Assessment Item Four – Evaluative Report

A) Evaluative Statement

On completion of INF506 I have explored a variety of social networking technologies and created new accounts with LinkedIn, Second Life and Delicious which have broadened my experience as a social networker. The following OLJ entries show I have developed a thorough understanding of the issues and theories that surround social networking within an information environment and I am able to identify how these tools can be utilised to meet user information needs in a variety of information environments.

As evidence of meeting the learning objectives for INF506, the following OLJ posts have been selected:

Critical evaluation of ASUL achieving the 4c’s of social media

Del.icio.us critical evaluation

Creating an Online Personal Learning Network

Critical evaluation of ASUL achieving the 4c’s of social media

As an example of social networking technologies within a library context, ASUL successfully apply the 4Cs of social media – ‘collaboration, conversation, community and content creation’ (Hay, Wallis, O’Connell & Crease, 2014) which has allowed the institution to promote services and collections in many ways but also to ascertain critical characteristics of their audience (Mathews, 2009). Knowing what motivates their users, the ‘Library Minute’ videos via YouTube are tailored to deliver relevant information with a succinct and entertaining method – perfect for time poor students.

Critically examining the features and functionality of ASUL’s social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo it is easy to observe how these tools satisfy the informational and collaborative needs of the tertiary community. ASUL promotes participatory library services by providing ample opportunity for user content creation and participation via online feedback, open collaboration and encouraged to post comments and images via Facebook.

By exploring ASUL’s site, I am able to understand the practice of Library 2.0 as ASUL has embraced the trend towards utilising Web 2.0 (Lamb, 2012) technologies to enhance their services and recruit new users or ‘crowd source’ (Hay et al., 2014). ASUL’s professional practice indicates that they have carefully considered the lifestyle of users and how the library fits into their world (Mathews, 2009) which has ensured that ASUL will remain the information hub of the university.

Del.icio.us critical evaluation

Becoming a member of Delicious proved to be a valuable exercise. New to social bookmarking, I explored the platform and adapted quickly to collecting noteworthy resources online and effectively storing, tagging and disseminating information within my small but professional network. Although I found the features and functionality to be sound, Delicious has been subject to negative reviews (Naone, 2011). Considering this, I will also experiment with ‘Reddit’ or ‘StumbleUpon‘ to better support my need to organise sources that have potential for future application in workplaces.  As a personal exercise, I was able to streamline my learning resources rather than adding to a long favourites list of websites and recommended readings for INF506.

Delicious highlighted the importance of ‘tag literacy’ (Redden, 2010) and reasons tag terms must be appropriate in order for tools such as Delicious to be functional and meet the information needs of users. Although Delicious assists with the issue of broken links, the management issue of ongoing maintenance to ensure up to date additions and to add members to the online Delicious community still exist (Redden, 2010).

Creating an Online Personal Learning Network

Up until this point, my personal use of social networking technologies had not evolved to include professional relationships and was merely as ‘spectator’ (Bernoff, 2010). Creating a map of my personal learning network (PLN) helped to identify gaps and according to Utecht’s stages of PLN adoption (2008) my use needed to be better planned if any professional development was to be gained (Cooke, 2011).

This activity proved to be useful in enabling professional development opportunities as well as facilitating collaboration that would not have otherwise been feasible (Cooke, 2011) given I do not currently work full time in an information environment. By information professionals establishing a PLN they are able to contribute when developing library 2.0 participatory services (Casey, 2007; Sodt & Summey, 2009) as they are better aligned with client needs (Farkas, 2009). Similarly, by becoming aware of my PLN, I have broadened my expertise for understanding user experiences and making informed recommendations (Lamb, 2012).

It has been valuable to engage with social networking technologies and note best practice of institutions implementing their use to improve services. Critically examining the features of these technologies has shown that not all social networking tools are beneficial to users and libraries must ascertain which tools are best suited to supporting information needs and providing access to services.

As a continuous project, my OLJ shows that I have gained an understanding of how libraries can utilise Web 2.0 social networking tools to gain educational and collaborative benefits as well as achieving INF506 course objectives.

 

B) Reflective Statement

The INF506 journey has benefited me both professionally and personally with a deeper understanding of social networking tools and their variety of uses. As a social networker, I have evolved from mindlessly possessing many unused accounts to regularly maintaining a few which contribute to my development as an information professional now and in the future. At present I have progressed to a ‘collector’ level (Bernoff, 2010) and dabble as a content creator contributing to feedback and blog posting. However, I am yet to reach a ‘conversational’ level as I lack confidence when contributing to academic forums given that I am not working in a full time position. However, I fully intend to participate in the ongoing learning process to benefit any future positions I may hold as an information professional.

Information gleaned from INF506 modules was able to be applied to a variety of situations that helped me to extend and improve my using of social media. For example, I was not aware of the importance of a personal learning network (PLN) for current and ongoing professional development. Due to negative personal experiences, I had shied away from social networking as a professional. Half way through the course, it was clear in OLJ that I was still fearful and struggling with the online exposure however once I separated personal and professional profiles, I felt confident to increase my interactions with tools such as Facebook.

Assessment item three gave me great insight into the continually changing and controversial media surrounding social networking in a school setting. In an attempt to quell cyber-bullying and increase net safety, New South Wales government schools ban all social networking access. Even so, school administration still struggle to remain abreast of mobile access which allows access at any point. In addition to state government policy, school administration considers views of parents as well as achieving educational goals. It is certainly a difficult balancing act that is taking some time to manage. In the meantime, young people are losing the opportunity to learn social media skills which will benefit future employment opportunities not to mention awareness of issues such as a lasting digital footprint or copyright. On completing the report, the importance of written policy, planning and evaluation are clear. Given the constant change social technologies, solid social media policies are essential to guide staff and for the protection for of organisation (Kooy & Steiner, 2010).

Looking back at my first post it was my goal to understand how to use social media beyond a superficial level. I believe this has been achieved in that I now realise that information professionals must be organised and deliberate in their use of social media. For example, Farkas (2007) stresses the importance of knowing users. This may seem obvious, however professionals need to gather this information from a variety of sources and apply findings when developing market strategies. Further, Farkas (2007) highlights how a user centered focus coupled with ongoing evaluation is essential in creating and maintaining a library 2.0 information environment. I have bookmarked various sources authored by Farkas which have been valuable to my understanding of libraries and Web 2.0.

At various stages throughout INF506 I was forced beyond my comfort zone, in particular in my attempts to access ‘Second Life. As stated in my OLJ, I had a myriad of problems with the software and program crashes however I was able to experience the program vicariously via YouTube clips. This activity added a whole other dimension to user access. I had never imagined the possibility of communicating via an avatar or users learning as characters and the possibilities for isolated users are endless. Attempting to master the technology was challenging (Luo, 2009) however I will be attempting to revisit Second Life at a later date.

Certainly, INF506 has increased my awareness of social media however it has also become clear that there are many more resources and social media technologies that I have not yet encountered. The realm of social media is being broadened further with apps gaining popularity and providing new spaces where libraries will need a presence. Even so, INF506 has provided me with confidence to explore these new areas and to implement new tools to assist in the organisation of my professional development. When I secure a full time librarian position, I will feel competent in utilising these tools to improve library services, reaching out to users and keeping the library services relevant to new and prospective users.

References

Bernoff, J. (2010). Social technographics: Conversationalists get onto the ladder. Retrieved from http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2010/01/conversationalists-get-onto-the-ladder.html

Casey, M.E. (2007). Maintaining the momentum. In Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. pp. 119-132. New Jersey: Information Today.

Farkas, M. (2007, November 2). Building Academic Library 2.0.[Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_uOKFhoznI

Hay, L., Wallis, J., O’Connell, J. & Crease, R. (2014). Library 2.0 and participatory library services. Librarian 2.0. [INF506]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/INF506_201430_W_D/page/97139774-d826-41e0-00a8-e68db97e0517

Mathews, B. (2009). Marketing today’s academic library: A bold new approach to communicating with students: Blurb Chicago: American Library Association. Retrieved from http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Marketing_Today_s_Academic_Library.html?id=CAESWLpQxVgC

Naone, E. (2011). Are social bookmarks still delicious? Retrieved fromhttp://www.technologyreview.com/news/423879/are-social-bookmarks-still-delicious/

Kooy, B. K., & Steiner, S. K. (2010). Protection, Not Barriers Using Social Software Policies to Guide and Safeguard Students and Employees. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(1), 59-71. Retrieved from http://blog.rusq.org/2010/10/03/protection-not-barriers-using-social-software-policies-to-guide-and-safeguard-students-and-employees/

Lamb, A. (2012). Audience analysis. In Eduscapes, Marketing 4 Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.eduscapes.com/marketing/3.htm

Redden, C.S. (2010). Social bookmarking in academic libraries: Trends and applications. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 36 (3) pp. 219-227. Retrieved from http://biblioteca.unbosque.edu.co/acerca-biblioteca/plan-desarrollo/social%20bookmarking%20in%20academic%20libraries.pdf

Sodt, J. & Summey, T. (2009). Beyond the library’s walls: Using library 2.0 tools to reach out to all users. Journal of Library Administration, 49, pp. 97-109. Retrieved from EBSCOhost Education Research database.

Utecht, J. (2008). Stages of PLN Adoption. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption/

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