Web 2.0 has redefined what it means to learn online (Calvi & Cassella, 2013: Conole, 2013; Jenkins, 2010; Siemens, 2004). This report evaluates the pedagogical learning and authentic assessment approaches adopted in the teaching and delivery of the subject INF506 Social Networking for Information Professionals providing evidence and reflections on the authentic learning experiences, professional growth, and social networking practices of the author within the INF506 community of practice (CoP). The effectiveness of this pedagogical approach which positions the student within an ecology which supports adult learners to “…take charge of their own learning journey…” and “…contribute to the learning of others…” (Wallis, O’Connell & Crease, 2016, p.4) is documented in Section 1 which presents three online learning journal (OLJ) blog posts as evidence of meeting the learning objectives. In section 2 a reflective statement reflects on learnings and professional growth using Driscoll’s model of reflection (1994) as a framework.
The stated learning objectives for INF506 were upon course completion students would:
- demonstrate an understanding of social networking technologies
- demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theory and practice of Library 2.0 and participatory library service
- critically examine the features and functionality of various social networking tools to meet the information needs of users
- evaluate social networking technologies and software to support informational and collaborative needs of workgroups, communities and organisations
- demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world, and how information policy is developed and implemented to support such issues. (Wallis, O’Connell & Crease, 2016. pp.1-2)
Evidence – Three Online Learning Journal entries
Three OLJ entries are presented as examples of evidence that the learning objectives of the course were met through engaging in learning activities and evaluating various social networking platforms. Table1 maps the learning objectives against all blogs posted to the University’s blog platform www.thinkspace.csu.edu.au by the author as fulfilment of Assessment required for Assessment 4 part 1. The documentation of the three OLJ blogs which follow are provided as typical examples of OLJ blog post learning activities.
Table 1 Mapping of learning objectives to OLJ blog posts
|Learning objective||OLJ blog||Url|
|Demonstrate an understanding
of social networking technologies
|What is web 2.0||https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/04/02/what-is-web-2-0/|
|demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theory and practice of Library 2.0 and participatory library service||Library 2.0
|critically examine the features and functionality of various social networking tools to meet the information needs of users||Personal Learning Networks
Twitter and me
Why do we post, share, tweet and follow?
|evaluate social networking technologies and software to support informational and collaborative needs of workgroups, communities and organisations||Library 2.0
Working Out Loud Circle
|demonstrate and understanding of the social, cultural educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world, and how information policy is developed and implemented to support such issues||Social media in the workplace||https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/05/22/social-media-in-the-workplace/|
OLJ blog post entry Library 2.0 – Could the library every go viral?
This OLJ entry responds to Meredith Farkas Building Academic Library 2.0 keynote sponsored by the Librarians Association of the University of California, Berkeley Division and compares her comments that there are no clear distinction between Library 1.0 and Library 2.0 with Tim Berners-Lee comments regarding the evolution of the internet. Berners-Lee (2001) does not position Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 as distinct but rather along a continuum of evolutionary development. Specifically, while not perceptibly different, they are nevertheless quite different in their form and function in a evolutionary sense. Both were once sources of information to be consulted and are now evolving into spaces where users are invited to generate content, collaborate and co-create. Similiarly, Farkas does not position Library 1.0 and Library 2.0 a distinct. However, she advocates a number of strategies to consider if libraries are to adopt an agile approach to the changing information landscape.
Adopting Farkas five strategies, this OLJ then evaluates two library services which the author is a member: an academic library and a public library service. The post acknowledges that some practices are contextualised to an era where libraries were places of silence, privilege and study, while other practices such as classification of resources were adopted to organise the physical nature of resources (Steele, 2016). The post concludes with a call for Library 2.0 to position its services in the online social networking spaces that patrons frequent to “… capitalise on the technologies and tools of Web 2.0 by inviting sharing, collaboration and co-creation…” (Steele, 2016a).
OLJ blog post entry – Second Life – Virtual adventures
In this OLJ entry learning experiences in the collaborative virtual environment (CVE) Second Life are documented. The affordances of Second Life for educators and learners are noted. For example, shared space to meet others across time and space, a 3D environment with opportunities for social interaction and visualisations run in real-time. While it is noted that educational activities are available within Second Life itself such as self-paced immersive tutorials, displays and exhibits, mastery is time-consuming. These activities would need to be acknowledged by educators as legitimate educational experiences delivered on this platform and time allocated for skill acquisition to be built into the curriculum for any educational projects (Kay & Fitzgerald, 2007; Steele, 2016c).
It is also noted that while studies document educational experiences for specific student groups such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Second Life, to assist with social skill acquisition in a safe simulated environment (Chen, Chiang, Ye & Cheng, 2010; Lorenzo, Pomares & Lledo, 2013), the technical infrastructure raises issues regarding operating system requirements such as graphics capabilities, bandwidth and negative effects such as “lag” which effect in-world interactions. This raises concerns around accessibility and the viability of use in often poorly funded educational projects (Steele, 2016c; Warburton, 2009, p.418).
OLJ blog post entry – Twitter and me
In the OLJ post Twitter and me (Steele, 2016d), a study of the use of Twitter to discuss news by Bruns & Burgess (2012), informed the author’s understanding of participatory practices on Twitter and the convergence of networking practices such as “liking”, “following” and “friending” alongside content creation activity such as “updating”, “posting” and “reposting”. boyd, Scott & Lotan’s observation of the “unboundness” of the platform and Bruns and Burgess’s observation of a user’s “imagined audience” provides an opportunity for the author to reflect on contributions to the “conversation ecology” of Twitter (boyd, Scott & Lotan; Crawford, 2009) and the importance of fostering a “… deeper understanding of my social, cultural, educational and ethical users of the platform” (Steele, 2016c). The blog concludes that the unmined potential of microblogging (Carpenter & Krutka, 2014) necessitates continued investigation of this social networking site to support professional practice as a learning designer.
Critical practice is not just reflective practice, because the critical practitioner does not take the the world for granted and does not automatically accept the world as it is. … Critical practice involves reflectiveness but transcends it.” (Adams, 2002, p.87)
Boud and Walker (1998) in their critique of reflective practices in educational settings, emphasise the importance of providing learners with experiences to explore states of perplexity, inner discomforts and disorienting dilemmas to foster reflection (p.192). This reflection on learnings and experiences in INF506 adopts a critically reflective stance in the sense that it will incorporate not only the the notion of “critical thinking” but also “critical analysis” and appreciation of the wider social context in which the learning took place (Thompson & Pascal, 2012). Thompson and Pascal (2012) promote two “dimensions of criticality”, depth and breadth. These dimensions will inform this reflection to look deeper into the learning experience to acknowledge feelings, values and assumptions (p.321) whilst situating the reflection in the broader social context of the INF506 community of practice to acknowledge the social nature of learning and reflection and avoid a narrow, overly individualistic perspective (Thompson & Pascal, 2012).
Driscoll’s model of reflection has been adapted to frame the reflective response into three questions What? So what? Now what?
The purpose of returning to the learning experiences during the course was to revisit and document the learning journey as I engaged with new participatory practices, and moved from theoretical observer to an active participant. In the first OLJ task I presented my “definitions” of social networking at the beginning of the course. I proposed that: “Social networking is about the interrelationship between self-representation (identity and reputation) and the affordances of social media platforms which provide opportunities to share this digital identity and leave behind a digital footprint of our sharing, exchanging, conversing via online connections (personal or professional or a mixture of both) (Steele, 2016d).” I also presented very definite rigid views of my intended use of social networking sites. According to my notion of participatory activities at the time, I stated that the sites I used had “very clear and distinct purposes and influenced how I represented myself” (Steele, 2016d).
The feelings, values and assumptions that I held at the beginning of the course did not consider the unmined potential of various platforms nor the collaborative value of social networking as part of digital scholarship practice. I am encouraged by the words of John Dewey:
Genuine ignorance is profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with a varnish waterproof to new ideas. (Dewy, 1910, p.177)
The first shift which reoriented my social networking paradigm was participation in the INF506 Facebook group. The value of reading questions and posts from other students, responding with information or asking a question provided a sense of community and belonging (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015). The Facebook app also provided me with the convenience of being able to regularly monitor posts and discussions on my iPhone.
The second paradigm shift occurred when I watched Meredith Farkas’s keynote address Building Academic Library 2.0 (Farkas, 2007). Specifically, Farkas advocated questioning everything to arrive at better solutions. I started to question why I do the things I do. I likened myself to a library whose practices are inherited from a bygone era. I too had situated my understandings from a vantage point of “silence, privilege and study” (Aarts & Dijksterhuis, 2003: Buschman & Leckie, 2007) rather than participating in a community of practice. I discovered my presence on Twitter and Facebook were part of a “conversation ecology” (Bruns & Burgess, 2012) which required listening as well as “posting” (Crawford, 2009).
The third shift occurred when I started exploring Second Life. My theoretical understanding of the affordances of collaborative, immersive CVEs became grounded in practical experience. I experienced first hand both the potentialities, and the limitations of Second Life. I discovered a deeper appreciation of Bloustien & Wood’s (2012; 2016) ethnographic study of disabled Second Life residents and Carr’s (2010) interview of deaf residents in Second Life and the importance of online identity and self-representation.
The social and participatory design and delivery of this course has provided me with to opportunities to “explore states of perplexity, inner discomforts and disorienting dilemmas to foster reflection (Boud & Walker, 1998).” My understandings and practice have moved beyond an individual experience of learning to a more participatory, open and shared understanding of social networking and digital scholarship practices.
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Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Steele, H. (2016a). Library 2.0: Could the library ever go viral? Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/04/11/library-2-0-reflections-from-a-user/
Steele, H. (2016b). Personal learning networks [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/04/22/personal-learning-networks/
Steele, H. (2016c). Second Life: Virtual adventures. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/05/21/second-life/
Steele, H. (2016d). Twitter and me. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/04/05/twitter-and-me/
Steele, H. (2016e). What is social networking? Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hyacinth/2016/03/10/assessment-1-olj-creation-and-first-entry/
Wallis, J. (2016). Subject Outline: INF506 Social Networking for Information Professionals. Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/sakai-msi-tool/content/bbv.html?subjectView=true&siteId=INF506_201630_W_D
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