15 October 2012

Part 2 Evaluative report (b)

A major social networking experience during this unit for me was the chance to become literate in the skills needed to explore Second Life.  The challenge of learning to “move about with grace and aplomb” (Bell, Peters & Pope, 2007, p. 123) was real, and orientation and navigation skills took time to acquire.  As educators must sometimes find, leading a tour can be a little like “herding cats that can fly and teleport at will” (Bell et al, 2007, p. 125). After some occasional issues with sound and vision, I was able to concentrate on being “in-world”. 

The opportunity for “networking”, and “collaboration” in SL became evident (Greenhill, K., 2007, slide 31).  Real-time conversation with the educator and classmates was invaluable and added to the experience of distance learning a “connectedness” that complimented other social networking applications used by the class, such as Facebook, delicious and Pinterest. 

The kind of learning that took place during the approximately nine hours I spent in Second Life engaged me cognitively unlike learning in other online applications, and ‘learning by doing’ was highlighted. Observing how the educator conducted this new (to me) form of information literacy (IL) training also highlighted some of the general and specific (to SL) skills required.

By taking part in this series of sessions, I developed an interest in SL and intend to explore it further, and develop skills in navigation, avatar presentation, and to stay informed about virtual library services, developments and new possibilities.  The skills I have begun to develop in SL are related to problem-solving, transferring IT skills to a new environment, and communicating with others in a virtual setting.

With regard to the development and improvement of a personal learning network (PLN), some aspects were improved upon, while there is still a need to manage the organisation of my PLN more effectively.  Keeping up with class content and conversation in Facebook was made easy by its familiarity, smartphone access, and the logical way the group itself was organised and moderated.  Adding the sharing of content via delicious amongst the class added a new range of resources to my reading.  My use of Google Reader has not improved greatly –consequently the opportunity to comment and respond to blogs by classmates was not taken up. Setting up and exploring the possibilities for library networking in Pinterest with classmates presented a new facet to my PLN which was informative and rewarding, and which I will continue. Blogging for the subject, using a more formal approach, language and labelling system gave insights into writing for the Web in a professional context, and I was able to consider and develop skills in this area.  

The assignment on writing a social networking proposal for a real business setting provided an opportunity to apply concepts and theory in a practical context.  I learned how to conduct an environmental scan, set realistic goals, select resources, propose measureable outcomes, address potential concerns, factor in human and financial costs, and plot a timeline for rollout.

My learning on social networking strategy was supported by the reading and this enhanced my ‘big picture’ thinking about planning, scope, staffing, practices, and content in a professional setting.   I learned that effective strategy provides a framework within which to set goals and select projects which are more likely to be in line with the organisation’s overall goals and vision. 

With regard to gaining knowledge of social media and networking policies for libraries, the set reading informed my thinking a great deal, while the tasks I undertook resulted in deeper understanding of the issues, considerations and responsibilities around creating content for the Social Web in a professional setting.  Having a range of resources now at my disposal to refer back to, I have a much better understanding of professional approaches to policy-making, including responsibilities and legal requirements. I am encouraged by the concept of social media policy which enables rather than restricts (Lauby, 2009, para. 5) in the context of professional communication for connecting with library users.  

While I have found managing the workflow a particular challenge this semester, I have been encouraged by the input from and interaction with the class, the guidance offered by the educators, and the practical skills I have gained in using social networking for professional applications in a library and information context.  The subject has informed me of areas I need to develop and equipped me to further my learning about the social web.

Bell, L., Peters, T. & Pope, K. (2007). Library 2.0 and virtual worlds: =innovation + exploration.  In N. Courtney. (Ed.), Library 2.0 and beyond. (pp. 119-128). Westport, Connecticut:  Libraries Unlimited

Greenhill, K. (2007). Flying librarians of OZ: What’s all the fuss about Second Life and what’s it got to do with libraries? Retrieved from Slideshare

Lauby, S. (2009a) 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy, Mashable, 6 February [blog] Retrieved from  Mashable

Part 2 Evaluative report (a)

3D virtual worlds

As of this year, over 800 educational institutions currently manage and maintain full regions in Second Life (SL) (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 11). Bell, Peters & Pope's (2007, p. 123) research found that librarians experimenting in SL reported that users often expected a degree of "expertise on the culture from us". That popular conception of librarians as early adopters, as working at the forefront of technology, has arisen from the fact that the information profession does strive to experiment early and extensively with new technology, and SL has proven no different.

Events, conferences, library exhibits from special collections, such as Stanford University Libraries' exhibit of its rare books collection, links from archive displays in SL to catalogue records, links to online reference services, such as the CSU-SIS Learning Centre's link to the Library's chat reference service, are all ways that library services are adding value to the 'in-world' experience.

As Floyd & Frank (2012, p. 11) note, there were 1.7 billion registered users of virtual worlds globally by the end of 2011. Some of the issues facing libraries building in SL include: lack of funding, time to train already information-skilled library staff in the new skills of SL navigation (Bell et al, 2007, p. 123), global time differences, and uncertainty about the future of the environment, such as changes to Linden Labs privacy policies, business model/pricing (Floyd & Frank, 2007, p. 11), and rules and regulations.

OpenSim, a "virtual worlds server platform" compatible with SL, supports Joykadia, where CSU-SIS resides. Joykadia serves a community where "education , arts and social change" can be explored in virtual worlds (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 12). One new development created to overcome the problem of moving between SL and other virtual worlds, such as ReactionGrid, InWorldz, Kitely and Dreamland Metaverse, is the Hypergate, by which users can teleport from one multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) to another, depending on permission from region owners (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 13). This is one way in which interoperability between worlds is growing. The increasing number of virtual worlds presents a new set of issues, such as retaining avatars/identities, content creations, content purchases, and maintaining collaborative links in groups between worlds (Floyd & Frank, 2012, p. 13).

Although future developments may not remain only within Second Life, understanding the framework for information provision is essential in learning how to asses and apply these concepts in the same or similar environments.

Creating an online Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Developing a personal learning network (PLN) which works as a set of tools to enhance the information specialist's organisation of learning and knowledge of industry resources cannot be underestimated.  For a librarian, a proactive attitude to ongoing or 'lifelong' learning is essential. Those failing to undertake professional development are in essence passively permitting (obsolescence) to overtake them" (Stone, as cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 1).  With regard to using social networking tools as part of a PLN, there are three attributes of learning via the social web which contribute to empowerment and currency of knowledge in the information industry. These are: that learning is "self-directed", that is, "informal, self-initiated, independently conducted and integrated into an individual's daily work" (Varlejs, cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 6); that a PLN which includes social networking immerses the learner in "electronic culture" which taps into "collective intelligence" and "knowledge communities" formed around "mutual intellectual interests" where each can share experience and strengths with others (Jenkins, cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 6); and that social networking fosters "communities of practice" - informal groups, often geographically dispersed, which are bound by "what they do together" (Wenger, cited in Cooke, 2012, p. 7).  For example, twitter networks where users share learning, and seek answers to technical and professional problems from fellow library 'tweeps'.

There is still a danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of library and information science (LIS) choices and content via social networking. Proactive filtering, labelling and organising of content are essential in order to re-find useful resources. Conversely, intelligently labelling one's own created or shared content is equally vital for other members of the social learning network.

Social media policy

An organisation's policy on social media and networking provides a "strong foundation" for employees' engagement with these tools (Solomon, 2012, p. 16). Solomon adds that policy should not "make using social media...intimidating - it should support the organisation's activities while not trying to "cover every possible contingency" (2011, p. 16). Developing an easy-to-understand social media policy that is flexible and future-facing is a sound basis upon which to create strategies, set goals, implement successful projects and ultimately deliver social networking content and communication which will draw users to the services, and provide 'ways in' for new users.


Bell, L. Peters, T. & Pope, K. (2007). Library 2.0 and virtual worlds: innovation, exploration. In N. Courtney. (Ed.), Library 2.0 and beyond. (pp. 119-128). Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Cooke, N. A. (2012). Professional development 2.0 for librarians: Developing an online personal learning network (PLN). Library Hi-Tech News, 29(3), 1-9. Retrieved from Library Hi-Tech News.

Floyd, J. & Frank, I. (2012). New immersive worlds for educators and librarians: Beyond Second Life. Library Hi-Tech News, 29(6), 11-15. Retrieved from Library Hi-Tech News.

Solomon, L. (2011). Doing social media so it matters: A librarian's guide. Chicago: American Library Association.

5 Key Points for a Social Media Policy Working Party

(These are with regard to employees’ use of Web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use while using an organisations’ computers/network and time.)

Positive focus
Focus on "trust" (Society for New Communications Research, para. 2), "transparency" (Society for New Communications Research, para. 2), "authenticity" (Lauby, 2009a, para. 8.), and on what employees “can rather than can’t do" (Lauby, 2009a, para. 5).

Quality of content
Accuracy of information is essential but also be aware that you will make mistakes - acknowledge them and deal with them promptly (Society for New Communications Research, para. 2; Kroski, 2009, para. 20; Fleet, 2009, slide 14.) Also timeliness and regularity of updates make social media postings more effective (Anderson, 2009, para. 12).  In addition, when using social media it must also be accessible for those with a disability (Arendt, A.M., 2009, p. 16), e.g. images, video, specific browser adaptabilities, text to audio, etc. 

General employee behaviour policies relate to social media also, whether internal of external (Kroski, 2009, para. 17; Fleet, 2009, slide 9) -  your organisation’s social media policy needs to cover everyone, not just ‘official’ activity (Lauby, 2009b, para. 10). “Accountability and administrative control” (Arendt, A.M., 2009, p. 44) means deciding who will moderate and be responsible for content and responses.  Have clear guidelines on how you will deal with online comments and criticism, and also with unwanted activity such as spam, defamation, aggression etc. (Fleet, 2009, slide 14).

Rights and regulations around public content
Understand and apply copyright, fair use laws and Creative Commons attributions (Arendt, A. M., 2009, p. 8, 31; Lauby, 2009a, para. 21), as well as privacy and confidentiality (Society for New Communications Research, para. 2), Intellectual Property with regard to images, music, video and sources, and also disclosure of affiliations (Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Europe, 2009, p. 5), and what constitutes proprietary information (Lauby, 2009a, para. 22)

Consider the future 
Base policy on existing policies and build on them with new media developments in mind (Society for New Communications Research, para. 2). Consider the future “performance”, “reliability” and “longevity” of the social software systems when selecting media for projects (Arendt, A.M., 2009, p. 44).  A social media policy needs to be a “living document” (Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Europe, 2009, p. 12), for example, posted on a wiki (Kroski, 2009, para. 9) so that it can be updated as new media emerge.

Anderson, J. (2009). Social media policies & museums, Indianapolis Museum of Art blog (8 April). Retrieved from http://www.imamuseum.org/blog/2009/04/08/social-media-policies-museums/
Arendt, A.M. (2009). Social Media Tools and the Policies Associated with Them.  Best Practices in Policy Management Conference. Utah Valley University, November. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=anne_arendt
Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Europe. (2009). CIPR Social Media Guidelines (January). Retrieved from  http://www.cipr.co.uk/sites/default/files/Social%20Media%20Guidelines.pdf
Fleet, D. (2009). Social Media Policies E-book (2009). Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/davefleet/social-media-policies-ebook
Lauby, S. (2009a) 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy, Mashable, 6 February [blog] Retrieved from  http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/
Lauby, S. (2009b) Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy? Mashable, 27 April [blog] Retrieved from  http://mashable.com/2009/04/27/social-media-policy/
Society for New Communications Research. (n.d.) Best practices for developing a social media policy. Retreived from  http://www.socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/