Who are you, and what do you like to learn about? (academically, professionally, and/or personally)
I am a M.Ed. student at George Mason University, and a full-time federal employee. I like to learn about emerging technologies in manufacturing, space exploration, virtual reality/simulations, and social connections.
What hardware do you use to learn? (Eg. smart phone, tablet, laptop, desktop)
I mostly use my desktop computer to learn new skills. The large screen and keyboard make it easy to search for information and compare multiple resources. I will use my smartphone to look up things when it’s quicker than going to a desktop computer, but that’s more for reference.
For long-form reading I prefer an e-Ink e-reader, but the poor refresh and grayscale color palette are drawbacks. For short-form reading like journal articles, I use an iPad because I can highlight, draw, and scribble on the article.
What software do you use to learn? (Eg. search engines, mobile apps, social networks, eBooks, digital libraries, wikis, blogs, videos, podcasts)
Most of my new knowledge comes through search engines; wikipedia and instructables are great sources of crowdsourced knowledge, although vetting those sources is an important step. I also will read eBooks about a topic when the content area isn’t moving too quickly for such a static format to keep up, or for retrospective views on how a content area has developed. I make very little use social networks, except sometimes as a way to find other wikis or more static content.
I typically don’t like video, and will often simply not watch a video that doesn’t have a transcript or captions, especially if a bit of scrubbing shows the whole video to be just a talking head. I like to control the speed at which I receive new data, to speed up or slow down at will, which is easier with simple text.
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?
I’d like to have access to better drawing/writing tools for tablets. I can type on a keyboard faster than I can write, but I can write on paper much faster than I can write on a screen. If I could get better fidelity and quicker stroke recognition from a drawing app, I’d be more inclined to use that then paper.
One of the tools I wish I had access too during undergrad was google docs. It’s a great collaboration tool, and allows me to store work that I did years before and find it with a simple search.
What might your ideal Personal Learning Environment (PLE) look like?
My ideal Personal Learning Environment would be an iPad with better software for reading and writing. I can use GoogleDocs and almost every other tool on the iPad, but features are missing for the tablet implementation, so I eventually have to go back to the desktop to finish my work. Furthermore, it would be fully functional in an offline environment – I do a lot of my reading on the ipad while underground on the train, and I can’t access the internet to download new content until I get home.
Having everything accessible on one lightweight device means that I can learn anytime, anywhere, in between my other commitments, or while I am commuting.