Part 2a: Evaluative Statement
Studying INF506 has developed an understanding of social networking where Web 2.0 technologies have been investigated and used in a practical context as part of the learning experience. This evaluative report demonstrates the importance of incorporating such technologies to improve library services in our connected world.
People have connected socially since the dawn of time by sharing content, collaborating with others and creating communities. The difference today is social networking is predominantly carried out online, where an array of social media technologies are used to enable connections between a greater diversity of the population no matter who they are or where they live (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007, p. 2-1).
It is imperative information professionals are abreast of the pathways information flows in our ever changing information and communication landscapes. In the OLJ post What is Web 2.0?, Schwerdtfeger’s (2013) and Barnatt’s (2008) videos illustrate how Web 2.0 opened up the doors of communication allowing users to not only consume information (Web 1.0), but to also communicate with the websites by contributing ideas, opinions and content. This led to the Internet becoming a participative information environment, one which is user generated. In this same OLJ post Berger and Trexler (2010, p. 3) identify how the shift to Web 2.0 permits for more than just surfing the web and downloading information; Berger and Trexter (2010, p. 3) consider Web 2.0 as a “rich, multi-media driven space”, where content is created and shared using wikis, blogs, video and image sharing sites and social networking sites allowing anyone to contribute content anytime, anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection.
21st century education revolves around using social media technologies to inform, create, publish, share, collaborate and communicate. Information professionals, therefore, have a responsibility to embrace such technologies, and as pointed out by Erik Qualman (2016), “We don’t have a choice on whether to do social media, the question is how well we do it”. Social networking is the heart of the Web 2.0 phenomenon where interactions occur between like-minded people using social networking sites, wikis and blogs, such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Wikipedia, Flickr and so on. It is these technologies, with Facebook, Twitter and Google being the most dominant (Cavazza, 2016), that information professionals grasp with both hands to encourage user participation.
The evolvement of Library 2.0, participatory library services enabled by Web 2.0 technologies, is a giant step forward for information and communication. Libraries are no longer regarded as silent buildings one must enter to be informed, and librarians are no longer regarded predominately as the keeper of books. As illustrated in The 4Cs of Social Media ASU Libraries depict how the concept of Library 2.0 functions to meet the needs of their patrons by addressing: collaboration, conversation, community and content creation. ASU Libraries utilise multiple social media technologies such as Youtube with their amazing Library Minute videos, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and Facebook (just to name a few) to connect with their library users. ASU Libraries demonstrate how relationships are built with their patrons through social media channels (King, 2015a, p. 9), whereby users do not need to enter the physical library building to connect to others. This reason also resonates with Berkhardt who believes having a social media presence will assist librarians, and the like, to understand their users better (2009, parra. 5), hence improve the service they provide. As discussed in The 4Cs of Social Media ASU Libraries enhance the depth and breadth of their online reach by using an array of social networking sites, rather than limiting their connection by using only one platform.
Implementing a school library Facebook page for the INF506 project provided the opportunity to use social media technologies in a practical setting. Besides using Facebook as the social networking platform other social media tools used to gather and share information included: Padlet for collaboration and curating, Snapchat for creating images, You tube and Flickr for sharing, and Yammer for professional networking to ask for advice and opinions. Thus far the Facebook page continues to improve and be successful; however, without following guidelines of a marketing strategy, such as the strategy published in CSU Thinkspace titled Draft Marketing Strategy for My School Library, the venture would not have as successful. Key points to consider, as discussed in the abovementioned blog post, include: form a passionate team, listen and respond to their ideas (Ramsey & Vecchoine, 2014. P. 78); regularly monitor, adjust and evaluate the strategy using the analytic tools to ensure success (King, 2015b. P. 26); and follow the organisations social media policies and guidelines to safeguard users and the organisation, especially where children are involved. Participating in online environments through social networking can jeopardise ones identity, as discussed in Who Are You?. It is imperative, therefore, responsible online behaviour is adhered to ensuring identity, privacy, security and trust is maintained by those interacting on social media sites.
Part 2b: Reflective statement
I approached enrolling in INF506 with apprehension. Being a mature student, hence not growing up with a mobile phone attached to my hand and being socially connected 24/7, I lacked the confidence in using social media technologies. So why did I decide to put myself through emotional turmoil by studying social networking for information professionals? Good question indeed! I took the leap because I have a responsibility to my school community, it’s that simple. I wanted to ignite my high school library with a social media presence, rather than having it plod along as it has been over the years as a place where great things happen but few people know about it. I knew if I implemented a library Facebook page I could use this platform as a means to communicate and promote our library services (Donaghue, & Stower, 2016, p. 5) to the school community and beyond. So for this reason I moved out of my comfort zone and immersed myself in social media environments to develop the skills and expertise required to improve my ability as a social networker and information professional.
As discussed in The beginning of my social networking journey my ability to use social media technologies was very limited and I described myself as being a novice at social networking. Although I still have a lot to learn, I can happily say I have grown in knowledge and confidence on using social networking as an informational professional. Prior to studying INF506 I had no idea what Web 2.0 was let alone how it fit into our 21st century information and communication landscape. I now understand Web 2.0 to be the crux of social media where the Internet is no longer purely a storage space for information retrieval but a participatory and interactive environment (Berger and Trexler, 2010, p. 3).
Bit by bit I am developing confidence in using Web 2.0 technologies to transform my library into a library 2.0; one which embraces collaboration, communication, conversation and content creation. Recently I introduced the social media tool Padlet to entice my colleagues to use as a method to collaborate by sharing resources. Not too successful thus far; I seem to be the only person contributing to the site. I obviously need to organise a professional learning session so staff can realise how using social media tools lead to a communicative and facilitating community, one which will strive to serve our school community better (Miller, 2005).
Before embarking in the INF506 journey I was mostly a consumer of information from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, rarely did I contribute content. Through immersing myself in the many tools from Module 3 I have developed knowledge and the confidence to also be an active participant. For example, thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk’s SlideShare on The Number One Mistake Everybody Makes on Twitter (2013), I have learned a few tricks of the trade when it comes to using the micro-blog Twitter, and I now have the confidence to Tweet, as demonstrated below.
As my confidence grew so did my online presence with professional networking groups on Facebook and Twitter. This has allowed me to participate in professional learning on a global scale from expert librarians, such as Joyce Valenza on Twitter, and Shannon McClintock Miller on Future ready librarians Facebook page, not to mention Teacher Librarianship @ CSU Online and of course INF506 201730 . These professional learning networks provide invaluable access to resources and information (Nielson, 2008) I simply cannot receive within the buildings of a small rural school. At first I attempted to be involved in many other library organisations and began consuming, contributing content, collaborating and having conversations with others in these groups, however, this ate into a huge amount of my time. Jeff Utecht’s blog article Stages of PLN adoption provided insight into effective social networking to assist with my professional learning within the information and communication landscape (Utecht, 2008). Rather than feel I need to be constantly involved in all of my social networking communities, I now realise I can contribute when I have time, or when a significant issue arises, I do not have to be connected 24/7.
As I continue in my quest to develop my library into a library 2.0 I shall heed Fauzia Burke’s advice to: spend time developing genuine relationships with my school community by interacting, conversing and creating conversations; be excited and create a buzz on new library ventures; and “Realize social networking is a marathon and not a race as it will take time to build relationships and grow your following” (Burke, 2013, parra. 5).
INF506 has provided me with many competencies I otherwise would not have developed. Although I have only touched the surface of how this subject has engaged and developed my social networking capabilities, I endeavour to continue my development in this area of social networking for information professionals to educate and support my school community. Oh, did I mention I have written my marketing plan to include Twitter and Instagram as avenues to connect my library with my school community? I am so excited and so are my students.
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