Survey on cybersafety and library users

Libraries play an important role in providing internet access and advice to children, their parents, and other library users. To help library staff in this role, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has developed a range of resources about how to manage risks so that  library users have safe and positive experiences online.

The Cybersmart Guide for Library Staff provides information and resources about safe, responsible and enjoyable internet use in Australian libraries, including public libraries and school libraries. For library staff, the ACMA’s cybersafety program includes web-based and printed materials on internet safety. All materials for library staff are available online at
cybersmart.gov.au. The ACMA worked closely with the Australian Library and Information Association and Australian libraries to ensure that all materials are both accurate and appropriate.

Having access to a range of useful and current cybersafety resources is vital in ensuring users have safe and positive experiences online. To assist in this ongoing work, a survey has been jointly created by ALIA and the ACMA to gather information.

This feedback will help shape and inform the future development of cybersafety resources for library staff and library users.

This survey for Australian library users will remain open until COB 12 December 2011.

Your involvement is strongly encouraged and your responses very much appreciated.

Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Cybersmart2011 to complete the survey and
have your say in the development of resources that will benefit all library users.

Don’t like the new Google Reader?



To be honest, I’ve always hated Google Reader, so the current round of complaints since the update have had no impact on my RSS reading habits.  One quick look tells me that the interface is more palatable, having adopted the new Google look common to it’s other product upgrades. However, my RSS reads also tell me that many are unhappy, and that one of the key issues is the social interface.

Google Reader’s  redesign  removes social features to other websites. The Google Reader team has prepared for the release to be unpopular with some users in the userbase saying in a preemptive post “we recognize, however, that some of you may feel like the product is no longer for you” adding that they extended the amount of exportable data.  “Starting today we’ll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality” and iterated “we hope you’ll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader’s sharing features wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google”.

Google Reader is certainly changing. In truth I am not at all ‘qualified’ to comment on the current iteration of Reader. Why?

I’m been a long time fan and user of Feedly. If you’ve been around in any of my presentations, you’ll know that I like Feedly so much that I recommend it all the time.


cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

If you currently manage all your feeds in Google Reader, Feedly is a nice way to transition to a different style of feed reader. Feedly syncs with your Google Reader account, but uses a more magazine-style interface. The minimalist interface thankfully doesn’t put as much emphasis on whitespace as the new Google Reader, either. The service offers support for a plethora of social media services, but doesn’t include any built-in substitute for Google Reader’s social features.

Just in time for the launch of the new Google Reader, Feedly also just launched version 7 of its web service

As an added bonus, there are also  various mobile and tablet apps for Feedly which work nicely now. However, when it comes to my iPhone I also have a friendly relationship with FeedlerPro!

Top image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by stylianosm

Doing social media ~ experience the space



Since some time in July  I have been wrangling with the multiple dimensions of social media as they impact on the spaces of information professionals. I chose that word deliberately, because doing social media so it matters is at the heart of the what it means to be a socially networked information professional. It’s only by becoming active in social media spaces that you can really hope to be able to determine the best  social networking strategies for your library services.

You cannot read and write about social networking in order to learn social media strategy without engaging in the full dimensions of it. It is only through engagement that practice turns theory into understanding.

I always felt that had to be the case, but my recent teaching in INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals has brought that message home to me loud and clear.

I have had the outstanding opportunity to engage with a group of information professionals scattered across Australia who are working in as diverse a range of libraries as you could ask. The services their institutions provide are, in some cases, second to none, and I was delighted to see that during the course of our study program some of the students were able to step up to join committees  formulating and/or delivering social networked services.

Tweeting for Trove, Australia’s national online resource of books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives ?

How good is that!

What is unquestionably the case for anyone wishing to delve into the spaces of social media is that engagement is participation! How else can you determine what, how, when, or why you might adopt a particular tool or strategy for your organisation?

There is no single “right” social media service that will fit every library. Comparing social media sites is part of the research, as is determining what kind of social media your library is interested in. Given that social media sites come and go, side-by-side comparison charts will not give you all the answers. Interaction and conversation with others active in social media will be an essential part of your litmus test while you keep your library’s objectives in mind.

My main message is that a participatory culture is unavoidably participatory!  I have discoved that students in a program about social networking,  who do not actively embrace experimenting and exploring, inevitably have gaps and weaknesses in applying social networking to the provision of library services. But by jumping in and giving it a go, fluency begins to emerge, and the transformation is quite exilerating!  Library 2.0 is vibrant, viral, communicates, promotes, and engages with it’s ‘people’.

It’s like learning a new language and going on a trip to a new country – you can get by with a tourist translation or develop fluency that allows you to become immersed and enjoy every aspect of the new cultural experience.

I know which option I prefer!

Top Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photoshared by Έλενα Λαγαρία
Bottom Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

Learning without frontiers – social media and beyond

I am really enjoying participating in the ASLA National Conference in Sydney. We have had the most amazing presentations and workshops, which together show the way forward for teacher librarians keen to participate in 21st century learning and library services.

The keynote presentations will be available as a video as well as slideshare presentations, and I will post about these when they have been completed.

Today I started the day off for the crowd with some ideas and provocative thoughts to set the scene for the second full day at the conference. I really want school librarians to embrace social media, and become  builders of knowledge in new media environments by drawing on their passion and their love of culture and learning.

Ultimately we should be Learning without Frontiers!

It isn’t about learning how to use a particular digital tool.
It isn’t about social media.
It isn’t about new media, augmented reality, immersive story-telling.
It is about our ability to understand when and how we move across the everexpanding
meta-literacy environments.

Social Bookmarking not so Delicious anymore



I remember the scramble to work out what to do when the rumours flew around about the demise of Delicious as a social bookmarking tool. Now the new Delicious has launched and the fallout for me is huge – I have to get re-organised all over again!

I read Delicious Relaunches. So, What Now for Educational Social Bookmarking? (Or, Rather: So What?) and jumped right on over to take a look at what happened.

Even before it was clear what the future of Delicious would be, people were turning elsewhere for alternatives, moving their data to sites Diigo, for example, or to Pinboard.

That was me – I managed to get paranoid about my bookmarks. Actually, I started actively bookmarking in Diigo, which I synchronised with Delicious, which I synchronised with Pinboard. So here we are now – we’re starting all over again as my sync-chain is broken.

I like Diigo for it’s group functions, and maybe this is what the new stacks at Delicious are all about – information curation for groups with  visual tweeks. But stacks are not collaborative ventures as represented by groups in Diigo. So I will keep using Diigo for the group collaboration (I like the weekly digest, and the ease of sharing on the fly), as well as for the personal bookmarking across my many devices.   .

Richard Byrne takes a look at Stacks and explains that Delicious Stacks could be a good visual way for students to explore a set of links that you have shared with them about a topic or you or your students could create multimedia playlists about a topic to share with each other.  If you are new to social bookmarking, this is certainly something you might be interested in.

As I jumped back to  Delicious I discovered just how many people forgot to or chose not to accept the changes to the new service. Suddenly I am only following 20 people and I can’t now see who follows me incase I want to reciprocate!!

I follow 101 on Diigo, including some that I consider critical, such as Howard Rheingold and his crap-detection. Now so many of the links I had in papers and presentations that pointed to Delicious users and resources have essentially died.

In the new Delicious:

  • I detest not being able to change the number of items I view on a page.
  • the new browser tagging toolbar does not ‘call up’ your existing tags.
  • there are no longer RSS feeds
  • no tag cloud and other features are missing

The best social bookmarking site is officially dead!

The new Delicious has a nicer interface, and is clearly going to go in new directions and respond to new needs.  However,  right now it has things I don’t need and things that are missing, so  it’s not my tool of choice  as it does not work as efficiently as the old Delicious.  But I have my account, so I will continue to ‘watch this space’ – at least I don’t have to start from the beginning.  (Perhaps this is just what some people wanted to do to de-clutter?)

Meanwhile, Diigo and Pinboard will continue to draw my attention – and it’s time for me to re-organise how I curate bookmarks. New delicious is a bitter disappointment.

Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by bjornmeansbear

Schools taking responsibility for digital citizenship

One of the new courses in 2011 on which I am working at CSU at the moment is called Digital Citizenship in Schools. The opportunity to work with school educators on this topic is a complete bonus!   I feel this way because having recently left working in schools I am only too aware of how easy it is for schools to skirt the issues, or believe they are ‘doing something’ worthwhile – yet missing the point by miles!

It is important to open our eyes as wide as we can to the possibilities, and the far-reaching changes not only in technology tools ( such as computers, laptops, cameras, multi-purpose phones, ipads and portable devices, and ebook readers) but also in information access, and social communications that our digital world is inspiring.

The media constantly report stories about the shift in digital technology use among children and teenagers. These highlight the fact that ‘the shift’ is not just a topic for educators, but is a topic of interest, and perhaps concern, for all adults. Learning to play Angry Birds before you can tie your shoes is suddenly media news!  More importantly, though, is the need to grow in knowledge of the digital environment, and it’s influential role in learning and teaching.

So what are schools doing about it? Ask yourself.  Look around.  Look at your policies, community communications, and your teaching programs. Look at your teachers and figure out how many actually have a clue about any of this?

Fortunatley, there are some really strong role-models in the education community, who help lead the conversation, and now I have found something that I am VERY excited about!

iCyberSafe.com – Living in a Connected World


This outstanding website provides information, resources, videos, updates and more for the school community on all matters related to Digital Citizenship.  It’s so easy to build a resource like this for a school using WordPress – yet how many schools have done this?  I  could have built Joeys something like this in the wink of an eye – but of course, that’s just not the way it happens in schools. We had other initiatives underway!

But the question is  – what does it take to create a whole-school response to Digital Citizenship?  What it takes is a Principal with vision, and determination to break through traditional structures to get where we need to go.  This is why is was wonderful to read that Darcy Moore has such a Principal.

For the first time in 20 years I do not have English classes to teach. The principal has requested that I am ‘off the timetable’ and work with all students on digital citizenship and creating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or, if you prefer, Personal Learning Network (PLN). This is another small step towards creating an environment at our school where student learning is personalised with the internet in mind.

What Darcy describes as a ‘small step’ would seem to me to be a significant step, given the cost in time and staffing. I would like to find other schools that have taken bold steps to ‘go where no-one has gone before‘.  This is a new frontier  that must be explored, with conections made and tamed,  so that working with digital citizenship it is no longer seen as being groundbreaking.  How long will it take before digital citizenship just becomes citizenship?

final report from the Learning with New Media research group at Monash University’s Faculty of Education was recently released.  This report, called Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites provides an outstanding analysis of  some the issues involved.

The research findings of this project confirm that SNS usage is now playing an important role in the lives of Victorian middle school students, including in socialisation and identity formation. In fact, SNS use has become integrated into the everyday social lives of most Victorian middle school students.

The final words of the report urge:

There is a need for further research directed at understanding young people’s use of SNS and how they can better be empowered to be confident and safer digital citizens. There is also a significant need to further work to be done to assist teachers to be better equipped to understand their rights and responsibilities in the digital communication environment.

We have a  way to go!

Join us in the journey. Become proactive in your use of digital environments, and urge your school to explore and engage in these environments more (rather than shutting them down).

As a result of my work  with our Digital Citizenship course at uni we now have two ongoing resources that readers may like to tap into and help to build.

Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DigitalCitizenshipInSchools

Find us at Diigo http://groups.diigo.com/group/digital-citizenship-in-schools

A mini-change in blogging for maximum effect

This year I decided that I had to adopt a modified approach to blogging. Why? – because microblogging platforms like Twitter have radically changed the speed of information sharing, and social sharing/communicating products like Facebook have  embedded the idea of social exchange.

A blog  is now a place for reflection for me, a place for sharing of special finds, making comments, or just having fun  – things that take a little planning perhaps?  While it is easy enough to use tools such as ScribeFire, or Writely or iPad’s BlogPress, or other blog enhancing tools, the point of the exercise for me is not so much about speeding up writing a post so much as expanding on the way I can share ideas/information.

So I’ve tidied up my social networking icons on my  blog here, and included a new one pointing to Amplify. Now I have two key tools that suit my needs.  My main blog here – and my  neat little adjunct to blogging at Amplify!  I can clip, share and spark conversation via  Amplify.

Amplify lets me decide how I want to share; allows me to add a bit of commentary; and also lets me auto-post to twitter, facebook and many more.

When I started blogging I thought hard about what I wanted to write – and mostly the posts were about information sharing of some kind. Now, in a digital social media world I would have to blog frantically to keep up!  I already share direct from my RSS feeds – but the added advantage of Amplify is the ability to add commentary, thoughts, or prompts to the reader, while also keeping a record of my own notes for myself.

OK, I admit, I don’t use the social networking features of Amplify – I don’t need them really right now. This is another thing I like!  I really dislike tools that force me to use them in one way only. Amplify doesn’t insist that I get into the social sharing aspect – so somethings I do, but mostly I don’t!

Many use Posterous and other tools to do something similar for reflections ‘on the side’. Works really well, especially when they are ‘thinkers’.

Me?  I’m more of an information sharing kind of person – so Amplify suits me just fine – and I hope it suits you too as I keep using it for now.

Go on – follow what I’m reading on Amplify.com!