A caveat: I’m working only from my own experience in making these suggestions. Experience is limited and limiting, but these are the moves that I can trace back and forward to my being able to learn independently. I’d suggest that my experience is not unique, so others might find the set useful. These are not the only moves, but I would argue they are foundational.
For a learner new to using a PLE, I would advise the following in no particular order. Get everything used. Ideally, you can pass the books on when you’re done with them.
> Get and read and work through the first 8 chapters of Stoner and Perkins, Making Sense of Messages. For evaluation, don’t compose a paper. Do something else, multimodal.
> Read Lanham’s Analyzing Prose, 2nd edition. Follow his lead in a chapter of your choice in workiung with someth9hg other than a literary text: use your drivers license, or a menu. Then see if you can apply any of the techniques Lanham uses to something visual.
> Read and work through Berthoff’s Forming/Thinking/Writing. There are assisted invitations. Take up the invitations. Start and use a dialectic journal. Draw as well as write. Read Louis Agassiz as a Teacher, by Lane Cooper (Gutenberg link), especially those of Shaler and Scudder. Pretend you are a student and Berthoff is your Agassiz.
> Read social semiotics – not commentary on it but the actual stuff. Social semiotics will give you the literacy chops you’ll need to really read the texts you’ll encounter online and in RL. I haven’t found a good practice book yet, so practice Kress’s techniques on non-textual artifacts: a fashion spread, a car or two, something your kid drew at primary school. Try one of these: Multimodal Discourse, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual…, Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. If you don’t get it right away, push on. You will.
> Read and with practice something on visual thinking. I like Colin Ware, Visual Thinking for Design, and Horn, Visual Language, but Dan Roam, The Back of a Napkin and books of that ilk are good. Ask around. Search Amazon and read reviews to find something comfortable.
Why not read bits and pieces of these things online? If you want to, if you can locate them, go ahead. Some of the books aren’t available in e-versions, or only bits are available online. Those that are will read differently – hence mean differently – than the print versions. Materiality is modal; we create meaning with it – but you’ll still get what you need. My suggestion is to read and manipulate the texts: try to do what they do. Practice. Take your time.
Two more if you fancy novels: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Lila, both by Pirsig. Read these as you read about Agassiz: as an autonomous learner on the move. Just don’t romanticize them. Please.