Part 1: Your contribution to the learning community this semester
This semester, I wanted to be an engaged, critical thinking member of the community who contributed interesting or different perspectives, and I think I succeeded for the most part. I hope my blog posts were engaging and challenging – I wanted to avoid saying the same thing as someone else, or repeating an author’s argument without critique.
I commented occasionally, but tweeted more and tried to participate fully in each week’s Twitter chat. I still think that conversation via Twitter or online comments is suited to a specific learning style, which is not my learning style. As I mentioned above, I find communication harder without visual/auditory cues, and this is particularly difficult when engaging in critical discussion, when tone of voice can mean the difference between a comment being read as aggressive or constructive criticism.
The topics I talked the most about were the ones where I disagreed with people, or raised a challenging perspective, which was not unintentional! It’s much easier to get people talking about something they disagree with, if everyone agrees there’s not much to say.
I use this method, not because I like being ‘devil’s advocate’ or trolling, but because I think there’s real value in having your beliefs challenged – it makes your argument stronger. I hope this was part of my contribution to the learning community, and was grateful to those who challenged me back!
Part 2: Twitter
My mind has not changed substantially on Twitter – I still think as a format it can only facilitate an abbreviated and stilted form of conversation, which is probably why we call them ‘chats’ instead. The Twitter chats were interesting, and aided my learning insofar as I had to make, support, or defend particular arguments, but often the speed of the conversation, the number of different topics circulating at once, and the limited amount you could write, meant that I missed some interesting points, or that topics I was interested got lost in the chatter, or abandoned due to time constraints.
I did notice a number of people mention that an active twitter presence is appealing to employers – this certainly might be true, and I hope to maintain a presence for this purpose and for making contact with others in the profession, but not as a discussion or learning forum. If anything, I have been trying to reduce my use of social media overall, so I don’t see myself increasing my activity.
Part 3: Your learning in the unit
What this unit really clarified for me was how hard it is to be clear about why libraries exist, who they are meant to serve, and what sort of services they should provide. We covered so many different types of programs, services and products, some of them long established but perhaps losing relevance, and others emerging but possibly crucial for the future of libraries. We kept looping back to questions about whether a particular program was ‘the best for the particular library and its users’, and what the particular library was there for (and what is was not for). I think back to Fiona Dixon’s lecture in week 2, when she said that SLQ’s user base was all Queenslanders. Picking and choosing between programs and services must be quite the task when you’re catering to an entire state’s population! I would love to learn more about what librarians think libraries aren’t supposed to do.
In terms of the unit’s learning activities, this class reinforced for me that I do my best learning in face-to-face interactions. As much as I’m the quiet type, the amount of communicated information lost when you can’t read a person’s tone of voice or body language, or have a distinguishing face to put to a name, or ensure your own communications are framed clearly, meant that I really struggled, especially since so much rested on discussion and interaction!
Part 4: Reflect on the quality of your work
Overall, I was happy with the quality of my blog posts, though I think I could have done a better job of incorporating more authoritative critical perspectives in these posts. As with a number of other parts of this reflection, I think that this was poor planning and timing, if I had given myself more time I could have found and used a greater range of sources.
In terms of Twitter, again I think I did well overall at engaging in the Twitter chats, and tweeting other bits and pieces between chats to engage with other learners. By tweeting a variety of academic and light-hearted content I hope I established an interesting and appropriate online persona that others could engage with. Luckily this was quite easy as other library students and practitioners are overall very engaged with Twitter and quick to participate. I could have tweeted more overall though, perhaps every other day or so, and checked and responded to others’ tweets more frequently.
I feel I could have done better at commenting on other students’ blog posts. With these, my default stance is, if I just agreed and couldn’t think of anything particularly to add, to not comment. I think I could have put more effort into finding ways to engage with posts, and engaged in more ‘mentorship, helpfulness and encouragement of others’.
On reflection, the biggest thing I needed to improve on was consistency. I tended to check Twitter, blogs and comments once a week when assessments were due, which probably took the momentum out of the conversations.