INF506 Evaluative report – how deep was the learning?

INF506 Evaluative Statement:

Evidence of meeting the learning objectives…

How effectively we build and maintain relationships determines the success we experience in our roles as Information Professionals. Without those relationships – there is no work. Social networking provides a virtual world in which we can deepen those connections, work on those relationships, be more available as information professionals. The learning modules of INF506 are designed to develop an understanding of social networking technologies, policy and procedures, and how to critically assess their usage to connect, communicate, collaborate and create.

To demonstrate my deepening understanding of social networking technologies and examine their features and functionality, I have immersed myself in a range of those technologies and used my online learning journal (OLJ) to explore the issues surrounding facebook for schools, promoting ethical behaviour online through edmodo, and using twitter analytics to understand networks.

In my OLJ post titled Edmodo, school libraries and promoting ethical online behaviour (Hogg, 2016a), I used the American Association of School Librarians’ “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner” to explore the learning opportunities of Edmodo newusing the social networking platform, edmodo. School libraries have an opportunity to address these standards by incorporating appropriate social networking platforms in their library teaching programs (Agosto and Abbas, 2011) and I have subsequently established edmodo groups for a range of purposes within my school library.

Edmodo is a safe online platform to provide students with the opportunity to explore the social networking practices of posting and liking within group and subgroup membership. With supervision provided by the owner of group, a teacher or teacher librarian, can nurture the skill set of writing and responding to online conversation threads. Edmodo also has many integrated features and embedded applications that give students the opportunity to develop their information and communication technology skill set.

To understand the theory and practice of Library 2.0 and participatory library service I have researched and analysed the work of State Library NSW and State Library Victoria and written about these libraries in my OLJ post Social media and Web 2.0 Libraries (Hogg, 2016c).

Both of these libraries have a strong presence across a range of social media platforms and are great examples of how the use of social media can enhance their core business.

  1. Both libraries have strong brand connections that are maintained on these platforms.
  2. They promote the library’s resources, services and events and provide key information direct to clients.
  3. The social media accounts are well maintained and provide another point of contact for users.
  4. They engage volunteers to participate in projects related to library collections.
  5. They engage users by facilitating discussion groups and offer collaborative work opportunities.
  6. Create the impression of modern, progressive, responsive Library 2.0.

To evaluate social networking technologies and software to support informational and collaborative needs of workgroups and communities, I completed a project utilising a range of social networking technologies to build a teacher learning community. This provided me with an opportunity to become familiar with social media policy, theory related to developing Communities of Practice (CoP), leadership issues in establishing a CoP. This project also provided the vehicle to 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.

This project and the course content on Library 2.0 led to my further exploration of the use of social media by school and public libraries. This research found the authors Agosto and Abbas, and my OLJ post Teens, libraries and social networking (Hogg, 2016d). Teens use social media to develop and connect within their social networks (Agosto & Abbas, 2009). Much of this is bidirectional information sharing and social interaction. Attempting to tap into this social networking for young adults is a new challenge for library services.

As schools strive to continuously improve and evolve as learning organisations, it makes sense to implement mechanisms to improve relationships and communication structures within these teacher communities (Barth, 1991; Ferriter, 2010). Improving schools involves change (Boyd-Dimock, 1992). The use of social networking has a range of benefits that support these endeavours and enhance the 21st century skills of teaching staff (Arendt, 2009; Baird & Fisher, 2005; Bradley, 2015; Kivunja, 2014). INF506 has been a vehicle for me to experience deeper learning in using social networking tools for more than just social participation, to develop stronger connections with an expanding professional learning network and to explore the significant challenges of building school-based teacher learning communities (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006).

INF506 Reflective Statement:social-network-background-with-icons_23-2147497535

Developing as an information professional…

To achieve deeper learning (as defined by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2013) involves

  • the mastering of core academic content,
  • to think critically and solve complex problems,
  • communicate effectively,
  • work collaboratively,
  • learn how to learn,
  • develop academic mindsets

The core academic content of INF506 has helped me to understand that being a Librarian 2.0 is about mindset, transferable skills and interpersonal strengths (Adams, 2007; Partridge, 2011; Partridge, Lee & Munro, 2010). Brabazon (2014) suggests that the role of librarians is to ‘reintermediate the information landscape with regard to quality and relevance’. The important characteristics here are flexibility – to adapt to a changing information landscape; openness – to change in technologies, learning theories and pedagogies; willingness – to connect and collaborate and support the learning of users; inquisitiveness – to explore new models of utilising information and library spaces. Social networking technologies are a means to enable information professionals to lead lifelong learning as a participant and role model, rather than languishing in library models of a century that is past. INF506 has provided an opportunity to explore these potentials and expand by professional learning network.

The learning modules of INF506 have confirmed that the knowledge and skills needed to be a Librarian 2.0 are not achieved in a vacuum but require the development of underlying dispositions and behavioural capacities to connect and collaborate in order to embody lifelong learning. Librarian 2.0 needs self regulation, adaptability and tenacity (Hallam, 2014) to gain the skills needed to support users of a variety of technologies and help them navigate the information tsunami that the internet has afforded. In fact, Partridge (2011) posits that Librarian 2.0 is more about attitude and thinking than it is about books and cataloguing. It’s about branding and profile. INF506 gave me the opportunity to farm my digital footprint and reflect on my participation on a range of social networking platforms for a leaner professional profile.

For INF506, the opportunity to think critically and solve complex problems was provided by the Social Networking Report assignment. This assignment required the design and implementation of a unique social networking project to support the information, learning, social and organisational needs of a group of people. It was a practical task that required the implementation of a real project. My assignment involved collaborating on a project to explore the use of social networking technologies to develop a Community of Practice (CoP) within my college. Analysing participation and engagement amongst my staff provided many opportunities to connect and collaborate in both the real and virtual worlds.

Using a Facebook group for INF506, alongside exploring the many social networking technologies that are the subject of facebook-logoinquiry in the course content, provided a range of opportunities to make new connections and to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with other students in the course, as well as my colleagues and students. I am now using these technologies more efficiently and with a clearer agenda and skill set. The methodology of this subject has also widened my knowledge of “learning how to learn”.

In addition to all these areas of learning, INF506 provided the chance to develop a deeper academic mindset regarding the underlying theory of online social networks. The assignment project led to research Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 2011) and began an ongoing project to learn more about the challenges of developing teacher Communities of Practice (Wenger-Trayner, 2015) and the challenges of Open Leadership (Hogg, 2016b). Learning communities build knowledge by providing a “social life” for information, and this gives teachers an opportunity to turn data into new information through discussion and reflection (Brown & Duguid, 2000). It would seem obvious that school teaching staff should be members of a learning community within their schools, yet the very nature of teaching is that it is an isolated activity, so if we are to promote change in teaching practice, and professionally develop teachers who are already on busy schedules (Cochrane, 2013), and shift thinking to a CoP, then the opportunities afforded by the use of social networking tools can provide both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities to access busy teachers and empower them to build social capital (Bourdieu, 2011) through supporting their efforts to participate in professional development delivered via these tools. Participating in professional conversation, accessing professional reading, being provided with opportunities to participate in professional learning – can all be established through social networking channels (Goodyear et al, 2014; Hay, 2010).


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