Teaching the Social Web

Don’t miss these two articles by Pierce County Library Trainer Steve Campion. Campion offers some excellent tips and insights for teaching the social Web and creating the social library:


We prepared for the changing nature of the topic by building change into our syllabus. We kept the teacher’s outline to two and a half pages and the students’ to a single sheet. We offered a two-page glossary of terms and left our website list online to be accessed and adjusted whenever the need arose.

And, as many TTW readers will certainly understand, I heart this:

Learn with your students. Finally, admit that the teacher doesn’t know everything. If a website changes a bit or an interesting new tool becomes available a teacher should be willing to learn alongside everyone else. It keeps today’s class dynamic, and enriches future classes. It’s also the best way I know to encourage your students to keep exploring after the class is over. If you continue to get excited discovering something new after you know so much about the social web already, then perhaps they might feel that, too.


Apply the social web to the library. Some of our students — newly aware of the tools and dynamics —moved on to become bloggers on the library’s website. One lent his talents to recording and editing podcasts. I launched a library Flickr page. A youth services librarian opened a MySpace account. Our webmaster started a wiki. Within only a few months, and with few dollars spent or custom computer code written, we had all the components of a vibrant online social library.

At that point, we were missing only one thing: getting the word out to our patrons. We began receiving comments on our social sites from across the country and around the world, but since our library’s media plan hadn’t put the social web on its radar, our own patrons knew little of the activity.

Is the “media plan” the same as marketing? If it is, I think that may be one of the hurdles in building and launching the social library online – making sure the library marketing department/person is involved and savvy. Doesn’t it seem like sometimes the marketing area is still trapped in the mid 1990’s — producing an email newsletter and still funneling all Web content through one person?

Use Steve’s articles as a starting point if you haven’t started already – and be sure to include the marketing librarian in the discussions and plans!