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A break from social media ~ reflection

After I took a week off from social media, one of the first posts I came across on Facebook contained this video. The post was followed with a series of comments about the use of phones and our loss of connection with being ‘in the moment’. Prior to my break from social media, I would have agreed that the phone is the issue but after my self-imposed break, I discovered that without the lure of social media, I rarely reached for the phone. Instead, the phone lay dormant on the table attached to the charger for hours. My break from social media, indicated it was the lure of social connection and interaction that kept that phone close at hand.

I have come across a few articles recently, debating the negatives and positives of social media. One article highlight’s narcissism, and self PR campaigns, in the individual use of social media as a misconstrued need to display a sense of constant awesomeness. On the other hand, this debate in the New York Times points to the virtues of access to an audience, self publishing and instant interaction as presenting opportunities for individual growth.

Interestingly, being without social media is not all positive, just as being constantly connected is not all positive. A friend (from my social media world) joined me in my mission to abstain from social media for a week and we shared insights about the experience via SMS. He shared this article ‘I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet’. What is interesting in this article is how the writer chronicles his personal experience of taking a year off the internet concluding that the positive/negative divide is not straight forward.

I decided to switch off social media for a week, beginning just two days before New Years Eve 2013. Celebratory times often attract increased posting, so it was going to be a challenge. The decision was spontaneous and partly based around my perception that my contributions were tired and felt somewhat laboured in the month of December. You see, I had been online since the end of 2011 diving into many social media apps including; Instagram, Facebook, Momentage, Backspaces, Twitter, Vine, Picyou, Eyeem, taada, Streamzoo, Wattpad, lightt, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pheed, Scoop.it…

and the list goes on…..

The majority of these apps were a process of trialling for evaluation purposes, so my presence was short lived. However, my presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine have been constant. I’m not certain how much time I spent online with my phone, but it was definitely daily and on all four platforms. I would check each app every morning and participate in conversations, contribute content, check events, click on posted links and read/view content shared, read collated stories from Zite, share to targeted and appropriate social networks and so on and so forth… I’m pretty sure that was just two hours in the morning. I haven’t calculated time throughout the day nor the relax time after the evening meal when the kids are in bed… To say the least, four hours of online engagement may be an underestimate….. if I was being honest… (jaw dropping to the floor in realisation!)

I was feeling socially exhausted and needed to retreat, to think and refresh. The need to question the value of my contributions, the purpose, my connections and interactions seemed quite strong both online and in real life. Even with interactions IRL (in real life) I often feel the need to retreat and gather strength so that I can be social again. I suppose the virtual world had reached that point too.

Without social media, it became apparent quickly how few my connections are. SMS, email and phone are definitely much less active and interactions come from fewer people. The world felt somewhat silent. On a positive note, I relaxed more and just took time out. I even finished a novel in one night (it was a short novel). My time with my kids was less interrupted and seemed more positive. More than anything, my kids loved how unhurried I appeared. As a qualifier, this was the holiday time so relaxation was on the menu regardless. I actually started to feel relaxed and recharged too.

I found my thought processes seemed less hurried and distracted. I could think about what ‘it’ is about social media that is positive and consider the benefits of social networks online. I certainly missed my interactions and conversations with people that I connected with online and was looking forward to the time I could interact again. I discovered finding articles of interest, with no-one to share, made the conversation and knowledge construction seem far less interesting and rewarding without the social media platforms.

Without social media, the web is very static. Just reading articles and not contributing to conversation and adding to knowledge is something I tire from quickly. I suppose, knowledge is constructive and involves conversation. Social media has enabled this. With the networks that are formed, based around communities of interest, we are able to obtain various insights and access to information that is pertinent to specific interest areas. This helps to build on our thoughts, triggering connections with ideas we have come across and prompting further sharing and knowledge construction. In my social media networks, my communities of interest have developed around street art, writing, information access, arts, filmmaking and activism. With these areas I’ve connected with groups and conversations specific to these areas. Not all the people I connect with are connected with each other. Instead communities exist as various circles of interest that sometimes intersect but mostly remain distinct. Ultimately, this is what I view as a positive aspect of social media alongside the possibility of extending online relationships to real life relationships and vice versa.

So in 2014, one of my key resolutions is to increase my collaborative creative efforts with people from my social media world with a focus on improving both online and ‘in real life’ interactions. It is this aspect of social media, over the past couple of years, that has provided the most rewarding experiences. Clearly, this is the ultimate positive enablement of virtual communities.

Another resolution is to take breaks from social media. After a week’s break, I came back feeling refreshed, filled with ideas and wanting to contribute again. I’ve identified social interaction in the virtual world as no different to social interaction IRL, in terms of the need for retreat to replenish… in my case anyway. Just as I need a break to recharge IRL I also need this in the virtual world. Otherwise, I start feeling exhausted and unable to contribute.

 

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Reflections on a blog

self-reflecting

Self-refelction

I started this blog at the beginning of 2011. Initially, it was a part of my studies in the Masters of Information Studies (MIS) which I have been completing part-time. My posts are often musings related to studies, tangents spurred by thoughts related to the information sector and even divergences based on personal interests. Quite broad really, but as the first blog it proved a great place to dive in and just swim.

Now, as I am nearing completion of the MIS, with just one subject left, the question of ‘where to’ with this blog has arisen. Once the overarching studylink disappears, what will the focus of this blog be?

You see, this is not my only blog, I have other blogs dedicated to different purposes including creative writing and arts practice blogs. Alongside these other blogs I actively create content and share with other social media platforms. Clearly, there is plenty to keep me engaged and contributing.

It appears with social media, many take an approach of cross-posting the same information across numerous sites. It’s similar to marketing strategies where the aim is to reach as many audiences across as many platforms as possible. However, whilst I cross-pollinate some of my posts, as iterations across different sites, I have tended to take an approach that seems to be more compartmentalised in approach.

I tend to separate my focus in content contribution for different purposes to enable connection with distinct audiences/communities in some sites that do not exist on other platforms. I appreciate that some communities of connection in the virtual sphere are based on specific interests. For instance, with my arts practice, it is a distinct and specific focus. Some of the people I have connected with are only interested in my paper cutting and linocuts. With my writing, yet again it may be a different connection and so on. Not everyone that likes my street-art documenting, for instance, will be interested in my experimental videos or my writing and vice versa.

I’m acutely aware that my interests shared, are dispersed in such a manner and seem to focus more on maintaining smaller communities of interest instead of amalgamating into one broad group. Whether this approach works or not is difficult to fully gauge, but it suits me for now.

On this blog I have probably incorporated the most diverse musings and the structure is loosely held together with a focus on the sharing of information. Obviously, some of my study musings will dissipate over time but what else….

In reflecting, I’ve decided this blog will function as a blog of reviews. By reviews, I will continue with technology reviews, book reviews and my personal musings on arts. In the end I’m still sharing information but adding a more focussed approach. It seems to suit me just fine.

Maybe, Ill even revamp the look of this blog too…..

 

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History as Absence

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
William Cowper

Absence of... By Ky Olsen

When I first started this blog, as a response to starting my Librarian studies, my mind traveled to the library moments that were defining to my love of all things library. In my first post Hatching, I discussed a childhood experience of volunteering at a local sub-branch of Marrickville library called “The Warren”. I used to spend many afternoons there, after school, as both my parents worked late and I had no-one to answer to. My choice as a child was to go to the library until it closed. After writing that initial post, spurred by an early memory, I decided to investigate further and find out what ever happened to this sub-branch of Marrickville library. Who to ask was easy “Ask a Librarian”. I looked up Marrickville Library and on their website I came across a History Services link. After trawling through the history archives online, I realised my search was futile as there appeared to be no mention of the sub-branch called “The Warren” anywhere. I tried their search with “Warren”, “sub-branch” and other configurations but proved unsuccessful. Was this a figment of my imagination? I am sure this is not a made-up memory. Is this how I imagined my ideal childhood, spent at the library amongst books, every afternoon and sometimes on Saturday mornings? I needed to further my investigations so I sent an email to Marrickville Library, explaining I was trying to locate some historical information, based on a childhood memory, of a sub-branch that I frequented? Could they help me with information, photos, details of the branch etc…. Below is the response I received.

“Thank you for your enquiry regarding ‘The Warren Library’. Surprisingly, there is very little information on this branch and its history.

The Warren Library was indeed a small children’s library and was open each afternoon for several hours. In one of our books published by our previous historian, there is a small mention of the dates that the branch was open, from September 25, 1965 and was then subsequently closed in 1985 (no exact date given). It also mentioned a couple other smaller branches closed in the same year, but there is no mention as to why.

Unfortunately, there was no other information available in any of our local history files or local history collection.

Thank you again for your enquiry, alas that we could not find more information for you.

Kind regards,

Jo Stacey Acting Local Studies Officer | Marrickville Library & History Services

Marrickville Council I PO Box 79 Marrickville NSW 1475 I www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au

P 02 9335 2167 | F 02 9596 2829 | E libassist02@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

Now, in considering this information, my topic broadens and I start musing on concepts of ‘Absence’ and the connection to storying in Hi”story”. Why was this information on this branch deemed not important enough to be archived? How are such decisions made? What is the criteria in place and what values are in operation in making decisions to enable ‘absence’ at a later point in time? In essence, how do we decide what is important historically and what perspectives end up getting lost, made absent and hence inaccessible. How is value determined of historical existence and what is missing from our narratives as time travels?

Many other ideas are inter-related of course. For instance, Ruby Langford Ginibi, argued strongly years ago about her book “Don’t take you love to town” needing to be included as an historical text in the History curriculum of NSW.  Being an autobiography, it is reasoned that it is a primary source of her account as dispossession and displacement in the history  of Australia and our post-colonial past. It has not been accepted as an historical text, and the question applies here too, why not? Why is it not perceived or valued as a primary source? An account exploring these ideas is captured by Carole Ferrier.

As another extension of the idea, a few years back I read “The Orchard” by Drusilla Modjeska and within this book I came across a passage beautifully written that linked erasure of female identity to erasure of female name. The premise is, if naming throughout time, in the western tradition, is based on the women receiving the fathers surname on birth, then the maternal link to heritage is broken. Furthermore, if a woman then takes the husbands surname upon marriage, then there is a further break with history of women. Hence, ‘absence’ of women through “his”tory.

‘Absence’ is a powerful concept when we consider how our storying of existence takes shape.

I love Marrickville

I love Marrickville cc licensed and shared by Lachlan Hardy

 

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Task C ~ A Critical Synthesis

My initial perceptions of the teacher librarian (TL) role as captured in my blog posts Hatching and Who or what is a Librarain? (Some Perceptions) were certainly naive. There are definite turning points in my journey that were initiated as responses to readings; reflection upon past or present experience, bouncing ideas both on forums and by reading other blogs that have aided the transformation to my current view of the teacher librarian.

One of the first moments of transformation occurred as a result of reading Purcell (2010). My reflection connecting her ideas to a personal experience is captured in the blog post A Teacher Librarian in Practice: Is it really that easy? At this point, I developed a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the teacher librarian’s multi-faceted role. During the course of study I have been alerted to other teacher librarians like Joyce Valenza with her video embedded in my blog post titled My librarian workout as well as her libguides shared by Judy O’Connell (May 6, 12:50pm) in Topic 5:Collaborative Practice, Judy O’Connell’s blog , as well as the blog of The Daring Librarian; all examples and demonstration of potential and possibilities.

In dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed, I have had to assess what I have to offer as a potential and what limitations I may possibly have to consider and how to overcome them. I heeded what felt as relevant advice and continually reminded myself of limitations as is evidenced in my forum post (March 24, at 1.43pm) under Topic 2:The role of the teacher librarian” titled ‘Can we do it all’, citing Herring (2007) and I appreciated O’Connells advice regarding Valenza’s years of experience and leadership (May 6, 12:24pm) in response to Jenny Kemp (May 6, 12:24pm) in Topic 5: Collaborative practice titled Challenges and big ideas. This resulted in a response displaying my renewed confidence with my personal offerings to the role of the teacher librarian as is captured clearly in my forum post attached to Topic 5: Collaborative Practice, Challenges and big ideas(May 6, 6:39pm). Another example of my confidence in capability is captured in my blog as a personal reflection of prior experience and how it relates to the TL titled Project Based learning incorporating part of my forum post from Topic 3: The TL and the curriculum, Inquiry learning  (April 4, 1:30pm)

A common theme that has recurred in my learning is absence both of the teacher librarian in connection to school, collaboration and community of learning as well as the connection to absence of information literacy and how the two are intertwined. Again, I embarked on a very reflective process and dug deep to enhance my critical understanding in this area. I certainly relate to the concept of “Fuzzy” teaching and learning (O’Connell, 1999) and discussed this in the blog post Where is the teacher librarian.  I have shared quite extensively on forum posts on issues relating to the absence or isolation of the teacher librarian as is evidenced in my post relating to collaboration and the need for support from leadership in Topic 2: The role of the teacher librarian titled ‘Principal support’ (March 21st at 6:59am), my posts relating to Topic 5: Collaborative Practice including; a response to Joyce Valenza’s vodcast (March 24 at 1:58pm) where I make the connection with how this is not only evidenced in isolation in schools but also the disconnection in literature and training between librarianship and education at a tertiary level, this is also echoed in my forum post Topic 2: The role of the teacher librarian titled ‘Principal support’ (March 21st at 6:59am). My response to barriers to collaboration in teaching (March 5, 11:44pm) is a response to a post by John Williams titled Collaboration in Topic 5: Collaborative practice (April 29, 4:380m) and my personal reflections on collaborative practice in schools I have worked in (May 10, 6:50am) as a response to posts by Dominique Pardon-Opdam (May 9, 7:12pm)  and Priscilla Curran (May 9, 9:42pm) titled collaborative practice. My connections linking absence to information literacy with the isolation of the teacher librarian is evidenced in my forum post on Assignment 2; titled Obstacles (May 11, 11:56 am), my blog posts titled A library with(out) walls: show me the evidence, The invisibility of information literacy, my personal reflection on my information literacy process in my blog titled Time to narrow the research process and reflect, and my personal reflective response in Topic 4: Information literacy titled a moment of clarity ~ thanks to vodcasts (April 22, 8:11pm). I can certainly relate to the “Freedom to expose my lack of understanding (as) a bonus” (Langford, 1999) and instrumental in my own journey to becoming information literate and hence able to advocate better.

The aspect of the teacher librarian roles I find most challenging relate to areas of leadership. The connection with an extroverted personality has been raised by Vivian Harris in the forum post titled Relationships is the key to the teacher librarian role in Topic 2: The role of the teacher librarian (March 27, 7:09pm) as a response to our readings. I question the need for extroversion as an attribute that is necessary as is apparent in my forum post as a response on (March 27: 7:54pm), as I certainly do not feel that this should be a barrier.

The aspect of the teacher librarian role related to technology, web 2.0 and the expertise in this area has provided the steepest learning curve for me and provided impetus and inspiration for the exciting opportunities ahead. I am confident in my abilities to learn new things and utilise technology, this blog is an example as are my blog entries relating to my exploration in animation titled Goanimate and The Plus Model and my exploration in creating comic strips titled Comic strips are fun!. These posts indicate my exploration of tools to enhance library practice and make connections with the wider library community. I discuss this in the forum post on (April 4, 1:30pm) under Topic 3: The TL in the curriculum titled Inquiry learning, the forum post under Topic 5: Collaborative Practice, Challenges and big ideas (May 6, 6:39pm). It is this area I am finding incredibly engaging at present. However, as is evidenced in my blog entry Digital native and web 3.0 ~ or what I saw at the post office today, I see technology as a tool and not the focus of good teaching and learning. My focus on advocating reading for pleasure will always be strong as is captured in my forum post in Assignment 1, titled Assignment and Intro/Conclusion (April 11, 7:54am) and my blog entries titled Do we need a library and Net Gen Challenging Space where I reiterate this focus.

Click on the following link to access the majority of forum contributions I have made to ETL401

ETL401 ~ my forum contributions 2011

 

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Tackling Task C ~ critical sythesis

Task C A critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during the subject. This should include examples captured from your personal blog and from participation in the ETL401 forum (about 750 words).

My initial perceptions of the role of the teacher librarian are captured in my blog posts Hatching and Who or what is a librarian? (Some Perceptions). Both these posts occurred prior to the university online forums being open or having access to the learning modules for this academic semester.

To synthesise my learning I have had to sift through over 12000 words of my own forum contributions along with 36 blog posts on this blog, many of which have a word count of over 1500 and then condense the ideas to just 750 words (hmmmm…) Well here I go! Wish me luck!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in 126 ~ The self

 

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Time to narrow the research focus and reflect

Reflect by Franklumix

In my information literacy process for assignment 2, I have had to reach a point of reflection before going any further. Which information literacy process did I follow? Did I utilise any of the information literacy models in the process of this assignment? Did I apply the scaffold that they offer as a process to success?

There were two parameters that defined my approach. The first parameter was the assignment task and understanding what was being asked of me and the second parameter was Topic 4~ information Literacy; and the fact that I was part of the first group, out of two, that led forum discussion on this topic.

Initially, I saw this as a benefit, as the timing tailed the submission of the last assignment, and meant I did not have an opportunity to sit back for a week and take a breather. I believed it may mean that I will complete Assignment 2 earlier as a result. Was this the outcome?… Well I wouldn’t go that far as I am still working on ideas and assimilating a great deal of the information. In fact, I still am reading a great deal of information while formulating responses to part of my tasks.

Interestingly, research is not such a linear process for myself. It moves around and I revisit earlier stages, reformulate ideas, discard what I previously held to be true and take different positions with each addition of further ideas. It seems the approach to my current assignment is not linear either as I am moving around the tasks and trying to complete parts in various orders. For now I have left Task A. It definitely needs to take a breather so I moved on to Task B as I felt I had found my focus and could now move through this part of the assignment.

However, I am currently facing a conundrum with

Task B  Identify an obstacle which a teacher librarian might face in developing information literacy across the curriculum in a school, and how that obstacle might be addressed. Reference should be made to relevant literature (about 750 words)

A couple of days ago, I felt certain that I had identified an obstacle and it was the term ‘information literacy’ itself. I reasoned that we have an overload of ‘literacy’ definitions out there. This is certainly reflected in my earlier blog entries where I began my information search process. In the initial stage my focus was to identify different literacy ideas; ie media literacy, digital literacy, critical literacy, cultural literacy, visual literacy, transliteracy and the list continues. I felt determined that all the literacy ideas could converge under a banner of one super literacy with information literacy at the head or as the umbrella to the plethora of ideas. After embarking on this initial stage in my information research process, I soon reformulated my position and decided this was too big and it would be difficult to cover each literacy idea in depth under the banner of one literacy. Each literacy can be quite specific and a coordinated response was necessary to ensure they were covered.

Change strategy new purpose. My focus shifted to ‘information literacy’ as a term and the information search process as a process that is absent in some school environments; this certainly seemed to accord with my experience as a teacher in environments I had worked in. I started to reflect and think about why information literacy was absent in school environments and realised that I too did not have a clear picture of the term ‘information literacy’ even though I had heard it in school settings. My understanding of the term had been limited in the past and often it related to ideas associated with information technology or just a set of skills to undertake a research task. As simple as that. I realised that this was not too unusual in schools.

As a result my focus shifted to ideas about how to embed information literacy across the curriculum. My question at this stage revolved around ideas that the term ‘information literacy’ may be a problem. My readings seemed to corroborate this and I hypothesized If ‘information literacy’ is absent or misunderstood then this is the first barrier. Couple this with the plethora of literacy ideas out there then we have an even larger problem. Now the task was to convince the school community that Information literacy is THE literacy above all else. I didn’t feel quite convinced with this position and it certainly felt like a mammoth task.

Solution, I reasoned, get rid of the term ‘information literacy’. If the term is causing so much confusion then shift the focus, look to a shared language that already exists in the education world. Something less confronting, something that many teachers are already grappling with and try to incorporate information literacy this way.

I came across a reading by Green (2007) where PLC in WA developed their own approach to information literacy that did not even utilise the term ‘information literacy’ but rather the focus was under the umbrella of ‘Thinking Curriculum’. The approach was led by the teacher librarian and it was implemented across the school as a shared language and as an approach to embed information literacy across the curriculum. Green reasoned that “Thinking Curriculum” was an understood and shared pedagogy and thus the process of implementing information literacy via a ‘thinking curriculum’ focus worked quite effectively. This demonstrates a way to reach out to the education community in a shared and ‘known’ language. It seemed to indicate that the process of collaboration may prove easier if you begin with a shared language and hence embedding ‘information literacy’ this way may prove easier to achieve and less confronting as a ‘new’ idea. I thought I had nailed task B at this stage. I believed my moment of clarity had arrived and this was the path to completing this task.

However, for the first time in my studies this year I sought direct counsel from both my lecturers about this focus. In the past I have just posted the idea/question on the forum and worked with responses to my queries. I went a step further as there were no responses appearing and I felt eager to begin the writing process. Email was the next step, especially as I felt it may be a risk to suggest abandoning the term ‘information literacy’ when so much of our literature pointed to promoting it….

A few hours later I had a response from both lecturers and it was very helpful and detailed. However, I am now back at the stage where I need to rethink and reformulate my purpose. First consideration ~ is it possible to outline all the above in 750 words? Probably not. 750 words may not even be enough to discuss the term ‘information literacy’ as a barrier let alone move into the stage of discussing the proposed solution. Upon reflection I realise there were many ideas at play and maybe the focus is far more simple than this…

Task B is now having a breather…

Where am I right now? I have come to some understanding of Information Literacy in school settings. In terms of models, I can see that different stages in the learning process require different ideas. More scaffolding in early years to accommodate developmental needs and then, in later years, possibly a move away from this as students are guided to working on their own process based on prior learning over their years of schooling. By Year 10, I would hope to be moving students into the independent stages of the process whereby they feel confident in their own strategies and have devised methods that work for them.

The senior years of schooling are definitely a time where independent learning should be at the forefront of skills and process. The attributes required to reach this stage should have been embedded and transferred through the years of scaffolding leading up to this stage. By the time students leave High school, students should be able to take their individual process with them and move into the next stages of life whether it be more learning in an educational setting or application in work and personal situations.

Maybe I should attempt Task C at this stage…

Task C A critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during the subject. This should include examples captured from your personal blog and from participation in the ETL401 forum (about 750 words).

Note: Task C is to be posted as an entry on your blog. Please provide the specific URL for this blog entry at the end of the word document version submitted via EASTS which contains Tasks A and B.



Green, G. (2007) Information literacy: Time for a rethink?, Access, Sept, 2007, pp 9-11

 

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