The creation of my PLE visualization was especially interesting because it made me consider how I get my news and form my opinions. I realized that all of my news comes from two main sources: digital and personal. From a digital perspective, I rely on the News App, which I have customized to my interests, for my basic daily news. This is usually my starting point for how I learn about the world. If I come across something especially interesting I will then proceed to look it up and try to learn more about it from whichever external source looks reliable and interesting, with little to no bias regarding who is writing the information. On top of this general news, I have tailored alerts sent to my email, one called theSkimm, which summarizes interesting news stories from across a wide range of topics. This email is great if I am on the move but does not provide me with a ton of in depth learning. As someone interested by economics and finance, a lot of my learning revolves around these topics. Therefore, I receive a daily financial business recap called Morning Brew, and have a Financial Times subscription. Additionally, a lot of my time spent learning focuses on sports, as I am an avid fan of baseball, basketball, and football. I learn about these topics from notifications meant to keep me on the frontier of the sports world, and I supplement with research on statistics and occasionally the creation of my own algorithms to test different ideas. From a learning perspective, most of this learning that comes from the digital world has to do with daily updates and quick information. It is stuff that I look at quickly in order to stay informed, but not usually information that I look at in depth on my devices.
When I am trying to learn something more significant I usually rely on non-digital, and often, personal sources. For example, a lot of my learning is done based on conversations with people, where I am able to learn about things from their perspective, but most importantly, from someone who usually has a first hand account and can answer questions. While I understand that forums are everywhere on the Internet and that there are plenty of places to ask questions about topics over the Internet, I prefer to do this in person. Thus, a lot of my more substantial skills were learned in personal settings, such as learning how to maintain things by working with my dad on projects or learning how to drive with an instructor. These learning experiences took a lot of time and many years but are very important to me. Technically, I could probably watch a YouTube video on how to fix a leak or use a driving simulator to practice, but I don’t think that these give the same experience that learning them in a personal setting does.
Furthermore, I think that knowing about your own PLE is an extremely important first step to improving your knowledge and your world profile. By knowing how you learn, you can compare your PLE to that of friends, family, professionals, etc. and thus obtain feedback and suggestions. This potential exchange of learning encapsulates the earlier concept of Web 2.0 and represents the potential for new learning. For example, this article on a professional PLE provides a fantastic roadmap to planning and changing your own PLE to maximize its efficiency and to increase your own learning. Some of the apps and sites that we have learned about in class, such as Pocket, provide fantastic ways to improve your PLE. For example, as someone whose PLE is divided into digital sources and personal interactions, Pocket allows for me to download digital references to be applied to personal interactions. An article that I read on how to properly fix a bicycle can be downloaded and saved offline for when I am riding my bike and it breaks down and I need to know how to fix it. While the in-person repetition of practicing this is the best way to learn it, the digital connection can help in a much needed situation and can assist in my learning.
In summary, my learning is split between digital sources and personal interactions relatively evenly. But the major difference comes from the type of learning that I do with each source. When I am learning something from my phone or laptop, I am usually reading short articles or watching videos meant to keep my attention and give me information rapidly. This is unbelievably valuable to me because it allows me to maintain a full schedule without falling behind on important news. However, when I want to learn a longer-term skill or something more substantial, I greatly prefer some sort of personal touch where I am able to interact immediately with someone and learn not only from their words, but also from their facial expressions and tone, which can be very revealing and can be difficult to understand clearly over technology.
News photo under CC license by-robert-hruzek Photo