Author Archives: cybrariansam

Wikipedia Editing to Improve Information/Media Literacy

Becoming an active WIkipedia editor presents numerous opportunities to improve research and writing skills, understanding of copyright and copyediting, enhance information and media literacies, among other collaboration, research, and technical skills.

For my LIBR 210 course I am required to present on instruction and information literacy trends and I chose to present on the trend of educators assigning students to write new Wikipedia  articles, add citations, and/or edit/translate existing Wikipedia articles.

As I have been doing research for this presentation I am overwhelmed in the exciting way by the amount of research and insights I am finding.

To begin with, the Wikipedia training module for educators is a starting point abundant with resources and ideas for an educator to use freely within their courses. The sample syllabi  found within this training module is full of various ideas for assignments, evaluation strategies, and reflections on the achievements students gain via this method of instruction.

Learning objectives listed in previously implemented course syllabi were “media and information literacy”, “writing skills development”, “critical thinking and research skills”, “collaboration”, “Wiki technical and communication skills”.

Some specific quotes from educators that have assigned Wikipedia writing/edits/citations to students that positively impacted and further motivated me towards this instructional methodology are as follows:

From a professor that assigned her students the task of translating English articles into Spanish Wikipedia articles.

“The best part of the project was seeing Wikipedia as motivational, with real communication and with assignments that have consequences outside the classroom.”

An environmental studies professor who assigned students to visit a location, photograph it and improve Wikipedia articles with the photographs reflected on the outcomes by saying

 “I am very glad that they realize the value of publishing their written work on Wikipedia — their schoolwork did not end up in the teacher’s drawer. Last but not least, the complete availability of the article on the Internet and its critical assessment by independent Wikipedians made the students learn to work with sources — a skill that will be useful for them during further studies.”

From a professor who assigned a 1,200- 2,000 word and 20 citation Wikipedia edit for a final course project 

” it empowered them, it transformed their research skills, it was rewarding
for them to do something that was for the greater good, and
most importantly, it made their writing better and kept them
academically honest.”

Along with these tutorials and testimonials I have discovered scholarly publications discussing this trend of using Wikipedia as an instructional tool by enabling students to become editors.  In particular the article What Open Access Research can do for Wikipedia written by WIllinsky impacted me with statements asserting that the credibility of Wikipedia articles increases when full text open access publications are cited in the article. Willinsky’s research notes that in many articles open access publications were available to be cited but had not yet been cited. This leaves vast opportunities for improvement of Wikipedia articles for editors who would spend the time finding and adding open access full text publications to article citations, for the purpose of better representing current states of knowledge within Wikipedia.

The quotes I showcased here really resound with me particularly with regard to being assigned writing tasks that will be contributed to the world, rather than left in an ignored file on my desktop or a professors computer file. I suppose my attraction to LIBR246 course and LIBR287 Hyperlinked Library had to do with the way that written insights posted on blog posts are similarly shared with a wider audience rather than shared only with professors. There seems to be a significant difference in writing quality produced between blog posts and Wikipedia articles though due to the article guidelines active Wikipedia editors enforce. I know I have to backtrack a lot with blogging to edit out stream of consciousness thinking because blogging seems so free from the types of guidelines enforced in an atmosphere like Wikipedia. I appreciate both blogs and Wikipedia, and I would appreciate a SLIS course where students were given the push to improve the writing, research, and literacy skills by being brave and actively editing Wikipedia, and in particular striving to find open access citations whenever possible. Outside of SLIS specifically, I am sure it is also obvious to see how many other educational environments this methodology has the potential to apply to. 

Relevant Research 

Reilly, Colleen. “Teaching Wikipedia as a mirrored technology” First Monday [Online], Volume 16 Number 1 (18 December 2010)

Sormunen, E. & Lehti&oum;, L. (2011). “Authoring Wikipedia articles as an information literacy assignment – copy-pasting or expressing new understanding in one’s own words?” Information Research16(4) paper 503. [Available at]

Willinsky, John. “What open access research can do for Wikipedia” First Monday [Online], Volume 12 Number 3 (5 March 2007)


Twitter Profile as Resume? You are what you Tweet?

I recently came across an article published online by Business Insider titled This Company Will Only Accept ‘Twitter Resumes’ For A Six-Figure JobIt does not come as a surprise to me and it seems quite significant for all of us to recognize the serious personal and professional implications of our activities on twitter and other social media sites. I immediately Tweeted this article on my account. To me it seems like social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can often be viewed as overly casual especially in comparison to the buzz about sites like LinkedIn being the “professional” social media site, but I think it is important to really recognize that our tweets are revealing a lot of relevant information that employers may take into serious consideration prior to hiring.

These quotes from the article ring true to me and I imagine this approach to screening hires will increase in popularity.

“The paper résumé is dead,” Vala Afshar, chief marketing officer at Enterasys,” told Bruce Horovitz at USA Today. “The Web is your résumé. Social networks are your mass references.”

The article continues with some more sage advice for individuals who want to strategically Tweet to portray a professionally advantageous social media image.

Rosa E. Vargas at Careerealism wrote that on Twitter it’s important to use “jargon / keywords specific to your target industry” for a competitive edge, and include hashtags with keywords in your tweets so that you’re more likely to pop up in searches.”

I think it is vital that these messages are disseminated and that it truly sinks in to students beginning with middle school age students at the latest. I have spent a considerable amount of time on Twitter and notice that Twitter is a platform that many use for different purposes from tweeting events and narratives from their daily lives, tweeting to their favorite celebrities about shows they are watching, tweeting to professionals with similar interests, tweeting to legislative officials requesting policy change, tweeting opinions about news stories and ongoing court cases, and though it is easy to see the potential for positive communities forming around common interests it is impossible to miss examples of poor use of Twitter that has ended up ruining educational aspirations, damaging careers, getting people sued, and in worst cases getting people arrested.

The power we each harness as individuals when we go to microblogging platforms like Twitter is palpable. You can get a rush having such immediate ability to direct a Tweet at someone you may have only been able to send a letter to their snailmail fanbox before or send your thoughts out to be received by masses of people. It can be very easy to spout off a personal or political opinion that may bring you long lasting consequences. Sure you can delete a tweet and hope no one noticed or took a screenshot, you can delete and apologize or submit a revised statement but some tweets after screenshots will endure for who knows how many years into the future, so we must all tweet seriously with this in mind.

Whether it’s a musician in her 50’s or teenage football team enthusiasts it seems we all face degrees of risk for long term social and professional consequences by taking tweeting lightly. A couple of the biggest Twitter #Fails recently buzzing to which I am referencing and won’t soon be forgetting:

1) Michelle Shocked – Prior to and during the first set of her live musical performance in San Francisco last weekend she is encouraging users to tweet song requests to her and then shockingly during the second set of her live performance she begins sharing her personal views going into a “homophobic tirade” going so far as to say “You can go on Twitter and say Michelle Shocked said God hates fags”. Shortly after these statements the club venue cleared out, she was asked to leave, a significant number of her future performances were cancelled within 24 hours of this news being shared due to venue managers not wanting to associate themselves with persons disseminating homophobic views, and masses of Twitter users called her out for being so offensive telling her that her music career was now over and to seek mental help.  She has since apologized but time will tell  if her fans memory of the “homophobic tirade” or her apology for it endures and/or holds more weight in their minds.

2) Michael Nodianos –I imagine national news has made sure that everyone has heard about this Steubenville case where teens engaged in a night of drinking and then sexually assaulted an unconscious teenage girl while shockingly leaving trails of evidence by circulating photos, video footage, and rapist enabling narratives on social media sites, Twitter being among them. Some of Nodianos tweets can be seen in screenshots here. While he has not been charged with a crime up to this point he has cited threats by many angry people who perceive his tweets as enabling the rapists. Nodianos has since dropped out of his university due to the number of people who are angry at him, and there is a petition circulating to have him charged with failing to report a rape that he apparently knew was occurring that night. Additionally following the conviction of the two rapists Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, some teenagers who were angry at the verdict took to Twitter to threaten the victim for what they perceived as wrongfully destroying the lives of the young football players by reporting the crime. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has since arrested two girls who posted twitter threats following the case verdict and sets an example stating 

“Let me be clear,” DeWine said on Monday in a statement. “Threatening a teenage rape victim will not be tolerated. If anyone makes a threat verbally or via the Internet, we will take it seriously, we will find you, and we will arrest you,” he added.”

These are only a few recent and serious examples to mention. Let’s all do our best to make sure these and/or similar Twitter #Fails won’t happen to us or our children –and that we do our best to assist youth in the process of understanding the potential risks and rewards of engaging with Twitter and similar sites as we move into the future.

Another article that I came across recently which ties into my points is an article titled The Dos and Don’ts of Teaching Digital Literacy. This article asserts correctly that social media is an essential aspect in the lives of young people now and we should veer away from philosophies and policies which encourage banning the use of social media tools. The analogy used in this article is about teaching young people to drive. Can we appropriately do that by banning them from driving an actual car? Can we effectively teach young people to drive with educators who have never actually driven a car themselves? Most of us will immediately answer “No”. And the same is true for learning the appropriate uses for social media platforms. We can take action to help prevent young people from feeling the painful aftermath of the crash they might find themselves in when left in the driver’s seat of their Twitter account without the proper education and role models. We have to use social media tools, experiment, make mistakes, correct ourselves, engage in honest constructive dialogue with people and give our best effort to set a good example with our presences on social media platforms. We are responsible for the way young people learn to engage with these sites and ultimately leverage them.

For specific age appropriate lessons plans targeted at youth Common Sense Media provides various learning modules on topics such as “Internet Safety”, “Privacy & Security”, “Creative Credit & Copyright”, “Digital Footprints & Reputation”, “Self-Image & Identity”, “Cyberbullying” among many others that have been designed for children as young as elementary school. These lessons plans are high priority for me to expose to my children and any children I should encounter in future digital literacy educational settings and I hope you make good use of them as well.

LinkedIn HyperLinked Resume

I am not a very active user of LinkedIn yet but I have created a profile for myself to learn about the site. This is actually my second time creating a profile. My last one I had briefly but shut it down when I noticed a paid membership was required for some features. I did not feel that the benefits that a paid LinkedIn membership would bring to me were worth the expense at that point in time.

I keep this new one very private for now and haven’t connected with anyone. I use it as an easy way to link a resume to potential employers. I would like to network more in the future with my LinkedIn profile. I like the simple, clean, resume format the profile page has. I notice that some job postings now ask people to link resumes or profiles rather than emailing a resume in .doc or pdf format. If not always in place of an email attached document resume, I at least like the idea of maintaining a hyperlinked resume in addition to the traditional resume document.  

I appreciate the various options given to individuals to customize their LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn hyperlinked resume has the capacity to neatly nicely summarize various skills and achievements in one easily accessible document. I appreciate the ability to link to publications, add certifications, volunteer experiences, test scores. I think the feature that allows approximately 50 tags for self selected skills and expertise on the profile is also instrumental in making a well rounded profile. My initial tags are shown in the image below.


If you go to the “More” tab and then the “Skills and Expertise” tab you can type a tag into the search bar and a list of similar tags suggested to add to your profile appears on the left hand side. After exploring further from one interesting similar suggested tag to another, along with the accompanying list of professionals and groups associated with each interest, it becomes obvious how much potential LinkedIn provides to develop and strengthen professional connections.

Library 2


LinkedIn seems to be the primary social networking site for “professionals” to connect “professionally” and I venture to guess once someone is bringing in a “professional” income then that membership fee would easily pay for itself. I probably will purchase the full LinkedIn membership at some point in the future.


Last semester I completed the LIBR287 course “The Hyperlinked Library” with Michael Stephens. I have naturally gravitated to blogs as platforms for personal expression, citizen journalism, and sources of information for nearly a decade. Michael’s course articulated something to me that I think I understood intuitively throughout most of my various blogging activities over the years, but had never seen articulated so well prior to his course. Blog hyperlinks subvert hierarchy and facilitate conversations between people with common interests. Conversations are key for creating/maintaining relationships and forming communities. I find myself frequently thinking about how to best approach the creation and maintenance of professionally focused blogs in the future. Paying attention to Michael Stephens’ work is a great starting point for anyone who has similar inclinations.

Michael’s dissertation was not required reading for the LIBR287 course but I  recommend all MLIS students read it. Michael surveyed authors of professionally focused LIS blogs to form an understanding of their motivations and their learning experiences.

Modeling the Role of Blogging in Librarianship.

The primary reason I enrolled in LIBR246 is because the syllabus clearly listed blog posts as course assignments and I wholeheartedly believe that blogging is a skill that should be professionally practiced for the potential benefit of individual LIS professionals and the organizations they are affiliated with. I was also attracted by the text suggested for LIBR246 Social Software in Libraries which is authored by Meredith Farkas whose surveys of the biblioblogosphere are cited by Michael in his dissertation. I am mostly finished reading that text and am pleased to find it is packed with relevant practical instructions and a variety of content ideas for implementing LIS focused blogs. Meredith’s text emphasizes that since was created in 1999 blogging has been free and easy for anyone who has the ability to type. The invention of the permalink in 2000 was also significant considering it enabled bloggers to link to specific posts rather than link to an entire blog for readers to dig through to find a specific post.