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Reflection on Social Network Learning

December 6, 2012

I consider myself a fairly proficient social networker for personal and professional reasons. However, I appreciated this course as an opportunity to more deeply consider social networking as a form of learning, and to explore social networks in which I have not yet participated.

Connectivism Framework
I was excited that one of the first assignments  built upon my research on Connectivism in EdTech504. Through that class I came to understand and appreciate the close relationship between Connectivism and Information Literacy, particularly through the concepts of student domains (Drexler, 2010). It is important for me as a librarian to help students create quality personal learning networks in their own domains, and to extend their research strategies beyond simple Google searches to their learning networks.

Personal Learning Network
This course provided an opportunity to visually conceptualize my personal learning network. As a librarian, I access this daily to provide information and resources to my patrons. Therefore, it is imperative that I understand my network, know where to go for the best information and effectively reach out to use various resources. I had not thought about how dense and varied my personal learning network is. It runs the gamut from people in my life, to print and online resources, to social networks and virtual relationships. Understanding my own personal learning network will make me a better librarian and educator.

Managing Your Online Reputation
While I enjoyed creating this strategy for my online reputation, what I really learned from this assignment is the surprise of how quickly information can spread through social networks. I posted my reputation strategy on Slideshare; a platform that I have used with varying degrees of success to post professional and instruction presentations. Within a day I was trending on the homepage of slideshare and to date it has received almost 3,000 views. While I theoretically knew that information can spread quickly through networks, it is amazing to experience it first hand. I have since become more active on slideshare, connecting with and following more people than before this class.

Real-Time Professional Development
Before this course, my eyes glazed over when receiving countless webinar announcements. To meet the requirements for this course I attended a webinar on the use of Pintrest in academic libraries. This provided a great introduction to a social networking tool that I had only heard about. I was able to reconnect with the speaker, whom I have met at a few in-person conferences before, and I connected with students at my school who enthusiastically advocated for a library account on Pintrest. Time is the issue now, but I hope to create a Pintrest account for library before too long, thanks to this webinar. I will also pay attention to webinar announcements; they actually do fit into a busy librarian’s schedule!

I had to laugh when we covered the topic of curation. I read the resources provided in this module and thought that this is what I “do” as a librarian. Fortunately one of the readings noted this as well: “I can hear the librarians out there sighing and thinking ‘I’ve been doing that for decades!’ True, if you are looking for someone particularly skilled in this sort of work, look no further than the library.” However, I had always thought of curation as being what museum professionals and archivists do. It was eye-opening to think of my daily activities of collecting and highlighting resources in my libguides as curation. Again, I was familiar with the concept, but appreciated the opportunity to more deeply reflect upon it in my professional life.

Tools: Social Bookmarking
The chance to learn and use Diigo was very timely. I already use delicious and zotero but as a librarian I need to be familiar with many citation management and social bookmarking tools to recommend to researchers facing very unique situations. Around the same time, I learned of an extensive zotero bibliography created by one of my faculty colleagues. This led the librarians to discuss extending our citation management recommendations from Refworks to others. I have therefore been tasked with creating a document that compares and recommends many different tools based on  researchers’ needs. Learning to use Diigo will therefore come in very handy as I create this guide.

I was less than enthusiastic about the MOOC assignment. I have some serious concerns about MOOCs that I wish were addressed within the module. I also felt that this was a very large assignment that was done in a very short timeframe. My suggestions for this module are twofold:

  1. If the assignment is to create a MOOC, I would assign this very early in the semester to give students adequate time to learn more about MOOCs and to create a more robust MOOC experience. I think it would have been a great assignment to connect all of the semester assignments to the MOOC. Each module would become a module within the final MOOC itself. This would provide a multi-layered learning experience for students in this course.
  2. Alternatively (and this option is my personal preference), I would not assign the creation of a MOOC when students are not yet familiar with the topic. Rather, I would assign students to study MOOCs. Students could learn more about MOOCs indepth, identify benefits, identify challenges and issues of concern, and then share them with the entire class. Because most students will never create a MOOC as we are teachers (or librarians) in physical settings, I think having a deeper understanding of MOOCs would be preferable to being able to put together a MOOC-experience in three weeks. For example, during this course I came across a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant that will explore whether MOOCs are rigorous enough for academic credit. I also found a great article expressing concerns about the viability of the MOOC business model. If I would have had more time in this course (and in life!), I would really have enjoyed doing an in-depth research paper on one of these two topics related to MOOCs.

Overall, I welcomed the opportunity to learn about new social networking tools, but more importantly to reflect upon my current social networking practices, their connection to my personal learning networks, and their relationship to my role as an educator in the field of information literacy.

Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 369–385.

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