Positive Use of Social Networking Wrap-up

For the past 30 days YALSA bloggers have posted ideas about how social networking can be used by teens in positive ways. The postings connected specific tools with youth development and learning. The postings included real ways that libraries and schools are integrating social networking technologies into their programs and services. The postings were a way to help librarians, their colleagues, and their communities understand that social networking isn’t automatically bad.

Some of the highlights of the posts were ways that social networking can be used to:

The 30 days of positive social networking was one way librarians responded to the possibility of the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) being passed in the Senate. (After being passed by the House in July of this year.) While it now looks like DOPA will not be voted on this year, and will die by the end of 2006, it remains important for librarians and others working and advocating for (and with) teens to continue to educate members of their communities about the real aspects of technology in teen lives. It’s important not to automatically buy into the hype. It’s also important to learn about and try the technologies in order to understand exactly what they do and do not do.

The full selection of postings on positive uses of social networking will be available soon in .pdf format.

Announcing Teen Tech Week!

Please join YALSA in celebrating our first ever Teen Tech Week March 4-10, 2007. The purpose of this new initiative is to encourage teens to use libraries’ nonprint resources for education and recreation, and to help teens recognize that
librarians are qualified, trusted professionals in the field of information technology. Here’s what you can do to join the celebration:

1. Register for Teen Tech Week at www.ala.org/teentechweek. Those of you who register will receive incentives from our Promotional Partners Rosen Publishing and Tutor.com.

2. Visit the Teen Tech Week wiki to find and share ideas for celebrating the event.
3. Plan on attending the Teen Tech Week Kick-Off from 10:30 to 12:30 Jan. 21st at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Meet our partners and sponsors and get ideas from our TTW Taskforce on how to celebrate in your library.
4. Keep an eye out on the TTW web site for Teen Tech Week podcasts.
5.Stock up on your Teen Tech Week swag from ALA Graphics’ Online Store.

Thank you for working to ensure that the teens in your communities have access to a variety of electronic resources and are competent users of information in all formats. YALSA would like to thank E-Vanced Solutions for making the online registration possible.
-Beth Yoke

Positive Use of Social Networking #30 – Flock

Flock is a social networking browser. That means that users of Flock can easily access their Flickr, del.icio.us, blog, and newsfeed accounts from the browser drop-down menus and toolbars. Users don’t have to go to each website, login, navigate to (or through) their account, etc. Instead, with a very quick Flock setup process social networking sites are easily viewed and accessed with only one click in the browser window. For example, once the login for a Flickr account is added to the Flock browser, photos in that account are available at the top of the browser window. The user can upload new photos with the click of one button and can manage the photos that already exist within the account.

Think about the teen who keeps a blog and is surfing the web and her RSS feeds for fun or information. While surfing, the teen finds some great content that she would like to blog about. No need for her to open a new tab or window, go to her blog URL, login, and start typing. She can simply click on the blog link in Flock and open the new blog post window. When she’s done she publishes. It’s a much more seamless approach to writing about web content than most people use.

How is this a positive use of social networking? Well, it takes many of the tools YALSA bloggers have been talking about for the past 30 days and makes them easily accessible in one interface. Teens can setup their Flock browser to directly provide access to the social networking tools they use the most. They will save time when they use the tools and they will be much more organized users of the tools.

In a DOPA world, a browser like Flock would not be available in school and public libraries. That would mean that teens wouldn’t have the opportunity to easily manage their social networking lives. Even in real-life, people want to find opportunitites to manage their social lives effectively. The same is true in online life. Flock is definitely a way to do that.

League of Worlds: The International Congress on Exploring Virtuality

This week, October 30-November 3 in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina the 3rd Annual League of Worlds conference is taking place at Appalachian State University. The topic is Online Simulations, Role-Playing, and Virtual Worlds.

Follow the wiki for updated information.

The InfoIsland Library project and Eye4You Alliance island will be represented through a presentation. Several YALSA members are involved in the project.

See previous YALSA blog post on the project.

Virtual worlds are a hugely rich environment to offer library services to teens.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #29 – College Search

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #29.

For many teens making decisions about college is a big part of their later high school years. eNotes College Search brings social networking to the college selection, research, and planning process. The idea is to search the eNotes database of colleges, save those that are of interest for one reason or another, give tags to the colleges saved, and add the tags and list to a MySpace or other social networking site. Other teens searching for colleges can see the list, make connections, and think about their own decisions.

The tagging feature of College Search is especially important within the social networking framework. Giving teens the chance to articulate what is appealing (or not appealing) about a particular college or university with single words or short phrases helps focus their checklist of what they are looking for in a college. Similarly, giving other teens the chance to search through tags in order to gain ideas for selection criteria and to find others with similar criteria that they already have is a powerful tool in decision-making and planning.

College Search is a social networking tool that librarians should promote to their teens in order to help them with the sometimes pressure-filled and overwhelming experience of selecting and getting into college. If DOPA were passed librarians wouldn’t be able to make that connection.

Positive Use of Social Networking #28 – Raising awareness

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #28.

Teen dating violence is one of the issues explored through stage performance by the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. The actors visit a battered women’s shelter before beginning rehearsals as part of their research to understand some of the issues that surround dating violence.

I had the opportunity to interview the actors and the Director of Domestic Violence Services at United Family Services. The actors talked about their experiences with performing, and the domestic violence director talked about teen dating violence in general. I will post the podcasts on the YALSA podcast page ASAP to share with you the conversation.

Podcasts are social networking tools that can be used to open up dialogues and comments for the purposes of informing and learning from one another. While teens would still be able to listen to podcasts even if DOPA is passed, they might miss out on the opportunity of playing a role in the dialogue at the public or school library. When it comes to raising awareness of issues, that’s not a tool we should have to lose.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #27 – Communicating with parents and other stakeholders

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #27.

Blogs aren’t just for kids anymore. They can be an excellent way to share information with parents. One of my favorite examples of social networking software in action in a school environment is the use of blogging at Mabry Middle School in Marietta, Georgia. Every single teacher at the school has a blog. That includes the principal (who is the school webmaster!), the school nurse, the PTSA, the counselors, the media center, PE and intramurals, as well as all the language arts, math, social studies, music, art, science, and foreign language teachers. Sure, some of the blogs are more extensive than others, but every teacher posts at least once a week and categorizes his or her postings. So a parent can go to a teacher’s blog and either read the latest entries and/or select a category of interest, including topics like homework, announcements, quiz help, All State (Chorus) Info, and “Gettin’ down to earth science.”

Wikis can also be used to keep parents and community informed. When track season rolls around again, I’m betting that Deer Valley High School coaches will go back to updating their track wiki. Here’s what they have to say about why a wiki works for them: “Making our website a wiki makes it easier for us to keep it up-to-date. And a wiki is perfect for a track team since we have so many coaches working in the many track & field events. We can all up date when we feel like it.” The photo spreads are made up of images stored on Flickr.com. All around, a great use of social networking software!

If legislation like DOPA is passed, school staffs will lose a valuable method for keeping parents and other stakeholders informed and involved.

Positive Use of Social Networking #26 – ResultR

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #26.

ResultR gives users the chance to create their own personalized search engine. Visitors to the site select which search tools they want to use, save the search engine, and either use it right away, add it to Firefox, or get the code for a search box to add to a web page. It was developed by two teens as a way to complete a homework assignment.

This mashup of search tools demonstrates many of the things discussed as a part of the positive uses of social networking blogs over the past 26 days. ResultR demonstrates how teens are using social networking technologies in order to learn, innovate, and complete school homework. It shows teens using social networking technologies as a way to develope ideas and to find people who can work on projects together. It shows teens using social networking technologies as a form of entrepreneurship.

ResultR is just one example of teenagers using social networking as a start in the business world. For example, at 15, Mariana Butler of the EmoGirl podcast was the first teenager to receive commercial sponsorship for a podcast. Other teens have developed competitors for sites like Flickr and YouTube.

Social networking doesn’t just connect teens to others, it also gives teens the chance to become a part of the real-world through business opportunities and ventures. What would happen if DOPA were passed and teens didn’t have these entrepreneurial possibilities?

Positive Use of Social Networking #25 – Freedom to Choose

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #25.

Social networking technologies often allow for people to express their own opinions. A teen can set up their own blog in less than five minutes, post a comment on a forums board, or share what materials they are reading through LibraryThing. Check out SLJs recent article and podcast on LibraryThing here.

People who read and contribute to blogs, forums boards, wikis, etc. are being given the choice to be exposed to information that they might not otherwise come across as readily. Is it not slightly ironic, that DOPA targets school and public libraries, which are places that historically protect the freedom to access information?

It is my opinion that there are many parallels between Banned Books and freedom in the digital world. Making connections between the two, as well as being familiar with sites such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation might help us understand why DOPA is not the beginning and is not going to be the end of legislation affecting the digital world. It might help us to want to inform the teens we work with who use these technolgies of what the bigger picture is and not just be reactive or hope it will go away.

I wonder if Teen Tech Week might be one of many places to continue the dialogue of freedoms in the digital world and why/how it is just as important as protecting our freedom to read books.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Positive Use of Social Networking #24 – Learning by themselves

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #24.

Social networking technologies support young people’s active ability to learn on their own without having an education system imposed on them. Many mission statements of school and public libraries involve, empowering individuals. Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, has an excellent discussion on control and empowerment in this blog post from last month.

If DOPA would have passed in its current form, control would overwhelmingly outweigh the innate ability for teens to learn and create on their own through social networking.

Recent Library Student graduate, Jami Schwarzwalder’s podcast on: Meet the Millennials: Risk Takers and Rule Makers is an engaging listen as to how social networking tools influenced her life as a millennial and how they empowered her to actively learn on her own, and bring that knowledge to libraries.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki