Table of contents for Personal Learning Environments
The first step in learning is to be exposed to the new concept or process you’re going to be learning. Unsurprisingly, the first step in the PLE process is providing a means by which to discover new material.
In our information-rich society, discovery is a much simpler process than it used to be. Twenty years ago, I’d hear about something or read about it somewhere, and then spend a few hours in my school library’s card catalog and Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature to learn more. (Like if you have any idea what those two resources are. I was so good at using a card catalog that I often updated my high school’s card catalog and trained younger students in how to use it.) Now, I have a number of tools that bring information to me, and when one of them brings me something interesting, I open up another tab and search for more information. It’s a very different process accomplishing the same goal.
Today, the process of discovery starts when the learner identifies an information stream they want to follow, be it a blog’s RSS feed, a Goggle Alert for a specific set of keywords, or someone’s social media profile. That stream joins with other streams of information to brings news, articles, and opinions of interest to the learner. Once trained in information literacy, the learner can then sift through and figure out what streams are worth keeping. Sometimes, she can even focus her searches more tightly to bring highly specific information, giving her that much more on the topic.
It all starts with the right searches, the ability to recognize a good information stream, and a means to keep up with that information.