Building a Personal Learning Network – 10 resources to add to your professional development toolbox

Public domain image fromPixabay

Public domain image fromPixabay

There is a wealth of resources to learn and grow professionally. In addition to GLEAN’s offerings which Julia summarized so nicely in an earlier post, there are a many resources and opportunities to expand your knowledge.

Next month, I’ll focus on tools to organize learning and actually build your personal learning network (PLN). For now, let’s explore what is out there and if you have a favorite resource, feel free to share it in the comments!

1. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course): In a nutshell, MOOCs are free classes often taught by university and college faculty. You do not need to apply, take a placement test, or submit any credentials. You will not receive a grade although you may have homework. If you do have assignments to submit, you will likely self-grade or peer grade work. You will need to register using an email, though! MOOCs range from actual classes that meet online at a specific time or day to those that consist of  recorded content.  Some like Coursera, charge an optional small fee for a certificate; others may issue a digital badge or letter of completion.   EdX, Udemy are two other large MOOC sites. There have been relevant classes to libraries offered via MOOCs, so do take a look.

2. Learning communities: Learning communities are groups of people working together to learn a topic; additionally, these sites are treasure troves of educational content. EdWeb is not only a learning community, but has many webinars for free. P2PU started out as a learning community but has also become a warehouse for MOOC type workshops and classes.  Khan Academy is a similar educational resource. Learning communities often spring up around a specific topic, such as language (LiveMocha, Busuu, DuoLingo) or programming (Code4America) Ning and Wikispaces are other places to find learning communities.

3. Social media: Facebook groups can be an excellent resource. There are Facebook groups dedicated to makerspaces, grant writing, training, public services, library management and so much more!  Chances are if you have an interest, there is a Facebook group, Google + community, twitter hash tag (check out the hashtag #libchat), and/or blog dedicated to your interest.  For example, RDA Cafe is a group dedicated to catalogers and tech services folks focused on RDA. Blended Librarians is a group dedicated to well… you guessed it… Blended Librarians! Not only is GPLS represented in social media sharing training resources, but other groups in the Georgia Library Association are as well (Tech services folks, check out the TSIG of GLA group).

4. Games / Tutorials / Badges: Many tutorials provide checkpoints or feedback to keep you engaged. Often these are based upon a specific topic (languages; BBC Languages – archived but still good content; computer programming: Python riddle, Rails for Zombies; Code Academy). Badges are similar to scout badges – you complete an activity and receive a virtual badge. Check out the partners at Mozilla’s Badges, Credly, or Basno.

5. Training websites: Websites that focus on training have a variety of free content. Sites like GCFLearnFree and WikiHow both focus on free educational resources.  Of course, there are also fee based organizations and companies that offer some free content. Lyrasis (their Second Friday series are always free), Webjunction, InfoPeople, Tech Soup for LibrariesO’Reilly (technology), ITPeople, and even Lynda.com offer some free resources.

6. Library associations / commissions / professional groups: From our very own Carterette series to ALA to OCLC (their MARC tutorial is particularly good) to Colorado State Library’s Online Learning Series to  Nebraska’s Library Commission – so many free resources and webinars to choose from! Idaho has online tutorials in a variety of library topics via SABLE and ABLE. Many of these get picked up in the monthly list for GLEAN, but if you know of other resources, you can always share them with us in the comments!

Public domain image from Pixabay

Public domain image from Pixabay

7. Our libraries: Not only is there a wealth of content right in our very own libraries, but we have access to GALILEO. Other online libraries: Internet Archive, Digital Library of Georgia, Digital Public Library of America, and individual libraries outside of our region.

7. Webinars and Slidedecks: We often overlook collections of webinars and slidedecks / presentations when we think about training opportunities, yet they are excellent resources. BrightTalk (see Library Connect as an example), Slideshare, Prezi are all great resources.

8. Video: Need to learn something? “Youtube” it !

9. Government websites: From NASA to the US Census to the Library of Congress, there are tools out there to not only help you with their resources but also learn more in general. Did you know about the Digital Literacy website from our government? You might be surprised what you find on a government related website!

10. Unconferences and Camps: Unconferences and camps are a growing movement. Some are virtual, but often they are face to face events on a weekend. They are either free or a very small fee (25$ often covers lunch and a tshirt).  Librarians and library staff are often seen at ThatCamps, WordCamps (WordPress), DrupalCamp (Drupal), and other events.

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Author:Robin Fay

Robin Fay is the LOR/Portal Manager for a new consortia of 3 technical colleges: ATCx3 (Athens Technical College, Albany Technical College and Atlanta Technical College). Her current digital library project focuses on open educational resources in a variety of formats, including digital 3D. In addition to that experience, she teaches and consults on a variety of library and educational topics from cataloging /metadata to personal learning networks for information professionals. Her previous experience include being the Head of Database Maintenance, for the University of Georgia Libraries. As an early adopter of technology, she has been involved in many software and web development projects in the incubation stage. Her research interests are library and community sourced metadata (RDA, DC, RDF/XML and other semantic web schemas) for materials including digital objects, linked data and the intersection of the semantic and social webs. Robin is a prolific content creator (georgiawebgurl on most social media websites) ; her book Semantic Web Technologies and Social Search for Librarians was published in 2012 (Neal Schuman/ALA TechSource). Robin is a sought after instructor and presenter with 12 years experience in teaching and training. She holds a MLIS (University of South Carolina); B.A. in English (University of Georgia); and post-graduate coursework in Instructional Design.

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