Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Assignment 2: evaluative and reflective statement February 2, 2012

A) An evaluative statement using three (3) experiences documented in your OLJ as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of the subject

The OLJ tasks that best represent my understanding of social networking (SN) technologies are the ones in which I discuss how teacher librarians (TLs) can assist teachers to use RSS feeds to better themselves both as educators and as well rounded people, and my exploration of the strengths and areas of improvement of delicious. Above and beyond that, however, is the ‘off topic’ work I participated in during January. The exploration of FriendFeed (incorporating my burgeoning use of Twitter) and delicious, along with the creation of a new Facebook page on educational technology showed that I could competently navigate SN for my own purposes. This personalisation of SN will serve me well in transfering my new skill set into the school environment. The whole concept of using SN for the creation of my professional learning network (PLN) is exciting me beyond expectation and I am proudly flying my computer geek flag!

The Library 2.0 concept is so stimulating and the meme map included in one of my module response posts really helped me understand the concept more clearly. To my mind, the whole point of Library 2.0 is to use emerging and existing technology to better meet the information needs of my school. Library 2.0 and participatory library service is NOT about having the latest tool that does the coolest  new thing, faster and with a better interface than ever before. If it’s not relevant, if it doesn’t get users excited and pushing for more, then no matter how ‘cool’ a SN tool is, it will be a waste of time and effort and my teachers will simply turn their nose up at it. Knowing what your teachers need and when, then differentiating content and training for them based on those needs, is absolutely the best way to immerse schools into the concepts, theories and practices of Library 2.0 without instilling fear of change. I believe that the underlying principles of Web 2.0 can, and should be, mirrored by effective Library 2.0 TLs: education can only be better if we engage in collaboration, conversation, community and content creation (or co-creation). These practices must be part of the exploration process.  If teachers are creators, users who collaborate and converse in virtual and real life communities, then they are far more likely to use SN tools critically and for authentic purposes, not just because they are interesting or ‘the latest thing’. These values are reflected in my questioning and ruminations on how teachers can be part of best practice dialogue and action using RSS, delicious and other SN tools like FriendFeed. Bernoff and Li’s (2010) ladder concept was hugely influential in my understanding of how SN is both perceived and used.

To effectively scaffold my interpretation of Library 2.0, I must evaluate and know the features and functionality of any social networking reliant information tool or software and how that tool can best be used to meet the needs of their staff and students. I demonstrated that knowledge through my critical examination of delicious. This was especially evident when I highlighted how different aspects of the social bookmarking tool can be a help or hindrance when collecting information for units of inquiry. Additionally, in my RSS OLJ task, I clearly pointed out there were issues that needed to be solved in how teachers could authentically gather information that was personally relevant to them in one place. I also made clear in my marketing strategy post that professional developing in the SN area must be differentiated if the tools and training itself is to be on any use. 

Participating in SN means being cognizant of the inherent social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world. In my experience and opinion, these include, but are not limited to, privacy, cyber bullying, access to technology in and out of school, funding for staff and hardware/software, bias (in programming and in content), confidence levels and attitude, gender and age stereotypes, censorship and intellectual property. There is no bigger arena for these issues than when students and teachers are creators within the SN world. Collaborating and  communicating within a community, perhaps using a SN tool itself, such as delicious to discuss, analyse, evaluate and overcome these issues is paramount.

B) Reflective statement on your development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506, and the implications for your development as an information professional.

Funnily enough, the spark that ignited the flame of interest in social networking (SN) came right at the beginning of the subject but not necessarily as part of the subject! I was researching blogging in late November with the view that I would use it as the basis of my first assignment both in this subject and in EER500. I stumbled across a Sydney Morning  Herald article by Haesler (2011) which referenced the notion of personal learning networks (PLNs).The concept came at exactly the right time for me and drove my learning from then on.

Admittedly, my learning through this subject has come in fits and spurts, depending on the information need I had at any given time. Of course, I learnt a great deal through the modules, with regular a’ha moments steering me off on tangents of excitement. However, the real learning came when I could use the new SN tools I was exploring for real world purposes, in situations where my blood was really pumping and I pushed myself to go further, test the technologies more so that I could get the result I wanted. This was especially obvious in my delicious Stacks on positive parenting. Whilst, admittedly, this was not 100% work related, as a primary teacher, we are also surrogate parents so I guess it could come under the banner of parent education! I’m part of many parenting communities online, mostly consisting of members who are constantly in need of more information to inform and affirm their parenting. I loved having a tangible community service purpose for my own reading. Knowing my use of social bookmarking could potentially help another parent overcome hurdles is exhilarating and very gratifying. I am now looking ahead and planning how I can harness this energy and apply it to my professional life. The most obvious is helping teachers and grade levels organise their online resources into curriculum areas.

Blogging has always been my favourite use of social networking technologies, even before starting this course. When my husband and I started our lives as international vagabonds, we began a travel blog that allowed our families and friends to share our travels. This blogging experience helped me feel enthused about using an OLJ to record my learning in my M.Ed (TL) across many subjects, including this one.  My interest in blogging now goes beyond the personal. As witnessed in my first assignment for this subject, the benefits of educational blogging for primary aged students are huge. I am so excited to share my study with the school involved and be an active participant in seeing my recommendations a reality.

Facebook is another SN tool that has been enhanced through my involvement in this subject. I’ve been an avid facebooker for many years on a personal level, using it as another way to connect with distant loved ones. However, the innovative and, for me, game-changing use of facebook for educational purposes demonstrated in this course has helped me see how I can harness it’s power. I love the idea of teachers using the page I created – virtually schools – as a lead in to their own learning; a place where they can discuss and share ideas. I am planning on offering my services as ‘PLN facilitator’ to the teachers involved in my blogging case study and will use my facebook page as its beginning platform because I know all the teachers on the team are already comfortable with the tool.

One frustration I have experienced over the course of this subject has been the difficulty in relating much of what we are learning about to the primary school student. I’ve started a post collating relevant articles, information and ideas expressly for this purpose. I will add these to my Virtually School FB page for others to benefit from.

My own intense engagement with SN in both personal and professional contexts over the past six or seven weeks has made very clear to me, over and over again, how essential personal relevance is to the implementation of SN in schools. Teachers simply will not use a tool for a tool’s sake; they must see how it can be used to better their teaching and to make them a more efficient educator with the little time they have. My mission and catch cry going forward: personally relevant, educationally effective.

References

Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2010, January 19). Empowered. Forrester Blogs | Making Leaders Successful Every Day. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2010/01/conversationalists-get-onto-the-ladder.html

Haesler, D. (2011, November 14). For today’s learners, it just clicks. The Sydney Morning Herald. pastedGraphic.pdfhttp://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/for-todays-learners-it-just-clicks-20111113-1ndwi.html

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