Part 2: (a) Evaluative Statement
Throughout INF506, I have used my OLJ to map my way through this deep world of social networking: experimenting with new technologies; exploring how these are being combined with more establish services to create Library (and Librarian) 2.0; and examining issues and policies in the socially networked world and workplace.
My OLJ post Reasons why libraries should be on Social Media (MacDonald, 2014a) took what I’d learned of Web 2.0 technologies and library 2.0 from previous modules and let me evaluate them in action for three large libraries in British Columbia. The table created for the post illustrated the large number of social media sites being utilised to communicate with and between users, market the library and its services to users and potential-users (Burkhardt, 2009), and assist users with questions and library how-to tips. What became obvious when researching these three libraries was that while I believe users “expect to be able to find your library in a form that suits their preferences” (MacDonald, 2014a) and “not having a presence on these sites diminishes the chance for a library to be relevant” (MacDonald, 2014a), a seldom or never updated account can be just as detrimental (Farkas, 2008).
Twitter was the stand out social media site that was being best utilised by all three of these libraries to promote, communicate, and connect. This may be because Twitter’s advantages lie in its short, text-based platform that can be updated quickly and requires fewer work hours than other social networking sites, as well as having the capability to embed the feed on a library’s homepage, and be “retweeted” by followers. For these reasons, I have begun implementing Twitter as the first social networking tool for my own school library to promote, communicate, and connect with students and teachers. A Facebook page is another common social media site libraries often adopt to promote, educate, and facilitate comments and questions, not to mention the benefit of having the most users of all the social networking sites (Protalinksi, 2013) enabling a library to reach many users.
It seemed, however, that these three libraries, as I have done myself in the bright lights and glamour of web 2.0 tools (“Toolishness” as McKenzie (2001) calls it), fell into the trap of advertising social networking accounts on their website that had fallen idle with little or no updates since first activation – a major issue of the allure of social media without the resources, or interest, to keep it updated (Farkas, 2008).
Other issues I learnt that have risen in our socially networked world were addressed in the OLJ post Identity, privacy, security, and trust (MacDonald, 2014b). I was surprised to realise that I, like the subjects in Raynes-Goldie’s (2010) study, am much less concerned nowadays that my internet usage is being watched by companies for targeted advertising, and much more concerned with how I present myself and how I am perceived online. These “social privacy” concerns (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) over the, dare-I-say, old-fashioned “institutional privacy” concerns (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) are a result of the lack of anonymity encouraged on social networking (Pearson, 2009). With this lack of anonymity, a digital footprint that links our true identity and personality to our online profiles (DeRosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007) is being voluntarily uploaded online every time we update a social media site. As a teacher librarian, this is something that concerns me as a digital citizen both personally and professionally and is an issue that needs to be discussed with and taught to students to ensure they understand how their ever-increasing digital footprint can be affected by what is posted on social media and how we can be judged by what is presented online.
As I learnt about new social networking tools, and the issues that arise with them, I appreciated the need for organisations to produce policies to guide appropriate usage of the new tool and document consequences for its violation namely for safety, privacy, productivity, and legal reasons for all those involved in the organisation (Zimmer, n.d.). My OLJ post Social Media Policies at school (MacDonald, 2014c) addressed the need for social media policies in the school environment and presented recommendations for what should be included in a social media policy for teachers and why. These recommendations, amalgamating from advice in the recommended readings, included what social media sites can be used at school (Fleet, 2009), guidelines on confidentiality (Lauby, 2009a), boundaries for teacher/student communications online (Fleet, 2009), and consequences for policy violations (Fleet, 2009). Although this OLJ post focused on social media policy for teachers, similar recommendations would also be included in student or more general organisation-wide policies as issues of safety, privacy, productivity, and legality apply to anyone using social media in any organisation.
In a search for school district social media policy in my own province of British Columbia (see MacDonald, 2014d), I discovered only a handful of districts currently have a policy or draft policy in place. As a teacher librarian myself, and as we develop our library into a participatory library 2.0 incorporating social tools, I feel it is my responsibility to help spearhead the drafting of, or at least generate awareness for, a social media policy in my own school district as more social tools begin to work their way into classroom instruction and the school environment at large.
Part 2: (b) Reflective Statement
In my first OLJ task describing what I expected to learn in INF506, I wrote that I wanted to know the what and the how of social networking, but just as importantly I wanted to learn the why: “why social networking is important in education and the library environment” and “why [we] should be utilising it” (MacDonald, 2013a). Having now completed INF506, I feel I successfully immersed myself into the what, how, and why of social networking gaining an understanding and appreciation that I will apply to my personal life, my professional life as a teacher librarian, and in my role as leader of the living, breathing organism that is Library 2.0.
Social networking: What?
What is it? Having now completed INF506, I feel my initial definition of social networking in my first OLJ post (see MacDonald, 2013a) was quite well based, although I now feel I placed too heavy an emphasis on individuals publishing, and not enough emphasis on the collaborative and participatory nature of it. While publishing is a large part of Web 2.0, it mimics a one-to-many model (Shirky, 2009) of communicating, whereas social networking should focus on sharing and discussing information within a network of people (Oxiem, n.d.).
What is available? Beginning this subject, I was only using four social networking technologies (MacDonald, 2013a). Throughout this semester, however, I joined, experimented with, and adopted more than 5 times that number including:
- Social bookmarking sites: Pinterest, Delicious, and Diigo (MacDonald, 2013b)
- RSS readers: Feedly (MacDonald, 2013d)
- Blogging tools: twitter, Tumblr (MacDonald, 2013i)
- Virtual worlds: Second Life and Minecraft (MacDonald, 2013e)
- Educational tools: Edmodo, teachertube, and google docs (MacDonald, 2013f)
- Image and tagging sites: Flickr, Thinglink (MacDonald, 2013c)
While I won’t continue using all the tools I experimented with to avoid McKenzie’s (2001) “toolishness” foolishness, I have already begun to use my extensive knowledge to choose appropriate tools for my library and as recommendations to other teachers. This then led me to explore how these sites and tools can be used for educational and library purposes.
Social networking: How?
Module 3 on Library 2.0 and participatory library services (Gertz, 2013a) was where I started to learn and explore how social networking and social media could be used for an organisation such as a school library. In exploring how Arizona State University (ASU) library was using web 2.0 social tools (MacDonald, 2013g) I was able to see how Brenner’s 4Cs of social media (2010) can be met to get the most out of social media to benefit users. When comparing ASU’s wonderful social media strategy to my own school library, however, I will heed Meredith Farkas’s warnings to be selective of social media tools as our focus as information professionals should always be “on our patron’s needs…and should never be on the tools (Farkas, 2008). I will do this through a social media strategy (Brown, 2009) and through assessment before and after a social media tool is implemented (Farkas, 2008), and adopting a “perpetual beta stage” (Farkas, 2007) where change is part of the culture.
Another way social networking tools can be used for teaching and learning was explored throughout INF506 in the practical application of a Facebook group as the subject’s study forum. Through posting new content, posting polls, asking questions and request, and commenting on other students’ posts I was able to explore what I was learning through the modules and elsewhere through collaboration and interaction online. The Facebook group platform worked very well for this purpose and inspired me to join and contribute to my own provincial teacher librarian association’s Facebook group and a local school district professional development group.
Social networking: Why?
After learning how social networking can be used, my attention was turned to my final expectation for this subject – why social networking is important in both education and an information environment and why we should be utilising it (MacDonald, 2013a).
For a library, the reasons include communication with users, marketing and exposure (Burkhardt, 2009), user education, and finding non-users through the power of the “long tail” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2010). Users also expect some presence on social media as social media is often their preferred choice of communicating and web browsing and “not having a presence on these sites diminishes the chance for a library to be relevant” (MacDonald, 2014a). All of these reasons are following a path towards Library 2.0: a library that harnesses all the benefits available on web 2.0 and converges them with current library methods to create a participatory, social environment where users are active co-creators and the walls of your library reach far and wide.
How about social networking in schools? Before this subject my only answer to why we should be using it in education would be because students (and teachers) like it. My answer now would include:
- Its ability to teach students: how to utilise social media to their advantage for research and collaboration; appropriate netiquette and social media practice including cyber bullying awareness and potential workplace consequences (xplanevisualthinking, 2009); digital footprints and how to monitor them; and finally teach a range of literacies such as information, digital, and visual literacies and the emerging transliteracy (Gertz, 2013b).
- Its uses within classrooms as classroom management tools (Scott, 2012), flipped classroom tools (Wang, Hsu, & Green, 2013), collaboration and participation tools, and interactive teaching tools.
- Its uses outside the classroom to inform, bring together, and educate the school community.
- Its uses amongst teachers for professional development, collaboration, and information management tools.
Social networking is very difficult to avoid in the world of 2014, so I believe the knowledge I have gained in this subject as to what it is, what is out there, how it can be used, and why it should be used, will be invaluable for myself and educate others as the information professional (teacher librarian) at our school.
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