Evaluative statement (part a)
The following three blog posts, My Personal Learning Network, Second Life, and Shift Happens, document and reflect some of my understanding of social networking (SN) technologies and how these tools may be managed. Additionally, through these experiences I have been able to evaluate how SN technologies may be utilised to support my own informational and collaborative needs as well as those of communities and organisations.
The construction of a meme map of my personal learning network (PLN) allowed for a thorough examination of where and how I source and share my information. During the development of the map I drew natural comparisons to an earlier map that I had constructed outlining SN technologies and how I use them. This comparison revealed that I had previously not considered that people and human interactions are an integral part of a PLN. This revelation gave me pause for thought as I began to consider how much information I regularly exchange with colleagues, friends and fellow students and how these human networks are valuable and also have relevance.
An examination of Utech’s stages of PLN adoption offered an effective roadmap and it was with some relief that I came to realise that there were stages beyond being overwhelmed and having the urge to adopt each and every new SN tool that was found. Understanding the stages also engendered a feeling of confidence in my choices of SN tools, as quite often it was discovered that after trying something new, my original choices still suited my needs well. Farkas (2009, para.11) describes “looking beyond the technolust” and understanding that there is no need to utilise every SN tool just because it is there. She suggests being cautious when implementing new tools into an organisation because what is right for some may not be right for others. Sharing this approach with Farkas, I no longer feel anxious about having enough time adopt and maintain every SN tool that I encounter.
Of all of the SN tools examined in the course of this subject second life (SL) was the one that I was most looking forward to exploring as I could see the potential for collaboration and the creation of learning communities. However, it was only once I had immersed myself in the SL experience that I realised that the possibilities within the SL platform extended far beyond a tool for collaboration.
Despite potential bandwidth issues which could limit access for some people, one could imagine the possibilities for outreach and access to library services for those who cannot physically do so. Equally important are educational benefits from immersion in the SL environment. Dede (2009, p.66) explains that immersion in SL’s digital environment can draw upon the power of situated learning, where information is transferred through experience and action.
In my blog post Shift happens, I examined how the changing media landscape has given rise to a number of shifts that can be seen to impact upon how individuals behave as digital citizens. Although an exploration of these trends highlighted the need for the development of information policies in organisations to address online behaviour, I felt that it was even more crucial to educate the public at large in regards to the management of one’s digital footprint, and the potential consequences of online interactions.
I now understand that digital literacy skills are vital if one is to thrive in an increasingly online world and could perhaps be as important as policies. Ribble (2011,p.27) explains that policies that serve only to address what can and cannot be done online rather than explaining ‘why’ and ‘how’ will not only become quickly out-dated in times of rapid technological change, more importantly, they also fail to teach digital literacy skills. In a time where “nearly 80% of children under 10yrs of age use social networks” Battersby (2013), it can be seen to be important to educate in order to equip individuals with digital literacy skills at a young age so that they can independently become good digital citizens. Policies can offer guidance, but education can be seen to be a more holistic approach to encouraging good digital citizenship.
Battersby, L. (2012, August 2). Parents underestimate risk of cyber-bullying for teens. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/parents-underestimate-risk-of-cyberbullying-for-teens-20130802-2r4wh.html#ixzz2evil6ls
Dede, C. (2009). Immersive interfaces for engagement and learning.
Science, 323(5910), 66-69. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/cgi/reprint/sci;323/5910/66.pdf
Farkas, M. (2009, June 4). Looking beyond the technolust. Information wants to be free.[Blog post] Retrieved 29th September 2013 from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2009/04/06/looking-beyond-the-technolust/
Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools. ISTE pp.15-44 Retrieved fromhttp://www.iste.org/docs/excerpts/DIGCI2-excerpt.pdf
Reflective Statement (part b)
In my first OLJ blog post “Understanding social networking”, social networks (SN) were described as a representation of relationships between individuals and each other and individuals and organisations. While this still holds true, a deeper level of understanding of SN has emerged as a result of completing this course. I have realised that to truly understand how connections are made, one must be an active participant and that sharing, conversing, commenting and contributing are all integral to the formation and evolution of a social network. Li and Bernoff (2008, p.18) explain that SN technologies are merely tools, it is the relationships and how people connect with them that is important. This idea mirrors my new understanding.
As I delved further into the concept of the importance of relationship building in SN, a new idea began to emerge. Hayes (2008, p.62) posed the question “íf content falls on the web and no-one discusses it- does it exist?’ this philosophical question triggered a further shift in my understanding of what it means to engage in SN. I now understood that online content must be created with conversation in mind, encouraging and facilitating comments and opinions. This can be seen to assist with the establishment and building of relationships and, according to Roth (2008) prolong the lifespan of content as it takes on a life of its own, allowing it to reach its fullest potential.
The idea of allowing content to take on a life of its own as it becomes part of the ‘conversation’ of SN led me to a further understanding which had implications for my development as an information professional. I realised that it would be necessary to adopt a more organic approach to the development of online content, relinquish some degree of control and become comfortable publishing content that was not entirely perfect initially. Farkas (2008, para.8) describes this as “getting rid of the culture of perfect” and cautions against spending too much time creating a perfect product without listening to feedback as it may result in something that does not work for anybody.
I found that the creation of a blog to document my learning experiences for this subject for this subject was perhaps one of the more rewarding experiences as it is a skill that I will take with me on my journey as an information professional. Although I struggled initially to maintain a conversational tone with my writing I felt that the more comfortable I became with the medium, the easier that this became. I have grown to understand that this is a skill worth developing if I am to assist my library to provide a platform for interaction with its community. Rancourt (2009, p.82), explains that allowing your natural voice to shine through in a conversational style of writing can be seen to put a ‘human face ‘ on the library and may allow for a level of comfort for patrons when it comes to communicating with the library staff.
Upon reflection, being required to immerse myself in a number of SN tools for this course has forced me to step out of my comfort zone, to become a contributor and creator rather than just a consumer. I now truly understand the power of social media and how it is more than just a communication and marketing tool for information organisations; it is also an effective way for the library to build communities and to maintain their traditional position at the centre of the community.
Farkas, M. (2008, January 24). The essence of library 2.0? Information wants to be free. [Blog post] Retrieved on 02/10/2013 from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/
Hayes, G. 2008. The Future of Social Media Entertainment. [Slideshare] Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/hayesg31/future-of-social-media-entertainment-presentation-690535
Li, C. & Bernoff.J (2008). Jujitsu and the technologies of the groundswell. In Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies (pp.17-37). Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press
Rancourt, L. (2009). Mashing up the library website. In N.C. Engard (ED.), Library mashups: exploring new ways to deliver library data (pp. 73-86). London: Facet.