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

I am a professional working in the education technology field, and I am also a graduate student at GMU. I like to learn about pedagogical underpinnings to educational technology as it relates to student engagement and performance. I find the intersection of learning and technology to be very interesting – for example, I read a study that found that students who were good a using Facebook and Instagram were not good at using their school’s Learning Management System – probably because the usability of the platforms are so different!

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

I prefer to use a laptop, and for large projects (such as a flow model or prototype) extend to a bigger screen. But I also find it really useful to keep up with discussion boards, assignments, emails, and web conferences with my project teams using my iPhone and iPad. My instructor posted a document in our discussion board, and it loaded and looked great on my iPhone – it was useful to refer to it during class to keep up with the discussion rather than take out my laptop.

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

I use the search databases provided by the GMU library, as well as Google, and “search inside” on Amazon for academic books. I also rely on Google Drive for both working collaboratively and interactively with project teams, as well as having access to my files anywhere and having a backup of them. Email is really useful for coordinating logistics with team members. I use in-app LMS discussion boards and blogs as directed by instructors by the courses I’m taking.

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 have had to use tools I have access to professionally for school work. For example, a course asked us to do a flow model, and I used Visio. So it would be great if courses provided software that supported the assignments. I think the most useful tool I wish I had was a way to better integrate the assignments and timelines from different courses, that are typically only in a Word document/syllabus. I usually make my own spreadsheet at the beginning of each semester to track the multiple activities and due dates for classes, and it tends to be error prone and time intensive.

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

I am picturing a dashboard type of interface, with important things to do highlighted, links to my Google area for each course, links to databases and search engines, and embedded chats and meetings with my project teams. In the past year, while pursuing the M.ED. at GMU, we have had to come up with our own ways to collaborate because the LMS doesn’t work that well for collaboration, and I have had to set up accounts on Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.

Tonya at GMU EDIT 730

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