My Learning Network

Thinking through my professional and personal learning networks was an interesting exercise. I noticed that there are common networks that I turn to when trying to find information; I have colourised the frequently used networks in the embedded map below. There are some networks that I prefer to use in a personal learning context and others that I exclusively use for professional learning. LinkedIn for example I only use for professional learning, YouTube and Reddit however are aligned to personal learning networks, however not exclusively.learningmap-image

View the learning network map

I think this speaks to Ira Socol’s blog post about the Toolbelt theory. I have some tools, which I find useful for particular jobs, ie when learning a new programming concept I turn to Stack Overflow, or the language specific documentation. I would find it harder to pose a particular programming problem in my LinkedIn network and receive the same level of information. What I am doing subconsciously when turning to these networks is performing the TEST (Task – Environment – Skills – Tools) and evaluating the task the skills and the tools available to me to determine what works best for me. (Socol, 2008)

Further to this, as Lau mentions in her ‘My Learning Network’ post there is a language that needs to be understood and used when using the right tool. I think that this consideration is undertaken in the environment part of the evaluation. Can I ask this question in a way that will make sense in this environment? To build on Lau’s example if I asked the following question in LinkedIn:

“What library is best suited to parsing a JSON string of lat lon points from Google’s geocoding API and store them in a PHP multidimensional array?”

The network that I have cultivated in LinkedIn would struggle to give me a meaningful answer. That’s not to say there aren’t people/communities on LinkedIn that could answer it. I use LinkedIn in a professional context and as such the connections I have are more focused on my professional learning areas.

Socol, I. (2008). Toolbelt Theory for Everyone. Retrieved July 29, 2017, from:

4 thoughts on “My Learning Network”

  1. Hi Mathew, you remind me of some interesting points about this course.

    As a Librarian (i.e. teacher) and a learner at work, I’ve found Socol’s (2008) TEST process occurs subconsiously or explicitly depending on the complexity of the task and if I’m working on my own or with others. For example, I once informally managed a project comprising of 17 people across four university teams for eight months to create a learning module. Its success required the Library to explicitly define the Task, scan the university Environment for people with the correct Skills so that we could invite them to the project, and the identify correct Tools to use. As a learner, I was at one point, consistently told that the Task wasn’t being defined enough by a fellow librarian, and so the feedback and learning improved my communication. Communication and therefore workflows across teams were also assisted by my making sure the Library adopted other teams’ language. In hindsight, the module also allowed for the creation of a small Task-Based-Learning-Group as I ensured that learning for junior staff occurred by giving them new tasks to master which they subsequently transferred to other projects (Rein and Polin, 2004 p 23).

    In response to your comments on a shared language and particularly Lauren’s comment about the “real skill and real learning that comes from NGL is more often in the strands between the webs, where two seemingly different concepts come together to form new ideas” – I agree, and the example above demonstrates this. Further, McColgin (2013) states this in a different way by saying that use of other disciplines’ languages translates to the increased likelihood of gaining inspiration in our own workplace. He suggests stepping out of our comfort zones to reach out to others, learning their terminology to understand new work processes and then adapting the process and using the adapted process to make an idea come to life. Doing this however, means people need to overcome barriers of politics, trade secrets and negativity (McColgin, 2013). – Cheers, Samanthi 🙂


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