This is the question we have been asked to respond to in Week 4 of the Personal Learning MOOC (#NRC01PL). This is a quick response.
The word that immediately came into my mind in response to this question was ‘Freedom’. Freedom to decide whether or not I want to answer that question; where, how and when I want to answer that question. In other words, freedom to learn when, where, how, and with whom I want to. Of course I know that that is a bit of a utopian view. There will be elements of my PLE which may not offer me unlimited freedom. For example, if part of my PLE is a learning management system (LMS), then I will experience constraints within that system, but ideally it will have been my choice to have an LMS within my PLE.
Perhaps autonomy is a better word, or perhaps autonomy is a result of freedom.
So I have decided to answer that question here on my blog. I saw it first on the EdX course site, then on Facebook. I wondered whether it would make a good Twitter chat. It probably would – but I don’t want to do that. That’s what personal means. I can choose.
To choose I don’t have to be super tech saavy. I am not a technologist. I am not even particularly interested in technology. I have a fairly standard set of tools that I use all the time. These are – in no particular order
- Email: I use this a lot but I am not overwhelmed by it
- WordPress: My blog is where I feel at home online
- Twitter: I use Tweetdeck to follow Twitter streams and private messaging
- Facebook: I really don’t like Facebook, but it’s the only way to keep in touch with some long-term distant friends
- Flickr: I am not interested in the Flickr game of promoting photos by commenting on everyone else’s. I use it as a personal photo back up store
- LinkedIn: Only for professional contact and sharing my CV
- PbWiki: I have lots of wikis, but only for invited people, so not public. Wikis are where I do all my research work
- Pinterest: This is a very recent addition to my PLE and only because I have started art classes so it’s a good way of collecting images of art from the artists mentioned in the class
- Mendeley: I couldn’t manage without this for my research. I have a huge library of papers
- Evernote: As above. I have collected a whole library of links useful for my research
- Youtube: I create Youtube videos because that’s the only way I know of getting an embed code for my blog and also because for work purposes it is quite easy to privately share videos.
- Google+: I only use this to share blog posts. I do not interact there. I don’t find Google+ intuitive. It reminds me of my reaction to Elgg. I always feel lost in it.
These are the tools that currently make up my personal learning environment. But personal learning for me is a lot more than online environments. A lot of my personal learning is not public. Privacy and solitude are extremely important to me. So a lot of my learning really is personal. i.e. for my eyes only, or only for the eyes of very close and trusted friends/colleagues. Ironically some of those friends are online friends who I have never met face-to-face and others are friends/colleagues who I do not interact with online.
So what does personal learning mean to me? It’s complex – and personal!