How Do You Learn in the Digital Age?

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In lieu of Digital Learning Day, I thought I would ask a very simple question, "How do you learn in the digital age?" Even though this is a simple question, the answer can be very complex. The reason is because there are so many resources, learning styles, and strategies that can be used today to gain and share information.

In a world that is constantly evolving, it is arguably more important than ever to engage in continuous professional learning.  As educators in this world, it is often difficult to keep up with the latest research, new technology, and best practices.  However, in order to prepare our students for their future, we need to be continually asking ourselves these challenging questions:

  • What am I doing to stay informed of the latest research in education?
  • What am I doing to keep updated with innovative technology tools and resources?
  • What am I doing to ensure that I am implementing best practices in my classroom?

The problem we often face is not knowing how to effectively filter and process the information that we find to be relevant and reputable. In fact, Clay Shirky famously said, “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” But in a society where we spend hours and hours of every day online, and more and more information in all its forms comes to us, we need better filters (Notter and Grant, 2016).  So, here are some strategies and tools that will help you to manage your online resources by successfully filtering meaningful content.


Use an RSS Reader to let information come to you

One of the biggest challenges of online learning is the fact that there are so many websites and resources that are out there.  In order to learn more efficiently, we not only need to be consuming information, we need to be curating information.  Rather than going out and searching for websites, why not let websites come to you?  

By using a RSS Reader, you can choose to subscribe to your favorite websites and blogs for free! What's more, you can organize and manage these resources into custom categories of your choice.  I would recommend using Feedly to begin filtering your favorite resources.  To get started, I would recommend following, or subscribing to the following websites:


Find a Social Bookmarking tool that works for you

I personally love using Diigo as a social bookmarking tool to curate lots of different resources. A social bookmarking tool is a service that allows you to bookmark, organize, and share saved articles and resources on the web.  Whenever I happen to stumble across a website, article, blog post, or online journal entry, I use Diigo to digitally bookmark the site, which allows me to save the site in my account.  It also allows me to add labels or "Tags" to my bookmarks so that I can quickly locate them by topics that I choose.  Another feature of Diigo allows me to create different folders or "Outliners" to organize all of my bookmarks.  This allows me to make all or some of my bookmarks and outliners public if I choose to share them with others.  

Engage in social media

Did you know that you can search Twitter without having an account?  If you are new to social media, this is the first place that I would start.  By visiting Twitter and searching for educational hashtags, you can view or "lurk" conversations around specific topics in education, even without contributing.  I would recommend searching the following hashtags#edchat#edtechchat#edtech, and #education.  For a more comprehensive list of other educational hashtags and Twitter chat schedules, visit Twitter Chats for Educators.  If you would like to view multiple hashtags at once, I recommend using Tweetdeck for a "bird's eye view."  As you begin reading these conversations, try to "follow" colleagues, educators, and organizations that you highly value.  And when you are ready, I encourage you to participate in these conversations. Everyone has something to contribute to a conversation.  Even you!

Create your own Personal Learning Network (PLC)

While taking graduate courses is a great way to answer these questions, it can become very expensive and time consuming.  Therefore, I would argue that it is more cost-effective and time-sensitive to create your own Professional Learning Community (PLC). By creating a PLC, you will be able to connect, learn, and share with other passionate educators from around the world, at your convenience.  

Watch Tutorial Videos

Have you ever learned how to do something from watching an online video?  I bet you have.  I have personally learned how to do so much from watching "How To" videos on YouTube and other platforms. Most of the videos I watch are to help me learn how to use a new technology tool for teaching and learning.  However, I watch videos to learn how to do things in my personal life as well.  For example, outside of education, I have learned how to install a garbage disposal, solve a Rubik's cube, and assemble furniture, just to name a few.  Believe it or not, but YouTube is the second most popular search engine, with Google being number one.  There are so many tutorial videos available on the internet today that you can practically learn how to do anything. 

Type up Notes: Turning Print into a Digital Record

One thing that I have done for over 10 years is type up notes and quotes from books that I read.  First I read a book, and I use a highlighter to highlight parts of the book that I happen to find meaningful and relevant.  Then I create a Google Doc and begin typing the quotes that I highlighted from the book.  I also include the page number as a quick reference.  In addition, I also use the comment feature in Google Docs to insert a comment on quotes that I find applicable to my life in some shape or form.  I also do this process with other forms of prints such as magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and journals 

The benefit of doing this is to be able to quickly access and reference resources when I need to make an argument, or solidify my understanding of something.  There are two different ways in how I do this.
The first way is doing a search in my Google Drive for a specific topic or theme.  For example, I might type in the word "inquiry" if I want to search through all of my documents that include the word inquiry.  This allows me to quickly reference the sections of documents that are about inquiry.  The second way I use this, is by searching inside a specific document for a word or topic that I remember reading about.  In order to do this, I open the document, and use the keyboard shortcut "ctrl + f" on a Chromebook or PC, or "command + f" on a Mac.  This calls the "Find" command on a computer in order to search my entire document for a particular word or phrase, and it shows me everywhere in the document that contains my search criteria. 

Participate in a local EdCamp

EdCamps are one of the most innovative professional development opportunities that exist today. Why, you might ask?  Because, not only are they free events, but there is no schedule or agenda. Topics are organically created the morning of the event and any participant can volunteer to lead a session. EdCamps are increasingly sweeping the nation and are changing the way that we learn as professional educators.  Check out some of the upcoming events and take a creative risk by signing up for one near you. 


For your consideration

In addition to these examples, there are many other creative ways to engage in a PLC. Consider using your Google+ account to follow your colleagues and join educational Communities.  And consider signing up for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) at https://www.edx.org/ to learn about meaningful topics with others for free. 

If there are other ways that you are learning in the digital age, please share by posting a comment. Happy Digital Learning Day, and happy learning!


You might also like

The Teacher’s Guide To Twitter
George Couros on Social Media
My Personal Learning Network is the most awesomest thing ever!!


Reference

Notter, Jamie, and Maddie Grant. Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World. Que, 2016.

Comments

  1. I don't think that engaging into social networks is a good idea for learning. It destracts attention and you always feel tempted to like friend's photo/status instead of concentration on the main idea.
    However, e-learning is more interesting indeed. I like for they add elements of game to apps which makes it more interesting both for children and adults https://qubit-labs.com/mobile-application-development-services/ There is even a process of app creating called gamification!

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  3. I think that it is necessary to make significant changes to the education system now. The world has changed, everything is becoming digital and this must be taken into account when drawing up education reform. Many schools keep up with the times, but we need to do this everywhere. Why did business companies recognize the importance of IT technologies and use the services of salesforce implementation consultants, and our children are teached as if we still live in the 20th century?

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