Who are you, and what do you like to learn about? (academically, professionally, and/or personally)

I am currently a Grad student finishing my degree in Instructional Design and Technology at George Mason University. I have an additional Master’s in Human Resource Management as well as Bachelor’s in Music Composition and Theory. For the last six years, I have been a Employee Development Specialist for the Federal Government. Prior to that, I worked an educational contractor for an educational publisher in Japan as well as a trainer for an ESL chain in Japan. I currently live in Northern Virginia with my wife and 2 year old daughter. We have two dogs. I am a lifelong learner and generally love learning about anything and everything. I find that there are often overlooked parallels between subjects that can be adapted to use in different contexts so I don’t try to limit my learning to one particular subject.

What hardware do you use to learn? (Eg. smart phone, tablet, laptop, desktop)

Mostly these days I use my smart phone and table since I am on the go and commuting the majority of my time. Occasionally when at home I will use my laptop, especially if the learning requires more interaction or plugins.

What software do you use to learn? (Eg. search engines, mobile apps, social networks, eBooks, digital libraries, wikis, blogs, videos, podcasts)

Podcasts are my primary method of learning these days. However, I often checkout eBooks from the local library to read about a variety of subjects. For more technical skills, I tend to take online lessons through providers such as or Udacity. For language learning I use DuoLingo, although I probably use language podcasts more than the app. For learning about authoring software, I usually go to my online Community of Practice, E-Learning Heroes.

What digital tools do you wish you had access to for learning? (Eg. any graphic organizers, mind-mapping tools, resource management tools, progress tracking tools, design tools, etc.) Why?

A progress tracking tool might be useful. I find the the best online learning combines ways to track your progress as well as badges and other awards for completing certain training. Those really motivate me. I really wish online learning made social interaction as easy and natural as it is in the traditional classroom. Some resources are doing it correctly, but most kind of just tack it on as an additional feature.

What might your ideal Personal Learning Environment (PLE) look like?

For me, it would be an environment in which I can explore topics freely on my own time and at my own pace while interacting as much as possible with other learners to hear their different perspectives. As far as instruction, I would like for it to be as least invasive as possible. By that I mean that ideally the instructor should act as a facilitator rather than dictate what the learning should or shouldn’t be. Even if the learning is technical in nature, I would rather it be a sandbox with some scaffolding rather than a set lesson with predetermined paths and outcomes. Honestly for me competition and goals motivate me so I’m really into games, especially role-playing.

Dustin Norwood at GMU EDIT 730

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