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

I have about six years of experience as a teacher, trainer, and instructional designer. I am currently a graduate student in Instructional Design and Technology at GMU. Professionally and academically, I enjoy learning about learning theory and user experience design as they apply to learning technologies and environments. Personally, I enjoy learning languages, reading and reflecting on postmodern literature, and participating in more kinesthetic-oriented learning activities like sports, dancing, and traveling.

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

The most pleasant experience for me is to use a large screen, usually a laptop plugged in to two small displays or into a large display, but empirically I use my laptop screen just as much. I love the tablet for reading textbooks and as a supplementary screen when I’m using my laptop. For example, maybe I’ll have a certain website open on the tablet that I’ll reference while I’m typing on my laptop. I have increasingly been using and indeed relying on my iPhone and tablet for referencing discussions, syllabi, schedules, grades, assignments, etc. on the Bb app.

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

I use almost all of those software for learning. Search engines are a constant, ubiquitous part of learning. I love the Bb mobile app because I don’t have to login every time I access Bb. I am a member of a few elearning-related LinkedIn groups that sponsor professional development activities and link to interesting articles. eBooks have been key during my masters degree. GMU does an OK job with its digital libraries, which I use for every research paper. I wish there were a OneSearch option that searched all of the databases (There technically is one, but the librarian says it doesn’t work well.) Wikis I mainly use at work or in group activities to collaborate on documents (I’m considering Google Docs a wiki for these purposes, although there is a denotational difference). I’ve come to consider almost all online magazines like Slate and The Atlantic “blogs”, so I guess I learn from those. I like reading my peers’ blog posts in class, although WordPress wasn’t the best platform for those, in my opinion. Videos are key for learning kinesthetic activities like cooking and using new software. Finally, I listen to podcasts all the time when I’m running, driving, cleaning, or cooking. This American Life, The Moth, Radio Ambulante, and Radiolab are my favorites. I’d LOVE if textbooks were available in audio format.

One software that has recently made my life a lot easier is the voice to text software available on my macbook pro and iphone. I’m able to dictate assignments or at least ideas for assignments when I am on the go and thinking about them.

The Swipes app has also been essential for keeping track of what assignments and readings I have to get done, but that is more of a scheduling/time management app.

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?

Flow chart tools (I’ve found them useful for work); all of the Adobe software like Photoshop, InDesign, DreamWeaver, etc. (if they were easier to access, I’d use them more often.) I’d be open to using progress tracking tools for group projects, but I’ve never used them before.

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

Minimalist design. Highly editable, including appearance, organization, and content. If a PLE were part of a class and I were required to look at and comment on others’ PLEs, I’d want there to be some sort of requirement for the learner to write a brief synopsis and reflection on why a certain video, blog, article, etc. were interesting and useful. I’d hate for PLEs to just turn into an information dump.

Laura at GMU EDIT 730

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