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 #12.

Photo sharing sites have come a long way since the early days of consumer-oriented digital photography. At first these sites were just a means for uploading photos to processing labs and ordering prints for friends and family. Now people can keep entire albums online and share them with far-flung friends, family, and even the world-at-large. Furthermore, photos can be subject-tagged, which makes them searchable and links them to related photos uploaded by others.

Teens can use photo sharing sites like Flickr and SmugMug in a grand variety of ways. They can create shared galleries which allow a group of friends (or a team or a club or a class or…you name it) to upload photos, tag them, and comment on them. Galleries can be made private or public, and teens can keep up with changes in galleries by subscribing to RSS feeds. And, yes, teens can still order glossy prints.

This semester at my school we have a small group of students working on a photo gallery project which will consist of school sports photos taken during the past several years. The students’ primary task is to select the best photos, tag them, use image editing software to correct lighting problems and other technical imperfections, and upload their selections to a photo sharing site. We’ve advised the students to use SmugMug because it does not post advertising on its pages. The school will pay the $40 annual membership. Why would the school make such an offer? Once these photos are available and searchable, parents, relatives, athletes, and friends can order high quality prints for reasonable fees. Of course, the school can (and will) define the community that can view the photos. As a bonus, the school, as the content provider, will actually get a small percentage of the fees!

By doing this project, our students will learn valuable skills as well as provide a real service to the school community. If DOPA, in its current form, had passed, students like ours would no longer have had these learning opportunities and their schools would have lost out on the resulting benefits. Let’s hope that a DOPA reincarnation does not occur in future sessions of Congress.

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 #5.

As we know, teens have been a major force behind the success of blogging software. Blogs give teens an audience, a way to keep up with friends, opportunities for feedback, and a means to connect to others. For the same reasons, teachers and librarians have also found merit in blogging. For example, check out Mr. Ahlness’ third grade class blog. Or Mrs. Glatt’s brand new Charger Guys Read blog. Or, check the growing list of Library Blogs for Teen Patrons that are posted on Library Success: A Best Practicies Wiki.

My school’s student newspaper, The Gargoyle, has been published online using WordPress software since last December. Though the students still produce a monthly print edition of the paper, the Online Gargoyle has room for all kinds of extra features and isn’t bound by the monthly deadline. Sports scores and stories are published right after games are played. The online extras include a photo gallery and an art gallery, which are both in brilliant color. Mistakes can (and are!) corrected. The OG has an RSS feed, which allows me to subscribe to the updates in my news aggregator. The front “page” also links to the Principal’s blog and to my library blog, Gargoyles Loose in the Library.

Again, if DOPA is passed, public library teen blogs and blogs supported by schools like mine, Mrs. Glatt’s, and Mr. Ahlness’ may no longer be used by teens and librarians to publish and share information. That also means a lost opportunity to teach teens safe and effective uses of blogs while improving their skills as readers and writers.