Learning 2.0 and Corralling Your Online Presence

I’ll get my first “speaker” ribbon at this year’s Tennessee Library Association annual conference. I’ve been working on my presentation for a couple months now. The title is “Technology Training Tune-Up: Computer and Technology Skills for All Library Staff”. I’ve been looking around at the various training programs libraries do for their staff, and one of the most prominent ones has been the Learning 2.0/23 Things program from the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC). This program was designed by Helene Blowers, and released under a Creative Commons license for other libraries to use. Libraries worldwide have picked up this program and are using it to expose their library staff to emerging technologies online.


As I’ve looked through the participant blogs from the libraries that are using this program, I’ve noticed something.  Some of the blogs simply exist, some stop after just a few posts, some stop part of the way through the program, some stop after the last week of the program, and a very few continue on after completing the program.  Seeing these blogs, in various states of abandonment (especially this one), raised a question in my mind.  What happens to all these accounts that get created in the process of the 23 Things programs?  Do they just languish at the various websites indefinitely?  While some accounts expire after a set time (usually 6 months or so), many of the new 2.0 sites don’t seem to have an expiration date on their login information.  So, again, what happens to all these accounts?  The PLCMC program alone had over 300 participants.  If the participants create an account, but don’t have the desire to continue using it after the program, do they know how to delete it?


I did find one participant blog missing (http://aboutait.blogspot.com/), but that’s the only one that has been removed.  Shouldn’t we be teaching these participants how to clean up their online presence as well?  Isn’t part of learning about emerging technologies also learning how to get out of them when you discover they aren’t working for you?


With the reports of employers using things like Google, Myspace and Facebook to check up on potential new hires and discipline employees, shouldn’t these programs also teach participants how to keep their online persona the way they want it to be?  There are many new tools that allow for tracking your online identity.  Some of these tools could be added to the end of the 23 Things program, along with the suggestion to go through and delete any accounts participants don’t plan to continue using.  There should be no shame or guilt in removing these accounts once the program has been completed – the whole purpose of the program is exposure.  I have signed up for new websites thinking they would be great and very useful, only to discover that they didn’t quite do what I wanted or needed.  So I deleted my account (which is not to say that I don’t still have accounts languishing around the web).  If you try something new, that’s great!  But you are by no means obligated to keep using it if it’s not working for you!


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