthought website:

What is Facebook? (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2018, from Lifewire website:

Wocke, G. (n.d.). Learning about social networking [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

INF532 Assignment 2: Network literacy evaluative report

Evaluating my networked learning experiences

Knowledge Networking for Educators (INF532) is only the second module of my Master’s studies and already my conceptual understanding of fundamental concepts such as learning and knowledge, and the role networks are playing in the information age, has changed significantly (Wocke, 2017a, Wocke, 2017b, Wocke 2017c).

Siemens’ (2006) views on connectivism informed my emerging understanding of learning and knowledge: Knowledge is no longer only recorded in artefacts such as books and journals, nor is its creation and exchange exclusively the task of institutions such as schools, universities, and libraries – knowledge and information now also resides in vast and complex digital networks. We can learn from anyone, anywhere, at any time. Learning is now more than static personal knowledge acquisition, it also involves dynamic processes such as decision-making and connection-making – learning requires participating and creating in these networks of knowledge. Siemens says it well: “Instead of the individual having to evaluate and process every piece of information, she/he creates a personal network of trusted nodes: people and content, enhanced by technology.” (p.33).

I was not very well “connected” when I started this module, but quickly my INF532 studies convinced me of the need to engage in learning in these knowledge networks. The practice-based and experiential learning format of this course provided me with the opportunity to explore this networked environment. I developed the skills and competencies needed to choose who I will connect with, in which spaces I will learn, and which tools and new formats of information production I will use to manage and harness the continuous flow of resources and information. Some of my explorations were recorded in journal format on Exploring KN tools, a page on my blog (Wocke, 2017d).

Using Twitter, the social networking and microblogging service, was my first intentional step to connect with the global network of educators. This is where I read the “headlines” of what is happening in the world of education and daily receive DIY-professional development, presented by people I choose to listen to and learn from.


Direct contact with great educators who can and will respond to me thrills and inspires me! I learnt to curate this flow of information with Tweetdeck and Twitter lists. Together with the “#INF532”-cohort I explored a Tweet chat, a format I did not find very effective, more meaningful conversations happened in spontaneous twitter messages with other students. This is a clear illustration to me that tools must be carefully evaluated and chosen for personal use, as I wrote in the second part of this contribution to the discussion forum (Wocke, 2017e).

Communication, cooperation and collaboration with members of my INF532 cohort convinced me of the value of peer-learning in networked communities. The INF532 “ecosystem”, or knowledge network, acted as the catalyst through which new knowledge could emerge (Cormier, 2010), it is regrettable that more exchange and development of ideas did not take place in the discussion forums and that few students blogged during the study session. Links made during online meetings and in the discussion forums led to a fun collaboration experiment that one of my classmates blogged about (GWTeaches, 2017a; Gillingham, 2017). We both learnt and were inspired by the experience. While I had previously blogged about Lucier (2012)and Tolisano’s (2012) “Seven degrees of connectedness”, I was not convinced that mere connectedness would lead to friendship – this collaborative experience convinced me: I am now connected with an Australian teacher librarian who will be a friend, as well as a valuable member of my personal learning network (PLN), for a long time (Wocke, 2017f)!

I continued to build my PLN and social learning environment by joining various wikis, Facebook and WhatsApp groups for librarians. These communities act as knowledge networks where I can ask questions, volunteer answers and suggestions, and share good practice. I wrote about one such experience here (Wocke, 2017g). My “learning” has now moved out into digital spaces and platforms, taking on a social form, it happens on-demand and is completely self-directed and personalised. Learning is no longer something formally planned, but happens informally and spontaneously all the time. I am convinced that this is what learning should be and am committed to further explore alternative flexible technology-based learning environments and approaches, such as flipped, blended- and flat learning, to create authentic student learning experiences, which are teacher-crafted, but student-directed (Wocke, 2017h).

As I found it almost impossible to keep track of all the great resources I was exposed to in this world of information overload, I experimented with a number of tools until I settled on feedly, as news aggregator and diigo as social bookmarking tool. Diigo groups now form part of my knowledge networking web. I find tagging and commenting valuable knowledge networking practices, with which I curate and contribute value to my PLN (Wocke, 2017e).

For production of the required INF532 artefact, I explored many tools (see Exploring KN tools), created and narrated a presentation, uploaded the resulting video to YouTube and posted on social media for feedback – all unchartered and terrifying territory (GWTeaches, 2017b; Wocke 2017d; Wocke 2017i)!

The comments from a critiquing fellow-student provided valuable perspective on my artefact and I learnt much about design and presentation principles from viewing and critiquing the artefacts produced by my cohort (Mifsud, 2017; Wocke, 2017j). My investigations into instructional design, as part of creating the artefact led to the conviction that well-designed knowledge network artefacts makes learning more efficient and engaging and leaves the teacher free to focus on supporting student learning (Reeves, 2011).

Blogging started as a requirement for my studies. On a theoretical level, I understood that blogs are powerful platforms that encourage reflective learning; it was only after reading some of my recent posts that I realised that I had stopped creating mini-essays and am now truly reflecting on my learning (Wocke, 2017k). Reading the blogs of my cohort, and educators that I value, is contributing to my understanding of their thinking and helping me develop the use of this new mode of information production (Wocke, 2017l; De Saules, 2012, 14). Blogging is not only about publishing, but about connecting (Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011, p. 34). Jarche (2016) finds blogging his strongest form of learning, the keystone of his sense-making, but acknowledges that for him it also took time and practice to develop routines of critical thinking, processing knowledge, and creating something new (Jarche, 2010). Tolisano (@langwitches) recently tweeted: “Blogging is NOT and activity, but a process” (2017).

Through the learning experiences discussed above, I have become convinced that in our digital environment – where the Internet mediates connections – educators must utilise the affordances of the world-wide-web to connect with, learn from, and be inspired by other educators (Warlick, 2009, p. 13). By developing PLNs to learn through and from, educators can be  “connected” and harness these digital networked learning environments, not only for their own professional learning, but to facilitate authentic and meaningful learning experiences for their students.


Reflecting on my development as connected educator

Through my studies of INF532 my understanding of what it means to be a connected educator in the 21st century has developed, here is what I learnt:

  • A connected educator is a life-long and connected learner. A learner who consciously and intentionally develops a personalised learning network of experts, mentors and peers to learn with and from (EdTechReview, 2014; Meador, 2016).
  • A connected educator cultivates this network through social media networks and in online communities of practice, utilising this network as a resource and curation mechanism (Bumgardner & Knestis, 2011; Wenger, 2011; Cisnero, 2014).
  • A connected educator contributes to and leads collective intelligence practices through the transparent sharing of experiences, practice, and content (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012, p. 48).
  • A connected educator is a leader who brings what is learnt in these collective online experiences and communities back to his/her own institution. S/he leads educational reform by introducing innovative approaches to learning and instruction, that leverages the affordances of technology. S/he integrates creatively and intentionally designed knowledge products, creating authentic learning experiences that fosters student-driven learning and engagement (Groff, 2013, p. 9; Revington, n.d.).
  • A connected educator is a leader who contributes to and facilitate the professional development of colleagues, by modelling his/her own networked life-long-learning practices and leading peers in knowledge networking practices (Edudemic, 2015).

Here is my reflection on my journey to become a connected educator (this far) and how I see the path ahead:

The connected educator is firstly a connected learner”, I wrote early in my INF532 journey (Wocke, 2017f). I agree with the views of Nussbaum-Beach & Hall (2012, p. 18) and Richardson and Mancabelli (2011, p. 42) that connected learning is about participation, about learning in relationships, engaging in self-directed, interest-based learning, while connecting and collaborating online. As I started to participate in online communities and building my personal network, I realised that learning is social, continuous and fluid, not only formal, but also informal and spontaneous and unstructured. I became convinced of the need for “the new culture of learning” that Thomas and Brown (2011)  proposes and I wrote about it here (Wocke, 2017m).

Once committed to developing my PLN I found myself constantly reading, favourite-ing, tagging, commenting, subscribing, sharing. I now have a healthy and developing PLN of experts, mentors and peers that I utilise to enhance my professional and academic growth, to motivate and to inspire me. When I evaluate my online participation according to White and Le Corno’s model (2011) of online behaviour (that I wrote about in Visitor or Resident in the online world? (Wocke, 2017n), I note an interesting progression:

My online participation and connectedness has increased and shifted from personal to professional, due to the active engagement with knowledge networking environments and innovative social networking tools and content curation platforms exposed to through INF532.  Reflecting on the crowded state of the professional side of my diagram, it is obvious that carefully direction of my online activities, focus and organization is needed to ensure a healthy work-life balance (Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011, p.36). Kanter’s (2012) adaptation of Jarche’s (2011) Personal Knowledge Mastery model, is a good starting point. “Seeking” information and resources, must be streamlined through the use of appropriate tools, services and aggregators; making “sense” happens by thoughtfully and reflectively annotating, tagging, blogging, and adding value; and “sharing” – giving the worthwhile back to your network in enhanced, or distilled format.

With a solid PLN now in place, exploring combinations of online tools,  and spaces, engaging in connected learning environments, I am aware that I am still primarily a consumer (even an “active consumer”, according to Danah Boyd (2005)), but not often bold enough to be producer and creator. Mayfield challenges me when he says: “To Refactor, Collaborate, Moderate and Lead requires a different level of engagement – which makes up the core of a community.” I contribute, cooperate, but do not yet truly collaborate or lead. The next steps in my connected educator journey are clear:

  • I must implement lessons learnt through the case studies we evaluated in INF532 that clearly illustrate the way to construct authentic global learning experiences by seeking and facilitating collaboration opportunities for my students to become participating global citizens.
  • I must boldly and transparently publish and share my knowledge products and clearly and deliberately develop my online identity, reputation and brand (Lindsay, 2016, p. 14). I must continue to blog. I must develop my identity and brand on Google+.

As teacher librarian, I have the opportunity to co-create knowledge artefacts, to collaborate, introduce online tools and spaces for creative knowledge production, to implement flexible technology-based learning environments (Wocke, 2017h).

I have started to take a more active leadership role in my school, presenting at professional development opportunities, as with this presentation/turned knowledge creating artefact , (which I documented here) (GWTeaches, 2017b, Wocke, 2017o). It was such a motivation when our principal tweeted and blogged as a result (Butterworth, 2017)!

Lambert (1998) writes that the core of leadership is about learning together and constructing meaning and knowledge collectively and collaboratively (p.5). This is the journey I am on – to be a connected educator, learning through and with – and contributing to – my PLN; bringing back to my school innovative ideas and sound practice, leading by example.





Boyd, D. (2005, October 8). Remix is active consumption not production [Blog post]. Retrieved from Apophenia website:

Bumgardner, S., & Knestis, K. (2011, May 1). Social networking as a tool for student and teacher learning. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from

Butterworth, R. (2017, August 13). @GrethaWocke inspired me in her presentation at to share my blog [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Cisnero, K. (n.d.). A beginner’s guide to content curation [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Cormier, D. (2010, December 8). What is a MOOC? [Video file]. Retrieved from

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: New models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). Retrieved from

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Groff, J. (2013, February). Technology-rich innovative learning environments. Retrieved from

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Kanter, B. (2012, October 4). Content curation primer [Blog post]. Retrieved from Beth’s Blog:

Lambert, L. (1998). Building leadership capacity in schools. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. International Society of Technology in Education.

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Bloggin’ away

Blogging did not come easy to me. I was adamant to produce academic discourse, pearls of wisdom, for every required blog post. I went as far as dragging Shirky into my argument by agreeing with great minds like Luther and Poe to say that “Increased freedom to publish does diminish average quality… The easier it is for the average person to publish, the more average what gets published becomes”. Somewhere in this reasoning lay my reluctance to “just” produce another blog post of 200 words. Because, yes, it is so very easy to press the publish button, to publish the average. (That post was discarded because I did not find it worthy…)

I started blogging as a requirement for the first module of my Masters’ studies (INF532 being only the second). Each blog post was a mini-essay, complete with punchy introduction, body paragraphs, thoughtful conclusion and a worthy reference list. I did not realise that my practice was not exemplary and scholarly, but stuck in an era where learning was static and solitary. As my understanding of the nature of knowledge creation in the networked digital era grew, I started to value the opportunity to blog.

Walker Rettberg (2009) believes that blogging combines two types of writing “thinking-writing, which helps us think and presentation-writing, which we do in order to communicate a message. Blogging is a response to ideas or experiences, but – because we are aware that we are connected to a network, there is an audience and possibly a conversation out there – we take care that our thoughts are articulated more clearly.  As MacNess (2012) blogs: “The openness of blogging and the possibility of encountering alternative perspectives is a way of avoiding blind spots.”

As my learning becomes more practice-based and experiential, I am starting to realise that reflective practice – such as blogging requires – is leading me to question my actions, values and beliefs, altering the way that I see the world. Critical reflection, through blogging, is creating an opportunity for transformational learning (McClure).

But, hey, this is a blog post not an essay, remember, so let’s get more practical: In a way blogging is like swimming: the only way to swim is to get in the water; the only way to learn how to blog, is to blog.

Which is why I’m bloggin’ away.


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Shirky, C. (2010). Means. In C. Shirky (Author), Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age (pp. 31-64). New York: Penguin Press.

Walker Rettberg, J. (2009). Blogging as a tool for reflection and learning. In A. K. Larsen & G. O. Hole (Eds.), E-pedagogy for teachers in higher education.

Introduced to Google+

Thank you Lee-Ellen Franks (@LelliSaid) for introducing me to Google+ as a tool with which to develop my personal learning network – I have not explored Google+ before.

The artefact provides a conceptual introduction to various elements of knowledge networking theory: knowledge networks -> personal learning networks -> connected educators. By progressively linking these the audience (educators) are able to form a basic cohesive understanding of the theory and are given an understanding of the application of these concepts – by learning of the benefits of developing a personal learning network (PLN).

The design and development of the artefact are clearly articulated for the intended audience. Educators are engaged through contextualising  a real-world problem and existing scenario (our tech savvy students and their connected world which distracts them).  This is followed by a presentation of new knowledge (introduction to PLNs and development of a PLN with Google+) and an opportunity to practise related skills and integrate this into their knowledge base (exploring Google+). The artefact clearly demonstrates a developing understanding of instructional design in the creation of this knowledge networking artefact.

Powtoon is a very appropriate choice for creating the artefact and the product demonstrates a sophisticated use of the tool. The presentation is lively and up-beat, with clear presentation of the textual elements.

The content delivers not only an introduction and application of  knowledge networking theory, but a compact introduction to Google+, providing clear instructions on how to use the tool and which benefits it has for teachers.

I enjoyed watching this artefact and now have a clear idea of what Google+ is and how I can utilise it in development of my PLN.

As ideas for possible improvement of the artefact I would suggest:

1.) considering reducing the number of elements in the artefact – for example removing the part on digital skill development which is not of primary importance to the stated topic, as well as

2.) considering adding narration to some parts of the artefact to add an audio element to the textual elements, thereby adding variation and catering for different learning styles.




Knowledge network effectiveness, a facebook group as example


The Int’l School Library Connection (ISLC) group on facebook acts as a knowledge network.

Having read Puch & Prosak’s article titled Designing Effective Knowledge Networks, I will comment on my interpretation of their principles to the above mentioned mentioned facebook group.

The ISLC group is a collection of individuals who connect through the facebook platform to invent and share a body of knowledge related to international school libraries. The focus is on developing, distributing and applying knowledge about the running of school libraries, associated policies and procedures.  Facebook provides a web-based platform where existing membership of the social media platform is now extended in a more specialised closed group (membership must be applied for). The shared interest is school library matters and the common goal to find solutions to problems and share good practice – more conceptually providing a vehicle for knowledge diffusion and a forum for interpersonal connectivity.

The main goals seem to be to facilitate connectivity, learning, and support of individual members’ work and needs.

Members seem to identify with the network and its aspirations, readily sharing their connections, resources and experiences. Community members share (and comment) on stories and anecdotes or ask for resources or advice. The contribution by members set a tone of safety, making it “ok” to show vulnerability and speak personally and boldly.

Although there is evidence of a leader, the group seems mainly self-organised.

The leader – and founder – of the group maintains a strong visible presence and acts as a role model, inspiring members. She is also the gatekeeper to grant membership to the group.  She seems to understand how online convening serve to build cohesion, connectivity, collaboration and engagement. A core group of very experienced librarians can also be identified and seen to contribute to discussions and requests for help on a regular basis. These act as a secondary level of leaders, although it is possibly a natural extension, flowing from their experience rather than an intentional design factor.

The nature or a Facebook platform does not leave much freedom for design of the network and its interactions. One of the big disadvantages is that created knowledge remains difficult to “mine”. There seems to be an attempt to tag with #tags, but this is inconsistently modelled and only partly successful. This is a clear example where intentional design principles can improve the functionality of the network.


Pugh, K., & Prusak, L. (2013). Designing effective knowledge networks. MIT Sloan Management Review, 55(1), 79-88. Retrieved from