Category Archives: Social Software & Sites

Collaboration in the Classroom

So, if you’re an administrator, what are you doing to foster collaboration among your staff, and especially your teachers? And I’m talking more than just PLC’s, although that’s not a bad start. What are you really doing to fundamentally change the structure of your school(s) from one of isolation (close the door and teach), to one of sharing and collaboration (knock down the walls)? Is it unacceptable to share in your institution?

If you’re a teacher, what are you doing to foster collaboration among your students? And I’m talking more than putting them into groups of four and having the students create a PowerPoint presentation together. What are you really doing to fundamentally change the structure of your classroom from one of isolation (do your own work), to one of collaboration (work with others)? What are you doing to build their skills to succeed in a corporate environment that requires them to collaborate on a global scale?

Intended for K-12, this post speaks to me not only as a professor but as someone who thinks about libraries. I’d like to see more sharing in my classes and between classes in our program – this is something I need to build into syllabi. I’m also eager to see more opportunities  for collaboration between librarians and users – sharing virtually and in our spaces. This certainly impacts BI, the reference interview and user programming.

So much to think about.

Will Richardson Talks with Howard Rheingold

If you have some time, don’t miss this engaging chat between two of my favorite innovators in the technology/education world. Their discussion centers around social networks, learning and the future of education.

Six Reasons I Heart the DominiNET Student Blog

I’ve posted about this blog already but I have to come back to it. A Dominican University Journalism class is using a Blogspot blog to report news and more to the campus and beyond. Our Dean of Rosary College, Jeff Carlson, shared the URL with me and I subscribed immediately.

I was rather excited so I emailed the GSLIS Faculty and the Academic IT Committee:

It’s a journalism class – and the content just keeps coming! The voices are human, honest and engaging. I have learned so much about Dominican and student life from this blog – I’ve added it to my news portal. Created simply with Blogger, it seems to be generating many comments and feedback. I have pointed to it once on my blog but will be writing about it again and sharing it with my social tools colleagues.  Good stuff.

I truly believe this is the future of marketing and engagement – a perfect example of social media done right: sometimes messy, sometimes silly, sometimes thought-provoking…but very real.

I checked in today and found that the posts and comments continue, so here are five reasons I think this is a good thing for the University. This venue seems to be a useful way for students to learn and more:

They are learning journalism skills but also media and promotional skills. Check out the video embedded in this post about the blog’s promotion around campus. Images augment posts as well.

They are finding their voice. “Ya know what really grinds my gears?,” asked one poster. “Mandatory attendance at extracurricular academic activities.” Entering the conversation openly and honestly is important. Learning how to state one’s case fairly and evenly is even more important. A “grind my gears” post is a good way to express frustration and call for solutions. The act of writing it down helps the thinking process.

They are getting invaluable experience in new media. Blogging didn’t exist when i took journalism classes at IU. These skills are invaluable. And sure, blogging will fade away but the next online communication mechanism built on it will be just as important for our future leaders to understand. Imagine: the blogging undergrad of today might just be tomorrow’s library director.

They are interacting with University officials. The “Bullet found on Campus” story generated buzz and one young reporter found herself chatting with Dean Carlson not only about the story but about the journalism program. “After the 45 minute discussion Carlson and I shared, I left his office feeling fabulous about the possibilities DU can provide future journalists. I was enthusiastic to see how receptive, appreciative and understanding Carlson was in hearing what, why, when and how I think new courses would dramatically enhance the journalism curriculum…” Here’s another example of that interaction.

They are asking important questions. This post really interested me: within our MyDU Web site, photos are featured prominently, including some of students who did not know they were being photographed. “Perhaps the mystery photographer was trying to capture the “essence” of Dominican. I still don’t think it would have been ridiculous for the photographer to ask for permission, or at least make the students aware that Dominican was going to use the photos. What do you think about this? Would you care if this happened to you? Do you find it creepy, or not a big deal?” As we all deal with our online lives and “digital dossiers,” asking these questions about photos, privacy, student rights and the University are important in deciding how we might share ourselves. 

They are marketing Dominican University in a way that no PR campaign ever can. I really appreciated the varied voices, the honesty and the range of topics. As I said above, I’ve learned more about what’s up with our students and the way they see the University than any other online offering available. Google loves blogs and future students will find this blog and the voices and it may just help them decide to come to school here.

Well done, DominiNET!

Google Friend Connect

Via Brett Kochendorfer

Google Friend Connect lets you grow traffic by easily adding social features to your website. This means means more people engaging more deeply with your website — and with each other. In this video, Google Product Marketing Manager Mendel Chuang gives a short introduction to Google Friend Connect.

Very interesting -especially the bit about ease of sign on via any number of services and adding the Friend Connect to your site takes no programming skills whatsoever. Looks like ratings, friends and comments can easily be integrated. Ways it might affect libraries:

  • Folks will come to expect this type of functionality more and more. Sites that aren’t “friendly” might not be the most popular.
  • Some libraries will experiment with this as an easy to configure “buy it now” (for free) social option for their sites.
  • This could become a popular add on for many Biblioblogs.
  • It certainly positions Google to have even more integration into what we do on the Web.

Take a look at the video. What other uses do you see? What misuses do you see?

Nine Tips to Get the Most Out of Social Media

Some of my favorites:

4. Integrity

Don’t be phony! Be yourself — it’s what your social network friends added you for. There are, of course, many ways to “game” just about every social media system, to get more diggs, to appear to have more followers, to get your posts Stumbled, and so on. But in the end, it’s an empty gain — people who follow you because you appear to be something you’re not will quickly un-follow you, people who end up at your site because you managed to get more votes on a post than you deserve will leave without reading, and all you’ll have is an empty number to show off.

5. Focus

Signing up for social networking sites and social news sites is easy, but unless you’re willing to put in some work, you won’t get much out of it. You need to keep your profile reasonably up-to-date, maintain at least a marginally active presence, and talk to other people now and again to make it work. If you have a hundred different profiles on a hundred different sites, you’ll soon get overwhelmed and none of them will get the attention they need to thrive. Pick a handful of services and sites to put a lot of energy into — or however many you have time to really commit to — and stay off the rest.

6. Diversify

That said, don’t participate in too few sites, either. First of all, if you slip up and damage your reputation at one, you’ll have to start from scratch somewhere else. But more importantly, different sites have different strengths. LinkedIn is best for professional advance, MySpace for broadcasting your interests and creative work; Digg is traditionally better suited to news, especially technology and weird stuff, StumbleUpon to smaller niches.

I can’t say enough about finding the right fit with whatever network you choose and utilizing that one with the tips included above. My favorite is still Flickr. The level of feedback, participation and discovery I have there works well for me. Twitter worked well during summer break as I played around with location aware services and shared silly happenings.

What would you add to the list?

Roselle PL Ning: “Let’s Talk!”

I’m getting ready for upcoming presentations today and I realized I needed to give Roselle Public Library a big shout out for the Ning network created for patrons and staff. Take a look. I’m glad to see a library choose a social tool, put some time and effort into its upkeep, and see the community respond.

Banning Social Networking… Again?

Lori Reed writes:

What I am really here to say is that it’s important to educate children so that they can make smart decisions in any circumstance.

From USA Today:

Congress is considering a bill that would bar children who use computers in public libraries from accessing Facebook and other social networking websites without parental permission.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard recently.

First, how will we define “other social networking websites” when pretty much every site is becoming a social networking site? Has anyone in Congress heard of Web 2.0?

Second, how does this teach children to think for themselves and make smart choices? We cannot block every site where a predator could be lurking just as we cannot place children in a bubble when we send them out the door to school every day.

As librarians and library staff we have to advocate for educating our public officials, the media, parents, and children about the real dangers of the Internet – ignorance.

If you haven’t yet take a look at the ALA Libraries & the Internet Toolkit. Most of the content is dated 2003, but it is still relevant.

From the USA Today article:

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, the Illinois Republican who sponsored the measure, says the proposal would keep sexual predators from contacting minors who are using a library computer.

But the American Library Association says Kirk’s bill is yet another attempt by the federal government to interfere with library users’ privacy and free speech.

“If people in a community do not feel confident that their privacy will be protected, they cannot use the library as it was intended, for intellectual pursuit,” said Emily Sheketoff, who heads the association’s Washington office. “It will intimidate them.”


A few thoughts:

It makes me sad this this type of legislation comes from Illinois, one of the most progressive states for library innovation IMHO. Why are folks like Kirk not talking to librarians in the state to get a clearer picture of what this type of ban would mean to libraries and library users?

Why oh why do we always jump to “Ban this” and “Don’t Allow that?” – yes, libraries do it too!

I agree with Lori Reed; the key is education education education.

For more:

Banning Flickr

Thoughtful Advocates

What’s Up at Franklin Park Public Library

I’m always happy to hear from former students. I just got a nice email from Mick Jacobsen. TTW readers may remember him from his info about LibGuides. He’s moved on to some cool stuff:

Our first gaming event is taking place later today (spearheaded by me).  We have a Wii and PS2 for DDR.  So far nearly 50 kids of signed up, luckily we also have lots of board games so no riots.  We will have an adult gaming event in the near future and I am working with the senior centers to bring the Wii to them.

The website is rolling along.  I added a new rating system to our blogs, 1-10 stars.  I am hoping it will bring more interaction and ownership of the website to the patrons.

I created a Summer Reading Blog   The patrons can submit books using a form I built which emails me the submission and permission to post it on our blog.  I also check out our hand written entries and contact individuals with interesting, different reviews of items.  All the patrons seem pleased to see their reviews of items on the website (especially the elderly who normally don’t look at computers).  Our comments on these items are also stronger than the average blog entry.  I am wondering if I should continue the blog past the Summer Reading and make it just a patron recommendation blog.  I am not sure if the authorship would be there, but it would be a fun experiment. 

I had an article written about one of my projects in the local newspaper.  I am using Google maps to “map” Franklin Park.  I created an image and description Historical map and a modern Places of Note map.  I am in the midst of working on a map of all the road construction taking place in Franklin Park.   I embed the maps on our website and try to get  people involved. for the Places of Note map of the Historical map

I am in the midst of a “Splash Page” experiment.  I know many are anti splash pages, but I think they could really work for public libraries and I am conducting a study to see if my hypothesis is correct.  It is not pure science, but does lead to some great conclusions.  

So I emailed Mick and asked if I could publish his update on TTW and would he answer this question:

What’s helped you be most successful with these projects?

His response says a lot about organizational culture, that important sense of play, self-motivation and the wealth of info available online:

In no particular order:

1.  An innate desire to try new things (why else go in to Library Science but to try new cool stuff).

2.  Complete confidence that I have the support from my management (top to bottom) to try new things.  How many libraries would let a new graduate (graduated in January) the freedom that I am given?  I got to redesign, reorganize, rethink an entire website in Drupal and much, much more (I have not told you about very important but not sexy stuff I have implemented e.g. email notices for nearly overdue items, pc reservation, print release, etc.).  Most of the time they have no idea what I am doing, simply trusting that I am doing something beneficial for the library.  It has become a sort of joke, “What have you added this week, haha.”  And I say, well this cool thing called LibX or rating stars or a suggestion form or a summer reading blog or an online sign up for programs, or Google translate, etc.  

3.  The willingness to fail in trying new things (these projects are not necessarily successes as of yet…).  And many grand ideas have failed and been buried, but not forgotten.  

4.  The joy in reading blog after blog ferreting out great info and trying to turn them to library uses.  

5.  Making the time to research, play with, and eventually (or not) implement new ideas.  

6.  Being able to enthusiastically bounce crazy ideas of coworkers without having them get annoyed.   

7.  Not being bogged down by bureaucracy.  

More on Social Learning

John at Library Clips weighs in on 15 Objections to Using Social Learning:

Objection #5: How Do You Know it’s Accurate?

What if someone posts inaccurate information (unlike email it’s visible to a lot of people), and someone acts on it?

I actually mentioned this in a previous post as the garderns job, to go back to old posts and re-edit them or use comments to correct situations. But this is self-organised as well, the ecosystem may correct itself to an extent, people are quick to catch people out and correct things. The blogosphere is self-regulating in this way, you say something that is bad practice, and you are knocked down…in the enterprise I would hope that you don’t lose your credibillty (once bitten twice shy).

Actually, these occurrences are lessons learned we all witness in the open blogs, so we all learn from it as it happens, we experience it together…it sticks in our minds.

I almost like the idea that the openess and informalness of blogs can reveal bad practice. If you want to stamp out bad practices start some internal blogs, people’s inaccuracies will come to light, we can all evolve and correct behaviour. It’s like the wound healing itself.

Kevin shares a story where a manager didn’t like the idea of non-authoritative people posting for all to see for fear of inaccuracy and the consequences that may follow.

“Leaving the meeting she walked by some cubes where she overheard one person describing an HR policy to the other person that was completely incorrect. And the second person took it as gospel.”

She suddenly realized, 1) How many times does this happen and I don’t know about it? 2) If they asked this question using the tools we were talking about, more people would be able to respond and the right answer would surface

What a great story!