(The following reflection was copied from my Wiki from INF506 which was an elective subject in the Teacher Librarianship Master of Education course)
When looking over the Abstract of INF506 I was reminded that students would need to ‘immerse themselves within a range of social networking environments’ and ‘evaluate their learning experiences throughout the session as social networkers and information professionals’ (CSU, Handbook 2012). There is no doubt that what I have experienced over the course of this subject has been a complete immersion into the online world of social networking. There wasn’t a day that went by that I did not blog, Facebook, or check my ‘Daily Scoop’ to see what was going on in the information environment where I now reside. Although I had always considered myself to be a fairly regular Facebook participant I had not really capitalized on its ability to work for me professionally until the launch of my social network project. As I commented on the INF506 Facebook group page, ‘Seeing how my Facebook Group is starting to take on a life of its own, I can really appreciate how the social media ecosystem works now.’ (January 31st at 10:36pm). This statement was referring to Fred Cavazza’s article, ‘An overview of the social media ecosystem’ in which ‘conversations and interactions’ (2012) all become interconnected and grow organically. The growth and development of my Facebook group had clearly taken off about midway through January when other members of the group began to add members causing the group to grow exponentially. It became quite evident that to maintain a healthy ecosystem, the addition of ‘value-added content’ (Cavazza, 2012) was essential to keeping the ecosystem alive, active and sustainable.
Planning, developing and maintaining the Facebook group, The Share Network for the Australian Curriculum SA, (SNAC SA) has been a satisfying and rewarding professional experience. It has achieved exactly what was intended: to be an online environment where educators can ‘share resources, information and ideas about teaching and learning with the Australian Curriculum’ (http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/384597188300408/members/). As someone who is new to using social networking professionally, I am encouraged by its potential: the creation of collaborative environments that bring likeminded members of communities together. What began as an assigned project has now become a routine part of my day and something that I enjoy maintaining and developing for the benefit of teachers and students alike.
Utilizing social networking tools with students has led me to consider ethical and potential cyber-bullying issues at school. With the advent of one-to-one computers/devices and increased access to online learning there exists the potential for abuse and misuse of social networks. Being fearful and resistant of social networking is not the answer. Rather, a proactive approach is needed in conjunction with education of staff and students with the development and implementation of clear objectives in a social media policy (Cybersmart, 2013).
As a social networker I have expanded my horizons to include a variety of other platforms with which to engage. As seen by the concept map in my ‘Developing a Personal Learning Network’ post, my own social network has developed into an immersive, meaningful and informative web including Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Second Life, blogging and microblogging sites. PLNs have become the new wave of professional development and as Luca states, many teachers have ‘developed the fine art of sharing and benefit from the reciprocal generosity that pervades these spaces’ (2012). In my own school, this has also translated into becoming a more valuable member of staff; someone who can provide leadrship in helping others become professionally socially networked online. What has become evident over the course of this subject is that for every type of social need, be it sharing teaching resources, articles, recipes, favourite books, photos, there is either a social network or online community that can fulfill our human drive to share and build relationships in meaningful ways. This subject has lived up to its promise. It has allowed me to immerse myself in a variety of social networking environments and assisted me in my development of the information professional I aspire to become.
Cavazza, F. (2012), Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/fredcavazza/2012/03/12/an-overview-of-the-social-media-ecosystem/
Cyber[smart:] (2013), Retrieved from http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/Cybersafety%20policy%20guidance/Holistic%20approach%20to%20cybersafety.aspx
Department of Education and Child Development, (2013) Retrieved from http://www.decd.sa.gov.au/socialmedia/default.asp?navgrp=185
Farkus, Meredith, (2008) Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/
Fleet, David (2009). Social Media Policies E-book. http://www.slideshare.net/davefleet/social-media-policies-ebook
Hay, L. (2012). Library 2.0 and participatory library services [INF506 Module 3] Retrieved February 2, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/INF506_201290_W_D/page/84cf677e-ec91-4f08-8080-0f7dd953df21
Luca, Jenny, (2012) Retrieved from http://splash.abc.net.au/teachers/blog?id=40029
Mallan & Giardina, (2009) Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2445/2213