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