In her article “The value of social software in school library instruction, communication and collaboration,” Summers uses examples of how real librarians use social software in the everyday functions of a school library. In doing so, she makes a compelling argument as to why schools should not shy away from using technology both with students as well as with the staff. She begins her article by stating, “As budget cuts loom in school districts across the nation, school librarians are expected to show artifacts and share data to cement their credibility as instructional leaders, since…the effectiveness of the school library media program must be measured by what students learn as a result of their experiences” (Summers, 2009, p. 49).
Giving both the teaching and the collaborative staff perspective on each of the software that she discusses, Summers clearly shows very simple and effective ways to enhance the school’s atmosphere as a whole. She argues that using the technology available “support(s) students’ knowledge articulation and critical thinking processes, impacting the way students learn through searching, sorting, and synthesizing multiple sources of information” (p. 49) but also demonstrates how these tools help the staff to collaborate as a team and how social networking enhances a professional’s ongoing education.
In the example of wikis, she explains how a librarian enhanced second graders’ national park unit by allowing them to make decisions as a class as to what would be the best information to share as well as encouraging more shy students to participate in the online forum. Summers goes on to discuss how wikis are used by the Colorado Association of School Libraries for conferences or workshops so that librarians can attend in real time from a distance or, if the time is inconvenient, they may see what was covered at a later date.
Summers continues to discuss Twitter as a tool to connect with students, as one librarian does, by posting links to magazine stories or new books that may be of interest. The same librarian uses his Twitter account to keep up with his own profession by joining other librarians in sharing information and resources.
Finally, Summers explores Ning.com and the website’s ability to create personalized social networks. The University of Colorado Denver uses their Ning for distance-learning students enrolled in their School Library and Instructional Leadership program. The site allows students to connect on an informal level, share ideas and promote the feeling of community regardless of distance. Both the students and professors are actively involved in conversation which allows for a collective learning and responsive feedback for all involved.
Summers, L. (2009). The value of social software in school library instruction, communication, & collaboration. Knowledge Quest, 37(4), 48-50. Retrieved 11 July 2009, from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.