Evaluative Report

 

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.

 References

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.

 References

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.

Roth, D. (2013, June 7) Content isn’t king, conversation is king – [Video file]. TheFestivalofMedia  . Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o39k7p_EH5c

Developing a Social Media Policy

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Social Media has opened up new opportunities for sharing and discussion. Lauby (2009, para. 8) explains that just as directives are needed for a company’s telephone and email exchanges, guidelines are also necessary for an organisation’s online interactions and that  communications policies should be extended to include social media. A well written social media policy has importance as it can be seen to protect both the organisation and its employees.  Fleet (2009 p.3) supports this idea and explains that boundaries set by a social media policy not only protect the organisation, they can empower employees in the use of social media tools when they know what is acceptable and unacceptable.

I would advise the following key points to consider when developing a social media policy with regard to employees use of web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use:

  • Employees need to be aware that company policies extend outside of the workplace, there should be no expectation of privacy as the organisation reserves the right to monitor their use of social media  “even if they are engaging in social networking or social media use away from the office” (Lauby, 2009 para.12) The CIPR guidelines (2009, p.2) state that employees should take care and understand that reputation is holistic, that an image created through social media can reflect not only on themselves but on the company.
  • Employees need to ensure accuracy when disseminating information as well as respect for the intellectual property of others.
  • Confidentiality can be seen to be paramount. Within the CIPR guidelines (2009, p.3) the importance of safeguarding the confidences of present and former clients is outlined and it is explained that dissemination of insider information could lead to disciplinary action or possible prosecution.
  • Employees should not use derogatory, discriminatory or defamatory language especially when engaging in discussions about competitors. Lauby (2009, para.14 ) explains that the organisation’s online community should be not be based on competition, it should be an environment where users feel comfortable connecting and sharing ideas.
  • In the interests of transparency, Lasica n.d) recommends that employees identify their role and relationship with the organisation as well as revealing any commercial or personal connections with customers. This can be seen to help build trust.

           References

CIPR Social Media Guidelines (2009, January) Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Europe.  Retrieved from http://www.cipr.co.uk/socialmedia/

Fleet, D. (2009, October 18). Social Media Policies Ebook [Slideshare] Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/davefleet/social-media-policies-ebook

Lasica (n.d) Best practices for developing a social media policy. Society for New Communications Research. Availablehttp://www.socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/

Lauby, S. (2009) 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy, Mashable, 6 February [blog] Retrieved from  http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/

Lauby, S. (2009) Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?Mashable, 27 April [blog] Retrieved from  http://mashable.com/2009/04/27/social-media-policy/

Shift Happens………

The changing media landscape has given rise to a number of shifts that can be seen to impact on how individuals behave as digital citizens, they include:

  • A shift towards digital forms of communication such as texting, blogs and social networking has increased the need for individuals to be aware of the consequences of leaving a permanent record of their conversation and exchanges. The development of an organisation’s information policy would do well to include guidelines for the personal management of one’s digital footprint. Additionally, individuals should be guided towards caution and made aware of the fact that they have accumulated a traceable record of all of their online exchanges. The importance of being aware of the digital tracks left behind is examined in the video below.

  • The decline of print media coupled with access to a massive global pool of online resources has highlighted the need to develop digital literacy skills so that individuals can learn how to evaluate online resources in order to determine the accuracy of content. Ribble (2011, p.26) defines Digital Literacy as “The process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology”. However, information policy should not only include technology education, there should also be instruction on appropriate and inappropriate use as well as guidelines for evaluation of online resources.
  • “Nearly 80 percent of Australian children under 10 years of age use social networks” Battersby (2013) This shift towards a younger demographic of online users highlights a need for an organisation’s information policy to include guidelines for appropriate digital etiquette. Clear rules concerning respectful online behaviour that addresses issues such as cyberbullying, and using inflammatory language should be outlined.
  • The internet has provided access to a huge global pool of content and although the shift has been towards sharing information, the intellectual property of others should be respected. Information policy should steer individuals towards an understanding of how to respect the creative rights of others and as a means to combat digital piracy. The Infographic below illustrates the damaging impact of Digital Piracy.

online-piracy-statistics-infographic

  • A shift towards digital commerce has highlighted the need for individuals to exercise caution when providing sensitive information such as bank account details and credit card numbers when making online purchases. Information policy should include guidelines for protection of personal data and information about safe and responsible ways to purchase good online.

           References

Anson, A. (2012, March 15) Online Piracy Statistics 2012 [Infographic]. Retrieved from                  http://ansonalex.com/infographics/online-piracy-statistics-2012-infographic/

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

Digital Natives. (2008, August 13). Digital Dossier [Youtube video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79IYZVYIVLA#t=247

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools. ISTE pp.15-44 Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/excerpts/DIGCI2-excerpt.pdf

My Personal Learning Network

Mapping my own personal learning network (PLN) has been a helpful exercise. I have been able to visualise how I access information and to identify the people with whom I engage with and exchange information. Couros (2010, p.126) describes PLNs as having an important role in sustaining long-term learning. She explains that after a community of learning is built around a course of study for instance, the connections continue to exist and evolve well after the course has ended.

Below is a meme map of my own PLN.

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In the stages of PLN adoption outlined in Utech’s diagram below, I would identify myself as alternating between stage 4 (perspective), and stage 5 (balance). After being forced to leave the network for a while due to work and family commitments, I found that my return lacked some of the urgency and a fear of missing out that I had experienced before where I felt that there was so much to learn, and so many new tools to explore. After trying out many new networking tools and signing up for many new things I now have reduced these back down to a manageable handful with the realisation that many are quite similar and that a deeper exploration of tools that I am already familiar with may yield the same results.

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The Youtube video below gives a clear explanation of how and why to build a PLN and how an individual might use a PLN to take responsibility for their own professional development. In the video it is explained that it is not enough to simply listen and observe, that a PLN is a two- way street. This has enabled me to identify a gap in my own PLN, I realise that in order to grow my network I will need to contribute more, offer help, reply and ask and answer more questions.

References

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G (Ed.) Emerging technologies in distance education. Retrieved from www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/99z_veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf

Utech, J. (2008). Stages of PLN adoption. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption on 7 September, 2013.

Via, S.(2010, June 10). Personal learning networks for educators [Youtube video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6WVEFE-oZA

An information professional…..

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An information professional in a Web 2.0 world:

  • Thrives on change and is willing to let go of old, established ways of doing things if necessary in order to meet the changing needs of clients
  • Is discerning about choosing web 2.0 tools that best meet the user’s needs rather than focusing on a technology just for the sake of it or because it is new.
  • Is comfortable using Web 2.0 tools for collaboration with others in order to pool knowledge and work towards shared goals.
  • Understands the power of non-textual information sources such as pictures and video, and has the ability to sample and remix media content in order to support the communication of information.
  • Trusts the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and is able to harness the collective intelligence by facilitating and supporting user-generated content
  • Has a genuine understanding of the information culture of patrons that has come about through interaction and conversation with them in online social spaces.
  • Has a flexible attitude towards making mistakes and experimenting with technology, and is willing to change a Web 2.0 tool if patron response and feedback indicates that it is not fulfilling a need.
  • Creates channels for communication that allow for users to participate in discussions and to contribute content.
  • Shapes information services to reflect user preferences and expectations rather than assuming that patrons will conform to a traditional library view.

Effective website design for libraries

Based on my reading of Mathews (2009), Lazaris (2009), and McBurnie (2007), the following criteria have been developed with regard to effective library website design:

  • The site should contain links guiding users to other information sources, positioning the library as a “gatekeeper to information”. McBurnie (2007, para. 7)
  • The library site should have a social bookmarking account, this may facilitate the building of community around shared topics of interest as well linking to library resources.
  • The site should be able to be easily bookmarked, allowing for the easy sharing of library content.
  • A channel for comments and feedback should be provided, this will allow for the library to move away from the traditional form of one-way messages, McBurnie (2007, para. 4) to a more open, interactive form of communication.
  • Use visual cues to represent specific materials within the collection. Matthews (2009, p, 24) explains that this breaks up text and allows for ease of navigation of the site.
  • Segment the site, using a different voice and tone according to the unique needs of the various patron groups. Matthews (2009, p.24) suggests the development of separate content for different major patron groups. When considering younger library patrons, Lazaris (2009) recommends  bright, vivid colours that  stimulate the senses along with games promoting education that allow for direct interaction.
  • Ensure that the site is able to be accessed on a mobile device. Matthews( 2009, p.25) explains that designing for the portable experience is planning for the future.

The effectiveness of Sutherland Shire Library website was evaluated based on this set of criteria, and aspects of the site that could be improved using Web 2.0 technologies were identified.

  • Each page on the site includes a form for comments and offers the opportunity for a reply if desired.
  • The site does not include social bookmarking and could have been improved with the provision of an account. However, the site is easily bookmarked and shared through the placement of widgets on each page.
  • The site contains a link to the library’s flickr photostream which is used to promote library events and displays. This can also be seen to be an effective way for the library to build its online identity.
  • The site is effectively segmented into major patron groups. There is good use of bright, colourful, eye catching elements in the children’s section and educational games are provided.
  • The site is easily accessed on a mobile device and a service for the download of digital magazines to devices is offered.

References

Mathews, B. (2009). Web design matters: Ten essentials for any library site. Library Journal, (available in electronic full text from CSU library – http://www.csu.edu.au/division/library)

McBurnie, J. (2007). Your online identity: Key to marketing and being found. FUMSI, (October). Retrieved from http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/share/2510

Lazaris, L. (2009). Designing websites for kids: Trends and best practices, Smashing Magazine, (27 November). Retrieved from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/27/designing-websites-for-kids-trends-and-best-practices/

Second Life

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                                             CSU Second life training session

 

I was recently able to take part in a Second Life (SL) training session facilitated by CSU, this method of instruction through immersion in the platform proved to be most helpful and an effective way to learn through the action of participation. Prior to the training session I had experienced a little difficulty with the movement function of my avatar and found myself underwater or stuck on a wall a number of times. However, after instruction and some practice I become increasingly comfortable with flying, teleporting, gesturing and chatting with people nearby.

There were some initial frustrations due to the operating system capabilities of my computer which resulted in freezes and crashes. However these were overcome once I moved to a more powerful computer. It would appear that successful engagement with second life requires a high bandwidth; this could prove to be a limitation as access to more powerful computer equipment may not be an option for everyone.

The idea of utilising SL to build a real- time online community with direct interaction with others is intriguing and one can imagine the potential for information organisations to engage with their users. Swanson (2008, p.29) describes librarian’s work in SL as an enhancement of their physical world professional work, something that transcends borders, time zones and allows for participation in the greater whole.

In the video below, Swanson takes a tour of virtual information agencies in SL, meeting with virtual librarians who explain that SL gives them a chance to network and communicate with an international community of librarians, something that might be impossible in the ‘real world.’

 

Swanson, B.D. (2008, October 19). I am library: Ode to self-discovery & collective creativity in Second Life. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM5ze9M3AJ4

Greenhill (2008, p.14), explains that the capabilities of the SL interface has offered the potential for libraries to create engaging immersive environments for the display of information. Further benefits for libraries may emerge through the connection of existing social networking services, where SL could possibly expedite the reference interview. Tang (2010, p.523) explains that a patrons’ profile on social networking technology such as Linkedin could be accessed during a virtual reference question in SL, allowing for additional background information about the individual’s research needs without them having to explain.

References

Tang, F. (2010). Reference tools in Second Life®: implications for real life libraries. New Library World, 111(11/12), 513-525. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03074801011094886

Greenhill, K. (2008) Do we remove all the walls? Second Life Librarianship. Australian Library Journal ,57(4), pp. 1-16

Swanson, B.D. (2008, June 17). I am Librarian. I am Avatar: Second Life and Libraries. [Slideshare]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/hvxsilverstar/i-am-librarian-i-am-avatar