Web 2.0: Final Thoughts: What Did I Learn, and Where Do I Go From Here?

Note: This is my LAST post created for a graduate level class at the University of Alberta: EDES 501 Web 2.0 for Libraries. Aren't you excited?
My library 2.0 journey for EDES 501 has come to an end. What have I learned? And what role will web 2.0 play in my future?

And The Award Goes To...
This class exposed me to many new web 2.0 tools I had never before used, tools that I will definitely use again!

The best new technology I started using because of this class was Twitter (you can read my initial Twitter post here). As a news junkie, I excitedly (and nervously) followed Twitter during the Storm of the Summer in July, and throughout the drama that unfolded at the Big Valley Jamboree. Since I follow a lot of news feeds, I often hear about local (and world) news that happens before it gets in the paper or on TV. I also tweeted my own local news while I attended the Edmonton Folk Music Festival recently, when I used the #efmf tag to send posts from my cell phone for the first time ever. I plan on continuing to use Twitter after this class has ended, and would gladly use it in a library setting to keep patrons up to date with library news.

I also really enjoyed using Animoto (you can read my initial multimedia mashup post here). It was very easy to use, and produced quite visually stunning results. I would also not hesitate to use it in a library setting to promote books, services, programs or to showcase patron created projects. These photo/music mashups would definitely spice up a library's website! I recently created a project for my Folk Fest photos, so now you can all enjoy the best four days of the year!

I have also used my new found video making skills recently. I discovered my digital camera could record video, so I recorded a few from my favourite Folk Fest session. I once again used iMovie to edit and compress my video, as per my initial post on videosharing (read it here). I also discovered that instead of uploading a video to YouTube, and then embedding it on my blog, I could just upload it straight into Blogger by using the video upload icon (next to the photo upload icon). Though it took a long time to load, I like this function because I can now upload and share video with my blog readers, without making it public to the YouTube community (which is often not my intension). Here is one of the videos I created at Folk Fest (Warning - if you don't like bagpipes, don't click play!):

Perhaps I am on my way to becoming a video star just like my favourite librarian video presenter at ASU's Library Minute?

Besides integrating these three new technologies into my life, I also learned more about other web 2.0 tools I used previously. While I had experience with web 2.0 technologies before taking this class, I did learn many new tricks, tips and applications of these tools.
I never before considered using a photosharing service as a backup tool (read my initial post here). Over the past month or so, I have been looking into the different photosharing sites, hoping to find one that I could upload all my travel photos too, in order to keep them safe. So far, I have been disappointed. All the photo sites I have checked out have an upload limit (usually 1024MB), which is too small for all the photos I have. Thus, it seems that my only option would be to pay $25 a year for a Flickr Pro account. I am going to hold off on this for awhile, and keep a close eye on the photosharing sites to see if they open up their limits.

I also have a renewed 'appreciation' for podcasting, which I previously have stated is a dead technology. While I still believe this, I have found a new local podcast to follow, but hope this hasn't started a trend in my RSS feeds, as I really do not have time to follow podcasts (so please don't fill up my comment stream with lot's of super fantastic library podcasts...). I recently came across a cool idea though, from the Concordia University College Library. They have created a tour podcast which is meant to be downloaded to an iPod or Mp3 player and listened to as the student walks around the library. I plan on trying this out when I visit the library later this month. It sounds like a really neat idea!
So I now appreciate photo sharing and podcasts more than before, and I will probably use video sharing, multimedia mashups and Twitter in the future. I will also continue to use the social networking and bookmarking services I belong to, my beloved Google Reader RSS aggregator to read blogs and am plotting my return to wiki editing. While I do not plan on keeping up this library 2.0 blog, I plan on maintaining my personal blog, which will hopefully showcase more web 2.0 trends. Web 2.0 certainly has made a lasting impression on my life!

What I Learned From Others
This was my first ever online class, and though I found actual human contact lacking, it was an interesting learning experience nonetheless.

I found the online discussions to be quite helpful. I am quite stubborn, so it was nice to have my opinions swayed and altered as I read what other classmates had to say on a particular topic. Though I am not naturally the type of person who thrives in discussion or debate environments (nor am I usually one to participate in forums or comment on blogs), I thought the structured nature of the discussions allowed for many opinions to be heard. What I did find lacking in this online discussion environment was instant rebuttal, and dealing with the lack of body language in the written environment was also challenging. I am not sure I would jump at the chance to participate in an online discussion again, but I did gain insight from our topics. Here are some random, anonymous, quotes from various people in our discussion group that I found helpful:
  • "One does not need to be a complex blogger to be an active part of the blogosphere."
  • "There is a time and a place for everything."
  • "Taken together the results of these two studies indicate that openness to new experience and neuroticism predict blogging." and that "women high in neuroticism were more likely to maintain a blog."
  • "Maintaining a library blog for the sake of potential career benefits without an interest in blogging about the profession could become a chore to the blogger as well as increase the amount of noise in the library blogsphere."
  • "The voice definitely trumps content. I would rather read about nothing and be entertained than read about something important and be bored to tears."
  • "In many cases, to be relevant, you have to express opinion and sometimes you have risk opposing someone or challenging your audience."
With regards to reading classmates blog posts, I appreciated the opinions of the already established (aka graduated and employed) librarians or there abouts. I enjoyed hearing about how these web 2.0 technologies were being used in libraries, and about how they could be used in a real world context. I also think these different perspectives added to the 'life' learning of us students. One of my favourite pastimes is picking the brains of current librarians to learn about the profession, so I definitely learned a lot from these two bloggers.

It was also interesting to read about web 2.0 from the teachers' (or teacher-librarian's) perspectives. I used to be a teacher, and can see the link between schools and libraries, so was glad to read about these exciting web 2.0 technologies being used in classrooms. It brought a real life context to our learning since, as students, a lot of us can not implement such knowledge quite yet in real world libraries, but the teachers are already planning and using what they have learned. It was very inspirational!
Finally, I am so thankful I got to participate in this class with my fellow SLIS students. Each week, it was fun to read about what they had created to show their learning, and I loved how the used humour and personal experience to create web 2.0 projects. I learned a lot from their blogs, but also enjoyed bonding over a common situation. Thanks for the support ladies!

And In The Future?
To keep up with web 2.0 trends, I will continue to follow a number of library and technology blogs. Even in the past week, there have been numerous interesting blog post that have come through my RSS feeds about topics we have previously posted on. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about Facebook acquiring FriendFeed, so it will be interesting to see how that affects social networking. Also, Stephen Abram posted a link to a great graphic depicting and categorizing web 2.0 tools. I also came across a great list of posts from ReadWriteWeb that led to an hour of link surfing, from which I learned a lot about the semantic web and the best trends of the present. Finally, the Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian recently posted this video of a library director doing a Monday Library Minute for his staff and patrons. What a great way for the big boss to show involvement and support for his library!

Personally, I believe following blogs is the best way for me to keep up with current trends. However, doing scholarly research for this class has shown there are peer reviewed articles being written about this topic, and I think it will be worth checking out what is being published in the journals too.

I was not much of a blog commenter prior to this class, but since I was 'forced' to, I think I will perhaps keep that up. I appreciate that commenting is a great way to start and continue discussion, as well as a networking tool. I am going to try come out of my shell and comment a bit more on professional content. I will also continue to use Twitter and Facebook to help network with other professionals, and hope to start attending conferences as well (stay tuned for the Animoto and live blog or video from my first conference, ha ha ).

I think it is important to keep up with these technologies, and to implement them in my life, prior to implementing them into the library I may end up working at. However, this all comes with a cost, and time is certainly an issue I will need to consider. There is just not enough time in the day to keep up with all the new developments occurring in the web 2.0 world. Huwe (2004) comments that keep technologically up to date should not be a luxury that is the first to be dropped because we are too busy. We need to evaluate how we spend our time, and actually make time to study technology. Huwe (2004) suggests taking classes, reading up on trends and spending actual dedicated time keeping up with technological change. We need to incorporate these trends into our perception of library work, and work hard on incorporating it into our daily routine. As mentioned in my last post, web 3.0 and the new semantic web is upon us, and we will only be able to understand and use the new complex technology when we, as librarians, have mastered the basics. To this end, continuous learning is key (Huwe, 2004).

It is my goal, as a library studies student, to try to understand and be able to use up and coming technology because it will help me help patrons in their own information searching quest. Taking this class was one step, and I will be taking more technology classes as well - though they may be challenging, I believe the benefits outweigh the stress of getting a C. As quoted in Dewald (2006), it is only through professional development that we can become technologically skilled librarians who can provide the services that the our clients need and deserve.

After all, assisting our patrons is what librarianship is all about.

Dewald, N. (2006, October). Future Voices in Public Services. Public Services Quarterly, 2(4), 119-125.
Huwe, T. (2004). Keep Those Web Skills Current. Computers in Libraries, 24(8), 40-42.
"Learning Online: Reflection." (2006). Ed: The RMIT Learning and Teaching Journal. http://emedia.rmit.edu.au/ed/Issue/2006a_Spring/Tech/article1_pg1.html