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).