You've already had to put up with some of my musings about the professional use of social media so I will focus this post on answering the questions that were part of the cpd23 post for this thing. If you would like more detail I have written about social media in thing 6 - online networking, thing 4 - current awareness and way back in thing 2 - our personal brand.
Are there any other advantages to social networking in the context of professional development other than those already outlined?
As the cpd23 blog implies social media can be used to organise and promote events. This is a good example of online networks working hand in hand with or even helping to create face to face networks.
Social media also helps us to stay in touch with the latest developments in the library world and it helps us to take a wider view of our profession. It offers us all an easy way to look beyond our day to day working experiences and think about the broader perspective. For example it gives us a taste of the variety of different roles that are part of the library and information profession.
Can you think of any disadvantages?
I think there is a danger that being a part of various different online professional networks can make you complacent about participating in face to face professional networks and building up 'real life' professional relationships. I don't want to devalue online networks or imply that they are inherently shallow but at their best they feed into and feed from other kinds of network. My point is that despite the dizzying array of different tools for online networking it is just one method of communication. We shouldn't let it blind us to the other ways that we can reach out and connect with our fellow library professionals.
Has CPD23 helped you to make contact with others that you would not have had contact with normally?
Yes, it definitely has. CPD23ers come from every sector of our profession and every corner of the world. This has been one of the huge strengths of the scheme. It has given us the opportunity to share ideas with a wide variety of different people. I'm sure lots of us have connected with people that we probably wouldn't have met in any other context.
Did you already use social media for your career development before starting CPD23? Will you keep using it after the programme has finished?
Yes and yes. The importance of using social media to stay up-to-date with developments in the field and to build up professional networks has been a recurring theme ever since I got into this profession. It was practically the first thing they told us back when I started my Library Science course. Since then it has been emphasised at almost every training event that I have attended.
As part of the interview process for my current job I had to give a presentation on how the Library could use social media to engage students.
I regularly train teaching staff in the use of our Moodle VLE. Encouraging them to use the social media aspects of the system to create active learning communities is a big part of that.
My own experience has supported this overwhelming consensus in favour of the career development potential of social media. Using social media has helped me to be part of the conversation, to stay in touch with developments in the library world and of course to stay in touch with library people.
In your opinion does social networking really help to foster a sense of community?
Yes. It's easy to be cynical and dismiss online networks as shallow or ephemeral but they do help people to communicate and to connect with each other. That said it shouldn't be the only way that we are trying to build a sense of community. It is one set of tools among many.