Archive of ‘INF530’ category

Assessment Item 8 – Part B

Critical Reflection

For the past twenty years I have been learning outside of the classroom by following my passions and interests. My passions for travel and photography have resulted in new experiences, skills and a deeper appreciation of the natural world and of cultural differences and similarities. I was learning by doing and by connecting with like-minded people. Experts were mentoring me and I was mentoring others. Blogs, podcasts and social networking gave me access to instructional material and allowed me to connect with people who shared my interests all over the world. One of the reasons I love my job as a teacher librarian is that I am exposed to every subject at the school and have to continually stretch myself to assist my students and teachers. Learning is a lifelong process. (Thomas & Brown, 2011)

Despite this love of learning it was with some trepidation that I made the decision to return to formal study. Would I enjoy formal learning as much as informal learning? (Downes & Bishop, 2012)

I think this is why the principles of connected learning resonated so strongly with me. On viewing the videos Rethinking Learning: the 21st Century Learner and Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito on connected learning, children, and digital media, I realised that my experiences were no different to the young people I work with. I am concerned that implementing this type of learning is problematic within the constraints of most schools currently. I work in a senior school library in an academic school, so this hurdle is very noticeable because most students are working towards a score for university entrance.

I am very aware that the library is no longer the first place students look for information. Ubiquitous access to mobile phones means students carry information around in their pockets. My observations of students made me sceptical of the digital native moniker. I was relieved to read numerous articles disputing Prensky’s generational perspective (Stoerger, 2009). Students may be using technology in a variety of ways but they are not always “net-savvy”. This is evident when students use search engines at a very basic level and when they get into difficult situations using social media. Students need to learn multi-modal skills and competencies so that they are able to adapt to new situations and technologies throughout their lives (O’Connell, 2012). Open, social and participatory media must be embraced for school libraries to remain relevant to our students.

Nichole Pinkard made me realise that children are born consuming media but are not necessarily creating or producing media (MacArthur Foundation, 2010). My scholarly book review of It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens (Boyd, 2014) gave me the opportunity to delve further into the area of teenagers and their use of technology and social networking.

The concept of privacy and how it is changing in a networked world was a theme of the book and it piqued my interest along with algorithms and analytics. The video Generation Like (2014) had me questioning my own activities on Facebook and Twitter. I had never been too concerned about personalisation of advertising by Google but now I am troubled that it may be limiting my search results. Big Data has positive and negative applications and will produce ethical dilemmas. “There are some significant and insightful studies currently being done that involve Big Data, but it is still necessary to ask critical questions about what all this data means, who gets access to what data, how data analysis is deployed, and to what ends” (Boyd & Crawford, 2012, p. 664).

When I started Concepts and practices for a digital age my aim was to broaden my knowledge of theory and to examine practical applications of it in my workplace. I have a solid foundation to build on as I embark on more subjects and so much to think about and investigate further for my professional practice.

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Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6-15. Retrieved from

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: school libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7. Retrieved from;dn=038168567341804;res=IELAPA

Stoerger, S. (2009). The digital melting pot: Bridging the digital native-immigrant divide. First Monday, 14(7). Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning. In A new culture of change. (pp. 17-33). Lexington: CreateSpace.

Abundance in the information ecology of secondary school students

Assessment Item 8
Part A: Digital Essay

flickr photo shared by flickingerbrad under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


Secondary school students in the twenty first century have unprecedented access to an abundance of information. The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies has added complexity to information seeking and understanding. “There is no longer one definitive source of knowledge, no one expert. Learners need to develop strategies for finding and validating appropriate resources” (Conole, 2013, p 48). The vast amount of information and the variety of ways with which to connect to it has produced a network effect (Conole, 2013) with new knowledge flows. School libraries and teacher librarians must adapt and prepare students for the demands of an ever-changing information ecology by providing “reading and information options delivered by all manner of media and digital devices… [and] know how to find, filter, then mix and match what they see, hear and experience” (O’Connell, 2012. p 5). Information fluency is one approach that according to Rader “includes library literacy, media literacy, computer literacy, internet literacy, research literacy, and critical thinking skills” (Harris & Millet, 2006, p 526). School libraries can provide a bridge between available knowledge and knowledge gaps but they are competing with other channels in the digital information ecology (García‐Marco, 2011).

Digital information ecology

Ecosystems contain many populations that coexist and compete in a shared environment thus ecosystem “has become the paradigm to approach the complexity of the modern information world” (García‐Marco, 2011, p. 106) The digital ecosystem of computers, social media, mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools is constantly evolving but it is the social and cultural processes rather than the technological processes that Nardi emphasizes (García‐Marco, 2011). This disruptive shift has consequences for education and libraries and careful thought to the pedagogy behind the technology and tools is essential.

Open, social and participatory technologies have emerged in the last ten years from a static Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 environment. This has made the internet “a more active and distributed network with user-generated content and a much richer, interconnected network of communicative channels” (Conole, 2012, p. 51). Web 2.0 has led to an abundance of information where authority is more difficult to ascertain and information overload can result. As a consequence, “quick access to a wide range of information means that the user needs the ability to critically evaluate the validity and relative value of information accessed” (Starkey, 2011, p. 23). Starkey reiterates the importance of thinking critically by saying that students who can think critically are more likely to become participants, rather than merely consumers in a digital world.

Traditional providers of knowledge, such as teachers and textbooks, have been challenged by the changing information ecology. The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 contends that teachers need to foster curiosity so that students will delve deeper into subject matter because “teachers are no longer the primary source of information and knowledge for students when a quick web search is at their fingertips” (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freeman, 2014, p. 6). Similarly, libraries were once considered the guardians of knowledge but are sometimes considered irrelevant and slow compared to Google, Amazon and Wikipedia. “Libraries should be seizing every opportunity to challenge these perceptions, and to push their genuinely valuable content, services and expertise out to places where people stand to benefit from them” (Miller, 2005, para 10). Teacher librarians are no longer gatekeepers to knowledge; they are capacity builders for students and teachers (Hay, 2009).

Retrieved from

Digital libraries, repositories and portals

“In ecosystems, organisms must adapt to their environment to survive and thrive; otherwise they become extinct” (Cheng, 2000, p. 24). The ubiquity of mobile devices has increased access to the digital world. Studies from the Pew Research Centre found 92% of teenagers go online daily (Lenhart, 2015) and 87% of Americans say the web helps them learn new things (Purcell & Rainie, 2014). Research can happen at anytime and anywhere and “Google is a metaphor for the instant gratification expected in information search and retrieval today” (Conway, 2015, p. 63). With this in mind many libraries and cultural institutions are going where their users are and extending the reach of their services using digital collections and social networking. The National Library of Australia is responding to the changing expectations of users by collaborating with Australian cultural institutions to aggregate digital content using Trove (Holley, 2010). Trove is a search engine to the treasure within Australia’s cultural heritage institutions. Participation and engagement with users is encouraged via social networking, forums and crowdsourcing. Sophisticated scanning and digitisation techniques have made previously unattainable content globally available.

Retrieved from:

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is making governments and institutions aware of the importance of preserving information for present and future generations. There are clear distinctions between digitization for preservation and digital preservation, “digitization for preservation creates valuable new digital product, whereas digital preservation protects the value of those products, regardless of whether the original source is a tangible artefact or data that were born and live digitally.” (Conway, 2015, p. 64). The conversion of books from analogue to digital is being done on a large scale by academic libraries, national libraries and Google Books. The desired outcome is for “improved search and retrieval of the digital content and advances in the delivery of content through the internet” (Conway, 2015, p. 68). Products born digitally are at risk of being rendered unusable through obsolescence of hardware and software. “While clay tablets can survive for several millennia, audiovisual documents will only last decades and digitally-born heritage may not exceed ten years” (“Information preservation”, n.d., para 3). While the initial aim of preservation is to protect, preservation projects often lead to the creation of new digital collections with added value for students, scholars and the general public (Conway, 2015).

Retrieved from:

More recently there has been a global movement towards open content, open education resources (OER) and Creative Commons licenses.
flickr photo shared by kleem9 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Digital repositories, digital libraries, galleries and museums collect and curate authentic resources that can be used for a variety of purposes without having to seek permission from the rights holder. The Getty Museum and Europeana are two outstanding examples. Physical boundaries are being reorganised by networks and information flows and education is not immune to the “power embedded in global networks of capital, goods, services, communication, information, science and technology” (Selwyn, 2012, p. 3). The dominance of Google is one example of a “multinational global digital information system” (García‐Marco, 2010, p. 115) that is shaping information access in multiple ways.

Retrieved from:

Students need guidance in finding and using these valuable cultural resources. Teacher librarians can curate resources and enable such discoveries. To avoid information overload students require additional skills and competencies.

Connected learning

Thomas and Brown (2011) contend a new culture of learning is required for a digital ecosystem that includes Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and online games. The ubiquity of information, mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools means learning is increasingly happening outside of the classroom in the network age. ‘This new culture of learning can augment learning in nearly every facet of education and every stage of life” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p32) by focusing on the principles of play, questioning and imagination. In the video The Global One Room Schoolhouse, John Seely Brown says students need to be able to adapt to new ways, new resources and new things and become entrepreneurial learners. Entrepreneurial learners are makers and tinkerers who can adapt and apply strategies in a rapidly changing world. In a similar vein, Helen Haste says “competence lies in adaptive responses to the new technology’s options and particularly their impact on social practices” and these responses are vital for twenty-first century life. (Haste, 2009. p. 216). Being able to adapt, apply and transfer strategies to a new situation reduces anxiety and leads to a sense of agency.

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School libraries have a vital role to play in cultivating the dispositions of curiosity, questing and connecting. Students need boundaries and support to effectively harness the affordances of technology with only “a minority creating, uploading or posting content or joining participatory communities” (Ito et al., 2013, p. 25). Connected learning “draws on sociocultural learning theory in valuing learning that is embedded within meaningful practices and supportive relationships, and that recognizes diverse pathways and forms of knowledge and expertise.” (Ito et al., 2013, p. 5) School libraries can provide these diverse pathways with a combination of physical and digital resources and tools. In addition to this, a school library can be a supportive and safe place for twenty first century learners to explore, play and fail.

Creative Commons License This Connected Learning Infographic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You may Share and Adapt it, but you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Aspects of connected learning can be seen in the Australian Curriculum’s general capabilities. The Australian Curriculum has responded to the challenges of the twenty-first century and included critical and creative thinking and information and communication technology (ICT) general capabilities throughout the learning areas. Critical and creative thinking “capability is concerned with the encouragement of skills and learning dispositions or tendencies towards particular patterns of intellectual behaviour.” (Austalian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013) The capability for information communication technology stresses the ability for students to transfer knowledge, skills and dispositions across environments and applications. Teacher librarians can work collaboratively with teachers to embed the capabilities into the learning areas and by providing resources for implementation (Toner, 2011). “Twenty-first century learning theories emphasise the importance of supporting authentic and ubiquitous (anywhere, anyhow) learning, and providing students with opportunities, resources and spaces to develop their creative and critical thinking skills” (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013). School libraries should be equipped to do the same.

Information literacy, digital literacy and information fluency

School librarians can work collaboratively with teachers to develop the skills and learning dispositions necessary for twenty-first century students using various information seeking models. “The proliferation of digital information makes it increasingly important for every citizen to possess competencies for managing, integrating, creating and communicating information, in addition to finding using, and evaluating it” (Sharkey, 2013, p. 37). Before the internet, information literacy programs focused on the skills required to find, locate, evaluate and use information. The concept of digital literacy followed with Gilster defining it “as an ability to understand and use information from a variety of digital sources” (Bawden, 2008, p. 18). According to Stripling (2007), information fluency is now a replacement term for information literacy, however there are some differences.
flickr photo shared by ChrisL_AK under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Information fluency acknowledges that there are multiple pathways and users need strategies for the challenges of retrieval. “A fluent searcher knows how digital and print information differs, quickly learns specialized tools for finding digital information, and engages effectively in a digital information environment” (Heine & O’Connor, 2014, p. 4) Regardless of the terminology or the model used, the complex information flows of a networked world require students to interrogate all resources because information is available in many formats and delivered through various channels. Educators “must prepare students to become strategic, critical, divergent, and creative thinkers” (Bush, 2009, p. 446).


Australian students are engaging with digital technologies inside and outside of the classroom. Students have an abundance of information at their fingertips but they need help to develop skills, competencies and dispositions to use it effectively throughout their lives. Information is accessed, shared and communicated using multiple channels and school libraries can support learning in this dynamic landscape. In a twenty-first century world of digital convergence, adaptation is the key to thriving in the evolving digital information ecosystem.

Retrieved from


Verheul, I., Tammaro, A. M., & Witt, S. (Eds.). (2010). Digital library futures: User perspectives and institutional strategies. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur.

Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [ACARA]. (2013). Critical and creative thinking. Retrieved from

Bawden, D. (2008). Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In Digital literacies: concepts, policies & practices. (pp. 17-32). Retrieved from

Bush, G. (2009). Thinking around the corner: The power of information literacy. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(6), 446-447. Retrieved from, G. (2013). Designing for Learning in an Open World. Retrieved from

Conway, P. (2015). Preservation in the age of Google: Digitization, digital preservation, and dilemmas.The Library Quarterly, 80(1), 61-79. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE]. (2015). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from

García‐Marco, F. J. (2011). Libraries in the digital ecology: reflections and trends. The Electronic Library, 29(1), 105-120. doi:10.1108/02640471111111460

Harris, B. R., & Millet, M. S. (2006). Nothing to lose: “fluency” in information literacy theory and practice. Reference Services Review, 34(4), 520-535. doi:10.1108/00907320610716422

Haste, H. (2009). What is ‘competence’ and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate ‘competent civic agents’. The Curriculum Journal, 20(3), 207-223. doi: 10.1080/09585170903195845

Hay, L., & Foley, C. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in the 21C. Scan, 28(2), 17-26. Retrieved from;res=AEIPT;dn=182942

Heine, C., & O’Connor, D. (2014). Teaching information fluency. Retrieved from

Holley, R. (2010). Trove: Innovation in access to information in Australia. Ariadne(64). Retrieved from

Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Retrieved from

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Retrieved from

Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: building the new library. Ariadne, (45). Retrieved from

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: school libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7. Retrieved from;dn=038168567341804;res=IELAPA

Purcell, K., & Raine, L. (2014). Americans feel better thanks to the internet. Retrieved from

Segev, E. (2010). Power, communication and the internet Google and the digital divide: The bias of online knowledge. Retrieved from

Sharkey, J. (2013). Establishing twenty-first-century information fluency. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(1), 33-39. Retrieved from

Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., & de Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age : How Learners are Shaping their Own Experiences. Retrieved from

Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39. doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing information fluency: Gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning. In A new culture of change. (pp. 17-33). Lexington: CreateSpace.

Toner, G. (2011). An introduction to the Australian Curriculum. Connections(76). Retrieved from

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO]. Information preservation. Retrieved from

Big Data

With the advance of technology researchers, scholars, organisations and retailers are able to access Big Data. Big Data is characterised by large data sets that can be searched, aggregated and cross-referenced (Boyd & Crawford).

Will largescale search data help us create better tools, services, and public goods? Or will it usher in a new wave of privacy incursions and invasive marketing? Will data analytics help us understand online communities and political movements? Or will analytics be used to track protesters and suppress speech? Will large quantities of data transform how we study human communication and culture, or narrow the palette of research options and alter what ‘research’ means? (Boyd & Crawford, 2012, p. 663)

The video below explains how Big Data can be used by retailers. Should we be concerned about targeted (pun intended) marketing or can it be beneficial?


Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical questions for Big Data, Information, Communication & Society. 15(5), 662-679. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878

Content Curation

Over the past ten years, content curation tools have evolved from social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo, to the more sophisticated and visually oriented sites available today. Most are web based applications that can be used on a computer and many also provide apps so that they can be used on mobile devices.

Teacher librarians have been finding, analysing, selecting, organising and sharing print resources for many years and are well placed to take on the role of content curator. As Valenza says teacher librarians know their community and understand the curriculum “we are used to taming information flow to facilitate discovery and knowledge building” (2012, para 5). Rhondda Powling (2013) also emphasizes the skills of the teacher librarian in selecting the best and most relevant content and adding value to it with annotations. Content curation tools can increase the visibility of online resources and extend the library beyond its physical boundaries. Valenza also points out a content curation tool “can also promote and lead users back to valuable print materials” (2012, para 12).

With businesses in mind, De Rossi and Good (2010) identified the attributes of good curation tools. Flintoff, Mellow & Clark (2014) adapted these attributes for education. Most tools I have experimented with are capable of the first five points but I am yet to find a tool that covers points six and seven also.

A good curation tool allows you to:

  1. Aggregate and gather web pages specific to the topic
  2. Filter content to allow the curator to select the best material
  3. Publish to your collection with ease
  4. Share, syndicate and distribute to your audience and the wider community
  5. Allow the curator to edit and add comments as well as providing a comment stream for the audience to nurture discussion around the article
  6. Analytics so you can track the usage of the site
  7. An export facility or a way to backup the curated work
    (Flintoff, Mellow & Clark, 2014, para 7)

My content curation “sandbox” currently consists of:, Pinterest, Educlipper, Pearltrees, Diigo and Flipboard. I have personal accounts for recreational and professional learning. So far, the school library accounts have been experiments in raising the profile of digital resources to support curriculum. Now I want to consolidate my content curation skills and determine which tools are most suited to my school library.


De Rossi, L. C. D., & Good, R. (2010). Real-time news curation: The complete guide. from

Flintoff, K., Mellow, P., & Clark, K. P. (2014, January 30-31). Digital curation: Opportunities for learning, teaching, research and professional development. Paper presented at the Teaching and Learning Forum, Perth: The University of Western Australia. Retrieved from

Powling, R. (2013, June 7). Talking about content curation [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. K. (2012). Curation. School Library Monthly, 29(1). Retrieved from

Computational Thinking Scares Me

I was a little scared by the idea of computational thinking. I am a comfortable and competent user of technology but I don’t give much thought to how it all happens. I am grateful for all the work the programmers do to make my life easier but I don’t really understand how they do it. I was still afraid when I read the first paragraph of Wing’s Computational thinking and thinking about computing  but by the end of the article she had helped alleviate my fear.   Wing explains that “computational thinking is taking an approach to solving problems, designing systems and understanding human behaviour that draws on concepts fundamental to computing” (Wing, 2006).  At this point I was still scared by the mention of abstractions as the essence of computational thinking with algorithms and programming languages as examples. Things became a little clearer when Wing explained that “abstractions are the mental tools of computing” (Wing, 2008, p3718). In the abstraction process, people have to decide what details are important and what can be left out and then layer abstractions. The real power is in combining human and machine processing abilities to solve problems. Barr, Harrison & Conery believe students should be taught how to identify when and where digital tools can assist with problem solving (2011). The kinds of computational thinking skills they refer to appear in the following video. I still have a lot to learn but I am not scared of computational thinking now.


Barr, D., Harrison, J., & Conery, L. (2011). Computational Thinking: A Digital Age Skill for Everyone. Learning & Leading With Technology, 38(6), 20-23. Retrieved from

ISTE. [ISTE]. (2012, January 3). Computational thinking: A digital age skill for everyone [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33-35. [INF530 Module 2.5] retrived May 10, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website:

Wing, J. M. (2008). Computational thinking and thinking about computing. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366(1881), 3717–3725. retrived from

Connected Learning and the VCE

At times I get frustrated working at a senior campus where all the students are undertaking their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). The VCE is focused on outcomes and involves covering a lot of content in a short space of time. The opportunity for connected learning is severely limited in many subjects. Despite this constraint, some teachers are using some connected learning principles when they have the chance. The opportunity to use connected learning is greater in subjects such as art and media where personal interests are drawn upon and are more product centred.

While the theory of connected learning is new to me, I realise I have been witnessing it in school libraries throughout my career. In the mid 1990s, students who loved playing computer games would devour the library’s magazines and books about computer games. There were students who borrowed fiction books heavily and then spent their lunchtimes writing fan fiction. I can even recall getting a student to write a small computer program for the library so we could randomly draw names for a raffle prize during Children’s Book Week. From my reading these appear to be examples of connected learning.

While connected learning at the VCE level is currently limited, I see that I have a role to play in promoting the principles and supporting teachers and students with the challenges.

I found the videos at The connected Learning Research Hub helped my understanding of connected learning and I plan to share them with my colleagues.

Connected Learning

Credit: Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub

Creative Commons License This Connected Learning Infographic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License


Scholarly Book Review

This is my first piece of academic writing in 22 years. I spent many, many hours reading, researching, thinking, writing and wondering whether I was on the right track.

Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

In the last ten years, the lives of American teenagers have been regulated by their parents’ fears. Teenagers have been restricted from participating in public places so they have harnessed the affordances of technology to communicate, socialise and explore the world. Like their parents before them, teenagers want to be with their friends and this increasingly happens in a digital ecology. Many adults are fearful of the new technological spaces inhabited by young people and Danah Boyd attempts to calm their panic by explaining the social lives of networked teens by compiling eight years of qualitative and ethnographic material into an accessible book.

In high school during the 1990s, Danah Boyd was fascinated by technology and spent time exploring the wider world in chat rooms and using bulletin boards. For the past decade as an academic, Boyd’s research has focused on how young people use social media in America. Boyd has drawn upon her experiences and academic knowledge to explain the relationship teenagers have with networked environments. With a broad audience in mind of American parents, educators, journalists, students and librarians, Boyd has chosen an appropriate writing style for her intended readership, to describe her research and convey the voices of the young people she interviewed. Boyd cites scholarly literature and academic ideas to support her ideas and arguments. Boyd makes it clear that her study relates to the culture of the capitalist society of the United States of America. While this does not exclude a wider readership, the reader must acknowledge and take care not to generalise her findings to their own country. Currently Boyd is Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder of Data & Society Research Institute, both commercial enterprises.

Boyd (2014, p. 6) uses the term social media to “refer to sites and services that emerged during the early 2000s, including social network sites, video sharing sites, blogging and microblogging platforms, and related tools that allow participants to create and share their own content”. This interpretation is shared by De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk & Jenkins (2007). These tools are an integral part of the world for twenty first century learners. Teenagers are using technology to socialise and many are also using it to learn. Mimi Ito says in the video Rethinking learning: The 21st century learner (2010) that the learning happening outside of school matters to young people and schools need to support informal and formal learning. Schools have an important role in developing the skills required for participatory media. According to Eschet (2012), digital literacy requires a variety of complex skills and not just the technical skills to operate devices. Social media has provided teenagers with new ways to participate in public life and this according to Boyd is what concerns anxious adults.

Boyd contends that young people have leveraged social media to create their own publics. Networked publics are “ (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology and practice” (Boyd, 2014, p. 8). Restricted freedom and the widespread use of social media, has resulted in social interaction that previously happened at a shopping mall, friend’s house or a park moving to a virtual space. Boyd identifies four affordances that are not new but provide new challenges when they impact on each other in networked publics: persistence, visibility, spreadability and searchability.

In an in informative and in depth introduction, Boyd clearly states her reasons for writing the book, introduces the concept of networked publics and explains the research method she used. Qualitative data and ethnographic material was collected from 2003 to 2012 and interviews were conducted between 2007 and 2010. Boyd’s lack of hard data has been supplemented with copious notes that reference previous academic studies and these can be interrogated further using the extensive bibliography. The topics of identity, privacy, addiction, danger, bullying, inequality, and literacy are addressed in chapters that are best read consecutively but also make sense if read independently. Social media has changed dramatically over the past ten years; consequently some of the examples from her early research may be unfamiliar to some readers. This doesn’t detract from Boyd’s intent and is best explained by the author herself, “the examples may feel antiquated, but the core principles and practices I’m trying to describe are likely to persist long after this book is published” (Boyd, 2014, p. 27).

Bullying is a problem in schools and society. The affordances of technology have provided another avenue for bullying and a bigger audience. Like Boyd, Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston (2012) caution parents against seeing technology as good or evil and encourage them to educate rather than punish. They go on to say engagement with social media provides teens with opportunities for identity development and self-exploration. This advice is echoed by Boyd (2014, p. 152) “we can certainly make a concerted effort to empower youth, to strengthen their resilience, and to help recognize when they are hurting”. Online safety should be discussed openly with young people; limiting access to social media can be counterproductive.

Bullying, drama and attention seeking can be confused by collapsing contexts. Popular reality television has normalised attention seeking, celebrity and drama. Attention, positive or negative, can be easily obtained using social media. Boyd asserts that teens and adults contextualise behaviour on social media differently and this can lead to conflict. Where adults see bullying; teens see gossip, rumours, attention and pranking as drama. Boyd (2014, p. 138) and her associate Alice Marwick defined drama as “performative, interpersonal conflict that takes place in front of an active audience, often on social media”. The technology isn’t to blame for hurtful gossip or rumours “rather, someone seeking to spread a message can easily leverage the affordances of networked publics to do so” (Boyd, 2014, p. 145).

The media, parents, teachers and community leaders complain that teenagers share too much online. Boyd calms this moral panic by explaining how teenagers value their privacy offline and online but in a different way than adults. Adults may be wary of government surveillance but teenagers are worried about parental surveillance. In networked publics the technical affordances of persistency and searchability complicate matters of privacy. Comments can be taken out of context or accessed by an unintended audience. Often the unintended audience are well meaning parents. Overprotective parents can limit their child’s agency to control situations online. Boyd (2014, p. 76) asserts “privacy doesn’t just depend on agency; being able to achieve privacy is an expression of agency”. Despite these concerns a Pew Research Center report has found 60% of teen Facebook users keep their profile private and are confident in managing their settings and only 5% limited what their parents could see (Madden et al., 2013 section 1- 5). This statistic seems surprising but could be explained by Boyd’s explanation that teens switch tools or encode content to reclaim agency and avoid parental surveillance and intervention. Social media privacy settings can be difficult to manage. While Boyd focuses on teenagers, it is important for both adults and teenagers to develop the skills to manage complicated privacy settings.

Generational differences have been used to explain how people of varying ages understand technology. Prenksy (2001, p. 1) argued “as a result of this ubiquitous environment and sheer volume of interaction with it, todays students think and process information fundamentally differently than their predecessors”. He named these new students digital natives and believed that digital immigrant teachers were at a disadvantage. Boyd believes the digital native versus digital immigrant debate is a distraction and being literate in a networked age is difficult regardless of age. “Being exposed to information or imagery through the internet and engaging with social media do not make someone a savvy interpreter of the meaning behind these artefacts” (2014, p. 177). The findings of Helsper (2010) support this view and suggest older generations can operate at the same level as younger people. Stoerger (2009) also warns against over generalising the capabilities of different generations. Despite dismissing the metaphor, Boyd does make references to some parents using stereotypical descriptions.

Boyd insists that educators have an important role to play but is critical of formal educational settings and the priorities placed on digital competencies. Today most jobs require some form of technical knowledge and employers are demanding twenty first century work skills. “If competence means ‘adaptation’ then we must educate for, first, openness, and second, a critical perspective that facilitates appropriate and productive choice within this openness” Haste (2009, p. 208). Boyd and Haste both agree that formal learning has been slow to educate for competencies that are perceived by many as recreational. Boyd doesn’t offer any advice on how to rectify this situation and seems somewhat accepting of it. Downes also talks of a feeling of acceptance from teachers “that their students would be the source of greater educational innovation and change, revolutionizing high schools as well” (2012, p. 14).

Boyd (2014, p. 181) notes the importance of media literacy and the importance of critical evaluation of messages, “fewer intermediaries control the flow of information and more information is flowing, the ability to critically question information or media narratives is increasingly important”. The positive uses of Wikipedia are addressed but greater discussion of the sophisticated strategies that social media companies employ using algorithms and personalisation of search results would have been beneficial. Perhaps Boyd was impeded by her current role at Microsoft Research or considered it was beyond the scope of the book. The documentary Generation Like (2014) addresses data mining, advertising and the manipulation of social media by companies in greater depth than Boyd. An awareness of these practices is essential for digital literacy across generations.

The affordances of technology present dangers and challenges that can cause moral panic. Boyd believes technology is not the problem or solution and this is supported by her observations and interviews. “Reality is nuanced and messy, full of pros and cons. Living in a networked world is complicated” (Boyd, 2014, p. 16). Generational debates are a distraction; both adults and teenagers need be digitally literate and master technical competencies. Using the voices of teens and broader research, Boyd has clearly described why teenagers living restricted lives leverage social media to interact with their peers. Although the observations made by Boyd are specific to the culture of the United States of America, this does not prevent adults from Australia or other western countries from gaining useful insights into the use of social networks by teenagers. Boyd has provided some reassurance for adults worried about youth in a technological ecosystem that is constantly changing. After reading this book adults should have the confidence to start conversations with the young people in their lives. Technological and societal change is inevitable, teenagers must be given agency to participate and learn in this evolving digital information ecology so that they can become critical twenty first century learners and citizens.


Brabazon, T. (2014, May 15). It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens, by Dana Boyd. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from

Cadwalladr, C. (2014, March 24). It’s complicated review – online space is teenager’s only public space. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their    experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6-15. Retrieved from

Gaffney, M. (2014, May 17). A wise guide for parents worried by the web: It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. The Irish Times. Retrieved from

Eshet, Y. (2012). Thinking in the digital era: A revised model for digital literacy. Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 9. Retrieved from

Haste, H. (2009). What is ‘competence’ and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate ‘competent civic agents’. The Curriculum Journal, 20(3), 207-223. doi: 10.1080/09585170903195845

Helsper, E., & Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: Where is the evidence. British Educational Research Journal, 36(3), 503-520. doi: 10.1080/01411920902989227

Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S. P., & Agatston, P. W. (2012). Cyberbullying: Bullying in the digital age. Retrieved from EBL database.

MacArthur Foundation. [macfound]. (2010). Rethinking learning: The 21st century learner [Video file]. Retrieved from

Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Cortesi, S., Gasser, U., Duggan, M., Smith, A., & Beaton, M. (2013). Teen, social media, and privacy: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

PBS. (2014) Frontline: Generation Like [Video file]. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital natives, digital immigrants.,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Quart, A. (2014, April 25). Status update: It’s complicated by Danah Boyd. International New York Times. Retrieved from

Stoerger, S. (2009). The digital melting pot: Bridging the digital native-immigrant divide. First Monday, 14(7). Retrieved from



The Digital Dark Age

Photography is important to me and it is an area very susceptible to the digital dark age. I enjoy the process of taking photographs, digitally processing them and sharing them. I am paranoid about losing my digital files and have multiple back ups stored in different locations and still print many of my photographs as small prints or make photo books. I believe it is important to format shift. I have seen cassettes, videotapes, videodisks and floppy disks all become obsolete. CDs and DVDs seem to be nearing the end too, so I am using external hard drives now. The article did remind me to consider the issue of the loss of software to read files. It would be terrible to have all your files or digital negatives saved but have no means of making them into actual photographs.

It is wonderful that galleries, libraries and museums are digitising their analog collections. I can visit the National Archives of Australia online and see copies of my grandfather’s wartime documents. On a smaller scale I have scanned some of my parent’s slides but it is a very slow process.

While exploring Trove I found in the Pandora Archive copies of a website I maintained for my camera club ten years ago. It is the camera club’s 50th anniversary this year so a look back at our first website will be of interest to our newer members.
5211889689_16e6f171f8_m creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by César.Gutiérrez:

It’s Complicated…

For my scholarly book report I chose It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens by Dana Boyd. This book appealed to me because I have followed Boyd’s blog and read articles by her in the past. I work as a teacher librarian in a senior secondary school so I want to explore the relationships teenagers have with technology and social media further.


Yale Press. (2014, May 9). Dana Boyd’s It’s complicated: how to understand teens lives on social media [Video file]. Retrieved from

Assessment 3 – Blog Post 2

Digital Information Ecology

In the video The global one room schoolhouse, John Seely Brown said that in the past we got answers from books but now we can get answers from networks. This is not an earth shattering statement to me because I have witnessed and been part of this shift towards a new digital information ecology over the past 18 years in schools. In 2013 I heard Tony Richards speak at a conference and he asked us to look at our learning nodes growing up and today. See the image below. This exercise made me realise that students today are learning a great deal outside of school and usually with technology. School libraries are well placed to provide a bridge between old and new approaches to learning.

Photograph by Karen Malbon

Learning nodes. Photograph by Karen Malbon

School libraries have always provided students with opportunities to explore their own interests, learn and play with books, board games, puzzles and craft. New tools in the network age now enable students to play and tinker with computers, mobile technologies, social media and online communication.

In an address at Innovation and Technology in Education, John Seely Brown said “play is a place of permission and a space of invention, where we can try things out and have permission to fail.” I believe this place should also extend to teachers. Over the years I have come across teachers and teacher librarians who felt left behind, anxious and unsure about technological advances. If willing, schools and the school library can provide the two elements that are essential to a new culture of learning as described by Thomas and Brown (2011) “The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries”

In the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition one of the key trends over the next two years was rethinking the role of teachers.
Teachers are increasingly expected to be adept at a variety of technology-based and other approached to content delivery, learner support, and assessment; to collaborate with other teachers both inside and outside their schools; to routinely use digital strategies in their work with students; to act as guides and mentors to promote student-centred learning; and to organise their own work and comply with administrative documentation and reporting requirements.
Teachers no longer hold all of the power for student learning. Students can obtain information from a variety of sources, using a variety of devices. “The role of teacher becomes less a conduit and director, and more a facilitator and guide, enabling the initiative to be taken, productively, by the student” (Haste, 2009, p. 216) John Seely Brown takes this a step further saying that not only can teachers be mentors but students can too. Reverse mentoring could see a student acting as a mentor to their teacher, parent or grandparent for example. Some may find reverse mentoring unsettling but I think it would help to foster valuable relationships with students.

The school library has an important leadership role to play in supporting the learning of teachers and students as they explore different forms of technology and the constantly changing tools available in our digital information ecology.



Brown, J. S. [DMLResearchHub]. (2012). The global one room schoolhouse [Video file]. Retrived from

C-Span. (2013). Innovation and technology in education, panel 1 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Haste, H. (2009). What is ‘competence’ and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate ‘competent civic agents’. The Curriculum Journal, 20(3), 207-223. doi: 10.1080/09585170903195845

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning. In A new culture of change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace.

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