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.
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.