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Social Networking for Powerful Learning

Social Networking for Powerful Learning

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Published by: Sumit Khurana on Jan 14, 2011
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12 | SEPTEMBER 2010 » www.infotoday.com

and techniques benefiting their own libraries and institutions with each new class. I’m asked a variation on the same question: “Are you worried about your job? Aren’t libraries becoming irrelevant because of Google?” It’s a question asked more recently in the mainstream media because library budget cuts are causing closures and staff layoffs. and as the staff » | 13 www. Though their methods differ. Social networks have the ability to connect those who are passionate about sharing what they know and helping library professionals remain relevant in both the physical and digital worlds. I imagine most librarians and library professionals probably answer differently from me. they achieve the similar result of increasing information intake and resource redistribution.)—share professional material. Live and virtual social networks have become the new learning playground for librarians and library staff.infotoday.)—and Maurice Coleman—technical trainer for the Harford County Public Library (Md. I meet someone new. as I tell them my occupation. tutorial. Public library trainers Marianne Lenox—staff training and volunteer coordinator at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (Ala. Marianne’s Story: A Personal Learning Journey It never fails.COMPUTERS IN LIBRARIES using social networks to create powerful learning communities BY MARIANNE LENOX AND MAURICE COLEMAN egular readers of Computers in Libraries are aware that social networks are forming increasingly important linkages to professional and personal development in all libraries. and. articles. but what I say is this: “I find myself in a unique position. or handout they deliver.com « SEPTEMBER 2010 . They each use their own techniques and resources to create and nurture social networks as both formal and informal learning tools.

My own learning has almost completely gone mobile since I got an iPhone (and its required data plan).COMPUTERS IN LIBRARIES using social networks to create powerful learning communities vices department. it is possible for modern libraries to go the way of the rotary phone. and it was indeed exciting. State or regional conferences may be less expensive (and closer) to attend. So we’ve been relying on ourselves for much of the information required to run the libraries and to do our jobs.com . it’s important to reach staff in every location. via FriendFeed. housed the Gates Training Center documentation. Webinars can help you do this. During my short tenure as a stay-at-home mom. I’d relied heavily on many of the resources found at the site. We can find out how to do that on social networks. I feel a personal responsibility toward that issue. and I realized that this type of personal learning did have structure. I’d always been an early adopter. Those who are more passionate about these subjects may become thought leaders in the field and. Since I work in a 12branch library system. When I worked in the library’s internet and technology ser- I found a community of library trainers at WebJunction. it should always be evolving. staff members may join the conversation and provide comments of their own.C. We’re the ones trained to categorize and organize information. As long as we lead the digital revolution. After a redesign. we won’t become redundant. I’d taught myself computer skills by searching for free online tutorials in the early days of the internet. So I thought it might not be too hard to learn how to be an effective staff trainer as long as I could find—and learn from—others who did it well. I created an account and started following the people who were sending tweets about new gadgets coming out or the latest trends in technology.” I then explain that yes. doing webinars with the very smart people there. hopefully. They were library trainers teaching each other how to be library trainers. Early on. I began to understand the real power of using these people as guideposts for how I could better do my job. and they are often 14 | SEPTEMBER 2010 » www. These presentations were well-received and proved to me that I could not only learn from this community but also get an amount of personal satisfaction there. Finally. but they might lack the quality learning experiences we require. I had no idea how to do the actual day-to-day work required of me as the staff training coordinator for my library when I first began 5 years ago. I just had to find out what it was all about. But it’s the librarians who can be architects of the internet. and I realized that they could give me resources that I could share with the staff at my own library. I created a couple of PowerPoint presentations to explain to staff how to use the site. I’ll reblog items that may be of interest.infotoday. I found other library trainers at Twitter and began to have real conversations with them. interested and excited about technology as it became available. Many of us don’t have budgets that allow us to bring in subject-matter experts or to attend major conferences. will be willing to share new information. sharing items through Google Reader. eventually sitting on panels at conferences. which. One of the first online communities I found was WebJunction (http://webjunction. Learning from others. D. and I shared them with others in the staff training section of the site. Using our collaborative staff intranet.org). Students can most likely do their research papers by using what’s freely available on the internet. I began to document what I was learning about library training trends on my personal blog. As social beings. Social networking in action at the 2009 Computers in Libraries conference in Washington. So when I heard about a new social network called Twitter shortly after the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in 2007. and Google has made that possible. Photo courtesy of Maurice Coleman training coordinator for my library. in its original inception. Finding community. I networked and made friends. those of us who are interested in the same things will often find ourselves in the same place at the same time. Further research showed that while personal learning is unique to each individual and uses many formats.

COMPUTERS IN LIBRARIES using social networks to create powerful learning communities freely available to anyone able to register and view the presentations. our patrons. I could group them together using whatever tools were available within that particular application. and family. Most recently.300 feeds every day without them. I also realized that even though I follow more than 3. These are the people who are not only discovering and sharing new trends in library training but in all of librarianship as well. researching. I threw these words out to my social network: “Help create a podcast that speaks to you!” Those words gave birth to T is for Training. I’ve realized that my own answer to the “how can libraries stay relevant despite Google” question is an easy one. I could use the Twitter lists feature to allow me to narrow down those I’m following to various subjects and Facebook groups to separate my friends. The goal is to find smart people who are passionate about library training and who will share how to best use the resources needed to secure our place in the information age.wordpress. you » | 15 www. delivering. 2008. So on Aug. I’ve used LiveStream and YouTube to share knowledge on particular technical aspects of our library work. Performing your job well is how you build and develop your knowledge and skills so you can turn that capital into effective social networking connections. should have a place to share stories.000 people on various social networks. developing. Maurice’s Story: The Creation of T Is for Training T is for Training was born through the connections I made with other trainers and staff development professionals via social media networks and face-to-face conversations at conferences and meetings.com « SEPTEMBER 2010 . I started to seek out a podcast that focused on library training for my own professional and per- T is for Training is based upon the simple idea that library trainers and staff development specialists. That simple idea. willing to catch information so that we can better connect with and engage our staff and. ultimately. I found nothing out there. Fortunately. On a local level. and resources and to have a voice in a virtual community of like-minded individuals. I know that I work locally with some very smart and resourceful people.com) and through the ALA Learning Round Table blog (http://alalearning. I then follow up by forwarding that information on to our own staff. We have to be open.org). but I still do most of my exploring on my own personal time. has just celebrated its second anniversary with more than 60 hours of vital training and staff development discussion created by numerous professionals from all across the U. T is for Training is now 2 years old. As an information professional (everyone reading Computers in Libraries is an information professional). So how did I create this network. who often work alone in their system. to see that it’s applicable to what a department might need to know. I’ve learned to associate with some very smart people who help show their libraries what the next big thing is. I attend them virtually to preview the content. ideas. I can also sort my incoming Google Reader shared items by specific groups of those I’m following.S. I’m given the time and autonomy to find these morsels and share them with staff.infotoday. Like many of my peers in library training. Creating. and evaluating your projects will provide you with a personal knowledgebase that is the gold standard of social networking currency. there is no way I could read and absorb 1. Using filters such as relevancy rankings and peer recommendations helps in this area quite a bit—in fact. I see my role as just tossing out breadcrumbs in hopes of sparking an idea or further research. co-workers. This is perhaps the most important and the most overlooked item of social networking. I’ve been able to connect myself to a core group of leading library trainers at both the T is for Training podcasting group (http://tisfortraining. and how can you do the same? Do your job. inspired by the late Uncontrolled Vocabulary podcast. Librarians have to stay on top of technology so we can remain the pre-eminent information resource for patrons. 12. sonal development. While connecting with these professionals.

FriendFeed. And that led to the creation of my own personal network. Uncover and discover people or groups to follow/subscribe to/friend on that platform. or a random question at a conference. Your ability to manage your online persona will greatly impact your virtual and electronic “street cred. you will usually find us lurking behind the name. but use the few that give you the largest return on your invested time. To many people you get to know on the web. and to keep in contact after a conference. You cannot know which tool works for you until you try it. Start building your network by serendipitous discovery. The only way to truly understand most forms of social media is to give them a good spin. you will more than likely find little to no value on that network and lose chances to do some valuable collaboration and information sharing. You should feel free to ask anyone anywhere how they do what they do. Don’t give away everything I use the bookmarking site Diigo to broadcast the resources discussed during T is for Training.” Your “nom de web” is your face and reputation in the online marketplace of ideas. this may be the only way they will know who you are. and other forms of traditional.COMPUTERS IN LIBRARIES using social networks to create powerful learning communities should keep as current as you can with print and electronic media. I first met many of my closest professional colleagues via an email. I have even met a few of them face to face.com . Also. Take advantage of any and every conference you attend to start or extend your social network. professional.infotoday. Twitter. Your ability and desire to answer questions returns to you many fold when you pose a question or request to your social circle in turn. if your organization is not already putting its collective toe into the social media waters. Get dirty. continuing education. blog comment. that. Question strangers. led me to different social networking tools. or listservs) and engage that person or group. 16 | SEPTEMBER 2010 » www. see. Responding to questions and providing resources is the best way to build your professional network. catchy. and help carve a place for you that you can share with others as needed. in turn. the important thing to remember is to provide answers and resources to your network and the library community. or a social bookmarking site. Do your best to create something professional. Before you know it. Start smart. it is what you share. such as Twitter and FriendFeed. If you find those usernames on key social media sites. It does not matter if you use a listserv. It is not what you know. ask some friends and coworkers what they use to communicate with other professionals. Start small. Casual impromptu questions and conversations can lead to valuable professional relationships. My nom de web is baldgeek inmd and Marianne’s is MLx. I make sure that resources discussed during T is for Training make their way onto Delicious and Diigo (two social bookmarking sites). some of which are still around. you can show your staff and administration practical ways to enlighten your constituent group without interfering with your job duties. or read a presentation or a book by someone who is active in social media. add to your knowledge and skills. If you hear. I started using new social media heavily by subscribing to blogs discovered during Maryland’s statewide 23 Things program in 2007. a blog post. in addition to co-creating our Technology Petting Zoo that year. or new thinking in your general and specific areas of expertise will help you perform your job well. blogs. Twitter. I find Twitter invaluable both to my growth as a trainer and speaker and as a platform to promote T is for Training. Give the tool time to work for you and your learning and networking needs. conference attendance. Experimentation will help you refine your message and your delivery system with the added bonus of helping you figure out what social media outlets work for both you and your community. Share yourself and your knowledge freely. Use a name-checker site (http://checkusernames. ask that person for recommendations. That rule doubly applies for anyone working in any type of library and for both in-person and virtual contact. Trying out new things for the 23 Things program. Try many. easy to remember. Ask follow-up questions after a presentation and exchange a business card for the answer to a question. The method you choose to answer questions and provide resources is not important. as a request for information. You should always make sure that the people you are communicating with are really those people you believe them to be. So how do you do this without impacting your job? If you are comfortable.com) to see if your preferred username is available on the social media networks you will likely choose to use. you will have an effective network that suits your needs. sharing information and knowledge gained by doing your job well increases your value to your community. Start with finding one person or group on one social media platform (Facebook. changes. Keeping abreast of any improvements. instant message.com or http://namechk. which I continue to rely upon for T is for Training. If you choose to lurk on a social network but do not engage your colleagues and friends. In addition. and unique while giving away as little personal information as possible. Answer questions and provide resources. Others find Facebook valuable for their learning and social networking needs. led me to try out different blogs.

train the staff on using the tools.com www.50 THE ACCIDENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES LIBRARIAN THE ACCIDENTAL LIBRARY MARKETER THE ACCIDENTAL LIBRARIAN No Problem! By Pamela H. and develop strategies that help shape the future of our libraries. Helping people make valuable connections is at the heart of my work as a training professional. He is the host of the podcast T is for Training.50 THE ACCIDENTAL TAXONOMIST By Heather Hedden ISBN 978-1-57387-397-0 • 472 pages • $39. the more currency and positive impact you will generate. Connecting people to other people is one of the most rewarding products of social networking.wordpress.COMPUTERS IN LIBRARIES using social networks to create powerful learning communities that you know. 143 Old Marlton Pike. should take advantage of this increased ease of access to information and resources by developing a social network using your preferred social media tool or tools that meet your individual and organizational needs.50 Visit Your Local Bookstore or Order Direct from the Publisher For more information. to answer questions. Being known as a go-to person is one of the highest compliments you can receive within any social resource-sharing network. I find that putting great people in contact with other great people is the most satisfying thing you can do within your professional social circle.50 By Kathy Dempsey ISBN 978-1-57387-368-0 • 312 pages • $29. Watching two colleagues who previously did not know each other make a transformative connection is a personally invigorating process. Today’s electronic social media tools allow for far greater and swifter access to people and resources than was previously possible.com or find him on Twitter @baldgeekinmd..infotoday. Then. Inc. Put friends together. call (609) 654-6266 Write to: Information Today. Ennis and Nicole Mitchell ISBN 978-1-57387-395-6 • 232 pages • $29.com or @MLx on Twitter. Still ISBN 978-1-57387-263-8 • 176 pages • $29. MacKellar ISBN 978-1-57387-338-3 • 432 pages • $29. but feel free to provide general assistance. Today’s library trainers who are involved in social media have the benefit of crowd sourcing the most relevant articles and finding the top resources. NJ 08055 www. outside the U. What Does It All Mean? Social networking is not a new concept. Maurice Coleman is the technical trainer at the Harford County Public Library in Maryland. and you can contact Maurice at bald geekinmd@gmail. Marianne Lenox is the staff training and volunteer coordinator at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in northern Alabama. Feel free to contact her at marianne@mariannelenox.com. Medford.infotoday. She is known as the Gadabout Library Trainer at many social networking sites across the internet.50 THE ACCIDENTAL FUNDRAISER By Julie M. You New Challenge? By Lisa A. The more correct and valuable the information that you share. and to share resources with your social circle. call (800) 300-9868. You can find T is for Training at http://tisfor training.com « SEPTEMBER 2010 | 17 . we collaborate about how best to deliver the information.S.

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