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

Academically: I hold an A.A.S. in Business Administration, B.S. in Marketing, and I am currently working towards a M.Ed in Instructional Design and Technology. I also hold several industry-recognized certifications in the fields of Logistics and Government Acquisition, and a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification.

Professionally: My current profession is a Consultant (Associate-level) with Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing in the field of logistics for the ship building/ship repair industry. I am a U.S. Navy veteran, retired from active duty in 1996 as a Senior Chief Electronics Technician (E-8), with operation experience in submarines and surface ships, NATO logistics, and as a certified Master Training Specialist. I am currently moving into a training/training development role. I’ve also been teaching English-Second Language (ESL) classes to adult learners on a periodic part-time basis over the past several years after earning my TESOL certification.

Personally: I spend a lot of time online as a blogger (on my personal website) and commentator on Social Media sites. My hobbies include boating, kayaking, traveling, and photography and my personal learning includes expanding my knowledge in these hobbies, primarily using online Communities of Practice (CoP) hosted by Facebook and specialty websites. I also keep up with trends and developments in alternative energy technology, sustainable agriculture, maritime technology, and current news; primarily using online information sources (news feeds, CoP groups).

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

My primary computer is a desktop, currently Windows 10 operating system. My mobile device is an Apple iPhone 7. Given a preference, I prefer to use my desktop as I like the larger screen and keyboard for learning.

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

My primary search engine is Google, as I’ve found this seems to be the most inclusive and minimizes rankings from paid advertising.

My primary social network is Facebook; no reason other than that’s where my friends and family hangout. I’m expanding my use of LinkedIn as I expand my professional network. I used to use several bulletin boards for hobby-related information (knife collecting, boating) but with the advent of FaceBook and other social media apps many of these bulletin boards are being slowly abandoned to social media sites.

I use Wikipedia extensively as a research tool. I realize the entries may have un-identified biases from the authors, I’ve found Wikipedia is a good place to start, and then use the citations to expand my knowledge of the topic as needed. I also use Wikimedia Commons when I’m looking for royalty-free photographs. This site has a decent collection of high-quality images that I can legally access for my work. The blogs I primarily follow are current news and Liberal Democratic-orientated.

I don’t use podcasts on a regular basis although I have a list that I recommend to my ESL students. I’ve always been an avid reader but have resisted eBooks until recently. I like the feel of having an actual printed book in my hand and turning actual pages. I am slowly accepting eBooks on reason I no longer have space in my home for more bookcases (as per my wife) and it’s too difficult for me to get to local libraries with my work schedule.

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?

The two main tools I wish I had access to and was able to use are Photoshop and AutoCAD. I enjoy amateur photography and post a lot of my images to my blogging site, and having a solid grounding in working with digital images would expand my photography skills. I’d like to learn and have access to AutoCAD as I perform a significant amount of technical writing in my consulting work, which frequently requires me to build technical drawings. Lacking AutoCAD access limits me to using MS Word as a drawing tool, which has severe limitations.

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

I learn best by doing. My ideal personal learning environment would be a computer (desktop, laptop, or mobile device) accessible with relevant help information when I am poking around attempting to figure something out. My normal personal learning approach is to jump into a project and power through until I absolutely cannot work out my next step, then stop and look at instructions or jump into a CoP group and ask for help. Having content-relevant information accessible as needed would be a great time-saver.

Ron Charest

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