Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thing 6: Online networks

This is rather a long post in which I chunter through some of the networks I belong to, though (apart from Second Life) I wouldn't say I really "network" professionally on any of them. Some of them (e.g. are more like calling cards or CVs.
The online networks which were mentioned in the main CPD23 blog post were Facebook, Linked-In, Librarians as Teachers Network, and CILIP communities, plus the New Professionals network. I belonged to all except the last one already, plus some more. I thought I would review what I was doing with at least some of them.
As I will probably discuss at more length in another post, one issue is that I already know a lot of people professionally, because I've been around a long time and done a lot of things.
Also if I do get another job (and I may stay where I am til I retire, now) then it won't be on the basis of a profile on Linked-In. Therefore some of the motivations I might have had earlier in my career don't apply so much. Also, when your interests change and increase, then the number of online networks you are potentially interested in are really too many to keep track of regularly. I think I need to monitor them better than I do, and I'm pondering where: possibly via the page on my Netvibes site.

Linked In
I really only joined Linked-In because people kept inviting me to connect, and I have mostly use it reactively to respond to invitations. There are 8 Sheila Webbers on Linked In, and I have the most connections. I have joined a few groups, and been in a couple of useful conversations as a result, but there also seem to be a good number of spammy conversations on some of the groups. I just reviewed my profile to change the picture and add a bit more information. I also investigated a few more groups that I thought might have interesting discussions, so I may be a bit more active there.

I keep my profile private to my friends, and almost all my friends are people who I know in the physical world. In fact most of them are also people I've got to know professionally, but then I've been working a long time and that's mostly where I've made friends. I'm not a Facebook addict, but I do mostly check it at least daily at the moment. My groups are a mixture of personal interests (like Thorntons chocolate) and professional groups.
My main "serious" involvement is with the Facebook groups for our cohorts of students in the iSchool at Sheffield University; I try to pick up on questions that I should respond to. I also have contributed a bit to the iSchool's page. A couple of my students have done small scale research studies into use of Facebook recently: I would never make use of Facebook for study mandatory (because some students don't want to use Facebook, and that is their right). However, it seems (from a study one of the third years did this semester) that explaining the potential of Facebook to support (in particular) group work, would be worth doing. I used to use Facebook to publicise events: I need to get back into doing that. There seem to be about 27 "Sheila Webber"s on Facebook.

Librarians as Teachers network
I joined this last year sometime, when Teachmeets started happening. I was aiming to have a Teachmeet at Sheffield, then interest seemed to die down, but I'm planning to revive the idea if the librarians here are interested as well (possibly in the autumn semester now, to get students involved). I hadn't looked at the site for a while. It doesn't seem extremely active, but when there are discussions, they are interesting, so I ought to be monitoring it more thoroughly.

I hadn't looked at CILIP Communities in a while, either, and had forgotten what my password was. My Information Literacy Weblog is one of the "selected" ones, so I'm present in the site, even if I don't actually go there.... I used to be very, very active in one of the forerunners to CILIP (i.e. the Institute of Information Scientists), and then a bit in CILIP itself, but lately I haven't been engaged much at all, as I switched focus to international organisations & academic networks. I've been thinking I might aim to get a bit more involved again, but probably in face to face events, rather than via CILIP Communities.

There are various sites for academics, and is the dominant one at the moment. As with Linked In, I really only caved in and joined it when I kept getting invitations. However, I think that this is the site which I ought to be doing more to maintain, because research is an important aspect to my job. Therefore I have just spent a couple of hours putting in more details of my papers (I still haven't listed all of them) and making a few more contacts: my profile is here

I have joined loads of networking sites e.g. the Technology-Enhanced Professional Learning and the ARVEL SIG nings. These are interesting, but keeping tabs on all of them is difficult. The Centre for Information Literacy Research and Information Literacy in Second Life nings are rather an embarrassment, as they are both ones I started, and which have members, but I have been very poor at updating and monitoring them recently. I need to decide whether I'm going to keep these going, with or without other people's help.

As I already mentioned in a previous post, the online network I'm probably most active in professionally is the network of educators and librarians in Second Life. I'm Sheila Yoshikawa in the transcripts you can see on the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable site. Also the Journal Club that Marshall Dozier and I run in Second Life is a sort of online network, I suppose. I find these 3D virtual networks more enjoyable and meaningful than most of the 2D ones, really, and I have made friends and professional contacts through them.

This has become too much of a dull list, so I'll stop. Apart from having done some useful maintenance work at and Linked In, I have decided that I must at least have a favourites folder for my networks, so I can remember which ones I've joined.
Photos by Sheila Webber: Circles in the sand, Great Keppel Island, 2004; Street art on mobile phons, Ljubljana, 2006; Wild rose circle, Sheffield, 2004; Meeting on Worcester University island, Second Life, 2012.

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