Thursday, January 31, 2008
Being 'time poor': managing social networking tools and information on the Internet
I have been talking about encouraging students to use social networking tools to find information on the network, and not just rely on journals and books they find in the library. I advise students to take at least a couple of hours a month to browse around the library, just catching up with the latest journals. I find it really frustrating that students seem to only concentrate on finding information for their assignments, as opposed for general interest and development.
But as Rae pointed out in her answer to my post about the academic credibility of blogs, midwifery students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) have considerable time constraints which can be a considerable barrier to 'surfing'. Not only do they have an academic load but they also have clinical placements, which usually means being 'on-call'. Many students are mature students with significant family obligations. So, time management is crucial. And expecting students to surf blogs, wikis, YouTube and so on on top of the traditional journals and books may be... a blog too far!
But that is where tools such a Google Reader, Google Alerts and Google Blog Alerts are so handy. I use these tools in iGoogle to monitor topics and blogs that are of interest to me. For example, I have my iGoogle home page alert me when topics are posted on blogs about "midwifery", "midwife" and "e-mentoring". I use Google Reader to keep an eye on any midwifery websites and blogs that interest me. And on the whole, I haven't found this to be too time consuming and keeps my knowledge-seeking focused. It certainly is easier than carrying out general searches every few days to see what is new.
The other thing I find to be very useful as a time saving measure is to sign up for email alerts from my favorite journals. So that every time there is a new edition of a journal, I get an email alert that tells me what is in the journal. I can then decide what articles to follow up in the library.
These time and information management tools need to be included into orientation packages for students alongside introductions to databases and search engines.
PS: Image is from my first attempt to use Jing which is a screen-capture program.