Sunday, October 7, 2012

Evaluative report part 1: Evidence of meeting learning objectives for INF506

For this assessment of how I have met the learning objectives of this subject, I have distilled those objectives down to a few key points for consideration;
·         Understanding the range  of available SN tools
·        Determine what SN’s suit professional and organisational needs
·         How do SN’s contribute to  Library 2.0
·         What issues must be to considered and managed around the use of SN’s in the library

During this unit of study I have expanded both my awareness and familiarity of social media and networking tools. I have utilised Twitter and Facebook on an almost daily basis for personal and study use, and much more frequently than formerly in my professional capacity.  (Documented in my blog posts “(mis) adventureswith Twitter”, “Evaluating my Twitter experience”, “A-Z of social networking inmy library”) Additionally, I have re-acquainted myself with delicious, attempted SecondLife (connectivity issues due to the quality of my Internet service made for a difficult and discouraging experience), and become aware of Pinterest.  I have dabbled in Goodreads, and added a number of new sources to Google Reader.  I completed my major project for this subject with HistoryPin, and believe it to be a very valuable tool for creating a sense of community through sharing historical photographs.  I will continue to use it in my workplace, and advocate for its use in my community.  I have also created an Instagram account, and, out of all the new SN tools I have been using, found it to be the most enjoyable and satisfying on a personal level.  I believe that I have certainly met the objective of increasing my understanding about the range of social media and networking tools available (and also my understanding of how much more is out there to explore).

Evaluating the usefulness and usability of social networking tools has been an important part of my learning process this semester.  The tools I have evaluated in depth are Twitter (as documented in my blog post “Evaluating my Twitter experience”) and HistoryPin (as documented in assessment item 3 for this subject).  However, as I have explored the various tools and networks I have been exposed to this semester, I have consciously been considering several factors:
·               How easy is this tool/network to use – can I (as a person with moderate computer skills) figure out how to join / explore / contribute to this medium? Could a person with lesser skills do so? Could I assist a library patron to access the medium?
·                Does this tool/network meet a need – does it help me / my patron gain information, build connections, create a sense of belonging / community, provide some sort of satisfaction/value/reward for my/our participation?
·                Is the effort/time I spend using this tool worth the rewards/outcomes I receive from doing so?

As a result of this experience, I feel that I am better placed to effectively evaluate a tool that I am considering using (either professionally or privately), and that I will be able to determine firstly my goals for using a social media tools, and then, if the tool has the potential to help reach those goals.
For me, Library 2.0 is about using the tools to create connections, enable participation, and share content.  I have touched upon how my library is exploring web 2.0 concepts in my blog post “A-Z of social networking in mylibrary”.  I think the main thing I have learned is that for libraries, social media has to be about how it works for the patrons, and how it builds connections, not about “technology for the sake of technology” or “ticking a box” saying that we are following the trends.

Finally, I have explored some of the management issues and concerns around social media in my blog posts “Five trends impacting digitalcitizenship and library information policies” and “Online identity and privacy”.  The speed and ease of information transfer in our technologically advanced society can be a huge advantage, and also a real danger.  As information professionals, we must balance so many competing demands, and act to protect and educate our customers.  Sound policies, sensible attitudes towards exploring the new, and a focus on the basic tenets of our profession (equitable access to information for all, and the protection of customers’ privacy) can help to guide us in our explorations.  Whist not explicitly explored in my posts, an issue that also needs consideration is the very real digital divide.  Libraries have always helped ensure that people have access to the information they need, regardless of their economic or social circumstance.  This is becoming more and more important in the online world, as so many service providers and agencies require online interactions.  Library patrons who lack the digital literacy or the connectivity to engage in this environment are at real risk of exclusion and disadvantage.  They must not be forgotten as we embrace social media.

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