A toolkit for supporting your own learning online: Joy Suliman

Joy Suliman facilitates workshops in multi-media production and content development at the Powerhouse Museum’s Thinkspace creative media labs. She has a special interest in adapting widely available online tools and accessible hardware for learning purposes. Previously she has worked as a regional radio producer and community development worker. But most people will know Joy as the former Collections Australia Network National Project Manager – delivering training and online support to the national collections sector.

Professional development and learning are a vital part of everyone’s working life. We are increasingly getting our information and learning resources from a variety of online sources such as websites, blogs, online journals, wikis, forums and discussion lists. And then there is also the social networking sites like Twitter, Slideshare, Facebook and YouTube. It can seem like a real nightmare trying to stay in the loop, keeping track of everything you come across, and then finding it again when you need it. Creating your own “Personal Learning Environment” or PLE is a handy way of integrating all your online learning and resources, and creating ways of managing your own learning online.

PLEs are, very broadly, the ways and structures an individual uses to find, organise, reflect and share their learning in online environments. It’s more than just elearning or doing a course online, it’s everything you do online to grow your knowledge and skills. It’s a highly contested definition, but I like what Melbourne academic Ron Lubensky has written about it here. There are some formal PLEs that are used by schools and universities, but for most of us, it will be a matter of integrating some of our already existing online practices and looking at other online tools that will help us fill in the gaps. Many web 2.0 and social media tools are great for creating your PLE. In this post, I thought I would share with you the top 5 applications in my PLE toolkit, and how I use them.

1. Delicious
Delicious is a social bookmarking site. Using delicious you can save bookmarks, tag them using your own terminology, add notes and comments, manage them from anywhere when you are online, and share them. It’s a big leap forward from the “favourites” in your browser, because using tags you can label pages in a way that makes sense to you and that will help you find them again later. I save everything I think I might like to read/hear/watch again, so when I’m having one of those “where did I read that” moments, I look in my delicious links first. I also keep a list of resources and articles for Thinkspace in Delicious.

2. Google Reader
Feed readers are great for checking all your blogs in one place. There are lots of them around, but I use Google Reader because it’s simple, and I can check it from my home, work, laptop or iphone without too much hassle. I scan through the summaries of all the posts from all the blogs that I follow. It has replaced the morning newspaper for me. If I want to read more, I can, and if I’m really interested I will click through to the post, and then bookmark it in Delicious. There are also some tools that allow you to favourite, share, email and tag with the reader itself. Essential.

3. Zotero
This is a seriously good tool for those doing research. It’s an add-on/extension for firefox, and it stores the citations and notes for websites, pdfs and basically anything you might come across online. Bibliographies can be exported into Word or Open Office. Open source and free. Wish it existed when I was writing my thesis . . .

4. Twitter
Microblogging – updates of 140 characters or less. I’m a bit surprised at how quickly I have become a fan of twitter. What can you learn in under 140 characters? Plenty it turns out. I follow people who I have met professionally, and through twitter I know what they are reading, and read it straight away if they have provided the link in their tweet. I get information about events and training. I put information about what I am working on and the workshops in the Thinkspace labs in my tweets. People who follow me comment, advise and “re-tweet” to their own networks. At conferences that I’m not attending, I appreciate that I can follow the presentations through the tweets of others who are there. I can tweet from any computer or my iphone. Want to follow me?

5. LastPass
Lots of accounts and logging in mean lots of logins and passwords. I use LastPass to manage my accounts. I have it set up on the browser on my laptop. Secure and easy to use. One password is all I need now.

I was really inspired by a presentation that Kathryn Greenhill gave at the CAN Collections and the Web event in Perth last year “”…but I don’t have time and THEY don’t get it”: Finding time and reasons for emerging technologies”. Kathryn’s presentation is on slideshare, and reminded me that everything I want to learn is out there, I just have to make it personal and take responsibility.

If you are looking for more hands on professional development and practical digital skills learning, we have a range of adult learning and professional development courses at Thinkspace, including Digital storytelling, Digital video editing, Photoshop, Web 2.0 toolkit, Online planning and research skills, and Interactive whiteboard skills. We are also putting together a professional development program for people working in museums, history, cultural heritage, collections and the arts, called Digital Culture. The first Digital Culture workshop will be Podcasting, and is scheduled for Thursday 12 November. Book here.

If you would like to know about future Digital Culture workshops in video and youtube, blogging, photography, nings and wikis, send me an email and I’ll let you know when they are coming up.

5 Responses to “A toolkit for supporting your own learning online: Joy Suliman”

  1. CAN Outreach blog » Blog Archive » A toolkit for supporting your … | Training Sussex Says:

    [...] The rest is here:  CAN Outreach blog » Blog Archive » A toolkit for supporting your … [...]

  2. David Milne Says:

    Thanks Joy for the article about PLEs which was very interesting. I sometimes wonder about the time involved in managing and responding to my work e-mails, Ning networks for professional purposes plus Facebook and Myspace for friends and music related stuff. But each serve a useful purpose and integration is the key.

    Picking up your point about Delicious, I formed a Queensland Museum Learning account a while back where websites or articles that I think would be interesting to our diverse staff are posted. I am happy to share this resource with other GLAM sector colleagues. There are over 300 tagged sites which should have some appeal to museum folk, whatever specialism they may have.

    Here’s the Delicious link: http://delicious.com/qm_learning

  3. Joy Suliman Says:

    Thanks for the delicious link David – I’ll add it the http://delicious.com/phmthinkspace network.

    I’ve found that the more I immerse myself in social media, the more I learn about how to manage my time and resources, and I’ve actually begun to shift the way that I work and think to take this into account. I don’t think I spend any more time than I did a year or two ago, I just use better tools and judgement, but I get through heaps more stuff. For me, the decisions about what to spend my time on come down to the quality of the dialogue and the value of the information. That’s also the reason why I rate these 5 apps so highly – each of them smooothes out a little piece of information chaos – links, blogs, references and passwords.

  4. Kerri Laidlaw Says:

    Thanks for this article. I am so glad that a facility like Last Pass exists! OMG, how many times have I forgotten or mixed up my passwords….And you have inspired me to use delicious on a more regular basis, I remember why I like it now!
    Great work.

  5. John Says:

    I do appreciate this posting. I have taken this presentation skills workshop at Ripe Stuff and I gained a lot of confidence and was able to prepare effective slides to aid presentation.

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