Obsessions: Can Be Good When They Make You Think

pinterest logoThe other day I posted on Twitter, “It’s like I want 2 use Pinterest 4 everything I do, but it really doesn’t fit everything I do.” A few weeks ago I might have posted something similar about Storify. And, I know that a few years ago I was thinking the same thing about Twitter.

storify logoThose are three technologies that I’ve been obsessed with at one point or another. For some that word obsessed might be a bit over-the-top, or even seem like I have a problem. But, the thing is, the obsession is what gets me thinking about how to use these tools effectively with and for teens.

Twitter logoTake that post I wrote on Twitter. I want to use Pinterest for everything from lists of books, to lists of favorite technologies, to discussions with colleagues and teens about a host of topics. But, for each instance that I think, “I want to use Pinterest for that,” I also think to myself, “Is Pinterest the best tool for what I want to accomplish?” That’s what we need to learn for ourselves and help teens to understand. What’s the best technology tool to get the job done?

The answer to that question takes understanding a few things:

  • What’s the purpose or goal of the activity, publication, etc? Is it to get discussion going on a topic? If so Pinterest and Twitter might work. But, not Pinterest if the discussion is going to be with lots of people, too hard to keep track of threads. Discussions, particularly quick turn around short term discussions, definitely work with Twitter, but Twitter posts aren’t available for eternity, so maybe there needs to be some way to archive over the short and long term.
  • Who is the audience for the activity? If you are thinking teens then what’s the best way to connect with them? Librarians are loving Pinterest. Are teens too? Will teens look at a Pinterest Board that the library creates or should the Board be initiated by teens? What kinds of resources/images/videos are teens interested in accessing via something like Pinterest?
  • What will be best tool to use to help teens, or adults, gain understanding of a topic or concept? Because Storify enables integrating a variety of types of materials – video, Tweets, images, and more – into a “publication” it might be just right to help inform your specific audience of a particular topic. As an advocacy tool Storify can work really well because it’s possible to put together a selection of research and anecdotes in one place and organize them in a meaningful way. While Pinterest can be used to gather images and videos, it’s limitations in the way that content can be organized on a Board can make it harder to to use as an advocacy tool. But then again, it depends on what the audience and purpose is.
  • Is collaboration important? While I find the steps to collaborate with others on a Pinterest Board a bit unwieldy, it is great to be able to create a Board and give others the chance to add content to it. Twitter is also good for crowdsourcing types of collaborative opportunities, particularly when hashtags are used effectively. Storify doesn’t provide collaborative content development so that’s a tool that can’t be used for building together.

As librarians working with teens, teachers, parents, and others, one of the things we want to do is to delve deep into the different tools that we and teens might use to create and publish content. We need to consider how these tools can best be used. Perhaps you don’t want to be obsessed like I am, but take some time to analyze the different tools and really understand their capabilities for teen-focused library services. That way you’ll be ready to select the right tool when an opportunity presents itself. You’ll also be able to help teens select the right tool for their purposes.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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