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  1. Creating Community:Technology Solutions By: Katie Cole, Lauren Perelli , Susan Schmidt and Julie Shenk

  2. Problem Who do we represent? Graduate students enrolled in the MLS/MIM programs at the Shady Grove Campus of the University of Maryland What is the problem? A minimal sense of community among students. • Students don’t know all others students in the program (other than those with whom they share classes) • Students don’t know which other students share their program interests (which other students might be interested in the same concentration, share work interests/experience, etc.) • No means of meaningful communication between students exists – there is no obvious forum for directly sharing information and experiences and exchanging ideas • Limited sense of engagement with program -- students are not clear on the mission of the Shady Grove programs and their role in enhancing that mission

  3. Problem, Cont. What is the motivation? • Community in this situation can be defined as a group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists • Having a strong sense of community can improve the quality of life of students and fosters social interaction, networking, and support • Encouraging a sense of community among students can support the iSchool commitment to “creating a diverse and inclusive community of students.”

  4. Who is asking us to solve the problem? Ourselves, as members of the student population

  5. Constraints • No budget for project • Proposed solution must be acceptable to school administration • Proposed solution must be accessible and usable by all students • Students must be aware of proposed solution so that it is utilized • Solution should, if possible, incorporate existing communication platforms • Solution should be easy to maintain and kept timely • Solution should be designed to foster interest and engagement • There are limited opportunities for community-building at the physical campus site, as most MLS/MIM students are full-time professionals who are only on campus one or two times per week at most for classes (or they may be taking classes online or at College Park)

  6. Evaluation Criteria • Can the proposal enhance the sense of community among students? • Does it allow the exchange of ideas and experiences between students? • Does it allow students to know who comprises the community, i.e., who their fellow students are? • Does it promote community engagement through promotion of the program’s mission and encouragement of student participation in that mission? • Is the proposal accessible to and usable by all students? • Is the proposal acceptable to the program administration?

  7. Evaluation Criteria, Cont. • Does the proposal expand on current communication platforms? • Is the proposed solution easy to maintain and kept timely? • Is the proposed solution designed to foster interest and engagement? • Does the solution promote information sharing in a comfortable and discreet environment? • Is significant work involved in terms of responsibility for content and standards? • Can the proposed solution be easily and successfully promoted so that students and administrators are aware of its existence? • Is there a monetary cost to the solution?

  8. Proposed Solutions • LISTSERV • Discussion Board • Facebook • Blog

  9. Proposed Solution #1 LISTSERV • Email list management software. • Developed by Eric Thomas in 1986 who later founded L-soft in 1994. • L-soft is an internationally known company. • 3,700 Companies and organizations use it! • NASA • ABC News • • Microsoft Julie

  10. Features • List Owner • Web Archives which are searchable • All list types. • Administrator • Multiple License Size • Virus Protection • Spam Control • Users • Subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. • Commands • Unsubscribe-SIGNOFF ISCHOOLDISCUSSION • List of archives- INDEX ISCHOOLDISCUSSION • List in digest form- SET ISCHOOLDISCUSSION DIGEST Julie

  11. iSchool LISTSERV • Individual Program Lists: MLS-Students LISTSERV and School Library Media LISTSERV. • Ischooldiscussion: • Open to anyone • Messages can be sent to ISCHOOLDISCUSSION@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU • Is moderated so any messages sent need to be approved. • Students have to subscribe themselves. • Ischoolannouncements: • Used for official announcements or news from the iSchool such as “News from the Deans Office.” • Only some faculty and staff have permission to post to it. If students wish to post to it, messages need to be sent to Mary Carroll-Mason for approval. • Students are added automatically Julie

  12. Evaluation • Does allow for community engagement through informing of various activities such as iClub meetings or the Internship/Job Fair held April 19th. • A great tool for mass communication among students, faculty, staff and anyone associated with the school. • Accessible to students, faculty and staff who often use it. • Accepted by the administration. • It is maintained and kept up-to-date with current iSchool happenings. • Easy to promote and expands on current platforms. Julie

  13. Limitations • Not an active discussion limiting student to student contact • Not visually attractive. • Workload for moderators could be heavy • Cost • There is a licensing agreement costs. Ranging from least expensive $450 to the most expensive $11,900. Julie Shenk L-Soft International, Inc. (n.d.). CataList. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from‌scripts/‌wl.exe?qL=ISchool+&F=L&F=T L-Soft, International, Inc. (n.d.). LISTSERV Email List Management Software . Retrieved April 24, 2012, from‌products/‌listserv.asp M. Carroll-Mason(personal communication, April. 20, 2012). Trend Micro, & MAPS. (n.d.). Application Note: Guidelines for proper mailing list management. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from‌pdf/‌AN_ListMgmtGuidelines_052604.pdf University of Maryland LISTSERV Server (14.5) (Fwd. personal communication, April 10, 2012). Julie

  14. Proposed solution #2 Discussion Board An online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages • A single conversation is called a thread, and each posting can be replied to by an unlimited number of people • Becomes hierarchical (branching) as new threads are begun and postings are made in response to existing posts • Messages are archived, at least temporarily • Message board may need a technical administrator, and postings may need approval of a moderator • Accessible via web-based interface; depending on the design, a user may subscribe to a conversation and have new posts sent to them via email Susan

  15. Valueto Community Message Boards can be valuable communications and community-building tools: • They allow users to talk to each other and administrators as equals on topics related to an organization’s mission • They can enhance face-to-face networking • They provide a “location” where members gather and chat in nearly real timeand are easy to follow Susan

  16. Creating and sustaining a successful discussion board requires planning, commitment, and marketing: • Need an organizer, moderator, and possibly technical administrator • Should make direct contact with potential members and encourage participation – wide participation encourages a sense of ownership • Should provide access to member lists and user profiles – members can’t engage if they don’t know who is in community • Need to clearly identify community purpose and target audience; theme/subject matter must be interesting so that members are not likely to tire of content and broad enough to support multitude of interactions and conversations • May want to include special features from “experts in the fields” (instructors or administrators in this case References: Resource: Using Message Boards to Build Community: Bring people to your online community. Retrieved from: Hosting: Online Moderator Guidelines and Community Building Tips. Retrieved from: vBulleting Community Forum FAQ. Retrieved from: Susan

  17. Feasibility of Discussion Board • Allows student-to-student communication through discussion • Can be a forum for exchange of ideas and experiences • Student profiles could be posted as a discussion thread • Can promote a sense of inclusiveness and community • A discussion board already exists on the ELMS Susan

  18. Feasibility of Discussion Board, Cont. • Students use ELMS discussion boards already in their MLS/MIMs class pages (so therefore accessible and usable), and site is restricted to students • Proposal would expand on existing discussion board platform • There is no cost involved • Can be promoted by faculty/staff/students

  19. Discussion Board Limitations • A student-to-student message board is technically feasible but would involve policy decision by Dr. Dikerto allow for it • Would have to be moderated since as it would be a component of the UMD site (might be possible for the iSchool graduate assistant to be moderator) • Can’t be a real-time discussion (because of moderator review) • It is technically possible to post student profiles and pictures on the ELMS space, but it would involve policy decisions about how specifically to do that and what would be allowed • Not visually appealing or engaging • SS References: V Diker and Melissa McDonald (personal communication) Susan

  20. Proposed Solution #3: Facebook Facebook is a social networking web site • Personal Profile – are created by individuals to share information with the online community (Techsoup) • Pages – are created by organizations to communicate with large audiences that like them (Facebook) • Groups – are a closed space for a limited group of people to communicate about shared interests (Facebook) Some positive features: • Free to join and maintain (except for staff administrator’s time) • Anyone can view a page, only individuals with accounts can post on pages • Visually attractive Katie

  21. Anatomy of a Facebook Page Number of people who “like” the iSchool You could post something on the iSchool’s wall Posts by other people/pages about the iSchool This whole area is called a “wall” Things the iSchool likes Current Page for the entire iSchool:

  22. Features of Facebook Mass communication from the iSchool on Facebook: • People who have “liked” the iSchool page receive updates • Administrator of the iSchool page can make posts, monitor posts, and remove inappropriate posts or discussions How the iSchool can communicate with students: • Status updates • Share text, photo, video, or hyperlinks • Comment or respond to status updates • Post on another individual or organization’s page, • Send direct message out to followers • Ask people vote on an answer in response to a question • Create and invite users to an event Katie

  23. Evaluation Ways Facebook can encourage community engagement: • Asking direct questions and encouraging members to provide feedback • Interact and join conversation on other organization’s pages (Techsoup) Student-to-student interaction: • Facebook members can post on the iSchool’s page • View other members Facebook pages to see common interests Deterrents to developing a Shady Grove iSchool Facebook page: • Need for a unified media strategy to communicate with the iSchool – breaking off a separate group may fragment the audience • Need for additional administrator from the iSchool staff (Mary Carroll-Mason, personal communication, April 20, 2012) Katie

  24. Final Thoughts on Facebook • Would students feel comfortable interacting with faculty on Facebook? • Building a community assumes all or most students and faculty at the iSchool use Facebook and feel comfortable interacting with others on an academic level • Other concerns about Facebook as a community building environment: • Lower scores in areas of student motivation, affective learning, and student views of teacher credibility were seen in one study when teachers disclosed high levels of personal information on Facebook (Heacock, 2011) References Facebook. How are Pages different from groups? Which one should I create? Retrieved from: Facebook. Maryland's iSchool. Retrieved from: Heacock, C.R.A. (2011). Too Much Information? How Teacher Self-Disclosure on Facebook Influences Students’ Opinions. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest. UMI Number: 3439053. Techsoup. Facebook. Retrieved from: V Diker, Melissa McDonald, and Mary E. Carroll-Mason (personal communication) Katie

  25. Proposed Solution #4Blog • The blog must be interactive and informative • It must allow users to post comments, images, links • The posts must share information on a subjects relevant to theme of the blog • Each allows blog creators to build social networks and relations with other users • Features necessary to the success of any blog • Blogroll: where many blogs list links to similar blogs directly on their site • Pleasing appearance and layout • Comments • Easily navigable/easily accessible posts • Links, videos, images, podcasts, Twitter/RSS feed • Subscription enabled (Email, RSS, Twitter, Facebook) Lauren

  26. Implementation • Possible Blog Platforms: • Blogger (Google) • LiveJournal • Movable Type ( • Typepad (compatible with Movable Type) • WordPress • ExpressionEngine • TextPattern • Tumblr • Weebly • Jux* • Methods for evaluating and choosing a blog platform: • Affordability • Flexibility • Usability • Technical Help and Support • Free storage space • Deterrents, when compared to other forms of social media: • time-consuming • must remain current to maintain and grow viewership • Niche v. non-niche blog Lauren

  27. The Shady Grove iSchool Blog Current Blog Site for the Shady Grove iSchool

  28. The Shady Grove iSchool Blog • Topics • in order to appeal to the diverse range of Shady Grove iSchool students, the blog should feature varied topics that also provide updates on new happenings at the Shady Grove campus and within the iSchool in general • Field trips • Speakers • Student recognition • Networking • the blog will be advertised through listservs, the iSchool website, and possibly the dean will include it in her regular announcements • Technorati Lauren

  29. References • Seven Blogging Tools Reviewed: A detailed look at the top blogging tools and key considerations for nonprofits. Retrieved from: • Be A More Productive Blogger. Retrieved from: • 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs. Retrieved from: use-blogs • Better Blogging, Part One. Retrieved from: • V Diker, Melissa McDonald, and Mary E. Carroll-Mason (personal communication) • Lauren

  30. Key: 1 Poor - 5 Excellent

  31. Summary • Each of our proposed solutions has equal strengths • Discussion Board • Feasible and clearly navigable • Fosters a sense of inclusiveness • Facebook • Highly interactive—users can participate in conversations and directly response to users’ comments • Provides regular updates • LISTSERV • Closely moderated • Reaches a large audience • Blog • Very informative • Allows for focused topics

  32. Our Final Pick • We considered the positives and negatives of all four and decided that a blog ultimately offers the best overall potential • Our Criteria • Level of Engagement • Flexibility • Acceptable content • Easily maintained • Visually appealing • Low cost

  33. Monday, April 30, 2012 MLS at Shady Grove Student Profiles Use this site to tell others in the program about your area of interest, background, and goals. Find others in the program who share your interests. Tuesday, May 1, 2012 Student Profile: Jane Austin Program area of interest: Archives, records, and information management Current program status: I’m in my second semester in the Shady Grove Program, currently taking Information Access Services Experience: Before enrolling in the Shady Grove MLS program, I was primarily educated at home. I have dabbled in writing – primarily works of romantic fiction. I enjoy documenting the social Interactions and moral hypocrisy of my cohorts. Goals: Hope to complete the program by the Spring of 2014. Seeking a position as an archivist in a quiet country setting.

  34. Our Final Pick: Takeaways • Blog: • Versatile—supports various multi-media types (links, videos, images, podcasts) • Appearance can be altered to fit the blog’s mission • Accessible and educational • Encourages user feedback • Affords administrator a greater degree of control