ETL 506 Evaluative Report

Did I meet the learning objectives of this subject?

Objective 1: demonstrate an understanding of social networking technologies;

Throughout the course of this study I have expanded my understanding of social networking technologies. This learning is clearly demonstrated through my blog posts in which I discuss various social networking technologies in relation to my experience with them and developing knowledge of them. For example in my blog post ‘A (not so) Delicious experience’ (Smith-Forrest, 2 December 2011) I not only reflect on previous use of the social networking tool Diigo but also on my new understandings of Delicious. This demonstrates that I am aware of what constitutes a social networking technology, have engaged with various tools and have a solid enough understanding of their concept and purpose to assess and evaluate their appeal and usefulness as a social networking tool.

Objective 2:  demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theory and practice of Library 2.0 and participatory library service

My blog post ‘2.0h whatever does it mean!?’ (Smith-Forrest, 14 December 2011a) shows my beginning understandings of library 2.0 as I begin to construct a self-concept of what library 2.0 and librarian 2.0 look like within an information service and as an information professional.  My understandings of these concepts were formed from readings and theory such as Abram (2004) as well as practical experience of working within library environments.  My beginning understandings of the attributes of a librarian 2.0 consist not only of what this entails in theory such as ‘an awareness of how web 2.0 is changing the way the web works’ (Smith-Forrest, 14 December, 2011a) but also an understanding of what this looks like in practice as I state ‘an ability to recognise when a web 2.0 tool has the potential to enhance of improve their library service’ (Smith-Forrest, 14 December, 2011a).
Objective 3: critically examine the features and functionality of various social networking tools to meet the information needs of users

Over the course of this study period I have been engaging in critically examining various social networking tools and their ability to meet the information needs of users. Not only was my case study based on this topic but I also reflected on this both informally when reading and also within my study blog. In my post ‘RSS. The benefits’ (Smith-Forrest, 14 December, 2011b) I discuss the features and functionality of RSS which enable it to meet the information needs of users as it provides a means for ‘busy people who would like updates on certain topics or news without having to constantly monitor a website for new information’.  I am also critical when examining the features of Delicious as I state ‘I can see the potential uses for stacks particularly when building pathfinders for students’ and ‘I think there is a general lack of usability and user guidance’ (Smith-Forrest, 2 December, 2011).
Objective 4: evaluate social networking technologies and software to support informational and collaborative needs of workgroups, communities and organisations

As a teacher librarian it was important for me to approach the evaluation of these social networking tools from the mindset of their potential to meet the informational and collaborative needs of schools. My evaluation of social networking technologies in this way is evident in my assertion that ‘I can definitely see the benefits of using social bookmarking for colleagues to share links and to create lists of classroom links’ (Smith-Forrest, 2 December, 2011) when discussing the useful features of Delicious and social bookmarking in general. When discussing the benefits of RSS I also evaluate the use of feeds in relation to their usefulness within an education setting as I mention ways in which it is being used to provide a ‘My loans’ service and provide news, alert and events updates (Smith-Forrest, 14 December, 2011b).
Objective 5: demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world, and how information policy is developed and implemented to support such issues.

The socially networked world of the current environment brings with it many issues such as altered expectations of social interaction and a change in social culture as well as ethical, sensitivity and privacy issues and the necessity to educate users about appropriate use. I also demonstrate an understanding of the technical management issues of social networking when I point out that RSS is a ‘viable alternative to email alerts dependent on the reliability of the feed reader being used’ (Smith-Forrest, 14 December, 2011b). In my post ‘2.0h whatever does it mean?’ I outline skills, knowledge and attributes of an information professional in a web 2.0 world including having an ‘awareness of how web 2.0 is changing the way the web works and in turn affects the lives of communities and individuals’. Possessing understandings such as these are crucial in the development and implementation of information policy to support these social, cultural, educational, ethical and technical management issues.

Reflective Statement

How have I developed as a social networker over the course of this subject?

While I was already using some social networking tools within my personal life and during this year had gained a greater understanding of using social networking tools in a professional capacity this subject has really opened my eyes to the world of social networking. Not only have I developed in my conceptual understanding of what these tools are, how they are used and what they can be used for but I have had time and opportunities to meaningfully engage with them within a useful context rather than as an isolated and unconnected event.

Some of the tools that we have been encouraged to engage with such as Second Life, LinkedIn, Flickr and Twitter I had no or very limited understandings of before starting this subject. The push this subject has given me to explore these has been instrumental in my development as a social networker. Not only has the chance to compare new tools with those I already know given me a greater understanding of different tools and technologies and their particular strengths and weaknesses but has opened my eyes to a complete new world of which I had (and still have) only scratched the surface.

As a self-professed ‘watcher’ in the social networking world I have thoroughly benefited from the opportunity to see how other people and organisations use social media and networking and am starting to feel more confident and comfortable within the world of online collaboration. I am looking forward to becoming more of a contributor as I am now aware of the expectations, social rules and norms and appropriate formats for contributing to social networking. I have also been able to explore, for instance, where I ‘fit in’ within the world of social networking and where I will find useful collaborators and be seen as a valued contributor.

I feel that I have developed considerably as a social networker both in theory and in practice. I now feel competent with all social networking tools that I am familiar with and am confident that I would be able to easily grasp concepts of new tools. I have become much more curious about other tools and technologies such as QR codes and Pinterest as this subject has activated in me a desire to ‘unpack’ and understand social networking and media tools and technologies.

How will this development make me a better information professional?

I firmly believe that my development through this subject as a social networker will make me a better information professional. Not only is social networking within the information world a fantastic way to get involved in professional development and collaborative dialogues but it gives greater opportunity to provide and access information, both of which are crucial to being a successful and effective information professional.

Using social networks will assist me as a professional to build relationships with others as well as raising awareness about who I am and what I do (Steckerl, 2007). By making it known to library users my professional goals, how I am meeting their needs and encouraging their cooperation in continuing to do this I will become a more effective information professional as I will be better able to assess and meet their needs and evaluate and reflect on my own practice.

The ability to communicate in different and varied ways with library users and staff (Steckerl, 2007) will also make me more successful as an information professional. I now have the ability to customise online service provision to the needs of a specific user base and understand the importance of participatory services in valuing the voice of the user and pushing for user centred change (Casey & Savastinuk, 2006).

After this course I feel like I have a much greater personal understanding of how I can combine being a librarian 2.0 with providing an improved and more effective service that better meets the needs of the user (Farkas, 2008). I also have a thorough understanding of the importance of social networking policies and goals and feel competent in developing and implementing these.

 

REFERENCES

Abram, S. (2006). Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0: Preparing for the 2.0 world. SirsiDynix OneSource 2(1). Retrieved from http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/e_article000505688.cfm

Casey, M. & Savastinuk, L. (2006). Library 2.0: Service for the next-generation library. Library Journal, 1 September. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html

Farkas, M. (January 24, 2008). The essence of library 2.0? Information wants to be free [blog]. Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/

Smith-Forrest, N. (2 December, 2011). A (not so) Delicious experience. Who is Geronimo Stilton? [blog]. Retrieved from  http://nicolesf.edublogs.org/

Smith-Forrest, N. (14 December, 2011a). 2.0h Whatever does it mean!? Who is Geronimo Stilton? [blog]. Retrieved from http://nicolesf.edublogs.org/

Smith-Forrest, N. (14 December, 2011b). RSS. The benefits. Who is Geronimo Stilton? [blog]. Retrieved from http://nicolesf.edublogs.org/

Steckerl, S. (2007). Survival guide: Online social networking. FUMSI, (September). Retrieved from http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/use/2346

 

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