All 2 entries tagged Social Networking
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June 07, 2007
Writing about web page http://infoisland.org/drupal/reference/SL_ready_ref/Guide_to_SL_basics
There are lots of librarians talking about Second Life, and I have been investigating if and how the library could use it.
Classes could be taught on SL, perhaps information skills classes, but then you would have to make sure that all your students had access to a computer with SL software on (I don’t think they can they download softare to networked PCs on campus), high processing capacity and a fast broadband connection. All your students would need to create an avatar (character) and work out how to reach the class in SL. This is all too much of a major hurdle to have to overcome before learning about information skills!
In theory we could try to create an info skills class in SL with the aim of reaching just those people who are in there, but it would be worth finding out how many of our students are on SL first.
SL can overcome some barriers and inequalities that exist in the real world, as characters (avatars) can walk around, fly and teleport to anywhere, and can be made to look however you want them to. There is a certain level of anonymity provided, which can be both helpful and a barrier in itself, depending on the circumstances. However, the visually impaired cannot really use SL and those who can’t type fast are at a disadvantage. The way to talk to other characters is to type in the “chat” box that acts like instant messaging, which makes SL something of a glorified chat room. If you want to overcome real life physical distance, then video conferencing would probably work better for a small group.
The connectivity that can be made with Internet resources through SL has enormous potential for the electronic library but unfortunately links to the Web are extremely slow from SL at the moment, which of course is another disadvantage if you’re trying to teach information skills. Web pages open up in your browser, rather than on a “screen” in SL, as far as I can see, although presumably SL could be made to work in that way. SL is full of notice-boards although I haven’t seen an interactive whiteboard in SL. Books in SL can be read on screen, but it is not easy to do this, or to find the books in SL libraries. It is much, much easier to find and read a web page.
So what can we do with SL? Well, you can put video clips into SL, so Captivate tutorials and videos of information skills teaching could be put into a library in SL. The University of Hertfordshire SL Learning Resources Centre has a video, although I couldn’t watch it as I don’t have Quicktime installed!
I hear that there are conferences in SL, and that this offers the synchronous networking opportunity that is sometimes missing from other virtual conferences. So I might attend a SL conference if I hear of one on a library topic.
SL is exciting and has potential but there are other far more practical Web 2.0 tools out there, that could be used with far less investment of time at the moment… but I would still like to ask a question or two at the SL library reference desk!
May 25, 2007
Writing about web page http://library20.ning.com/
I’ve been investigating the likes of Facebook, Ning, Bebo and Second Life recently. Fascinating stuff, but time consuming, too.
Should the library be using social networking software?
It depends on what we’re trying to do there. Students make comments about the library on Facebook, so should we be responding on there, rather like we do with the You Say, We Say board?
No: Facebook is a space that the students seem to own, and if students make negative comments about the library on Facebook then at least we can see them. If we intervene, they may just go elsewhere for privacy, so I am inclined not to try to get involved.
Would having a Facebook profile improve the library’s image, showing that we are up to date with technology and social trends?
Probably not: we might just look like we were trying too hard and didn’t really get the point of Facebook. The way students use Facebook is very much about informal connections with their friends: they often make throw-away comments and affiliations with groups that are ironic and flippant on Facebook, rather than seeing it as a way to make useful connections for their studies or career.
By having a Facebook profile we might look like we’re trying too hard and we don’t really belong, so it wouldn’t improve our image, but there are so many students on Facebook, and we could use a profile as a way to get a message out, even if many students choose to ignore it. As long as we’re not interfering with the way that students use Facebook, I don’t think that it would do any harm. Facebook might change in the way that it is used by students, too, especially in the light of recent media articles about permanant records of flippant remarks that might affect career prospects in the future, and I think that there is much to keep an eye on. Certainly we should not ignore a space where so many of our students can be reached, and where three is so much potentially useful functionality, eg inviting people to events, sending messages to members of groups, etc
What about staff having profiles on Facebook? There is a powerful potential for Facebook as a tool for colleagues to network with each other, across departments. I’m not sure that Facebook itself is the right social networking tool to use in a work setting, but it would not hurt to experiment on there a bit. I think that the problem is how informal it all feels, so it doesn’t present the most professional image. This could impact on the way students see us as well as the way colleagues perceive us.
So Facebook could replicate actual networks between colleagues, but is that really what Social Networking software is all about? I hope not! It has the potential for us to make new connections and expand our networks.
I am enjoying Ning’s Library 2.0 community at the moment, where I am meeting other librarians who are investigating Web 2.0 technologies in the library, from accross the World. So librarians can use social networking software for professional development.
What about Second life? Well, it’s early days in my investigation. Certainly I can create a profile on there and make “friends” who I exchange discussions with, etc, but if that’s all you want, then Second life would be overkill. I’m exploring Info Island at the moment, but I hope to find more, and perhaps to attend a lecture or seminar on there, to see how it feels.
Can we engage students who don’t come into the library on Second Life? I suppose it depends on why they don’t come into the library – if they don’t want to in real life, then they are not likely to in Second life, surely! But there may be barriers in real life that prevent them from using the library, that are not present in Second Life. What is Second Life good at, in an educational setting? I aim to find out…