Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jack of all Trades? – A Metacognitive Musing
In their Curriculum 2.0 wiki , Dennis Harter and Justin Medved summarize:

“Reflection has always been is a powerful tool used to develop as a learner and individual. Today there are so many different ways in which an individual can acquire knowledge, communicate and learn about the world. Understanding yourself and which learning environments and information streams work best for you are important components of successful navigation in this information and learning landscape. Central to this is “learning how to learn” and developing in individuals an awareness of how they learn best and the different tools that are available to them for different informational situations. Growing an understanding about of the various learning strategies they employ and the types of resources they access in order to meet their information and learning needs are crucial elements to growing as learner today”. [The bolding is mine.]

Metacognition is described in this framework: “How I learn best? How do I know? How do I communicate and organize my understanding?”
So I do a learning inventory:

·         How do I learn best?
o    I am a reader. That means that I actually read lots – novels, journal articles, blogs, RSS feeds (I still mourn the death of Google reader), listserv notices and aggregator dailies that appear in my inbox – if it contains text I can understand, I’ll read it. And, if it contains text I think I can use for a future project or even text about a concept I’m interested in, I’ll save it by downloading or bookmarking.
o    I’m a saver. That means I have a ton of emails saved into a vast array of folders in Outlook, Chrome bookmarks (also stored in a variety of folders) and, though I choke to admit I use it, favorites and RSS feeds on Internet Explorer! [Note to self: Gather them together into a more unified format (see below).]
o    I’m a listener. Since I don’t get the opportunity to attend tons of conferences, I have to content myself with webinars. Not all of the professionals I admire come across as well in speaking as they do in writing, but I have their presentations (Slideshares or PowerPoint handouts in PDF) to remind myself of what they said. And I often have the archived webinar that I can revisit when I need to refresh myself on their insights.
·         What tools do I use? [Not their question but closely linked to my style of learning]
o    Yesterday, I downloaded and installed Evernote for Windows on my laptop. While Microsoft OneNote came with my Office 2010, I just couldn’t get into a comfort zone with this tool and am hoping that Evernote will help me organize all those things I just mentioned. There are 2.65 GB on the C drive of the laptop (which I just got this January). I’m afraid to look at my 32 GB flash drive to see how much I’ve archived from my old Dell pc and from the files I downloaded from my personal network drive at work! Did I say that I’m a saver? Some of the articles were downloaded from databases to which I no longer have access.
o    I’ve tried using WebNotes (a really cool tool that allows me to highlight and make post-it notes on both webpages AND on PDFs of articles I’ve uploaded). This enhances browser bookmarks by allowing you to see WHY you thought something was important in the first place!
o    I’ve sampled many of the tools mentioned in posts to this site but only consider myself a ‘superuser’ of MS Office.
·         How do I know?
o    I know when it ‘clicks’, when it feels ‘right’, when the light bulb turns on.
o    I know when I hear the same from several sources.
o    I know when I can use what I’ve learned in some demonstrable fashion.
·         How do I communicate and organize my understanding?
o    Writing: In college and graduate school, I suffered from ‘fear of writing.’ [Obviously, I have overcome writer’s block!] The computer has given me the freedom to communicate in a variety of formats.
o    Visual communication: I’m planning to write a post on this [A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words]. I’m not an artist; I can’t draw, but I appreciate images that convey a message. Images are memorable – so I try to use them liberally.
§  I love PowerPoint because I’ve learned how to capture and use other people’s images in powerful ways to demonstrate my message. [BTW, Jing is great screen capture software!]
§  While I haven’t yet tried to create one, I find that infographics are a great way to distill a wealth of information. [Have you looked at the ones I’ve put on this blog’s Infographics page?] I excel at creating charts and graphs in Excel. [Pardon the word-play!]
§  Graphic organizers like flow charts, mind maps, and storyboarding help confirm the relationships/interrelationships between the knowledge being organized.
o    Presentations: I love giving them. It gives me the opportunity to add my vocal talents and nuances of voice to the slideshow I’ve prepared. I can’t stand to hear myself, however, so I haven’t tried to make podcasts or videos! While I’ve tried to write stories, I need to practice the art of storytelling to add relevance to my presentations.
I’m an informavore! I consume information. I make connections between disciplines. I’m a teacher! I love helping others to understand and recognize/realize their own learning. And you always learn something new when you’re teaching. I’m a mentor! I enjoy supporting others and watching them develop and succeed. I’m a searcher! “Librarians love to search” and I enjoy playing with a variety of strategies and search tools until I find the best results available. I’m a creator. The down side of that trait is that I always need to have a personal spin to put on my creation so it’s unique and insightful. And I’m a curator! I enjoy discovering and gathering information and evaluating/comparing/highlighting the best sources. [The tools and art of Curation are also going to appear as a later blogpost.]
I am not a Jack of All Trades! I recognize that my talents can’t be used effectively on all platforms or in all media. That’s not to say that I’m unwilling to try new tools but, rather, that I’d prefer to continue to work my mastery of the ones I have in my toolkit.


1 comment:

  1. Love your blog post Kate! We tend to learn and share in ways that closely mirror each other. :-) I also loved the quote from the Curriculum 2.0 wiki. I have been using Evernote (and OneNote) for several years now. For example I've been keeping all my notes, articles, etc from this MOOC in it's own notebook in Evernote. I have been tagging each item by Level in the Mooc and adding a "Crystal says" section at the beginning of each note to record key points. It is also possible to highlight articles you clip to a note. Get the EverNote clipper ( to automate that process. I have a presentation I did for graduate students in the History department here about EverNote and outlined a number of the Version 5 capabilities.. It is on my Evernote LibGuide if you'd like to see it:

    Crystal Renfro