Monday, 25 May 2015

Sixth rung - INF506 Social Networking - Reflection

In fulfilling my study of the INF506 subject I have developed a respectable grasp on a diversity of social networking venues. I cannot state that I have become in any way an expert in manipulating these technologies, but by embarking on the journey that is INF506, I have developed a working awareness of social media and social networks and how I can use the characteristics these tools in assisting others to meet their information needs.
 The development of a Professional Learning Network (PLN) has been a significant step in my progress through the web 2.0 environments involved in studying INF506. In order to be aware of, and reflect on the communal expertise of my peers and other global education experts within the many ‘communities of practice’ available, I must persist in developing and expanding my personal learning networks (Utrecht, 2008).
 The exploitation of peer-to-peer knowledge through network-based inquiry was not new to me, through my involvement in motorcycle technology gathering via Facebook. But I gained a greater comprehension of the influence PLN’s can play in the development of collaborative learning, both within and outside of the traditional educational networks.
 My immersion in a variety of social media environments has involved a gradual assimilation of social networking tools into my personal and professional practices. The consequential benefits of this integration have included a broadening of my understanding of the needs of my clients/contacts and a global view of developing and applying effective implementation strategies and theories, to include those clients willing and unwilling to embrace to assist them to become adaptive digital citizens (Maher & Lee, 2010).
 Information acquisitions for a genuine purpose is progressing from individual acquisition, to utilizing the knowledge of groups and communities in order to produce and distribute knowledge (Farkas, 2010; Savolainen, 2007). In the urgency to acquire information, the use of networks has eclipsed traditional methods of information retrieval, these PLN are established and information gained, through inhabitants of the online world, such as those using Facebook, Blogs, Twitter and Wikis (Ranieri, Manca & Fini, 2012).
My introduction to Second Life (SN) opened up a new aspect to the manifestations that social networking could contain. In entering the 3D virtual world of avatars, flying and teleporting I immediately gained an appreciation of their potential as a professional tool that would allow total immersion and participation in web 2.0. My initial attempts to navigate this strange new world were disappointing, with many mistakes being made, however with our first class and with the instruction given by ‘Cas Georgie’ I was able to experience what educational platforms can be achieved by web 2.0 developers such as CSU, Stanford University and others in providing opportunities for global collaboration and learning development (Grassian & Trueman, 2007).
The use of SN provides its users with the opportunities to become engaged in virtual libraries, classes within remote universities and interact with peers from around the world. However as in any social media use by students, I would insist on policies of use, safeguards and guidelines being in place prior to developing an educational concept with SN as the platform (Hay & Pymm, 2001; Warburton, 2009).
With its separation from the real world, SN provides an immersive 3D platform that offers an exceptional method for interacting and sharing information.
Arizona State University’s (ASU) library channel clearly established the standard of ‘participatory library services’ by delivering services to both online and physical clients equably. By integrating social networking throughout their library services they have provided the 4Cs (collaboration, conversation, community and content creation) that is the basis of web 2.0 (Hay, 2010).
Through dispensing 24/7 support and access to information in cooperation with other university faculties, the ASU library has become the pivot of the campus ‘community’ through providing approachability and access to online materials and general information. I admired the format that allowed students to access this data through the structure of the informational ‘Library Minute’, this structure provided students with their basic educational requirements as well as offering the capacity to have a ‘conversation’ with a librarian 24/7 via ‘chat’, phone or email.
By repetitively using the 4Cs, the ASU Library expresses what a web 2.0 library ought be. ASU exploits Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo and YouTube, across multiple formats and through a variety of access points, with the primary object of providing user centered ‘guidelines’ responding to the needs of all its clients, within and without the physical boundaries of the University (Farkus, 2008; Miller, 2005).
My evaluation of ASU’s processes has broadened and developed my understanding of how to use these tools in a primary school library setting, in order to effectively make a difference to how my clients; the students, teachers, administrators and parents access their learning and information needs.
Part b) – Reflective Statement 
On reflection, my growth as a social networker during the course of studying INF506 has been a very steep learning curve. I identified in my initial definition of social networking as the “sharing of information and ideas, by personally ‘connecting’ to the world regardless of distance” (Stephan’s Reflective Journal. (a). 2015).
At that phase, I had made minimal reference to the interactive technologies that were manipulated to allow this connection to take place. On reflection I now consider that my greatest progression over the past months of this subject has been in the expansion of my use of these technologies in developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) of social and professional contacts.
Learning within this subject has been a fragmented development, with the modules giving me a great deal to think about, demonstrating the real world usefulness of the new (to me), social networking tools I was exploring, while I try to relate them into my known models of education and libraries and then apply them to my professional relevance in helping teachers and students harness these online resources.
The very fact that I am not currently employed in the either the education or library fields increases the significance of this subject to my studies; the isolation of distance education has been compounded by not having the work contacts to bounce ideas off. I only wish that I had enrolled in Social Networking at the beginning of my studies rather than almost at the end.
My Blogging use has grown throughout the reflective statement made to record my learning across the subjects in my Masters. Facebook is an additional social networking tool that has been enriched through my participation in this subject. While I have used Facebook for many years on a personal and social level, the educational purposes demonstrated in this course has helped me develop ideas to exploit its potential for connecting linking others as part of each persons PLN. As demonstrated in my first assignment the personal and educational developmental benefits of collaboration using Facebook go beyond social connections to networking on a global scale.
I envision any page I create being used by teachers and students as well as motorcyclists as a reference to their own knowledge while discussing and sharing viewpoints that come from this collaboration.
I do have difficulty in relating the information experienced within this course to my preceding experience of educational libraries. My previous library, and workplace, was mired in a Web 1.0 culture where static information was presented online with no attempt at developing interaction between students, teachers and the library. The reasoning behind this policy was to minimize the potential for abuse or misuse of social networks, as well as with teachers and library heads reluctance to use social networking as a educational tool (Johnson, 2010).
However, I believe that with the amount of online education that is potentially at our fingertips, being unwilling to embrace the concept of social networking is not the remedy. A proactive policy, coupled with instruction and codes of conduct can support and encourage cybersafe behaviors for students while encouraging staff to work with student’s use of technology by allowing them to see how it can be used to better their teaching (Cybersmart 2015).
My engagement within social networking that has been presented in this course has impressed upon me the fact that, when used positively, this communal two-way interaction need not be the ‘poisoned chalice’ (Stephan’s Reflective Journal, 2015), but have the potential to create collaborative environments with the potential to bring likeminded members of these communities together for their long term benefit.
We’re living in a new learning environment, where social networking has the capacity to change the way students can learn, if educational institutions can change the way they view information.
What has become evident over the course of this subject is the impact I can make on a learning community in its shift toward becoming a digital networked school, by increasing my capacity to effect change in the learning environments of those around me.
To make the most of these opportunities, it will require my embracing new technologies that will allow me to educate students to be responsible digital citizens by facilitating change to a social networked school where students do not learn within an information void (Hay, 2010; Marcinek, 2010).
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