The successful attainment of the learning objectives of INF506 is clearly demonstrated in the entries on “Being Social” an Online Learning Journal (OLJ) muns.edublogs.org (Munn, 2012a) Candidates in this subject have had their various learning experiences positively enhanced by actively participating in an online social networking community that allowed them to share their skills and knowledge with their entire cohort. Evidence suggests social networking sites provide a range of opportunities for interpersonal networking within flexible learning environments, where passive learning is replaced by an educational experience that encourages interaction and participation (Brantley, 2010, p.352, Asselin, 2008, p.4). Within this interactive environment (OLJ) a thorough and critical examination of Web 2.0 tools has been explored, and their use in Library 2.0 carefully evaluated. The journal makes clear that the potential for Web 2.0 to serve the digital needs, enhance the multi-modal skills and provide personalised learning opportunities for today’s learners can be more easily achieved with the teacher librarian as guide (O’Connell, 2008, p.53, Casey & Savastinuk, 2007, p.124). However, although Web 2.0 tools enable patrons to easily connect and interact in networked communities; the policies affecting access, information sharing and privacy need to protect and serve end users as they actively participate in an increasingly networked world (Davies & Merchant, 2009, p.112, OCLC, 2007, p.ix,).
The OLJ entry titled “My PLN”(Munn, 2012b) demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of how a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can be used to interact, collaborate, communicate information and share ideas with others (Bell, 2009, p.203, Brown & Adler, 2008, p.31, Utecht, 2008). In particular, the author’s meme map illustrates how this interconnectedness has developed and matured over the course of this subject. Joining and actively participating in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr provides the opportunity to develop online networks where users can share resources and learn about new Web 2.0 technologies (Cynh, 2006, p.32). For example, the OLJ entry ‘Twitter Away’ (Munn, 2012c) directly refers to the INF506 Facebook group where information was shared about Twiducate, a new Web 2.0 tool that can be accessed by high school students. This growing awareness of the importance of connecting with others in order to effectively access and share information, has encouraged a deep understanding of the need for professionals to socially network with their peers to meet the demands of teaching and learning in the 21st century (Bumgardner & Knestis, 2011, p.85, Greenhow & Robelia, 2010, p.204). Arguably, the PLN has clearly demonstrated the importance of technology as a support tool that can interactively serve the interests and needs of professional learning communities (Cantwell, 2012, p.5).
The “What is Library 2.0?” entry (Munn, 2012d) illustrates a thorough understanding of Library 2.0 and how social networking technologies can help it develop into, and remain a dynamic environment. Blog entries dated the 8th and 27th of March (Munn, 2012e) also demonstrate a professional working knowledge of Web 2.0 tools. However, it is the entry dated 30th of March that presents an intuitive understanding of social networking tools and how they actively support their users needs. These posts similarly illustrate an in depth understanding of the professional practices necessary to successfully utilise those Web 2.0 tools that best serve the needs of the modern learning community; and Librarian 2.0 is prominently identified as a flexible learning environment that exists in both the physical and virtual worlds (Partridge, Lee & Munro, 2010, p.319). In order to create a dynamic Librarian 2.0 environment the OLJ identifies the need for the teacher librarian to be the facilitator and supporter of the services provided. Therefore it is imperative that the role of the information professional includes being actively involved in the selection, promotion and evaluation of current and emerging Web 2.0 technologies (Casey & Savatinuk, 2007, p.124). Arguably the theories and practices of Librarian 2.0, as presented in this OLJ entry, are evidence that the intended objectives of INF506 have been successfully attained.
Successfully employing social networking sites to facilitate learning requires an extensive understanding and in depth knowledge of the various social, cultural, educational and ethical issues that exist in a socially networked world. The “Identity, Privacy, Security and Trust, OLJ Task”(Munn, 2012f) post effectively demonstrates an increased awareness of the important role that social media policies play in helping to maintain the privacy, integrity and security of its users. These policies are essential in today’s virtual environments, where Web 2.0 technologies and online social networking have the potential to place users in compromising and dangerous situations both ethically and personally (Dinerman, 2011, Bell, 2009, p.214). Educators therefore have a responsibility to ensure their policies present specific and effective guidelines that both maintain safe work practices and are also easy to understand and implement (Harris, 2010). In the midst of this increased online collaboration the journal also argues that these information policies that have been formulated to protect users, need to be consistently reviewed and adapted to meet emerging technologies (Adams, 2008, p.56). This clear analysis of a range of issues related to trust, privacy and security reflect the successful attainment of those objectives outlined for this course.
Although I began this course with a competent working knowledge of social networking among professionals, I had not endeavoured to participate in a wide range of social networking communities. For example, the first post on my Online Learning Journal (OLJ) “INF506, My Social Networking Journey Begins” (Munn, 2012g) provides clear evidence of both my limited experience and my eagerness to learn how social networking would be able to actively assist me in my role as a teacher and teacher librarian. After extensive research and reading I have come to the realisation that social networking technologies are very effective in actively engaging students in collaborative and interactive activities in a range of contexts that exist beyond the classroom (Sinclair, 2007, p.4). They also provide an essential framework that helps provide students with those skills they will need as future members of any 21st century workforce (Greenhow & Robelia, 2010, p.195). Another step in my increasing appreciation of the value of social networking tools in creating a participatory online learning community is reflected in my post “Working in the Library”(Munn, 2012h), where I discuss my new role as a teacher librarian and how I have already introduced RSS feeds on our library page and am in the process of creating a library blog. These efforts reflect my genuine attempts to move our library toward a Library 2.0 environment and help pave a new future for our school in the information age (Abram, 2007, p.7).
Although I had working experience of how effective Web 2.0 tools can be, INF506 has helped me develop a more comprehensive understanding of how a range of these tools can be used to develop a participatory culture that can translate into successful student learning outcomes (Lee & McLoughlin, 2008). Furthermore, the opportunity to join and participate in Twitter has allowed me to gain insight into the potential of this tool as a source of professional resource development where links to the latest technological news can be immediately accessed (Weaver, 2010, p.1). My growth as an information professional is also reflected in my introduction of Twiducate, a Web 2.0 technology specifically designed for school use, into our classrooms. Overall, I also now realise that I need to be consistently re-evaluating and updating the Web 2.0 tools I utilise, in order to ensure that the diverse needs of the school community I serve are being addressed (Farkas, 2008).
Joining Facebook and becoming a social networker has provided me with a number of opportunities to actively engage with other like-minded professionals. It has also allowed me to further develop my skills as an information professional by extending my knowledge about the range of available Web 2.0 technologies. While I have made a genuine effort to contribute to the INF506 online group, it is an area that I need to focus upon and actively maintain. My personal learning network is also an area that I have learnt I need to consistently re-evaluate, both for my own professional development and as a teacher and information specialist in my school. Efforts at supplementing my growth as a social networker have also been augmented (Munn, 2012i) by my becoming a member of LinkedIn, which in turn has connected me with other professionals with whom I have subsequently communicated and shared information. Joining this network has increased my confidence in communicating with others and has furthered my knowledge and skills as a social networker.
My participation in INF506 has developed my social networking skills considerably and will undoubtedly help Library 2.0 become a reality in our school. Realising I can effectively use a range of Web 2.0 tools to collaborate with others and discover valuable sources of information will also assist in developing an efficient professional learning community (Cantwell, 2012, p.5). These technologies are also able to enhance student learning by creating dynamic and interactive environments (Duffy & Bruns, 2006, p. 31), and the skills and knowledge I have gained during this course have provided me with the impetus to introduce a social networking forum for my senior Modern History students on the school’s management system, Moodle. Not only is this form of social media addressing the pedagogical needs of our students, it is also helping to ensure that they develop the skills demanded of them by 21st century employees (Duffy & Bruns, 2006, p.37).
Completing INF506 is for me the beginning of my social networking journey. I am more confident knowing that I have developed those skills I need to create a Library 2.0 service that effectively meets the diverse needs of our school community. Furthermore, I now realise creating an online presence in our library can be achieved by embracing Web 2.0 technologies that support sound teaching and learning practices (O’Connell, 2008, P.53). Completing this social networking project has also highlighted for me the concerns associated with participating in online environments, and I am now aware that a significant area of an information professional’s role includes the introduction of social media practices that ensure social networks are safe and secure for the entire school community (Bell, 2009, p.214). This subject has provided me with many of those skills needed to become an information specialist who can create a dynamic Library 2.0 future.
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