Module 2: Virtual Worlds
Second Life is a virtual world, a playground where many users can interact and experience other cultures, visit other countries and learn in a stimulating environment that is difficult to replicate in the real world (Module 2: Virtual Worlds). As a social networking platform, communication and interaction are integral to participating in this immersive environment, a point that I should have placed greater importance on. Being part of a community, learning about yourself and how you relate to others (Bell, Lindbloom, Peters & Pope, 2008) are central to the aims of social networks.
My journey in Second Life with my avatar Poppydom helped me to understand the enormous learning possibilities for students and the sense of achievement as new tasks were accomplished. I described my experiences in Second Life to illustrate how information can be gathered in a fun and innovative way (Dede, 2009). In retrospect I should have emphasised the collaboration and interaction with fellow students from CSU, which made the Second Life experience more enjoyable and rewarding, and demonstrated how a virtual world is an ideal learning space.
My Module 2 task included a description of the various virtual libraries represented in Second Life, highlighting the widespread and global use of this library tool to share resources and information outside the confines of a traditional library (Baity, Chappell, Rachlin, Vinson & Zamarripa, 2009). I clearly outlined the ability of virtual libraries to promote services and materials which illustrated how users can visit and source information from libraries around the world without leaving their own homes.
Module 4: Comparative Study
Social networking technologies influence how we communicate, interact, share information and learn. The social networking sites Facebook and Twitter are universally popular in establishing and maintaining relationships, conveying information and supporting learning (Module 4: Comparative Study). My comparative study of three libraries and their use of Facebook and Twitter utilized a table format to help define the libraries that used these social networking sites to maximum advantage. This method allowed for a critical examination of the features and functions that each library used to provide information, services and resources for their patrons (Burkhardt, 2009).
In my comparative study, I concentrated to a large degree on mobile compatibility as so much of my research emphasised that the future of internet access will be via mobile devices (Dadwal, 2011; Digital World, 2012) and libraries who do not heed this trend will be left behind. I believe that I successfully highlighted the significance of effective mobile functionality. I also stressed the importance of vibrant and appealing Facebook and Twitter interfaces (Burkhardt, 2009) in encouraging active participation by users to the libraries’ social networking sites.
I touched on the educational implications and benefits of these libraries’ use of Facebook and Twitter by reporting their use of reading groups and tutorials but I should have placed greater emphasis on how these technologies support the educational and informational needs of the community (Hricko, 2010; Reed & Evely, 2011). Facebook and Twitter can not only inform users of materials available to them in the library but also direct users to sites and related educational institutions that assist their learning journey.
Module 5: Information for all
The relatively new platform of ‘cloud computing’ promises to alter the way we use computers by making both data and software obtainable via the internet (Module 5: Information for all). My intention at the beginning of this task in referring to both American and Australian statistics was to demonstrate the financial, organisational and monetary difficulties encountered by libraries today in providing free internet access to their patrons (Bertot, Jaeger, McClure, Wright & Jensen, 2009; Alia survey, 2011). I believe that I highlighted these concerns in sufficient detail but I failed to link these issues to the development and implementation of a social media policy. This policy provides clear guidelines which assist library managers to deliver optimum service to their patrons (Kroski, 2009).
I introduced and discussed the emerging ‘cloud computing’ platform in detail as I strongly believe that it is the solution to many internet and computer accessibility problems in today’s libraries. I believe that I succinctly explained the ‘open cloud’ concept which enables the shared use of software and data amongst libraries worldwide (Nelson, 2009). This is a highly desirable solution for libraries as it allows them to provide internet services within their budgets.
My aim throughout these online learning journal entries was to illustrate how the realm of virtual worlds, social networking sites Facebook and Twitter and the emerging platform of ‘cloud computing’ enhance the services and learning environments that libraries are able to provide for their patrons.
INF 506: Social networking for information professionals – what a journey of discovery!
In November 2011, at the commencement of this course, I had a very basic understanding of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I already had a Facebook account which I used occasionally to stay in contact with my children and overseas friends and relatives. My experience with Twitter was confined to reading about famous people and their tweets in the daily newspaper. Then I started working my way through the social networking modules and the world of Web 2.0 technologies and social software was revealed to me.
I created numerous accounts – Delicious, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and Second Life. My blog Domonthenet was conceived and I posted my first entry – how proud I was seeing my first and subsequent words in print! I joined the INF 506 group on Facebook and Flickr, all the time struggling to keep track of user names and passwords. Blogs, wikis, QR codes, mash ups, RSS feeds, podcasts… the list is endless and I was in awe (I still am) of where technology is taking us and the enormous possibilities for education, business and information services.
There were many struggles and challenges along the social networking road as I uploaded my first photos on Flickr, conquered the Delicious stacks, tweeted to no one in particular, was followed by Kevin Rudd and cautiously posted comments on Facebook. The generosity of my INF 506 colleagues and tutor as they added links to interesting and relevant sites and responded promptly to my questions made my journey less overwhelming and so much more rewarding. I found group communication via Facebook where comments and posts can be categorised under headings, far more efficient and user friendly than wikis or forums. Being notified of new posts via email added to the sense of immediacy and currency that Facebook inspires.
Without a doubt, my experiences in the virtual world of Second Life were the highlight of my INF 506 passage of discovery. Poppydom (my avatar) was born in late November 2011 and my initial venture into Second Life left me wondering about its worth. As Poppydom joined tutorials and her skills improved, I discovered the wealth of experiences and opportunities for learning that are possible in virtual worlds (Bell et al, 2008). Visits to libraries in different universities, gardens with rare book collections, islands dedicated to health information, cities set in different times… the world of Second Life is a treasure trove waiting to be opened and enjoyed. The project presentation, complete with slideshow, involving my INF506 colleagues in a virtual conference scenario made online learning more real. An advantage of Second Life conferencing is that many people can communicate simultaneously (yet anonymously) and engage with others through immediate questions and answers (Arroll, Attree, Dancey, McLean, Painter & Pawson, 2011).
I am looking forward to future forays into Second Life, especially meeting up with my daughter and her avatar in a cute Parisian café when she moves to France for her studies later in the year.
My development as an information professional is in its infancy. I have acquired a great deal of knowledge in a short time and am now in the process of consolidating this information and knowledge and devising plans for its application.
I will definitely retain my Facebook and Twitter accounts as I am receiving regular updates from libraries around Australia as well as posts from fellow colleagues who will continue to keep me informed about the latest library and social networking trends. Being able to interact with people in the same profession has a two-way benefit as we can stay connected and communicate globally (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk & Jenkins, 2007). As I work in primary education, there are age restrictions to the use of Facebook and Twitter which would unfortunately prevent any real use of these social networking sites in the school environment.
My Delicious account with access to the SIS social media stacks is an invaluable source of information that I will be able to refer to over time. I can envisage using Flickr with upper primary school students as a means of sharing photos for use in projects and as a creative stimulus for writing.
I intend to continue contributing to my online journal as my career as an informational professional develops. It will be an avenue for adding new resources and emerging technologies as well as allowing me to evaluate my growth and development as a teacher librarian. The benefits for students of all ages in having their own online journal are enormous. They can share their creative writing efforts and projects with their fellow students and gain a sense of pride and satisfaction in seeing their work published (Brookover, 2007).
I can see vast learning opportunities for students in being able to immerse themselves in virtual worlds. There are many virtual worlds dedicated to younger school age students such as Club Penguin, Whyville and Pora Ora where children can learn at their own pace and experiment in the safety of a virtual world, without fear of failure. It is a more engaging way of learning, a more active involvement for students than usually found in traditional classroom learning (Helmer, 2007; Dede, 2009).
My journey into the world of social networking has only just begun and I envisage continuous and ongoing growth as an information professional as Web 3.0 technologies evolve globally.
Arroll, M., Attree, E. A., Dancey, C. P., McLean, G ., Painter, J., & Pawson, C. (2011). Real Benefits of a Second Life: development and evaluation of a virtual psychology conference centre and tutorial rooms, Psychology Learning & Teaching, 10(2), 107-117. http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2011.10.2.107
Baity, C., Chappell, P., Rachlin, D., Vinson, C., Zamarripa, M. (2009). When real and virtual worlds collide: A Second Life Library. Desktop Computing. Retrieved from http://www.desktopcomputing.com/capstone/Documents/WhenVirtualWorldsCollideFinal.pdf
Bell, L., Lindbloom, M., Peters, T., Pope, K. (2008). Virtual Libraries and Education in Virtual Worlds: Twenty-first century library services. Policy Futures in Education 6 (1) 49-58pages 49-58. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/pfie.2008.6.1.49
Brookover, S. (2007). Why we blog. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6497263.html
Burkhardt, A. (2009). Four reasons libraries should be on social media. Information Tyrannosaur – Top of the Information Food Chain. Retrieved from http://andyburkhardt.com/2009/08/25/four-reasons-libraries-should-be-on-social-media/
Dadwal, R. (2011). An ever-changing field: developments in mobile marketing. MarketingMag.com. Retrieved from http://www.marketingmag.com.au/blogs/an-ever-changing-field-developments-in-mobile-marketing-9419/
Dede, C. (2009). Immersive interfaces for engagement and learning,
Science, 323(5910), 66-69. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/cgi/reprint/sci;323/5910/66.pdf
De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. & Jenkins, L. (2007). Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world. A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [eBook] Available http://www.oclc.org/reports/pdfs/sharing.pdf
Digital World (2012). In Technology Explained (2012). Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/technology/techexplained/
Helmer, J., & Learning Light (2007). Second Life and virtual worlds Available from http://www.norfolkelearningforum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/virtual-worlds_ll_oct_2007.pdf
Hricko, M. (2010). Using Microblogging Tools for Library Services. Journal of Library Administration, 50, 684-692. doi: 10.1080/01930826.2010.488951
Kroski, E. (2009). Should Your Library Have a Social Media Policy? School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6699104.html
Nelson, M. R. (2009). Building an open cloud [Cloud computing as platform]. Science, 324(5935), 1656-1657. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/cgi/reprint/324/5935/1656.pdf
Reed, M., & Evely, A. ( 2011). Top Twitter Tips for Academics. Living With Environmental Change. Retrieved from http://www.lwec.org.uk/sites/default/files/TwitterTips.pdf