Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Personalized Personal Work Learning Environmental World

Tony Karrer asked in the comments on my PLE post yesterday,
I'm curious if you distinguish your learning environment (tools, skills, etc.) from your work environment (tools, skills) in any significant way (especially in the context of tacit work)?
Well, this is a good question. One that I'll have to consider for awhile here...the slow learning of blogging...thoughts trickle down and excited ideas bubble up. It's just a giant percolating coffee pot inside my brain these days.

At first glance, I'd say that most of my "personal" learning does not happen with technology tools at all. I read books, I talk to people, I experience. Most of what I'm doing outside of work these days involves the care and feeding of two small people, ages 2 and 4.

Those of you who've done the small child thing know there's not a lot of time for extras, especially if you work full-time. There are plenty of opportunities for learning: usually it's at least one lesson a day in patience and deep-breathing.

But the boundary has gotten fuzzy for me. e-Learning creeps into the world of parenting. Through blogging and access to this wonderful community beyond the walls of my office, I've started to get passionate again about my work.

Through watching my kids play with technology tools, I KNOW that things are changing; that e-Learning will be a fact of life for them. So I feel the need to understand e-Learning more from the education and lifelong learning standpoint than just boring old training. Their school days will be quickly upon us. I need to be prepared.

Because I work in the technology field and because the world is becoming increasingly technology-driven, the boundary between personal and work has gotten really really fuzzy.

(Oh boy, am I going to start making a big map of my learning world now? It just might happen....)

But the truth is, I do use some "tools" to manage my personal learning:

  • iGoogle kind of changed my life. I have links to sites I like to read that may or may not pertain to my work world. I have a Big Lebowski quote generator on my home page that always makes me laugh. (Not learning, but humor is essential!) I keep track of the phases of the moon. I read the NY Times headlines. Because iGoogle goes with me, it has become a place for both work and personal interests.
  • I use Google bookmarks to manage links of personal learning interest. Increasingly, I'm also using deli.ci.ous, but that's mostly for work-related links so far.
  • Google Reader. Well, let's just say that I have to force myself to NOT check up on things after I've put the kids to bed. If I make that mistake, I end up dreaming about PLEs all night. Good lord. Learning never stops, does it?
  • I have a huge wish list in Amazon to help me track all of the books I'd like to read, when I have the time....this list spans e-Learning, parenting, fiction, spiritual....The ideal is that I'd go check the book out from the library, but my schedule hasn't allowed for many library visits these days. Sometimes I actually buy a book. And then, sometimes, I might just start reading that book. When the stars are properly aligned, I might even finish said book. (I currently have at least 5 books in progress next to my bed).
  • I started a private Live Journal, but I've only written there a few times.
  • I blog, therefore I am. Personal is work; work is personal. I blog at work, I blog at home. It's all relevant to the big picture that is me. Blogging has a positive effect on my work-life expertise -- countless client conversations have gone all the better because of something I read just yesterday or wrote about the day before.
  • I have an old-school paper-based journal that is sometimes about personal and sometimes about blog entries. Even that's starting to get fuzzy.
  • Our home computer sits in our kitchen (we have a tiny house). It's really easy to search for anything at a moments notice.
  • YouTube is our tv. We don't have cable tv and get about two channels on broadcast. Is YouTube learning or just entertainment or a bit of both?
  • I read the New Yorker at home. It's paper! Always something cool to learn. Implicit lessons in how to write good. I mean well.
  • * UPDATE: I've recently started using Google Notebooks. (OK, yes. I'm a Google Girl. But it's so easy. All in one place and in my face). Trying to implement some form of GTD action lists, keep track of blog ideas, research lists, etc. This is still messy as I do a lot of that "tacit" work upkeep in a paper notebook as well. I tried using Google Calendar, but that got overwhelming. I've stuck with Outlook Calendar -- which is all work and any outside appointments that might conflict with work. And I also keep a datebook in my bag -- I like to flip through the pages and see what I did, what I have to do. I don't keep this up as much as I used to now that so much else is electronic. But I do miss that palpable record of my life. I've got engagement calendars that go back 20 years.
So that's some of where my life is right now. As my kids get older, I'm sure (I hope!) that there will be room again for my old and new personal interests. They were many. I used to do pottery and yoga and hand-drumming and provide professional therapeutic massage and get a lot more exercise and do random artwork and sewing projects and some knitting and much more *personal* writing (and yet I write more now than I've written in years!) and and and....

And although I didn't always think about it as learning, I certainly was learning a lot. And still am. These days the topics are different. And I suppose the truth is that the topics always change. That's what keeps this journey so darn interesting...


Lee Kraus said...

It looks like you are well on your way to a great learning environment. I have trouble keeping work, home, and play seperate.

Cammy Bean said...

Lee -- That boundary between work/family/play does get really fuzzy, doesn't it? You either have to learn to compartmentalize things really well, or just stop trying to control it all and let chaos reign. I'm currently working more in chaos mode. Controlled chaos.