I worked out that I won’t spend more than a month in one place over the next 6 months as I’ll be travelling to various places as part of my work with the awesome P2PU and Mozilla, then I head off to Australia to visit family and friends with my fiancé. As moving about seems like it’s going to be the norm for a while I’m going to go ahead and take part (to the best of my abilities) in PLENK, a course on Personal Learning Environments.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had so far with trying to study between Berlin and Linz (where my fiancé is based) is that I have to haul loads of paper with me. Like many people I’m rubbish at reading and deeply understanding content off a screen, so I print up everything, take intermittent notes, lose track of which piece of paper is which and end up with a sore back from the extra kilos in my bag.
I am desperately waiting for the day when I can better engage with PDFs (in their digital format) by taking notes, highlighting and annotating content and tag them as I read them. I regularly use the excellent application Papers as a way of organising my PDF files, but as yet, the process of comfortably and naturally reading on a computer is not happening. I’m trying not to go gadget crazy, but I regularly spend a couple of hours comparing tablet computer specs and hoping for something light, affordable, non-proprietary and designed for note-taking.
Immediately though, I’m looking at buying an Android phone (the HTC Desire more specifically) in the hope that I can at least try to read through PDF copies of readings without having to pull out my laptop when I’m waiting. The annotation thing, while not amazing yet, might be easier with a stylus.
But more to the topic of PLENK, I’m wondering how future PLE setups will allow us to engage with data gathered from the devices that we access learning content with. I’d love to have my notes exported (with my permission) from my device and linked in with the rest of my learning experience. I can imagine that device specific data would allow users to not only track their response to learning materials but also the time they spent with each document.