Workplace learning

•September 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

It has been a while since I have posted anything here. I guess I have been enjoying not having to study and record what I am thinking. That is not to say that I did not enjoy journalling nor find it beneficial. In fact it was quite the opposite. Which is why I find myself back here this evening recording my thoughts.

I am currently in the process of preparing to handover my job to someone new when it moves location at the end of the year. I will not be following and therefore am looking for a new job myself. I have been in this job three years and learnt quite a lot over that period. I need somewhere to flesh out what I have learnt that I can take with me to a new job and also to record those random thoughts that I have had about workplace learning.

It is an interesting position in having to prepare a handover for your job. Having spent a while in the Army I am not unfamiliar with the practice as I was always moving onto a new job and having to leave handover notes. This time though I am looking at if from a different perspective. I tend to look at most activities through a learning lens nowadays so a handover is more than just processes and points of contact. Yet my handover notes at the moment contain mostly that – processes and reference documents. There is so much more to pass on but I need to get my head around exactly what that is and the best way to impart it.

From my side, so many things have happened in this job where I have said ‘if I ever start a new job again I will do that differently’. Well here I am looking at starting a new job. I really don’t want to lose those lessons so I plan to jot down lessons learnt and record those things that I want to take with me into a new job, whatever that may be.

EVALUATIVE REPORT ON THE LEARNING UNDERTAKEN IN INF206

•October 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The aim of this report is to evaluate my learning experience during INF206 against two key areas. The first section of this report will evaluate my learning against the learning objectives.

Part A – Evaluation against learning objectives

The requirement for this section is to show how I have met the learning objectives utilising three experiences that I documented in my online learning journal (OLJ) which I was required to keep as a part of this course.

Objective One – Demonstrate an understanding of social networking technologies

Prior to starting the subject I would try to implement each new social networking technology or application as it was introduced so that I stayed up to date with new technology. I did not give much thought as to how the tool could best be used. In my post of September 18 entitled ‘Update to Mod 4 remaining posts’ I reflected on how my use of social networking tools has changed over the duration of the subject. I looked at a number of the applications that I use and the way in which I use them, as each of the applications has a different purpose. As shown in my post, this understanding has influenced the way I now use social networking  tools. I feel that I also have a much better understanding of how social networking tools relate to Web 2.0 and discuss this in the post in the context of building trust in a participatory environment.

Objective Two – demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theory and practice of Library 2.0 and participatory library service

As I am not a librarian I contextualised this objective within my work setting. As such this objective is reflective of my understanding of Web 2.0 rather than Library 2.0. In ‘Update to Mod 4 remaining posts’ I discuss how I could draw on the experience of others who use our social communications network in evaluating new social networking tools. This is an example drawing on the collective intelligence of users that O’Reilly (2012) discusses which is a strength of Web 2.0.

On the topic of participation, I discuss this further in my post of August 16 entitled ‘Mod 4 – why we post’. In this post I discuss the merits of allowing or not allowing comments to be posted on a blog and how this would impact on engagement with the library audience.  Whilst this is only a small section of the post I believe it that it highlights one of the primary features of Web 2.0 being user participation (Hay & Wallis, 2012).

 Objective Three – be able to critically examine the features and functionality of various social networking tools to meet the information needs of users

I posted an update to ‘Mod 4 – why we post’ in which I discuss the need to evaluate specific social communication tools against the intended outcome of using the tool. Having an understanding of what the main purpose of a social networking tool is, will allow a decision to be made as to whether or not the tool is fit for the purpose that it is intended to be used for. The other point I made in relation to this in my post was that you need to have an understanding of how what you are trying to communicate using these tools fits into the larger communication plan for the organisation.

Objective Four – be able to evaluate social networking technologies to support informational and collaborative needs of workgroups, communities and organisations

In ‘Mod 4 – why we post’ I review the differing ways in which a blog can be used for internal and external communication. During this post I gained an appreciation of the variety of ways that one tool can be used to meet the informational requirements of different audiences.

Further to this, in ‘Update to Mod 4 remaining posts’ I discuss the ways in my use of the different social networking technologies is dependent on the group I am interacting with. This also extends to the type of content that I post using the different technologies.

Objective Five – demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world, and how information policy is developed and implemented to support such issues.

In one of my last posts entitled ’Plagiarism in the online world‘ I discuss my thoughts on the issue of plagiarism and credibility of information online. This post considers these matters in the context of their impact socially, culturally and educationally. I also ponder on how credibility can impact on the reputations of organisations that deal in information as a product, and how this may be dealt with through an organisations social networking policy.

Part A summary

Overall I feel that I have successfully met the learning objectives for this course even though I have not had the focus on Library 2.0 that other students have. Studying a Bachelor of Vocational Education and Training, I tried to situate my learning in this context. Going back over my original posts I did feel that a lot of my posts were more summaries of content rather than an analysis of the information. The main cause for this was a lack of time. What I learnt from this was that the benefit of using a blog as an OLJ was that I was able to go back and reflect on what I had posted and then edit the original post with my reflection. In this way I was able to undertake the analysis that I felt was missing in the initial instance.  This aside, I feel that my understanding of social networking and media is far more developed than when I had begun this unit.  The key changes in the way I operate as a social networker are discussed in the next section.

Part B – reflective statement on my development as a social networker

Undertaking this course has resulted in my development in a number of areas related to social networking, as follows.

Before undertaking this course my view was that my workplace should be implementing new technologies as they are released to maintain a presence wherever our audience might move to. This view was influenced by a number of blogs I follow which are written by people who use social communications for sales and marketing.  I still follow these blogs to remain current with new technologies being released but I now look at what purpose these new tools have and how this fits in with our communication requirements.  In line with this my increased understanding of the principles of Web 2.0 has changed the way I use social communication tools.  I was using social networking tools primarily to push information out over a variety of mediums. My view on how we can use social networking has changed to include implementing tools that facilitate the sharing of knowledge. I am also trying to facilitate a more participative environment encouraging those people who use our tools to become co-creators of content.

Over the duration of the subject I have developed a greater awareness of the need for critical analysis of information related to social networking. Through conversations with fellow students, I have come to appreciate how much information is shared without critical analysis of the message or supporting data. I have not seen too many posts that question the statistics reported in infographics or question the basis of generally accepted advice that many of the apparent subject matter experts offer on the myriad of topics on the internet.

Related to this, I had not used referencing in blog posts prior to the subject. In the little blogging I had done before I did make reference to other posts where I had used them but this was through hyperlinking to that post which seems to be the common convention. I will definitely be more thorough with my use of referencing in posts after this subject. The use of referencing in posts may assist others in seeing that some degree of critical analysis has been attempted within my posts.

I have been able to draw directly on what I have learnt throughout this subject and apply it in  my workplace. With respect to social networking/media policy, my understanding of what should be contained in such policy has grown greatly. I had viewed this type of policy in terms of what should not be done by employees in the social communication sphere and how an organisation should react if it does happen. I now appreciate that social communication policy has a much broader application. It should reflect the requirements of the key stakeholders of an organisation’s social communications. It should articulate how social communication will dovetail into a wider communication strategy and support the business objectives of the organisation. It should also provide guidance on how a social communication strategy should adapt to advances in new technology. In this regard, one of the benefits of taking this subject was that I had come across a number of sites where templates for social communications policy can be downloaded. Being able to view work others have already done will certainly make the task of putting together a comprehensive social communication policy much easier.

In the context of my degree (Bachelor of Vocational Education and Training) I have definitely cemented my belief that social networking can be an invaluable tool in distance learning. The ability to receive comments from other students on my blog posts and share information through our Facebook page has added a dimension to my learning that had been missing in the other subjects I have undertaken. To be able to interact with other students has made me feel more connected and has increased my engagement. One of the key principles of adult learning is that as adults we bring a range of experiences to the learning environment that others can also learn from (Knowles, Holton III, & Swanson, 1998). I have definitely benefited from other students sharing their experiences in this subject. In addition I now have a better understanding of how tools like Second Life, Twitter and Pinterest can be used in an educational setting. Through undertaking this course not only do I feel that I have developed as a social networker but also as an adult educator.

References

Hay, L., & Wallis, J. (2012). INF 206 Module 1: Web 2.0, Social networking and the social life of information, 2012, from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/INF206_201260_W_D/page/990ffb02-dcd4-49ee-805e-44fe5e6ca342

Knowles, M., Holton III, E. F., & Swanson, R. A. (1998). The Adult Learner (6 ed.). New York: Elsevier.

O’Reilly, T. (2012). What is Web 2.0, from http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=2

Plagiarism in the online world

•September 30, 2012 • 1 Comment

I was going through Twitter the other week and came across a tweet which was a link to a blog post entitled ‘Is Social Media Creating a Plagiarism Problem’(Sukhova, 2012). I thought that it was an interesting subject and I posted it on the INF2506 FaceBook page. Throughout this course I had been developing a growing awareness as to the lack of academic standard referencing in many of the posts and articles that I had read throughout the course.

My post on the FaceBook page saw an interesting on-line discussion between myself and another student about plagiarism online. Mica challenged the position held by the author of the blog post and our discussion centred around the notion of plagiarism on the net. My key point was that referencing is still relevant in on-line posts and this would help plagiarism to some extent. As an aside, I have had a number of discussions about topics I have posted with Mica. These discussions have been very valuable as it has required me to think about the post and consider arguments for and against. From an educational perspective this has greatly enhanced my learning in this subject.

Getting back to the subject at hand, a few days later I read a post by one of my fellow students entitled ‘The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world’ (Thomas, 2012). In this post she cites Wittenberg who discusses in her post how the credibility of information is established in this age of the internet. Thomas also mentions an interesting situation in which the author of a document often cited as background reading by researchers, drew heavily on Wikipedia as an information source. What is the ‘so what’ of this? In this age of knowledge management where there is such a large volume of information being processed I believe that authenticity and accuracy of information is vitally important. I can see that this has an impact for those organisations who deal in the distribution of knowledge. I imagine that most organisations would like to be seen as reputable and professional. How is their reputation effected by the quality of the information they deal with? How do they ensure the information they pass onto clients is authentic and accurate. I did a search on Google to see what I could find in relation to authenticity and social media policy. There did not appear to be much information related to this. I did come across a blog post by Schaefer (2012) who linked to a document which he thought might be the first policy on authenticity. The online document was created by the CEO of Handshake Media (Clelland, 2012) and relates to authenticity of content that they post. It was interesting to note that as the company classified the blog as a ‘business news and public relations blog that accepts advertising’ that is was subject to the US Federal Trade Commission guides on endorsements and truth in advertising. It would be interesting to see if there were blogs that were deemed to be Australian were subject to similar guidelines. This then raises the question of what is the nationality of a blog deemed to be. Is it where the author resides or the country in which the site is hosted on a server? Are there other rules which would apply to blogs that do not accept advertising with respect to the authenticity of their content?

The importance of this issue was reinforced to me by an article in the Age on Saturday September 29. The article by O’Malley (2012) was on the way in which the different television news programmes in the US displayed their political biases when it came to the reporting of events in the US Presidential campaign. He also describes how data being used in these campaigns can also be skewed and how you can even select polls that will be weighted towards one candidate or another. This situation has been further complicated by the rise of people starting their own Twitter feeds on the campaigns. With information being manipulated to shape viewers perceptions of the situation, the ability to sift the authentic and accurate information from the rest becomes incredibly important.

I am now left with more questions than when I started. I will need to ponder and reflect on what I understand authentic information to be and how this authenticity is established.

References

Clelland, A. (2012). Handshake Media, Incorporated’s Social Media Authenticity Policy – Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials  Retrieved 1/10/2012, from http://www.handshake20.com/guides.html

O’Malley, N. (2012). Election media caught in bipolar trap, The Age.

Schaefer, M. (2012, 1/10/2012). The World’s First “Authenticity Policy?”.  Retrieved from http://www.businessesgrow.com/tag/ethics/page/2/

Sukhova, E. (2012, 26/9/12). Is Social Media Creating a Plagiarism Problem (+ Infographic).  Retrieved from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/blogging-and-content-creation/is-social-media-creating-a-plagiarism-problem-infographic/

Thomas, C. (2012). The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world.  Retrieved from http://ditchthebun.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/the-challenge-of-finding-authentic-information-in-a-socially-networked-world/

Second Life

•September 22, 2012 • 1 Comment

About a week ago we had an introduction to Second Life. Although I had played around a little bit in Second Life prior to this course it was really good to get some tips from someone who knew what they were doing. It was an interesting experience learning in a virtual environment. We were talking to each other through our headsets while we were moving around the CSU centre.  I had the same feeling as I do when I am sitting in a room watching and listening to someone talk yet at the same time I felt somewhat detached from the situation as I watched my avatar navigate around the area. It was frustrating at times when I was having difficulty doing simple things like move from one place to the next. It has been a little while since I have experienced the feelings that go with being a new learner. From an educational perspective, this was a good thing because it reminded me of what the experience is like for someone who is new to learning something. As we get more experienced in whatever our specialty is, it is easy to forget just how difficult things can be when starting out. Having this type of experience is important for educators as it reminds us not to forget what it is like on the other side as a student.

I can clearly see the benefits that SL has as a learning environment. In one of my previous assessments I spoke to an educator who was teaching a course on  dual diagnosis in an online environment. One of the problems he reported was that students missed the contact that they had with other students when they attended classroom based learning. I think SL is one way in which this desire for ‘face to face’ contact could be addressed. Even though I knew I was looking at other people’s avatars I still had the sense that there was a greater level of interaction with other students than if we had been doing the lesson by telephone or online. I have read a few articles to date that discuss the benefits that can be obtained from operating and learning in a virtual world. I am very keen to see how I might be able to utilise SL in the training that I am involved with.

Update to Mod 4 remaining posts

•September 18, 2012 • 4 Comments

I had included this as a comment to the original post, but thought that it might be overlooked so I have included it here as a post in its own right.

I have been trying to undertake some reflection on my posts and will use this comment as the tool to record my reflection.

In this post I recorded my thoughts of the Marta Kagan slideshare presentation. I mentioned that I would use it as a reference for the last assignment so I took another look at it to see if it still had the same impact. I still think it is a good presentation as Kagan reinforces the points she wants to make with quite a few eye catching statistics and examples of the benefits. One slide that caught my attention this time was number 95 which is a rule that says engage. I have found through this course that I have increased my level of engagement in social networking and that in doing so people are increasing their engagement with me. You really need to post content and get involved in discussions in order to come up on people’s radars. I try and maintain engagement across a number of tools that I use which takes a bit of time. I have seen reference to the fact that the only cost to getting involved in social networking is the time but I wonder if people have an idea of how much time needs to be invested if you are going to put a decent amount of content onto blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc.

I am finding that I am becoming a bit more selective on what I post where. The reason for this is that each tool I use is geared towards a different purpose. For instance, I post a few pictures on Pinterest. Pinterest has boards where I pin content of a specific nature. This makes it easy for people to search for content on a specific topic. People who like my pictures can then pin it onto their boards and share the images around. I have increased my use of Twitter during this course. I mainly retweet others interesting tweets or links to blogs. Just recently I loaded Flipboard onto my smartphone and have been playing around with that. I have tended to tweet a few of the tech articles that I think might be relevant to the people I follow. I have found that in doing so I have picked up a few more followers. I think this has occurred because I am adding new content rather than retweeting content that is already being tweeted by the group. What this appears to highlight is that with Twitter it is about finding a niche area and providing content related to that. This will set you up as someone with credibility that others can look to for information. I see this with the people I follow who add their particular take on subjects which makes them the experts. It is about building trust as a reputable source. This is interesting because I am not sure how many people stop to check many of the stats that are included in these blogs that are deemed to be authoritative.

While being able to play with a number of tools is okay in my personal life, I don’t have the time to be spread as widely in the workplace. I need to be far more selective in what I use and make sure that is getting to as many of the target audience as possible. There does need to be some way to stay abreast of the changes that occur in the social networking and media landscape so that we are not left behind trying to play catch up. At this stage my personal use is a bit of a laboratory for the workplace in that I keep myself informed of what is happening by being involved. There needs to be something in our social communications plan with respect to how we are going to monitor change in the area of social communications and what criteria will determine if we implement a new tool or not. One idea is to draw on the experience of those who are actively using tools as a knowledge pool to draw on their experiences. By using existing networks I could call for people to post about their experiences with other tools. This is drawing on one of the strengths of Web 2.0 which is harnessing the collective intelligence of users.

Update to Digital Librarianship & Social Media: the Digital Library as Conversation Facilitator

•September 18, 2012 • 2 Comments

I had made a note about going back and having more of a look at this article, so I did.

Schrier makes the point in paragraph 3 that librarians should engage in conversation through blogs and other social media tools in order to ‘ place the digital librarians back in the center as chief negotiators of the knowledge creation and education that occurs as a result of user-user and user-library interactions. The point about being negotiators of knowledge creation is one that I see as an important role for librarians or those involved in a similar role in the workplace. One of the key benefits of Web 2.0 is that the collective intelligence of those who use it can be harnessed to provide a vast pool of knowledge to draw from.  In today’s society where information is a commodity being able to access the right information quickly is very valuable. Unfortunately I have heard many stories about information in organisations being difficult to access if staff are even aware of its existence in the first place. In a conversation with a librarian at work we were discussing what would become of the librarian as less people borrowed books. Schrier’s article has relevance in a situation like this because he talks about the librarian’s role in knowledge creation. I can see that librarians are well placed to be able to create knowledge in organisations by being knowledge brokers and being able to connect people with the information they want when they need it. Even with Enterprise Social Networks being able to provide an environment where sharing of corporate knowledge is easier, I think the success of such a network can be further enhanced by having people who can facilitate connections between people and information.

I think about my workplace, and I still come across repositories of information by chance that are relevant to my work but I have never come across when doing a search for this type of information. I wonder how more effective we could be as an organisation if we had people who could connect people like myself with information that I was after. I read somewhere (not exactly sure where) about a librarian who was able to assist someone with an information enquiry by chance as they happened to see the tweet from the person asking if anyone knew how to reference a certain item. I can see savings in time and effort could be gained if there was a way to speed up access to the relevant information. Schrier makes this point on the section on participation where he talks about libraries needing social media plans which will establish the library as an ‘arbiter of information’.  I imagine that there are already organisations out there that are drawing on the expertise of librarians and information professionals to improve information sharing.

You can’t be all things to all people

•September 8, 2012 • 1 Comment

I came across this picture today on Tumblr ( http://icanread.tumblr.com/)

 

It got me thinking that with so many social media and networking tools around it must be very difficult to have a effective presence on all of them. It makes more sense to choose those tools where the greatest mass of your users will be and then do very well on those sites, providing your users what they want.  I like playing with the new tools as they come out and have found myself at time telling people that we should looking at establishing a presence on some new site (something I even did with G+ for this subject). Glad to say that I think taking this subject has tempered my tendency to leap first and look later.