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How Information Flow Supports Connected Learning


Ubiquitous access to unlimited information is creating massive adjustments to modern learning. There are some that say learning, in the traditional sense, is no longer necessary because of the instantaneous availability of boundless information. For example, I no longer need to memorize the names of all fifty states and their capitals because Google will provide me this information in a fraction of a second. These shifts in learning are causing many educators, and with good reason, to reshape their thoughts on the purpose and function of schools, and of education.  



Whether informal or formal, information is feeding our learning significantly. With only 24 hours in a day, how can we possibly make sense of all of the information that is available to us? As with water, electricity, or air, I find it helps to have a process or plan for information flow. Three stages make up this flow model, input, processing, output. Each stage contributes to the overall understanding of a topic or situation.


INPUT


With so much information available to us, it takes a critical eye, and higher level thinking to compare, assess, and analyze the resources that support our learning. Evaluating sources of information contributes to depth of knowledge. The tools that I use most frequently in my curating process include the following; 

  • RSS Feeds / Blogger Reading List - I subscribe to about 100 educator blogs. I have discovered some of my favorite educators on Twitter, others I found through Google Scholar resources, and Teach 100. Efficiency is achieved because I don't spend time searching for new material, it comes to me every day via email, or my reading lists. By subscribing to highly rated, trusted bloggers, I consistently receive outstanding learning material.
  • Social Readers - Zite, Flipboard, and News-360 are my favorite social readers. Besides looking great on my iPad, these apps intuitively "feed" my daily reading list by pre-selecting material based upon personalized criteria, reading habits, and "favorited" stories. Deeper understanding comes from comparing and analyzing varied perspectives. As with my reader list, my social readers provide a never ending supply of fresh material tailored to my interests and needs.
  • Social Media - On demand, personalized learning is made possible through YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Google+.  Using channels, lists, and communities helps to narrow my search for relevant material. When I need more than words, these resources provide images and video to help reinforce my learning. These resources deepen my understanding by supporting my preferred learning styles.

Processing


Many times, my processing of digital information is merely reading, and then sharing. I am in the habit of bookmarking and sharing everything I read or view. I have learned so much from what other educators have shared with me, it's just the way a good personal learning network (PLN) works. My processing of information may also include writing a reflective blog post, creating a short video, or building a presentation for a conference or workshop. Frequently, the processing of information allows me to contribute to school, or community based initiatives. In short, my understanding is deepened by consuming what I have read or experienced, and then producing my own interpretation of the newly acquired knowledge.



Output


Authentic audiences force my conscientious effort to share accurate, valuable information. I share to platforms that are complimentary, and readily accessible on any web-connected device. Deeper understanding is achieved by frequent reflection, feedback, and at times, a revisiting or rethinking of my original inquiry. My information output is directed to primarily three sources, my blog, my tweets, and my e-zines.

  • Nocking the Arrow has evolved into my digital portfolio. The main blog feed contains conversational and reflective pieces. The subsequent pages contain presentations, professional goals, and artifacts relating to my professional learning. 
  • Twitter is my go-to app for personal learning. A few minutes each day provides the spark for further inquiry, investigation, and collaborative problem solving. Many of my learning relationships, and professional partnerships were initiated through contact on Twitter. It sounds strange for me to admit this truth, I have more "virtual" friends than I have face-to-face friends. Is this the new normal?
  • Flipboard provides repositories for my favorite "consumed" and "produced" information. Just about any piece of web-based material can be flipped into a Flipboard magazine. My archive is in an attractive, easy-to-read, format. I can invite other collaborators to make contributions, and subscribers can perpetuate the learning cycle.

Here is a visual interpretation of my preferred information flow. One of my goals is to incorporate other forms of media into my flow processes. Although I have grown to love writing, I would like to become better at producing instructional videos. My information flow process has provided greater efficiency in consuming information, while also deepening my understanding through the curating, processing, and sharing of personalized content.



Do you have a digital information flow process? If so, is it effectively supporting your learning? What do you think of this flow model? How does your information flow compare?

photo credit: ccrrii via photopin cc

Comments

Bill Pratt said…
Thanks for sharing your thought process. As I engage more and more electronically, I see myself starting to create a workflow, and then recreating and/or modifying it when it becomes overwhelming! It is getting smoother and smoother though. I will take a look at some of the tools you use.
Robert Schuetz said…
Thank you for commenting Bill. Yes, this information flow model always seems to be a work in progress. Like someone smarter than me once said, "My connected life is in beta!" Thanks again for reading & commenting - have a good day! Bob

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