Using social media for personal learning

Today I ran a short session where I shared how I use social media to enhance my learning. I've blogged previous about this topic in the post Social Media for YOUR learning but now I've refined my thinking and developed a better presentation about this I thought I'd share my thinking again.

I decided to represent my thinking in the below pearltree.  Pearltree is a website where you can create mindmap-type groups of bubbles which links to websites.  I've started using it as my main bookmarking site.  It took a bit of getting used to but its good if you want to group things and is certainly more visually appealing than a normal bookmarking service.

Making sense of how I use social media to aid my learning is a tricky business.   However, I have a sort of system and this what I wanted to share.  Although the process is iterative some types of activity do present themselves.  An important point is that different aspects of the same tool fit into the different categories I identify.

  • Seeking and consuming knowledge - This is mainly my RSS reader and twitter.  I use google reader and have a carefully refine list of blogs and learning technologies news services which I subscribe to.  With twitter, I don't spend as much time as I could or should on this.  I'm following 170 or so people and it purely about learning technologies.  I have a seperate account for fun stuff as it's useful to differentiate between my learning and social life.  In the pearltree below I've also included google and linkedin as these are also important places I look for things.
  • Aggregation - Very closely associated with seeking knowledge is the aggregation of knowledge.  You need to aggregate before you can consume in a discerning fashion.  RSS and the process of subscribing are fundamentally components of this.  Gradually twitter is muscling in on my time but I still love my google reader.  Also included below are evernote where the different folders I create and the notes I take are a form of aggregation for review later and diigo.  I use diigo because it allows for groups which, along with the normal tagging, allow me to easily find types of bookmarks.
  • Website note-taking - I tend not to do this in its purest sense but it deserves its place as there are a host of services which can be utilised for this purpose.  Of the sites listed in this pearl below, my activity is mainy confined to evernote which I use to copy/paste the best bits, the golden nuggets of knowledge I find.  By creating a note for each set of such nuggets, I can include a weblink and tag for future reference.  The important point here is that you find time to review later - that's the learning.  I also ensure that when I bookmark in diigo I write a few words to remind myself what the site is about.  However, with bookmarking proper tagging are key.  Bounce and scrible are note-taking on the website tools.
  • Knowledge sharing - This is an important part of the ethos of social media and web 2.0 - you share as well as consume, you give as well as receive.  My chief forum for this is twitter where I get benefit from articulating the key points in a tweet and from generating more contacts to follow and be followed.
  • Brainstorming/sense-making - Here I've included a drawing tool and a couple of mindmapping tools.  I use mindmapping tools a lot to helping create relationship between concepts and play with my ideas.
  • Text-based dialogue learning - This will be different for everyone.  My networks for this include a couple of learning technology groups and some linkedin groups, but I've also included my blog where dialogue can occur in the comments.
  • Writtern reflection - This completes the circle.  It's what I'm doing now and it a vital component for my learning.  The fact that I've not done much blogging over the last few months isn't good and I know I learn less when do less blogging.  The process of articulating for an potential audience is right at the heart of learning.  By refining my words, I refine my learning.

I would be interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on my PLE and hearing about the tools you use.