The resources I have chosen for my mind map have helped me tremendously in my job as a subject matter expert with technology as well as my graduate studies in Instructional Design. This network of resources offers me options, with depth, in the type of research I am conducting. If I am looking for some general information, I may start with a Search Engine that may give me ideas about how to structure the questions that I am trying to answer. To effectively use a search engine, you must understand that the Internet is a system of linked computers created for communication purposes. The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hyper texted documents accessed via the Internet (Berners-Lee, Cailliau, Groff, Pollermann, 1992). Search engines are great for searching databases of text from the web, selected from billions of web pages residing on servers. Search engine databases are selected and built by computer robot programs called spiders. They crawl the web by following links on pages they already have in their database. Then the spiders index these pages with the links so that they can be searched by keyword or other more advanced approaches such as Boolean operators. Google (http://www.google.com), Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com), Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) Ask (http://www.ask.com), and Answers (http://www.answers.com), are a few examples of search engines I use. The next are Meta-search engines that partner with various search engines to simultaneously search several individually-owned engines and their databases. Meta-search engines do not own or maintain a database of their own so the information being sent based upon the keywords you chose are being sent and maintained by the search engine company itself. Momma (http://www.momma.com), Excite (http://www.excite.com), Startpage(http://www.startpage.com), Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com) and Zoo (http://www.zoo.com – formerly Metacrawler), are few examples of meta-crawlers, which by the way, have a partnership with Google and Yahoo, amongst others, to provide services. The third resource in my network is Subject Directories, also known as a “human-powered” search engine. Directories are basically a manual entry database system with the primary distinction in how the different systems obtain their data. One does it automatically (search engines) with a ranking system and the other does it manually (directories) with human intervention from credentialed experts and credible authorities in their fields and puts the results into categories. About (http://www.about.com), Yahoo Directory (https://dir.yahoo.com/), Directory Journal (http://www.dirjournal.com/) and InfoMine (http://infomine.ucr.edu/) are a few examples of subject directories.
So these are a few resources in my network that help to get me started when I need answers to questions that I ponder throughout my days. Blogs are a nice resource too for finding information. I tend to visit a variety of technology websites to keep up to date with the latest findings. Blogs help me to corral all of my favorite sites into one location. A final resource to mention that I like to use is an app on my Samsung Galaxy phone called Flipboard. Flipboard is a mobile app that collects content from social media feeds and other websites and presents it in a magazine format that I am able to customize.
Of the resources or digital tools that I utilize that has helped or changed the way that I learn, I would have to say, my go-to resources are the online engines. I am able to find just about whatever I need just by knowing which to use and how to use them effectively. And speaking of online tools, one group that I did not mention that is also very valuable to my knowledge base is the Invisible Web. The Invisible Web or Deep Web is the portion of the web that is hidden from search engines since they are unable to crawl through its pages. They require a key, subscription or a password to access a libraries’ database, like articles in Walden’s library. Over ten years ago it was estimated to contain over 7,500 terabytes or more than 550 billion individual documents. Today that number is well into the trillions and quite possibly 500 times bigger than the searchable web most people access every day (Excoffier, 2013). Deep Web (http://www.deepwebtech.com/), Lynda (http://www.lynda.com/) PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/), The WWW Virtual Library (http://vlib.org/) are a few examples of the Deep web.
My personal learning network is supported by the central tenets of connectivism in the diversity of the network, how they are connected in some way to one another and the diversity of the sources.
Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, Jean-François Groff, Bernd Pollermann, (1992) “World Wide Web: The Information Universe”, Internet Research, Vol. 2 Iss: 1, pp.52 – 58
Excoffier, David, 2013. “The New Faces of Internet (Part 3): Internet of Contents” Retrieved from: http://labs.sogeti.com/the-new-faces-of-internet-part-3internet-of-contents/