On a good day most of us learn something new. A friend flags a provocative article for us. We click on a link in Twitter that leads us to a great blog or insight from someone we respect. We find an inspiring blog or post on LinkedIn. We look at a TED talk that our high school friend posted it on Facebook. We have a conversation that leads us to a new place. Maybe we hit the meatiest chapter of a book that’s on our bedside table or on our Nook, and it leads us to think more deeply about something. And then there are the really good learning days, at a training session or a conference when we get to see Jim Collins @Level5leader talk about his newest research on leaders in schools. Or to hear about a new start-up with some amazing traction and a great new business model that we want to contemplate further.
But how in the world can we keep track of all of this?
There are a lot of techniques I use to track information. I take pictures of things with my phone. I tweet links – as much to give myself a learning history as to inform others. I compile lists and links in Pinterest. I create Excel spreadsheets and Word docs with embedded links. I take notes, lots of notes.
A few years ago, I was an editor working with a local sales rep and we were visiting college professors together, interviewing them about their students, their courses, and their own inclinations to write books. After about a dozen great conversations, the rep stopped suddenly in the hall, and said “I need a computer with me every minute, one that can record all of this great input and can sort it for me in the right buckets!” “That’s your brain,” I said. “Your brain is constantly sorting through all of this information and making sense of it. You just need to be sure that you take some quiet time to think, absorb and sort through what matters. I call it curation time.” If I remember right, that sales rep (a mom with a newborn) looked at me as if I was crazy. Curation time, or any time to think or sort, is never easy to find in our lives.
Was my advice useful? Sure, our brains are marvelous things, and their job is to process and store lots of information. But we are asking them to hold more and more information as technology – and the pace of life -- can deliver pertinent knowledge to us constantly, and at a rate that sometimes defies easy personal curation.
What are your best tricks for Personal Learning Curation? Do you have tools or techniques that really work for you? New technologies that really work to build portfolios of learning? I’d love to hear what works for you.
Debra Hunter gets much too excited about leadership and learning and the junction between the two. For 14 years, she was CEO of Jossey-Bass, publisher of top thought leaders in those areas. She's also a mom, photographer, and consultant.